United Airlines Launches Premium Economy Product “Premium Plus” Late 2018

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United Airlines yesterday sent out an email to its MileagePlus members about recent and future developments with the airline forgetting to mention the much delayed Polaris rollout (cabin and clubs).

United Airlines Premium Economy

United Airlines will later this year introduce a real premium economy product called “Premium Plus”. Currently United has Economy Plus that is the same economy seat but with bit more space. Premium Plus will be its own cabin.

Here’s limited information that United had on the email:

Later this year, we’ll begin to introduce United’s Premium Plus. Available on select international flights, United® Premium Plus will give you more space, comfort and amenities. The seats will be more spacious and you’ll enjoy upgraded dining on china dinnerware, free alcoholic beverages, a Saks Fifth Avenue blanket and pillow, an amenity kit and more.

Conclusion

US airlines were very slow at introducing Premium Economy cabins that many European and Asian airlines have had for a while. I remember taking my first British Airways Worth Traveler Plus (their cabin name for Premium Economy) flight 15 or so years ago. My most recent premium economy flight was on Aeroflot from Hong Kong to Moscow back in November.

United Airlines has always been good at announcing these new products but the actual rollout has been mostly problematic. The Polaris business cabins and lounges are late. Will see how long it takes for Premium Plus to make it fleet wide if it ever will.

These premium economy products are every profitable for airlines that do them right. They get premium price for product that doesn’t require nowhere near as much space as today’s business class yet the price premium over discounted economy is high.

Many companies have economy only policy even on longer international flights. These premium economy products fit well for them as they are “economy” but with more space.

It is interesting to see how United will handle their upgrade certificates in the future. Do they allow members to upgrade from economy to business jumping over the premium economy product? Remember that you need to buy certain fare class in order to upgrade or waitlist for an upgrade in the first place. It may make sense to buy premium economy anyway as you can then guarantee more comfortable journey in case your upgrade won’t clear to business.

This will likely shrink the number of Economy Plus seats that United has on these planes as well.

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