Iberia is adding premium economy cabins to the planes it uses for service to the U.S. The first converted plane, a 340, will start flying between Madrid and Chicago. Iberia will convert its other 340s and its 330s over the next year or so, and its new 350s will come with premium economy factory-installed.
The trade press has reported that Iberia’s “hard product” will be similar to that on partner line British Airways, which likely means 38-inch pitch and seven-across seating in a 2-3-2 pattern. As with other large lines, premium economy fills the ever-widening gap between luxurious business class and miserable economy class. The hard product is like first class on a domestic MD80; the soft product typically features upgraded meal service, dedicated check-in and boarding lines, and increased baggage allowances.
No information is yet available on pricing. In general, however, I’ve found that premium economy costs an average of 78 percent more than the lowest regular economy fares. But that spread narrows during the peak summer season for transatlantic travel, when economy fares generally rise and premium economy fares do not.
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