Iberia Is Introducing Premium Economy On Longhaul Flights

Iberia has just announced that they’ll be rolling out a new premium economy product across most of their longhaul fleet as of summer 2017. Iberia’s A330-300, A340-600, and upcoming A350 aircraft, will all feature the new cabin. As of now, the first destinations to get the new product will be Bogota, Buenos Aires, Chicago, and Lima.

While there can be a lot of variation in terms of the quality of business class hard products, for premium economy there’s not that much variance.

Here’s a video Iberia made about their new premium economy product:

The Iberia premium economy cabin will be in a 2-3-2 configuration. Iberia’s longhaul fleet consists entirely of Airbus aircraft, which ordinarily have eight seats per row in economy, so they’re taking out one seat per row for premium economy.

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Iberia premium economy

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Iberia premium economy

Iberia’s new premium economy will feature :

  • ~37 inches of pitch (94 centimeters)
  • ~19 inches of width (48 centimeters)
  • ~7 inches of recline (18 centimeters)
  • 12″ personal televisions
  • Adjustable headrests and footrests
  • A welcome drink, amenity kit, and other enhanced services

That’s a pretty standard configuration in terms of the amount of personal space. In other words, you can expect Iberia premium economy to be about as comfortable as domestic first class within the US, except you’ll also have a footrest.

I’m not at all surprised to see Iberia adding premium economy, and if anything, am surprised it took this long. Iberia is owned by IAG, also the parent company of British Airways, so it makes sense that they’re standardizing products somewhat (except Iberia’s business class is better than British Airways’ business class).

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Iberia business class

Keep in mind that American is also in the process of adding premium economy, and American, British, and Iberia are all part of a transatlantic joint venture (Finnair is also part of the transatlantic joint venture, though they don’t have premium economy).

oneworld-transatlantic-joint-venture

By offering premium economy across three airlines, they’ll certainly be able to sell the product more consistently, given that previously only British Airways had a premium economy product. I imagine that pricing will be consistent across airlines as well.

The only bad news with this product is that the addition of premium economy will come at the expense of business class seats. Iberia has reasonably large business class cabins — 36 seats on their A330s and 46 seats on their A340s — which is probably partly why award availability is typically quite good on them.

However, once these planes are reconfigured:

  • The A330-300 will lose seven business class seats and gain 21 premium economy seats
  • The A340-600 will lose 10 business class seats and gain 23 premium economy seats

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Iberia A340

Bottom line

The shift we’re seeing towards premium economy isn’t a new trend. As economy keeps getting tighter and as business class keeps getting more spacious, there’s room for a product somewhere in the middle. I think there’s value in this product, though my big picture issue with premium economy continues to be the implications of upgrading from economy to business class when there’s also a premium economy product. I don’t really blame the airlines for that, but that doesn’t make it sting any less as a consumer. 😉

It’s also unfortunate that premium economy capacity will come entirely at the expense of business class seats, which isn’t good news for business class award availability.

What do you make of Iberia’s new premium economy product?

Comments

  1. From what I heard the business class cabin will be reduced to make room for premium economy. Not the entire long-haul fleet will be equipped, only 8 A330-300, 13 A340-600 and on all 16 A350 coming up.
    It should become 36J, 23W, and 300Y on the A340-600 and 29J, 21W, and 242Y on the A330-300.
    First destinations will be Buenos Aires, Chicago, Lima, and Bogota, starting in summer 2017.

  2. The question would be. Are Y+ pax business travelers looking to save a little money or economy travelers willing to pay more for some extras?

    Either way I think the roll out of economy plus is great. I can’t spend $5k to travel in j but don’t mind the extra $500 to not be totally smushed in seat 44b

  3. @ Janika — Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I believe that’s just extra legroom economy, as there’s more legroom but not more seat width? It’s the same seat, right?

  4. 1. They *just* finished upgrading their business class on their A340s, now they’re taking out seats they just paid to install? Who are they, American?

    2. They’re keeping the 340 around for a while, huh?

  5. Not a trip report (I flew in J), but a brief feedback of my first trip on the refurbished A340-600. Firstly, the coding in GDS: Currently (i.e. during refurbishment), the 3 class (J/W/Y) birds are doneted as 346 and the 2 class (J/Y) are 345 in the GDS system.

    So I was on a 3 class version for the first time, myself in J but I had the opportunity to look into W and briefly seat myself on one of the vacant W seats (yes, for a minute or so, I know this doesn’t compare to 11hrs).

    My feedback:
    – J: The J cabin is essentially the same product as before, but the layout has changed. Now, the even rows (2, 4, 6, 8) have two window seats (A, L) and no longer the uneven rows like in the two class version. This brings the 346 in line with the 332, but obviously creates a bit of uncertainty during the conversion phase. Also, while J loses the two lavatories near door 2, they added one near door 1 on the lefthand side. So, there are now 2 lavatories for 36 pax, while there were previously 3 for 46 pax – which is marginally worse, but probably still tolerable.

    – W: The seat are wide and comfortable, at least for the short moment I sat in one. I would say in terms of width and legroom they are same or even marginally better than domestic First within the US. The problem, as always, is the footrest, which is way too short for tall people like me. There is 1 lavatory for the exclusive use of the 23 W pax, which is much better than some other airlines (e.g. LH, some BA) where W shares the lavatories with Y.

  6. We have a flight from Miami to Madrid, Premium Economy, on September 16, 2017 supposedly on a 330-300. Can I assume that it will be Premium Economy?

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