I flew premium economy on my long-haul Emirates flight. It was cheaper than flying coach at a better time and way nicer.

  • I secured a great deal on a premium-economy seat on a long-haul Emirates flight.

  • This was my first time in premium economy, and I was surprised at how upgraded the experience felt. 

  • Premium economy is worth trying, especially if you can find a good deal like I did.

I had to fly from Melbourne, Australia, to Dubai with only a few weeks' notice, and unfortunately, airfares for direct flights were expensive.

Emirates has three direct flights from Melbourne to Dubai a day at 9 p.m., 2 a.m., and 5 a.m. I wanted to get the 9 p.m. flight as it's the most convenient time to depart, but the airfare was more than $1,400. The 2 a.m. flight was a similar price.

The 5 a.m. flight, however, didn't seem very popular or full, and I found a premium-economy ticket for about $1,250, which was cheaper than economy seats on other flights that day.

Although my flight was expensive, it seemed as if I got a solid deal for a premium upgrade. Rates vary, but I've seen many of Emirates' premium-economy seats cost $800 to $1,500 more than ones in coach.

Plus, I was actually looking forward to my 14-hour trip since Emirates recently placed third in Skytrax's world's best airlines of 2024 — and its premium-economy class came in second.

Here's what my first premium-economy flight was like.

I left home at 2 a.m. to catch my flight, but my excitement kept me feeling upbeat.

The author sitting in a premium-economy plane seat.
During my flight, I got to check out business-class seats, too. Ash Jurberg

A 5 a.m. flight meant an early wake-up call, but looking forward to my upgraded trip put me in a positive mindset before the 14-hour flight.

My experience at the airport was great, too, as there was a dedicated check-in area and priority boarding for premium-economy flyers.

The seats were bigger and far more comfortable than I had expected.

A spacious premium-economy plane seat with two windows.
I had a lot of room in my premium-economy seat. Ash Jurberg

The premium-economy cabin was at the front of the plane, separate from economy. It consisted of just a few rows, which made it feel exclusive.

Two premium-economy seats took up about the same space as three economy seats, so I had a lot of room to stretch out.

With the extra width and seat recline, I didn't feel cramped and could easily relax or stretch out to sleep.

The seat-back entertainment screens were also a nice size at just more than 13 inches, which made watching movies a better experience.

Across the whole cabin, there was a feeling of more space.

The author lunging with his arms outstretched in a plane cabin.
I had enough room to stretch out on my flight. Ash Jurberg

The aisles in premium economy felt wider, which allowed for easy movement throughout the cabin. Passengers weren't bumping into the aisle seats to try to squeeze through like they often do in economy.

At the front of the cabin, there was a decent amount of space, so I walked around and even did some stretches and Pilates — a great way to keep my muscles moving and blood flowing on a long flight.

There was rarely a queue for the toilets as there were three dedicated restrooms in premium economy that easily accommodated the number of passengers in the cabin.

The in-flight food felt premium, too.

A plate of pancakes and a croissant, a bowl of fruit, and a bowl of chia pudding on a tray table.
I had a sizable breakfast during my flight. Ash Jurberg

Breakfast was served about 45 minutes after takeoff, which was great timing so I could eat and then go right to sleep. I also got lunch about halfway through the flight and a hot snack shortly before we landed.

My meals, which I was able to select from a long menu, were served on actual dishware with metal cutlery. Without disposable utensils and plates, the dining experience felt way more premium.

The food was tasty and filling, and additional snacks such as nuts, chips, and fruit were available throughout the flight.

I kept hydrated via a constant supply of water bottles, and although I didn't drink, there was a wide range of complimentary liquor, beer, and wine on offer.

The onboard service was pretty great.

The author sitting in a premium-economy plane seat and smiling.
With fewer customers to serve, my flight felt more personalized. Ash Jurberg

The Emirates staff members were attentive, and with the premium-economy section pretty empty, my flight felt more personalized.

The onboard crew seemed friendly and always ready to help.

When I asked a crew member to take some photos of me, she didn't hesitate and even offered to give me a tour of both the business and first-class cabins.

I felt a bit like an intruder as I took her up on the offer. The seats, amenities, and experience in these cabins seemed another few levels up — and they gave me something to aim for in the future.

Overall, the experience exceeded my expectations, and I'm glad I found a deal.

A TV screen on the back of a plane seat showing an Emirates welcome screen.
I get why Emirates has an award-winning premium economy. Ash Jurberg

The flight went by quickly — well, as quickly as 14 hours can go —and I felt more rested than on previous long-haul flights.

I can see why Emirates' premium economy is rated so highly, and I'd recommend trying it, even if you have to pay a little more.

After getting my ticket for less than coach, I'd suggest looking at the cost of premium economy on less-desirable flights. You may need a bit of luck and some last-minute planning, but it could pay off.

Getting up earlier than I wanted was worth it to travel with perks — and flying in premium economy is certainly a great way to kick off any trip.

Read the original article on Business Insider