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Feature: Premium Economy


Above: SAS; Left: ANA, Air New Zealand, Delta





Passengers on North American routes also get an increased baggage allowance. Currently available on Alitalia's A330 fleet, Classica Plus will be introduced across its B777 fleet from the first half of this year, with reconfiguration ending in June. The best of breed ribbon is currently dangling off Air New Zealand's premium economy 'Spaceseat', a shell that cunningly stops the person in front from reclining into the space of the passenger behind thanks to a mechanism that instead slides the seat forward to maximise space. Announcing Air New Zealand's win in the


2011 Skytrax awards, compiled by votes from nearly 19 million airline passengers across the world, Skytrax CEO Edward Plaisted said: "Air New Zealand continues to be a pioneer within the premium economy market and their awards for world's best premium economy and the inaugural best premium economy catering clearly proves that their effort has


been very popular with passengers." Launched aboard the B777-300 on the London-Los Angeles and Auckland route last April, the Air New Zealand premium economy product offers a business premier menu selection, choice of wine, 10.6-inch individual TV screens, gate-to-gate inflight entertainment, noise cancelling headphones, snacks on demand and connections for PCs, iPods and USBs. On the ground, its passengers enjoy premium check-in and extra baggage allowance. The airline's UK & Europe general manager


Chris Myers says the Spaceseat is outperforming business and economy products on the same routes, as does the non-Spaceseat premium economy product on the Hong Kong route. "It has had a positive impact on demand,


even in our tough economic environment, and demonstrates that genuine product innovation can still drive economic benefits," he said. The churning of cabins continues in the US, with United Continental expanding United's


Economy Plus seating into the Continental fleet beginning this year. United currently offers Economy Plus on all 359 mainline aircraft and more than 150 larger regional jets operated by United Express carriers. When the conversion is complete, the newly merged company plans to offer Economy Plus seating on more than 700 mainline aircraft, including all Continental's mainline fleet as well as larger regional aircraft. When fully deployed, the new United's fleet will include more than 40,000 Economy Plus seats. Delta Air Lines is also entering the fray in a


big way, having introduced Economy comfort on long-haul international flights last year. Plans are now afoot to extend the product to its entire mainline fleet of more than 550 aircraft as well as more than 250 two-class regional aircraft. The increasing popularity of premium economy in airline boardrooms is probably matched by the desire by business travellers to take advantage of the expanding product. The problem is that TMCs are landed with


the task of trying to match the price advantage of travel in the new mid-class with enough product advantages to make it worthwhile – and that's getting increasingly difficult.


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