On this premium-heavy blog in which topics of discussion range from caviar and champagne to upgrade phobia, let’s not lose sight of the fact that economy class usually does the job just fine.
I sort of poked fun about “surviving” economy class on a recent Lufthansa flight from Los Angeles to Frankfurt, but the truth is I fly economy class fairly regularly. My other business and family obligations require me to make frequent trips to Europe and I don’t have a totally endless supply of miles or upgrades.
Thus, there have been several times this year–some I have written about, some I have not–that I have flown economy class to Europe. Last month, I flew from San Francisco to London and Milan to Newark in economy class on United. My tickets are always booked at the last possible moment, so on both of these flights I was not even able to score EconomyPlus seats. Instead, I had aisle seats in regular economy class (which I’ll take over a middle seat in EconomyPlus).
Economy Class is Just Fine, When Necessary
And as much as I always prefer to be in business or first class, I did fine. There was no upgrade phobia here because I did not even try to upgrade. See, upgrade phobia comes not so much because I need first class to survive or validate myself, but because it’s a game I have been playing for 15 years. Even if I could always easily afford the difference between business and economy class, I secretly like the thrill of the gamble you take when waiting for a complimentary space-available upgrade. While it causes stress on the one hand, the adrenaline rush you get when the upgrade actually clears and you didn’t pay a cent for it is a wonderful thing.
Anyway, let’s just take my United flight from Milan to Newark last Saturday. It was full, but the 767-400 offers 2-3-2 seating in economy and I wound up with a quiet, petite seatmate. Perfect. Flight attendants were in a great mood and the meal, a chicken breast with risotto, was surprisingly tasty…frankly better than some of the entrees I’ve had recently in Polaris Class.
I watched a couple of movies, the internet worked well for most of the flight, and I enjoyed a tasty turkey sandwich on pretzel bread prior to landing.
Oh, I was tired when I landed (and happy to fly business class to LA), but don’t ever think that I’m “too good” for the back of the plane…that’s just not the general focus of this blog. I think the other premium travel bloggers would agree. It’s part of the game.
Thanks for indulging me in this rambling post. I just think it is important to put things in context once in a while. I love the opportunity I have to fly around the world, mostly in premium cabins. At the same time, there are many times where I am just happy to take an economy class seat like most everyone else. Travel brings independence in any cabin.
@ Matthee — FCQ said ‘bulls**t”.
Only way to truly appreciate flying in premium cabins is to fly economy once in a while. I fly a mix of economy, business, and first and just like you, I don’t have an endless supply of miles/points. I got into the miles/points world because I wanted to see the world (I don’t travel for business so my travels are all leisure.)
It would be cool to see a pic of you or Lucky or any of the BA bloggers flying in economy class as those pix tend to be quite rare. lmao
You know, for the rest of us mortals here, the way to appreciate premium travel is to travel economy regularly and fly upper classes once in a while.
I think you are mostly spot with one exception. On the whole though, flying economy is still absolutely fine, a gift, and shouldn’t be disparaged anywhere near as much as some of those accustomed to the pointy end give it.
The exception- some of the LCC, and occasionally legacies that just don’t give a s*** about you as the passenger when things go wrong. LCCs that will cancel a flight and reschedule for 35hrs later and shrug at you. Legacies that decide they aren’t interested in getting you to your destination.
As long as airlines still see economy passengers as customers and not self loading and inconvenient cargo, then flying economy will be fine.
While the blog is premium heavy, I certainly think there is a place to compare different carrier’s economy classes. It could be as simple as legroom, quality of food and drink (subjective), entertainment options, and seat comfort (also subjective). I would certainly read those articles!
I agree it would be interesting, but probably very impracticable. There are so many permutations in Y depending on plane type. Reviews of premium class are generally geared toward “is it worth it” attributes based on cost. There’s less differentiation between carriers in economy, by definition.
The may be an opportunity for another niche in blogging, but I don’t think we’ll see it in this generation of bloggers.
The older I get the harder time I have spending more than 5-6 hrs in an EC seat ( which have gotten smaller and planes closer to full capacity).
So longer flights of 7-15 hours LHR, Asia, NZ/AU are miserable at times in PE as I almost have to be horizontal to sleep some PE seats do the job.
DW can sleep almost anywhere (even feel asleep behind me on a motorcycle once).
So yes, you need dark to enjoy the light at times.
But now I would rather travel less often but in comfort.
But it’s not the true economy experience because you have status, which greatly improves your ground experience – priority check-in, boarding, security, bag claim, and all the amenities of lounge access. If you had to endure lines, fees, and the huddled masses of gate lice scrounging for an AC outlet and overpaying for crap food, you’d be singing a different tune.
I’ll stipulate to your point.
I think we all should remember, economy class is the norm for the vast majority of travellers, the others are the minority.
“Instead, I had aisle seats in regular economy class (which I’ll take over a middle seat in economy class).”
If you meant aisle economy is better than middle seat E+, I totally agree. Otherwise, it’s a “well, duh”.
TATL economy is a young mans game. If you are in college or your 20s and need to save for a house and car and pay loans it doesn’t make sense to spend extra miles or $$ on business class.
That said, Most people have limited vacation time and prefer not to spend it scrunched like a sardine for the (at best) once a year TATL or TPAC flight. So no reason to fly economy if you can just spend extra miles, which are continuously depreciating.
Now of course for domestic flights it makes little sense to buy up – we can all survive 5 hours in E+ and roll the dice on the upgrade.
Wow. There are so many great comments above that I wanted to do a +1 on, but after the third time it would’ve seemed trite. As to the meat of your topic, yes, pretty much anyone can survive an economy flight. My personal problem is that I’m 6’5″ and over 275, so an economy seat is pretty harsh under most circumstances, and that’s without “enhanced” slimline seats. I can live without premium service, but a lack of leg room is a killer. I try to deal with this by paying for exit row seats or using miles for business or (sometimes) first class awards. I do think that it’s easy to see things from a skewed perspective when you don’t fly coach. Sadly, that’s not a problem for me. Happy Fourth!
The meal was good because it was prepared in Milan and not Newark.
Meals out of the USA, especially the breakfasts, are also not bad.
Agreed. Just came off an EC flight. My options were either 2BC+1EC or 2EC flights. Flights were on an LCC, cost me a total of $165, left in time, arrived ahead of schedule. Ans saved me about $600 compared to the lengthier option.
No problem at all.
Yeah, there is nothing wrong wit flying economy, but hey, if you have the option of flying in first or business or premium economy* instead if you have the cash or miles, then nothing wrong with that as well.
*Granted, in the case of premium economy, it is debatable if that particular upgrade is worth the price difference from regular economy.
I think westbound and eastbound are two different animals
Agreed. Westbound is far easier, though I’ve done more eastbounds in economy than westbounds…
You make a big deal about the meals. Considering that airlines spend pennies on meals, why the interest? What is happening on US carriers in Economy is horrific if your only option is those boxed items. They are junk food and are offered on UAL on flights from Chicago to Maui. I was in business and couldn’t eat their pastrami sandwich prior to landing and the flight attendant offered me one of the boxes. When I saw what was in there, I was appalled. We fly Business Class all the time. Prior to the flight we go to a top class restaurant and have a wonderful meal, the airline can keep their food.