Extras, Extras! Read all about Extra Comfort!
Updated: Feb 20
Since the dawn of time, flying in economy class has been a bit of a chore - no leg room, a choice of being squeezed in the middle, against the window, or being hit by people and trolleys on the aisle. We endure these positions for hours at a time with no complaint all because it is the most cost effective way to travel. The people have spoken and we now have more options to help ease the pain and make aviation a more enjoyable experience again.
I'm sure you've heard someone jokingly call economy class on a plane "cattle class" or even "cargo class" and unfortunately it's not always a stretch, so how can you relax on a 17 hour flight without paying for business class? Airlines are combating the negative feedback by giving you more options within economy class that you can book with an extra charge. Some of these are airline and plane specific and not every airline will have the same options, so just be sure to ask about the options when you book your next flight with us.
What to expect: Using Singapore Airlines A350 as an example (view slideshow for more details)
This is debatable whether or not it belongs in this list, but the fact does remain that it is a style of economy. Most airlines are now separating this into a separate cabin, but there are others where this may just be the first few rows in the economy section. Either way, it's still a more affordable solution for premium comfort. Bear in mind, in nearly every instance this will be the priciest answer with prices normally at least double economy class.
Skycouch - Air New Zealand
Exclusive to Air New Zealand, the concept is still relatively new and unique. Basically, you purchase 3 seats in a row at a heavily subsidised price and the attendant will provide you with a mattress, full size pillows, blanket, and specially designed seatbelts so that you don't need to sit up if you encounter turbulence in the air.
There are different prices depending on how many people will be sharing the couch and how full the flight is. For 3 people to purchase a skycouch then it is normally starting from $299, 2 people starting from $699, and 1 person starting from $1399. Single travellers may find that this is a better option over premium economy since you are able to lie flat across the 3 seats, whereas in premium economy it's only a slightly better recline over economy class. Also, this option is great for a parent and 1 or 2 kids; the kids can have the "couch" position raised while mom or dad sit on the aisle and enjoy their seemingly endless entertainment options.
2 adults sharing really depends on how comfortable you are with one another and possibly how agile you are. Once the seats are lifted up into the couch position, to get to the window seat is literally crawling across the other 2 seats. I love the skycouch for the extra space without paying full price for another seat, but their marketing with 2 adults in "cuddle class" is a bit of a stretch. It isn't great for 2 normal sized adults to lie down at the same time, but I have gotten into the habit of the couch lifted up for 2 seats while the second person sits up for half the journey and then switching places for the other half.
Extra Leg room seats : Exit Row Seats & Bulkhead Seats
Rarely will you see an extra leg room seat that isn't one of the other two here: exit row or bulkhead seats. Some research will likely be needed if you want to book one of these and there will be a few things to be mindful of before you fork out the extra money to book.
Exit row seats: you need to be willing to help in the event of an emergency. If you book this seat you will need to be physically able to operate the emergency door if you do need to evacuate the plane. Keep in mind this won't be an ordinary door and it will be heavy/hard to open. On top of this, you need to be able to hear, understand, and follow instructions. If you are hearing impaired, you are likely going to be asked to move should they notice. The reasons for this should hopefully be self-explanatory and it's not meant to be excluding anyone, but it is for everyone on board's safety. And if the idea of the responsibility that comes with the territory of exit row seats doesn't put you off entirely, then it is good for the legroom.
Bulkhead seats: these are the other ones that will occasionally offer extra leg room. These can be found behind any partition in economy class. Buyer beware though, this is also where infants and bassinets will be put and if you are tall, there isn't a seat in front to stretch your legs underneath. If either of these put you off, then you may not want to pay the extra money and consider one of the other options instead.
A common denominator on both bulkhead and exit row seats is that most aircrafts will have the tray table and the entertainment inside the arm console. This does mean that it will make the seat itself slightly slimmer and, also, no entertainment on take off or landing.
Economy Plus / Economy Stretch / Economy Comfort
Different names for different airlines with this one. These are just extra legroom seats without the conditions like those of the exit row & bulk head. For United Airlines (domestic USA), this is essentially their premium economy cabin with seats toward the front of economy class or in its own section. For Air New Zealand, Economy Stretch is their newest feature coming to certain flights in late 2020. Both are advertising these seats as 35 inch pitches (or around in United's case as it varies on the aircraft).
Airlines are finally catching on to the fact that one size does not fit all after all. Years of innovation and customer complaints have finally led to more diversity catering to different shapes and sizes of travellers and I, for one, am happy to see more and more options coming out! This was just a brief sampling of some of the variations out there, but most likely different airlines will have different names for it so just be sure to ask us!