Why Turkish Airlines Removed Its Premium Economy Cabin

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Turkish Airlines’ premium economy option, styled as ‘Comfort Class,’ was a hit with passengers during the brief time it was available. However, the airline soon bucked industry trends and got rid of it. Here’s why:

Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300ER
Despite rave reviews from travelers, Turkish Airlines removed its premium economy option. Photo: Getty Images

Comfort Class and its many perks

Comfort Class was Turkish Airlines’ answer to premium economy. With various perks, including extra space, priority boarding, business class level meals, and improved amenities, the overall experience was a significant upgrade on standard economy.

Legroom was very generous at 46 inches, considerably more than most airlines’ premium economy seats, and 19.5 inch-wide seats in a 2-3-2 configuration made Comfort Class feel almost like business class. The convenience of skipping boarding/check-in queues is another reason why premium economy options remain popular with travelers.

Business class meals onboard a Turkish Airlines flight. Photo: Sebastian White via Wikimedia Commons

Comfort Class was available exclusively on Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300ER jets. There were a lot of Comfort Class seats onboard – 63 in all – along with 28 business class seats. Despite most airlines gravitating towards premium economy seating at the time, Turkish Airlines had decided by 2013 that its Comfort Class had to go.

The premium economy experience had a few flaws

One of the biggest drawbacks of going Comfort Class was the lack of availability across all flights. Since the premium economy cabin was only available on 777-300ERs, many Comfort Class travelers would be forced to downgrade to economy for connecting legs. The lack of a full-Comfort Class experience led many travelers to avoid paying extra altogether.

777-300ER
Passengers were often unable to book Comfort Class for the full duration of their journey. Photo: Boeing

Turkish Airlines was also offering a lot more premium economy seats compared to other airlines. With 63 available, the airline had trouble filling up its Comfort Class cabin consistently, especially with 28 business class seats available too. While the overall concept and quality of service was spot on, Turkish Airlines may have overstretched itself by offering far more seats than the level of demand.

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Poor sales led to Comfort Class being discontinued

Although Comfort Class was considered one of the best premium economy experiences anywhere, it wasn’t making enough money for Turkish Airlines due to a lack of demand. Turkish Airlines CEO Temel Koti confirmed that the carrier no longer had Comfort Class in its long-term plans in 2013. The airline ordered new aircraft with a two-class arrangement and began removing Comfort Class seats from its fleet of 777-300ERs by 2016.

Turkish 777-300ER
Turkish Airlines began removing its Comfort Class from planes by 2016. Photo: Boeing

Operating heavily across the Middle East, Turkish Airlines was offering premium economy in a market unfamiliar with the concept. Premium economy was only introduced in the 1990s by EVA Air before catching on with other carriers globally. While the concept had firmly established itself in Europe and North America, it was a relative unknown in the Middle East and has never taken off in that region.

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Emirates, Airbus A380, Premium Economy
Emirates recently announced its new premium economy cabin. Photo: Emirates

However, Emirates unveiled its upcoming premium economy seating recently to much anticipation. In response, regional rival Qatar Airways CEO, Akbar Al Baker, claimed that his airline would never offer premium economy as its regular economy service is already far ahead of the competition.

Do you think premium economy is worth it, or just a gimmick by airlines? Let us know in the comments.

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