Virgin Atlantic invented the premium economy standard as Mid-Class back in the 1990’s.
Since then, the half way point between business class and standard economy has been widely adopted, especially at airlines in countries with a large middle class.
Fares are usually around 1.5-2 times the cost of economy but well under half that of a full business seat.
Premium Economy is especially attractive to airlines that operated a two-class cabin. Premium is profitable, and once introduced has some of the highest load factors of any class. That’s usually achieved by keeping seat numbers to around 10% of the economy totals.
It hasn’t always worked for some airlines. Turkish Airlines famously removed it about three years ago because the majority of their Asian and Middle Eastern customers didn’t understand the concept. That remains the reason Qatar, Emirates and Etihad have never introduced it.
Lufthansa, BA and AirFrance, Qantas, operate it in 3 & 4 class aircraft, BA going as far as to split theirs on upper and lower decks of the A380.
The concept has proven itself even to US majors Delta and American Airlines. However some resist, SAS and KLM are notably still avoiding it, even though they do offer extended legroom seats.
Swiss have finally accepted the benefits having seen it work for Lufthansa and Austrian.
The seats will be installed over two years from 2021 on the 777-300ER’s then rolled out to the rest of the long haul fleet.
The airline would have acted sooner but the long lead times for new seating from manufacturers makes it impossible, such is the demand for existing airline refits and new aircraft.
The total cost will be around €77m.
24 seats will be placed on the 777-300ER’s