Primera Air started their transatlantic operations on April 19, 2018 using a wet lease from National Airlines due to a delay in the delivery of their first Airbus A321neo. Last week they finally started operations on their aircraft (registered with tail number OY-PAA).
Last Saturday I flew STN-EWR on their economy class product (in case you missed it, you can check my review here). Yesterday I flew back to Stansted on their premium economy product and here are some pictures and my impressions on the flight.
Primera Air check-in area is located in level 1 (the arrivals level) of terminal B at Newark international airport. 4 check-in agents that as you can see in the picture, were not very busy 90 minutes before the scheduled flight departure. The incoming plane arrival was delayed by 1 hour because of strong head winds so I was not in a hurry to arrive to the airport.
There was no separate premium economy check-in line. Not that it mattered in this case. What was there on display was the hand luggage gauge, of course.
The premium economy product comes with priority security lane. The green dot on the boarding pass was the distinctive for priority boarding/security.
There were separate lines for priority and general boarding. Primera Air sells priority boarding as an add-on for GBP 8.99 so they enforce the boarding order.
The Cabin and the Seat
The premium economy cabin (rows 1-4) consists of 16 seats in a 2-2 configuration. The seats come with 22 in. width and 36 in. pitch.
There is no hard wall separation between the premium economy and the economy cabins. There are curtain walls between rows 4 and 5 but there is no curtain blocking the aisle. The lavatory on front of the cabin is available for both premium and economy passengers.
Primera uses Acro Serie 7 seats for the premium economy hard product. These recliner seats come on the slender side but they’re comfortable and they have a spacious sensation.
The central arm rests are wide and come with storage space enough for a laptop/tablet/book/magazines. A bottle of water was provided on this storage space. There was also a smaller lateral pocket with space for a small electronic device or the amenity kit.
At boarding, only my seat and 4D/4F had a pillow and blanket set laying on them, but by the end of boarding the cabin was completely full. During the flight I learned that all those passengers on seats without pillows and blankets were operational upgrades due to overbooking. These passengers were only given the premium seats but not any other premium economy perk.
The pillow and blanket provided were of the type you would get in economy class on a legacy carrier long haul flight.
The pitch is generous. The overall sensation was that seat was roomy. The foot rest and a pocket with the menu and the safety card were both on the seat in front.
Each seat came with head rest, individual light and air nozzle, recline control and a power/USB outlet.
The Amenity Kit
The amenity kit is a grey felt envelope-type of bag. I think it looked cute. The contents: a generic dental kit, hair comb, shoe horn, ear plugs, hand cream, socks and eye shades.
BRING YOUR OWN IFE!
The food offered was very different from the completely forgettable beef menu I got in economy class the day before. After take off, I was offered my choice of drink. I went for white wine.
I had pre-selected the chicken menu when I purchased my ticket. The cheese-filled chicken breast I got was delicious. It came with a salad, a cheese platter, and pistachio, raspberry and chocolate macarons. A choice of warm bread and a second drink were also offered. Everything was delicious.
When I booked this ticket, I paid GBP 359 for their Premium fare. At this price point I think it is a very competitive product.
Right now Primera is selling these seats for GBP 499 (and up). At this price point this product is not as attractive. Air Italy (the rebranded Meridiana recently acquired by Qatar Airways) is offering lie flat seats MXP-JFK for about 700 € one way and Norwegian offers their premium economy product from LGW (easier access) with lounge access and points accrual for about the same price.
The GBP 350 price is still doable though. A few days before departure of my outbound flight in economy class I got an email offering to buy an upgrade to premium economy for GBP 149. This price on top of one of their cheap light fares is still pretty competitive.
As their economy product, the success of this premium product will depend on Primera keeping the prices on the low range. The seat is comfortable enough for a mid range flight and the food service was surprisingly and unexpectedly tasty.