There are several differences and similarities between Premium Economy and Business Class.

So, if you’re trying to decide between the two and see if the upgrade is worth it, we break down everything you need to know.

In short:

  • Premium Economy is cheaper, but not comparable to Business Class in terms of in-flight comfort
  • Premium Economy has more legroom and better in-flight entertainment and food than Economy class, but Business Class passengers receive better seats and better in-flight entertainment and food than Premium Economy passengers.
  • Premium Economy class is mostly targeted toward Economy passengers who are willing to pay slightly more for higher comfort.
  • In contrast, Business Class is aimed at passengers who want more comfort and luxury but aren’t willing to pay for first class.

Not all airlines offer Premium Economy seats, but it’s becoming increasingly popular.

3 Differences Between Premium Economy and Business Class

These are the 4 biggest differences between premium and business class seats. 


Business class is the more expensive, costing at least 65% more expensive than Premium Economy.  


Business class seats have the most comfortable options with more legroom, recliner seats, and fully flat seats.

Premium Economy has less comfortable seating.  


Business class passengers have access to more services, including fine dining and enhanced entertainment options.

Business class passengers also have priority check-ins and extra baggage. 

Premium Economy passengers have access to some perks like good food and entertainment, but not as much as Business class passengers. 

7 Similarities Between Premium Economy and Business Class

Premium Economy and Business class have the following similarities: 

  1. Priority check-in and boarding.
  2. Priority luggage handling.
  3. Better privacy and space. 
  4. Better food and entertainment than Economy.
  5. They’re targeted at people who value comfort over cost. 
  6. Better attention from flight attendants.
  7. Faster access through security. 

Cost of Premium Economy vs. Business Class

On average, Premium Economy costs 30% more than Economy class. But, the exact cost of Premium Economy depends on the airline and market demand.

Business class tickets cost between three to four times what Economy class tickets cost. But, the exact cost depends on the intended route and market conditions.

Premium Economy May Give You Lounge Access

Premium Economy can provide you complimentary access to airline lounges, which are normally reserved for Business class and First-class passengers.

Not all airlines offer this perk, though.

For example, Japan Airlines provide free lounge access to Premium Economy passengers, but United Airlines only provide a discount to Premium Economy passengers. 

Is it Worth Upgrading to Premium Economy?

Premium Economy provides a better flying experience than flying in Economy, but the upgrade can be expensive.

So, whether it’s worth it or not depends on what extent you value comfort over cost. 

As Premium Economy provides 5-7 extra inches of legroom and better entertainment and food, it may be worth it for you to upgrade to Premium Economy over Economy if you prefer these perks over the increased cost.

The quality of Premium Economy also varies by airline, with some airlines providing a more comfortable experience and better services than others.

The difference in cost between Premium Economy and Economy also varies from airline to airline.

It may be worth upgrading to Premium Economy if you have a long flight and the cost of the upgrade isn’t too high.

Conversely, if you have a short flight and don’t value extra legroom, it might not be worth the upgrade.

Is it Worth Upgrading to Business Class?

Due to the increased comfort and perks of flying business class, it inevitably results in a more enjoyable flying experience.

Whether it is worth upgrading to business or not depends on how much you are willing to pay for the privilege, and how long your flight is.

Generally, as Business Class is very expensive, it’s only worth it if you can comfortably afford the extra expense or want to experience it as a one-off.

Why Business Class is So Expensive

Business Class is so expensive because it’s intended for wealthy professionals willing to pay for luxury air travel.

As Business Class passengers receive the best amenities and comfort, including more legroom, better food, and higher quality service,

Not All Airlines Offer Premium Economy

Not all airlines offer Premium Economy, but it’s becoming increasingly common.

But most of the world’s major airlines are increasingly adopting Premium Economy seats, so it will likely become more common in the future on most flights.

Do All Airlines Offer Business Class?

Most airlines provide Business Class seats.

Business class seats are more commonly available when flying with large airlines on international flights.

Airlines that don’t provide Business Class seats are mostly either budget airlines like Spirit Airlines or domestic airlines. 

Premium Economy vs. Business vs First Class

Premium Economy

Premium Economy was introduced in the 1990s by EVA Air, and has become increasingly popular ever since.

Premium Economy is intended to be halfway between Economy and Business Class. 

Premium Economy has the following perks: 

  • 65% cheaper than Business Class
  • 5-7 inches of more legroom 
  • Wider seats that can recline more 
  • Better food and entertainment
  • Prioritized check-in 

Depending on the airline, additional services like access to an airline lounge may also be offered. 

Business Class

Business Class was introduced in the 1970s to provide better comfort than Economy, but at a lower cost than First Class.

Business Class is also marketed towards professionals traveling for business purposes. 

 These are the perks of Business Class:

  • Comfortable seats that can be fully reclined
  • Wide food and drink choices 
  • Enhanced in-flight entertainment 
  • Priority check-ins
  • Dedicated Cabins 
  • Extra baggage
  • Access to the airline lounges with complimentary food and drink

First Class

First Class is for passengers who want the most luxurious experience, though the First-Class experience can vary widely from airline to airline.

For example, some airlines provide semi-luxury cabins, while others provide fully luxurious cabins with private bathrooms.

That being said, most airlines provide the following to their First Class passengers: 

  • The best seats, with the most legroom and private cabins 
  • The best food and drink options with fine dining options 
  • The best pre-boarding services, including valet parking, dedicated attendants, and faster security check
  • Access to the airline lounge
  • Better service

How to Fly Business Class For Cheaper

Due to the high cost of flying business, there are usually unsold seats.

So as the flight’s departure date gets closer, you are often sent an email from the airline that encourages you to make a bid to upgrade to business class.

As your bid will be lower than the initial cost of buying a business class ticket, it can be a good idea to hold off initially purchasing a business class ticket when booking your flight.

Other ways of flying business class for cheaper include:

  • Being flexible with your travel dates and destination
  • Booking with lower-cost carriers
  • Using frequent flyer loyalty programs to upgrade
  • Subscribe to airline newsletters where they might offer a deal to fly business
  • For a better chance of free upgrade, travel alone

In conclusion:

  • Premium Economy provides more comfort than Economy, and it’s cheaper than Business.
  • Premium Economy does not provide near the same comfort and luxury as Business Class.
  • Premium Economy is aimed toward passengers who want a more comfortable experience than Economy, but aren’t willing to pay the higher cost of Business Class seating.
  • Business Class is intended for wealthier passengers who mostly fly for business and professional purposes.
  • First-Class is for the wealthiest passengers who want to fly commercially in unmatched luxury.
  • All airlines offer Economy Class seats, some offer Premium Economy, and most international airlines offer Business or First-Class tickets.

Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.

Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.

Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).