Boeing Dreamliner 787: Premium vs Economy (LOT Airlines)

For my first flight on the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, I decided to treat myself to a Premium Economy ticket one way to compare value and experience. This particular flight was on Poland’s national carrier, LOT Airlines, which has direct flights from New York, Chicago, and Toronto to Warsaw, a major hub for subsequent flights to Eastern Europe and Asia.  I paid an additional $400 for the one-way Premium upgrade.  A great feature of LOT is that you can further upgrade your ticket to the next level up through an online auction.  The minimum bid to upgrade to Business was $300 and you cannot upgrade fares that are deeply discounted (e.g. their “Crazy Wednesday” fare).

The new Dreamliner’s have three seating options – Economy, Premium Economy (normally considered Business class), and Business (normally considered First Class).

Premium Economy

Food & Beverage

Your flight begins with a glass of juice or sparkling wine. Refills are plentiful and come directly from the bottle.  A personal bottle of water is immediately provided. Food service of course features real plates, cutlery and cloth napkins.  A menu outlines your four course dining experience and selection of included alcohol choices, which are great (Wolf Blass Yellow Label…don’t mind if I do!).  For dinner, the first course is shrimp with prosciutto and salad, followed by beef tenderloin or herbed chicken, a cheese plate, and dessert.  The snack was yogurt with a fresh salad and a selection of meats, cheeses and croissants.  A+ for food.  I was disappointed they didn’t have Bailey’s for after dinner even though it was on the menu, but the flight attendant’s recommend was strong and delicious.

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Service

Excellent! The flight attendant was very attentive but not overbearing and with only 3 out of 21 seats filled in Premium, perhaps we got an even better experience than usual.  Surprisingly, Business Class was much more full than Premium on this particular flight. I felt like we received the same level of personalized service, with one flight attendant designated for our area.

Comfort & Amenities

Overall the whole seating/entertainment system was a bit complicated to figure out but once you do, it’s all wonderful! The seat width at 54cm was incredibly comfortable and with the full leg rest and deep recline, it felt like sitting in a lazy boy chair.  The cushy blanket and fluffy pillow were very cozy and between that, the comfy seat and unlimited wine/after dinner drinks, I had a fantastic sleep on my red-eye flight.  You can also tint the windows to your level of comfort with the push of a button (this features applies to Economy Class also).  The welcome amenity kit featuring socks, a toothbrush/toothpaste, and eye mask was a nice little treat.

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Each seat has its own Entertainment System but movie choices are the same as in Economy and really quite limited. For example, under TV Shows – Comedy, only 6 shows are listed and you can only see one episode of each.  That’s really not enough for an 8.5 hour flight!

Note – Premium and Economy class share the same bathrooms which is a bit awkward.  More on that below.

Economy

Food & Beverage

No alcoholic drinks included in this class and the food was just ok. Dinner consisted of a good Nicoise type salad, a macaroni salad, plus chicken or beef with overcooked vegetables and potato dumpling plus a warm roll and a chocolate bar for dessert.  Snack was half a very dry sandwich plus a decent fruit salad and the same chocolate bar as before.

Service

Just ok – the drinks came out much later than the meal and once we didn’t receive drinks at all. A person who ordered vegetarian in front of me did not receive his meal and I’m not sure what he ended up eating…flight attendants were apologetic but still.  There was also a drunk passenger who attendants continued to serve, once 3 beers at once!

Comfort & Amenities

Well, it’s not Premium! The 43 cm seat width felt tight after having flown in Premium but really you still had a foot rest and room to recline, so better than some other planes.

Individual entertainment systems, blankets, pillows, headphones and newspapers were all provided free of charge – nice touch!

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The bathrooms are a bit odd on this plane. It took me quite a while to figure out how to flush the toilet, and the method is not consistent (in some bathrooms you lower and lift the seat, in others you touch a button, and some flush automatically).  Nice touches included a fresh rose, hand cream and air freshener in all bathrooms.

Bottom Line

If you have the money, spend it to upgrade to Premium! At the very least, try the online seat auction to get an upgrade if your ticket category qualifies you.  The food, service and comfort offered in Premium is really second to none (except maybe for Business Class!).  However, you will find many of the features of the new Dreamliner and LOT customer service to be consistent across both seat categories.  Premium just gets you started on that restful, holiday feeling right away.

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