SWISS Reveals Premium Economy Plans

Filed Under: Swiss

SWISS has announced today that they’ll be introducing a premium economy cabin on longhaul flights starting in spring 2021.

The plan is that SWISS will first introduce the cabin on their fleet of Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The airline has 10 of these planes in their fleet, with a further two to be delivered in early 2020.

The airline will install a 24 seat premium economy cabin, spread across three rows in a 2-4-2 configuration. Compared to economy, premium economy will offer a 10% wider seat, 20% greater pitch, and 25% greater recline.

Beyond that the cabin will be extended to other longhaul planes as well, though an exact timeline hasn’t yet been provided.

The carrier’s other widebody aircraft include include the A330 and A340. SWISS is currently refurbishing their fleet of A340 aircraft, so I’ll be curious to see if these planes also eventually get the premium economy cabin, given that many airlines are retiring it.

SWISS says they’ll be investing about 40 million CHF installing the cabin on their 777s. They say they’re introducing this as there’s a growing demand for something between economy and business class, especially on a premium airline.

As of now the airline hasn’t released any renderings of the seats, though frankly I wouldn’t expect much creativity.

I do find it interesting that SWISS is the last major Lufthansa Group airline to get premium economy, as Lufthansa and Austrian already have premium economy, and it was recently announced that Brussels is adding this cabin.

Lufthansa’s premium economy cabin

Brussels Airlines’ new premium economy cabin

All three airlines have very similar products, so I wouldn’t expect much different from SWISS either.

SWISS’ 777-300ERs are in a premium heavy configuration, with eight first class seats, 62 business class seats, and 270 economy seats. I’ll be curious to see if the space for premium economy comes from economy or business class. My hope is that it comes from economy, but I guess we’ll see.

Swiss’ 777-300ER business class

What do you make of SWISS introducing premium economy?

  1. I find premium economy to be greatly overrated. More legroom and seat width but often for double or triple the price of economy and often with those shell seats that nobody likes. I’d rather they just do economy plus with more legroom for a little extra money.

  2. Lucky,

    Will you be doing more premium economy reviews on the site? I and other readers would like to see some more information on these products

  3. Business is worth the uisial 5+ times economy flights as it is over 10 times better.
    Premium economy is a great cabin for airlines in terms of product outlay/revenue, but the experience doesn’t seem overwhelming Better for me than eg exit economy exit row if the seat reclines in front etc. You are also often very near the engines.

  4. I often book premium economy on morning flights returning from Europe, since I don’t want to sleep. I welcome more options / competition.

  5. Interesting. The A340 won’t get it for sure as they are being refurbished without right now and anyways, economy is still 2-42 on the 343 and 330. The 777 has the widdest gap between economy and business so it makes more sense on the 777.

  6. I’m sure we will have to pay for seat selection too. Can’t wait to get one of those middle “4” seats unless I pay an extra $200 USD or whatever it is for seat selection.

  7. Will be the food be like Lufthansa’s premium economy (ie, same as the food in economy but served on non-plastic crockery) or like on Air Canada (the food being a slight upgrade from the food in economy)?

  8. What’s the point of taking delivery of two new planes in 2020 without PE only to have to reconfigure them shortly afterwards once PE is introduced the following year?

  9. Hi Ben,
    Lufthansa will be introducing a new Premium Economy with their 777X and Swiss product will be based on that new product at least that is what I read in the german press statement and media. The new seat will have a fixed back shell!

  10. @Josh @Frederik totally agree with PE being overrated. All that really matters is pitch and recline and as the add states they offer 20-25% increase in those categories. Meal and drink service is marginally better than regular E. So it’s only reasonable that the fares should be set at a 25% premium, although these PE fares are regularly set at a 100% premium over E. Just silly.

  11. @Cedric,

    That would make sense, and yet if that were the case I’d expect Swiss to say that PE is starting in 2020 upon delivery, rather than a year later.

  12. Time for some premium economy reviews. I find the hard product varies more widely across airlines compared to in business. In business you’ll pretty much always get at least a lie-flat. In premium eco it could just me more legroom, or a totally different seat from eco. For example premium eco on SAS and Air France are quite an upgrade from economy.

  13. Agree with others that PE is a stuck-in-the-middle product. Better fly normal economy and save the money for the next reasonable business fare. Often 2 trips in PE is almost as much as 1 trip in Y plus one trip in J. The latter is waaay better.

  14. I am a big fan of premium economy.

    When I first flew it with Air France in 2012, it was a huge step up from Economy, even if the food was the same.
    Having flown it many times with Air Canada since, especially on the dreamliner, it is a huge comfort increase. It obviously doesn’t compare to the pods (which i have also flown many times since 2014), but I challenge anyone to try the B787-8/9 in 3-3-3 on a 10-12 hour flight, vs 2-3-2 in Premium economy. There is no comparison. And there are at most two rows of extra legroom which, for people willing to pay the extra fee, are few and far between.

    In terms of cost, unfortunately, this is where it loses its appeal. I was able to fly:
    YUL-YYZ-YVR-TPE (with a 3 day stopover in YYZ), returning PVG-YUL, for something like 2700$ Canadian, all in J class, last year! This year, this month, YUL-CDG-YUL, in PE, was something like 2300$, for 1/3 the distance.

    I have flown in PE with Air Canada to CDG for 1142 CAD return, but I have not seen those fares since then.

    It makes plenty of sense to fly across the pond in PE for 1100 – 1400 $. It makes no sense to pay more (2200 $ + !) when some business sales can put you in J for a couple hundred more!

    I am happy to see SWISS add PE. I think they are way too late to the game, and worry it will be $2500+, what business class to Europe used to be priced at, at least a few times during the year (and regularly at $3000). (Canadian, from Montreal).

  15. I have done a lot of trips in PE and I find that the product varies from airline to airline, especially the soft product; QF, NZ are business lite, BA Y+ very average F n B, same with CX and SQ. With the fares, depends on the time and the route; SYD/JNB, which I do quite often, the fare can be au$3k more than Y, but only au$2k less than J. Where if I am travelling to LAX, it can be au2k more than Y but au$5k less than J.
    QF is increasing the number of PE seats on their a380 as the demand is there, I believe it is only a matter of time before the ME carriers follow. I know that EK is looking at it.

  16. Premium Economy is definitely worth it if it’s in a separate cabin. I used to fly PE on Lufthansa at least twice a year from FRA – PHL and back. It was only three rows in a separate cabin behind business. The plane exit, galley and lavs separated you from the main cabin. I always flew in seat 6C, which mean I was the first person off the plane. Under those circumstances, PE was a positive experience, comfortable and quiet. But Lufthansa has switched to using 747s on that route and PE has been downgraded (except in price). The seats are now just at the front of the main cabin with virtually no separation from regular economy. No thanks. For my trips to PHL from Europe, I’m now flying American’s PE on the 332 from CDG. I will miss the FF miles on my Miles & More account, but it’s just not worth it. FWIW, American’s PE price is hundreds of $$ cheaper than Lufthansa’s to PHL and back. The difference just about covers a couple of nights in Paris before the flight and another night after I return.

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