Finnair will join the growing list of airlines adding premium economy to their mix, with a new premium economy seat joining the Oneworld member's Airbus A350 and A330 fleet from 2020.
That's still a ways off, and so are details of the seat. For now, all Finnair will admit to is that the seat will be a "highly customised design" located in its own dedicated cabin, and will predictably provide passengers "with increased space and comfort along with an enhanced service offering. "
“We see a growing trend of quality focused travellers, who place a strong focus on the comfort and quality of their travel experience,” says Piia Karhu, Senior Vice President, Customer Experience at Finnair, adding that "our new Premium Economy class will serve the requirements of both leisure and corporate customers."
The rollout of premium economy class to Finnair’s Airbus A350 and A330 jets will begin in late 2020, the airline says, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
Finnair already offers an 'economy comfort' seating option which uses the same seats as the economy cabin but with extra legroom (due to a 35" pitch compared to a standard 31" for economy) and a more comfortable headrest. Passengers also enjoy priority boarding, higher-quality headphones and an amenity kit.
The heavy hitter in premium economy in 2020-2021 will of course be Emirates, which intends to launch an all-new 'sleeperette' design on its factory-fresh Airbus A380s.
Speaking with Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of the June 2018 IATA aviation summit in Sydney, Emirates CEO Tim Clark said the seat was a bespoke design built to the airline’s spec rather than an off-the-rack product, resulting in "a competition among seat manufactures to spec out the designs that we want."
Emirates is looking at around 38 inches of pitch (up to 6 inches more than economy), with a seat that will fully cradle the legs and feet, coupled with a deep 10 inch recline to become a railway-style ‘sleeperette’ rather than being an angled flat bed or ‘sloping sleeper’.
On Emirates' newest Airbus A380s the premium economy cabin will be located at the front of the lower deck with “probably as many as 56 seats", while A380 and Boeing 777 jets already flying will be upgraded through an extensive retrofit program.
Qantas is also planning a third-generation premium economy seat for its globe-spanning Project Sunrise jets to cradle passengers for as many as 20 hours on non-stop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London and New York.
The airline has already "engaged with global aircraft seat manufacturers, inviting them to come up with concepts for next-generation Economy and Premium Economy seats for the long-haul flights," with Qantas International CEO Alison Webster telling Australian Business Traveller that the intent is "to see what kind of a step change we can create for our customers."
Qantas is aiming to have its ultra-long range Project Sunrise jets – which will likely be either a Boeing 777x variant or an Airbus A350-1000ULR – carry over 300 passengers across four classes, including new first class suites.