We’ve seen a trend in the airline industry over the past several years whereby airlines have slowly been eliminating first class in favor of a premium economy cabin. This is hardly surprising since even executives have a hard time justifying paying for first class in an economy like this, especially as airlines offer fully flat beds in business class (which wasn’t the case a decade ago).
Turkish followed the trend when they started taking delivery of their 777s a couple of years ago. Before that they had leased some 777s from Jet Airways (like the one I flew from London to Istanbul and Istanbul to Hong Kong) which featured first, business, and coach class, so it’s quite telling that they decided against first class in favor of premium economy on their own 777s.
It seems they regretted that decision, because according to this article (in Turkish) they’re not only taking delivery of their new 777s in a two class configuration (without Comfort Class), but will also be retrofitting their existing 777s to eliminate Comfort Class.
This is kind of sad given that Turkish probably had the best “premium economy” product of any airline. Here’s a video of the cabin:
And here’s the configuration (via SeatGuru):
As you can see both business class and premium economy (Comfort Class) were in a 2-3-2 configuration. As a matter of fact Turkish’s Comfort Class looked just slightly less comfortable than an old style business class recliner, which is much better than what the competition offers in premium economy. Apparently the catering was from business class as well, so it was a great value.
But I suspect Istanbul just doesn’t have that much high yield traffic, and between 28 business class seats and 63 Comfort Class seats, there was just too much premium capacity. I’d bet the product would have worked if the cabin were a bit smaller or they had done a bit more marketing around it, as I think it’s a product most people didn’t even know about.
Hopefully they’ll at least split the added capacity between business class and coach, and maybe make business class awards more readily available, as they’re currently very tough to get.