Premium economy has become an increasingly popular option. Iberia introduced their premium economy product in 2017 but how does it compare to their business class experience? In this article, we’ll compare the two products and give you an idea of what to expect.


Before 2017, Iberia only had two cabins – economy (turista) and business. The implementation of premium economy (turista premium) gave passengers a new option. Typically, premium economy means a slightly larger seat, greater recline and enhanced amenities. Business, on the other hand, features lie-flat seats, lounges at the airport, and upgraded food and drinks. They both offer different things, and when thinking about Iberia business vs premium economy, much will depend on how much you’re willing to spend, and the experience you’re looking for.  As the name suggests, premium economy on Iberia is closer to what you’d expect in economy than in business, but it’s an upgrade for sure.

View from window at Plaza Mayor Lounge in Madrid Barajas Terminal 4

Of course, when discussing Iberia business vs premium economy, cost is always going to be a major consideration. The price difference will vary substantially depending on the route you’re flying, and when you want to travel. This said, to provide an idea, I’ve looked at the cheapest available 7 night return flights between September and November 2024 in each cabin on four major routes.

Madrid to New York return:
  • Business: €1,856
  • Premium Economy: €827
Madrid to São Paulo return:
  • Business: €2,085
  • Premium Economy: €1,115
Miami to Madrid return:
  • Business: €3,694
  • Premium Economy: €1,451
Mexico City to Madrid return:
  • Business: €2,573
  • Premium Economy: €1,407

As you can see, the difference in cost varies – and will change dynamically. In these examples, you’d need to be prepared to pay around double the price in cash to book business instead of premium economy. Alternatively, you could book using your Avios if there is availability:

Madrid to New York return:
  • Business: 68,000 + €251.38
  • Premium Economy: 51,000 + €211.38
Madrid to São Paulo return:
  • Business: 85,000 + €214.62
  • Premium Economy: 63,500 + €174.62
Miami to Madrid return:
  • Business: 85,000 + €271.38
  • Premium Economy: 63,500 + €231.38
Mexico City to Madrid return:
  • Business: 85,000 + €319.44
  • Premium Economy: 63,500 + €277.84

If you’re considering booking your ticket with Avios, the difference in cost is somewhat less. This said availability can fluctuate a lot, and finding the cabin you want for the dates you’d like can sometimes be challenging.

Baggage & Seat Selection: Iberia Business vs Premium Economy

Unlike fares in economy, all premium economy and business class tickets include checked bags. In premium economy, your ticket always includes 2 bags in the hold at a maximum of 23kg each. Curiously, it’s slightly more complicated if you’re travelling in business class. Here, you’ll also be entitled to 2 bags in the hold at a maximum of 23kg each, unless you booked an ‘optimal’ fare, in which case you’re only allowed 1 checked bag.

If you like to book your seat in advance and decide to book an ‘optimal’ fare in either premium economy or business this will only be possible free of charge 24 hours before your flight. If you want to reserve your seat before this, you will need to pay. For any other (more expensive) fare types, seat selection is free of charge anytime after booking.

Of course, if you have oneworld ruby, sapphire or emerald status, you will be able to utilise your frequent flyer baggage and seat selection benefits.

Overall though, there aren’t really that many differences between business and premium economy. In fact, premium economy would come out as the winner, since even the cheapest ‘optimal’ fares include 2 checked bags.

At the airport: Iberia Business vs Premium Economy

The airport is where you’ll start to see some bigger differences between Iberia business and premium economy. Iberia has dedicated check-in desks for passengers travelling in business class. This means you’ll usually get through the airport formalities at a faster pace. In addition, you’ll be able to use priority security lanes, where this service is offered. When it comes to boarding, business class passengers are the first to board, making the embarkation process a little smoother.Madrid Barajas Iberia Business Class check-in area

In premium economy, the airport experience is more similar to that of economy than business. While services such as priority check-in and security aren’t offered, you will be entitled to priority boarding after passengers in business have boarded. Essentially, in premium economy you’re paying for the differentiated experience onboard, rather than for any thrills on the ground.

Premium economy also doesn’t include lounge access. If you’re flying in business though, lounge access is included. Of course, the quality of the lounge you’ll be able to use depends on the airport you’re travelling through. Iberia’s lounges in Madrid are excellent though, and well worth visiting if you’re able to.

madrid barajas iberia Velázquez lounge

If you’re travelling in premium economy, you still have options. We’ve previously shared how you can get a free DragonPass and visit any participating lounge for £24 (approx €28/$30) per visit. Although airline lounges usually aren’t accessible through schemes like DragonPass, there can be exceptions. For example, if you’re flying from São Paulo, Iberia invite their business class passengers to use LATAM’s lounge. This same lounge also accepts entry through DragonPass.

madrid barajas iberia Velázquez lounge

In general terms, however, the lounge you’ll be able to access by flying in business will be better than anything you’d be able to access through a lounge membership scheme.

Seats: Iberia Business vs Premium Economy

As you’d expect, there is a considerable difference in comfort between business and premium economy. Whereas in business you’ll have a lie-flat seat, in premium economy the seat is more similar to economy – although with added space and recline. I really like Iberia’s business product. It’s currently being updated with a newer ‘suite’ design, which we’ve previously reviewed. The older product, without doors, is still very good though.

Iberia a330 business medellin

In business, you can convert your seat into a fully flat bed. The seats themselves do feel fairly spacious, and even where the suite product isn’t available, I’ve always found the seats to feel private.

Iberia A350 New Business Class Suite

In premium economy, you will enjoy an upgraded experience when compared to Iberia’s standard economy product. However, if you’re expecting a ‘business-lite’ product, you’ll likely be disappointed. There’s an increased seat pitch of 93cm / 37 inches which is a substantial upgrade over economy, where seat pitch ranges from 77-81cm / 30-32 inches. If you want to rest and grab some sleep, the increased recline in premium economy does make a difference. You can recline by 18cm / 7.1 inches, instead of the 13-15cm / 5-6 inch recline in economy.

During my trip in Iberia premium economy from Madrid to Lima on the A350, I travelled in 11L, which is an emergency exit seat. This was good because I had unlimited legroom. I struggled with the leg rest though – it was difficult to extend, and I didn’t find it particularly comfortable to use.

As you’d expect, the seat you’ll enjoy in business is substantially better than in premium economy. For me though, this is more of an important factor on an overnight flight. If you’re flying during the day and aren’t planning to sleep, you might conclude that the additional fee for a lie-flat seat isn’t as good value.

Amenities: Iberia Business vs Premium Economy

The amenities offered by Iberia also vary between business and premium economy – although to be fair, the difference isn’t huge. In business, Iberia has recently introduced a mattress topper. I thought it was a nice touch on my most recent flight, although to be honest, the increase in comfort was fairly marginal. You’ll also be given a pillow and a fairly good-quality blanket.

In premium economy, the blanket is very similar to economy, although the pillow is an upgrade. In my opinion, Iberia could easily offer the same blanket in premium economy as business – and it’d feel like a nice upgrade.

You’ll receive an amenity kit in both business and premium economy. In premium economy, this consists of an eye mask, flight socks, a dental kit, and earplugs. The overall quality isn’t great. The business class amenity kit is a little more substantial, featuring better quality products, as well as additions like lip balm and moisturiser. While amenity kits are fun to receive, I don’t attach a huge deal of value to them.

Iberia A350 - Mattress pad and storage cupboard

If you enjoy using the in-flight entertainment system, the screens in business class are substantially bigger – 15.4 inches on the A330 and 18.5 inches on the A350. In premium economy the screens are smaller, although still perfectly adequate at 12 inches on the A330 and 13 inches on the new generation A350. I don’t tend to use the IFE system much – but the content is the same regardless of the cabin you’re travelling in.

Iberia a330 business medellin

Both business and premium economy have dedicated power plugs at your seat. Iberia also offer noise-cancelling headphones – these are the same in both business and premium economy. To be honest, I’ve never found them to be that brilliant, and prefer using my own.

Food and Drink: Iberia Business vs Premium Economy

Generally speaking, I find Iberia’s business class food to be very good. It’s improved a lot in recent years and I’ve always been fairly impressed with the quality and presentation. In premium economy, you will enjoy an upgraded dining experience compared to economy, although I feel Iberia could make more of an effort. Recently, Iberia has introduced a feature which allows you to see the menu for your flight before departure. This can be a useful place to look if you’d like to know what to expect.

Iberia a330 business menu

In business you’ll be offered a three-course meal shortly after take-off, and a smaller meal before arrival. As mentioned, I’ve always found the quality to be good. My only complaint would be the fairly poor snack options between meals – usually some fairly unappetising sandwiches or a chocolate bar.

Iberia a330 business food

Drinks options in business on Iberia are excellent and I especially rate the quality of wines offered. In my experience, Iberia is really consistent in this area and I’ve found the wines available to be of a high quality and far better than on more flashy airlines like Qatar Airways. Iberia also has a good range of spirits and soft drinks to choose from, should you prefer.

In premium economy, there are minor improvements in catering compared to the standard economy product. During the first meal service, you’ll be offered an upgraded main course option – and it’s much closer to business than economy in quality. Unfortunately, the starter (usually a salad) and dessert (usually some sort of industrial cake) are exactly the same as economy. Likewise, the final meal before arrival is the same. Drinks are also identical, which to be honest, is fairly disappointing. Expect a basic drinks menu, without any extras like spirits or herbal teas.

Service: Iberia Business vs Premium Economy

Iberia often gets mixed reviews online about the level of service onboard. Personally speaking, I’ve always had good experiences with Iberia. As you’d expect, business class has a dedicated crew. Unfortunately, premium economy does not and shares its cabin crew with the main economy cabin. While I found the service pleasant when I tried out premium economy, it did tend to be slow.

In business, service is generally more personalised, and since the cabin has its own dedicated crew, it’s usually faster as well. While the crew tend to base themselves in the galley between meal times, they’re very responsive if you use the call button, and it’s never a problem asking for things like additional drinks.

In business, drinks are always served in proper glassware. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in premium economy, where disposable plastic cups are used instead. Likewise, while proper porcelain is used for the main meal service, at all other times, the presentation is exactly the same as economy. This is a shame and it’d be great if Iberia took the opportunity to offer things like proper glassware in premium economy.

Iberia business vs premium economy drinks

Shortly after boarding, you’ll be offered either orange juice, water or cava in business. In premium economy, you’ll be able to choose between orange juice or water. Again, it surely wouldn’t be that difficult for Iberia to also offer passengers in premium economy a cava option. Small upgrades like this would improve the premium economy offering, and provide a more enjoyable experience.


In my experience, Iberia tends to be very consistent. While rarely exceptional, I always enjoy my flights with Iberia and I like the product. I prefer flying with Iberia than the likes of Qatar Airways – it’s less over the top and flashy, but delivers consistently where it’s important. The seat is comfortable, the catering is very good, and the wines are excellent. On the ground, Iberia’s lounges in Madrid are some of the best in Europe and a nice place to start your journey.

I enjoyed trying out premium economy. It’s a step-up from economy, although its value largely depends on the price being charged. If it’s a couple of hundred euros over economy, but substantially cheaper than business, it’s definitely worth considering. I prefer the 2-4-2 layout to the 3-3-3 configuration in economy – it’s especially good if you’re travelling as a couple since you can choose a window seat and have no one next to you. Iberia’s premium economy definitely isn’t trying to be a ‘business-lite’ product, and it’s worth remembering this and adjusting your expectations accordingly.

If you’re thinking about redeeming your Iberia Avios, I don’t think premium economy is such a great deal. On a flight to New York, for example, the difference between premium economy and business is just 17,000 Avios return. For this relatively small difference in price, I’d definitely recommend trying to book in business class instead.

Have you travelled in Iberia business class or premium economy? How did you find the experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts!