I think I’ve found the most generous lounge access policy for any airline…
Japan Airlines’ ultra-premium premium economy product
Japan Airlines features premium economy seats not only on their longhaul fleet, but their mid-haul fleet as well. The seats themselves are standard but fairly unremarkable – Japan Airlines employs a fixed-shell seat in premium economy, with privacy dividers between seats.
Japan Airlines 777 Premium Economy
I will say that Japan Airlines has by far the most expensive premium economy product I’ve ever seen. Point-to-point between Hong Kong and Tokyo are never a good indication of what the market looks like (since all ticket prices are inflated beyond belief), though I’ve rarely ever seen a longhaul connecting premium economy ticket with Japan Airlines between Europe/the U.S. and Asia that has priced below £3,000 (HK$30,000) roundtrip, which is insane.
There’s also barely ever any award space on Japan Airlines’ premium economy product, so it’s quite clear that they’re trying to keep this product ultra-premium. From a pricing perspective, it definitely feels more like a “business minus” product than an “economy plus product”.
That being said, I do think I’ve seen the odd Japan Airlines premium economy seat open up at times on Asia Miles or another platform, and I’ve seen a couple of decent fares with them.
Japan Airlines’ generous premium economy/Economy Flex lounge access policy
I’ve never flown Japan Airlines’ premium economy before (I have in their business class), though I always knew that they were one of only two mainstream airlines (with ANA) that allows lounge access for their premium economy passengers. For some reason, up until today I was under the impression that these were inferior contract lounges that were specially chosen for premium economy passengers. Not so.
Now, Japan Airlines chooses the lounges that their premium economy passengers can access (i.e. you can’t just enter any Oneworld lounge the same way you can on a business class ticket), but still the lounge catalogue is insane:
- Premium economy passengers flying out of Hong Kong could use the Qantas Lounge Hong Kong (according to Japan Airlines’ website, they could even use the Plaza Premium First lounge if Japan Airlines’ morning flight had premium economy, though unfortunately it doesn’t)
- Premium economy passengers flying out of Narita/Haneda/Osaka can use Japan Airlines’ flagship lounges in those respective airports
- Premium economy passengers flying out of Paris can use Air France’s flagship business class lounge
- Premium economy passengers flying out of Sydney can use the Qantas business class lounge there
- Premium economy passengers flying out of Los Angeles can use the Oneworld lounge
Those are just a few examples. It seems like in many cases business class and premium economy passengers have access to the same lounges with Japan Airlines.
Economy Flex passengers are also able to access these lounges – yes, you can access the Plaza Premium First lounge at Hong Kong Airport just by holding an Economy Flex ticket. That being said, Economy Flex tickets are perhaps a bit more niche to hold, especially since they can cost up to three times over a standard economy class ticket (in which case you’d probably be better off just booking premium economy).
There are some examples where business class passengers have access to nice lounges whereas premium economy passengers don’t – for example, in Helsinki, business class passengers are given access to Finnair’s gorgeous business class lounge, though premium economy passengers use the Plaza Premium Lounge Helsinki. Similarly, at Heathrow, premium economy passengers are relegated to the Galleries lounge, whereas business class passengers can access the gorgeous Cathay Pacific and Qantas lounges at Terminal 3.
Japan Airlines’ premium economy is quite a premium-priced product, and it’s not the easiest to snag a ticket at a good value with them. However, if you do, there’s a chance you may gain access to one of many otherwise world-class airport lounges before your flight.
What’s the best lounge you’ve visited before a Japan Airlines premium economy flight?