Which US airline has the best premium economy product?

Recently, Simple Flying magazine highlighted the world’s top ten airlines by revenue, with the three largest US airlines, American, Delta and United, taking the top spots. All three airlines are known for their great offering of hard and soft products on long-haul flights. We look at the three airlines’ distinct economy products and identify what stands out.

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Seats and comfort

Premium economy seats Width (in) throw) lean (in)
American Airlines 18.5 – 19 38 6
Delta Airlines 18.5 – 19 38 7
United Airlines 17.1 – 19 35 – 38 7

American Airlines offers premium economy seating on a variety of its widebody aircraft, including the Boeing 777 (-200 and -300ER) and the 787 (-8 and -9). The airline offers 38 inches of seat pitch on all aircraft. The Premium Economy seat width is 18.5 inches (A330, 777-300ER, 787-8) or 19 inches (777-200, 787-9).

An American Airlines Boeing 777 immediately after takeoff.

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple flying

Delta Air Lines’ seat offerings are no different when it comes to widebody aircraft. Delta offers a 38-inch pitch and 18.5-inch pitch on its Airbus A330-900 and A350-900 aircraft.

United Airlines has the greatest variety of offerings when it comes to premium economy class seats on its long-haul aircraft. The carrier offers premium economy seats on the Boeing 757-200, 767-300ER, 777(-200, -300ER) and 787(-8, -9, and -10). United Airlines has five different seat designs for its premium economy seats, ranging from 17.1 inches wide and 35 inches wide (Boeing 777-200) to 19 inches wide and 38 inches wide on all Boeing 787 models.

Inside the United Airlines Premium Economy cabin.

Photo: United Airlines

It is worth noting that seat space and width are similar in all airlines. However, Delta and United offer a 7-inch recline, while premium economy seats on American Airlines only recline 6 inches.

Services and prices on board

All three airlines offer large in-flight entertainment screens, headphones, and amenity kits. While the pillow and blanket brands of the three airlines differ, the products are comparable in quality and comfort. All airlines offer free alcoholic and soft drinks, meals served in crockery, priority boarding, and a generous baggage allowance.

One-way fare road price
American Airlines JFK – LHR $1,256
Delta Airlines JFK – LHR $1,266
United Airlines EWR – LHR $3,652

Looking at ticket information between New York (JFK) and London Heathrow (LHR) on June 1, 2024, American Airlines is offering a one-way premium economy fare of $1,256. Aside from wider seating and upscale cabin services, the fare includes two free checked bags, priority security (at participating locations), and priority boarding.

Delta Air Lines offers a one-way premium economy fare of $1,266 on the same route. Delta advertises that this travel class comes with a wider seat, a deeper recline, and an extendable legrest. Premium Select also features attentive service by the hostess and includes a complimentary amenity kit. The fare provides priority check-in, security, boarding and baggage handling. The airline also offers two free checked bags.

Two United Airlines planes, one on the ground and one about to land.

Photo: Vincenzo Pace I am a simple flyer

United Airlines offers a flight between New York (EWR) and LHR, and a one-way ticket costs $3,651, nearly three times the price of American and Delta. Although the service is not from JFK International Airport, the distance and travel class are similar. The airline offers premium seating, priority check-in and boarding, and two pieces of free baggage. Given the comfort, amenities, aircraft type, and amenities, our choice is Delta Air Lines.

What are your thoughts on how premium economy compares between the big three US airlines? Have you traveled with one or more of them in premium economy class? Share your experience in the comments section.

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