These Low-cost Airlines Offer Premium Economy on Transatlantic Flights

Champagne anyone?

Finnair is taking off in the Brussels airport
Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

Flying a budget airline doesn't have to mean compromising with a budget experience.

For what you might pay to be crammed into the back of the plane on a legacy airline, you could buy yourself a premium international experience onboard a low-cost carrier, one that comes with extra legroom, free-flowing champagne, lounge access, and indulgent multi-course meals.

Several low-cost carriers now offer premium economy cabins, making it a whole lot easier for travelers to elevate their travel experience without blowing their vacation budgets.

If you're dreaming of waking up-well rested when you land on your next long-haul adventure, these are the international carriers that should be on your radar.


Flying over Iceland's spectacular sights to mark the arrival of Icelandair's new Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane
Pall Jokull for Icelandair/The Brooklyn Brothers/Getty Images

Icelandair's Saga Premium service really does include everything, plus 40 inches of legroom.

Travelers flying Saga Premium on Icelandair can expect hot towels, pillows, and blankets at their seats as well as complimentary meals and drinks. Each seat is equipped with a power socket, and inflight WiFi isn't just available, it's included for up to two devices.

Saga Premium passengers also receive priority check-in, two pieces of checked luggage, two pieces of carry-on luggage, and access to an airport lounge. And don't worry about weighing those checked bags to make sure they're under the weight limit. Saga Premium passengers can pack up to 70 pounds in each checked suitcase at no extra cost.


Finnair is in the process of rolling out its first-ever premium economy product, complete with Marimekko neck pillows and dedicated laptop storage.

Each Premium Economy cabin on Finnair will have just 26 seats and promise 50% more space than the airline's traditional economy seats. Cabins are designed with a 38-inch seat pitch, giving them an additional seven inches of space to spread out.

Each seat comes with memory foam cushions, an adjustable headrest, power outlets, and a 13-inch seatback entertainment screen. Passengers traveling in Finnair's premium economy cabin will get to feast on a three-course meal served on custom dishes. Unfortunately, champagne is not included.

French Bee

Before takeoff, passengers boarding a French bee airbus
Corre S/Alpaca/Andia/Getty Images

French Bee's premium economy seats don't quite lay flat, but they recline enough to catch some rest. There's a seatback entertainment system at every seat, and Wifi is available onboard.

French Bee premium economy seats are 18 inches wide and have adjustable head and foot rests to make it easy to get comfortable even without a lie-flat seat. The seats are plushier and more comfortable than the average budget airline seat, but if the passenger in front of you is fully reclined, space might be tight.

French Bee's premium economy seats have a 36-inch pitch, making them a tighter squeeze than premium cabins onboard Icelandair and Finnair. French Bee's cabin is also configured with middle seats.

But there are a couple of perks onboard French Bee that may be harder to find, especially on budget transatlantic airlines. Flight attendants hand out tablets stocked with magazines at the beginning of flights, and there's free-flowing Champagne from Nicolas Feuillatte on board.

Norse Atlantic Airways

Rendering of a Norse Atlantic Airways airplane in flight
Courtesy of Norse Atlantic Airways

Norse Atlantic Airways, which plans to begin flying later this year, plans to have two cabins onboard each of its flights — economy and premium economy.

Details are still emerging, but one thing is for sure. Norse Atlantic Airways premium cabins won't feature lie-flat seats. Norse Atlantic has plans to fly between Oslo, Paris, London, New York, Florida, and Los Angeles.

Meena Thiruvengadam loves wandering new streets and discovering the world's stories. Subscribe to her newsletter, and look for her on Facebook and Instagram.

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