American’s Premium Economy Is Now On Sale — Here’s What You Need To Know

In late 2015 American announced that they planned on adding a premium economy cabin to much of their longhaul fleet. While the airline has long offered an extra legroom economy section, this is the first time they’re offering an actual premium economy cabin.

American-787-Premium-Economy

The premium economy cabin has debuted on American’s new Boeing 787-9 aircraft, though will eventually also be added to their A330s, 777s, 787-8s, and A350s.

American-787-9

Up until now American has been operating the 787-9 on several routes, though hasn’t actually been selling premium economy. Instead they’ve been letting passengers who have access to Main Cabin Extra assign seats there.

This is because they wanted to work out the service kinks and also needed to realign fare classes to allow the sale of this new cabin. The current arrangement is fantastic, as it basically means elite members can get free upgrades to premium economy at the time of booking, and they already offer the full services.

Originally it looked like American was going to start selling premium economy tickets for travel as of April 3. That assumption was made because for travel prior to that date, passengers could select premium economy seats for the same price as Main Cabin Extra seats. However, about a month ago they pushed that back by a month, and you could assign seats in premium economy through May 3, 2017. I’m not sure what the cause of the delay was.

Which American routes have premium economy?

Well, American has now finally started selling premium economy tickets for the following flights and dates:

  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Sao Paulo (GRU) – for travel after May 3, 2017
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Madrid (MAD) – for travel after May 3, 2017
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Paris (CDG) – for travel after May 3, 2017
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Seoul (ICN) – for travel after May 3, 2017
  • Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Paris (CDG) – for travel between July 5, 2017 and August 5, 2017

How expensive is American’s premium economy?

Given that American has joint venture partners with premium economy cabins on both transatlantic and transpacific flights, American’s premium economy pricing shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

For example, between Dallas and Paris, here’s the nonstop pricing for economy:

AA-Premium-Economy-2

Meanwhile here’s the pricing for premium economy:

AA-Premium-Economy-1

Between Dallas and Seoul Incheon, here’s the pricing for economy:

AA-Premium-Economy-3

And here’s their pricing for premium economy:

AA-Premium-Economy-4

What services can you expect in premium economy?

Passengers in premium economy will get a leather seat featuring:

  • 38 inches of pitch with foot rests
  • Personal on-demand entertainment systems and larger touchscreen monitors
  • Customers will receive:
    • Noise reducing headphones
    • Amenity kits
    • Enhanced meal service with complimentary wine, beer and spirits
    • One free checked bag
    • Priority boarding in Group 4
  • The 787-9 includes 21 Premium Economy seats

Q&As regarding American premium economy

1. Will I continue to upgrade from Main Cabin into Business Class when Premium Economy goes on sale?

Yes. For now, upgrades including systemwide and mileage award upgrades will clear from the Main Cabin or Premium Economy into Business. Upgrades from the Main Cabin to Premium Economy will not be available for the time being.

2. How can I move from the Main Cabin to Premium Economy?

Customers can contact Reservations to purchase the Premium Economy fare. Change fees will be waived.

3. At what rate will I earn Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) for my travel Premium Economy?

Purchased Premium Economy fare tickets for travel on American will earn EQMs at a rate of 1.5 per mile flown

4. Can I redeem AAdvantage miles for travel in Premium Economy?

For the time being, you’ll be unable to redeem AAdvantage miles for travel in Premium Economy.

Bottom line

Ultimately we’ve been very fortunate to be able to select premium economy seats for the price of economy seats up until now. That wasn’t going to last. Fortunately I’m still looking forward to premium economy a lot more than I was expecting to. That’s because American is continuing to allow people to upgrade from economy to business class, and Executive Platinum members even get premium economy upgrades on the day of departure, subject to availability.

What do you make of American’s premium economy pricing? Would you be willing to pay for it? 

Comments

  1. International Premium Economy on most airlines looks a lot like international business class from 20+ years ago. Larger seats without full recline/lay flat + some of the first class amenities. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing necessarily. . I just hope upgrades from the main cabin to business class don’t fall by the wayside with premium economy coming online on more and more airlines.

  2. so far the pricing differential looks rather attractive. I love the concept of PE, but airlines usually attempt to charge too much of a premium over econ to prevent cannibalization from true J. When coupled with (1) lots of discounted J sales and (2) personal flexibility for J award seats, the notion of paid PE is only occasionally a good value proposition.

  3. Agree with henry LAX. It looks nice at those prices. And obviously the free upgrade for elites is a great deal. It’d definitely take a lot of worry out of booking international flights if I knew for sure I’d at least get a seat in PE.

  4. When they plug in the AAdvantage rates for award flights, that is when I think we will see our next devAAlue as they raise business to put P/E in there somewhere.

  5. “Yes. For now, upgrades including systemwide and mileage award upgrades will clear from the Main Cabin or Premium Economy into Business. Upgrades from the Main Cabin to Premium Economy will not be available for the time being.”

    Its not encouraging that the answer above begins with “For now”…

  6. Seems very sloppy of AA to not have all their ducks in a row (awards booking into Premium Economy, deciding to make one-cabin Y to Y+ upgrades) all at the same time. Instead this whole phased approach is confusing at best.

  7. Question: Will upgrades from Premium Economy to Business be prioritized over those from Economy to Business?

  8. Lucky,
    Can AA Gold purchase the premium economy for 50% off once the economy fare has been purchased? Typically, I purchase cheapest fare then pay the half-rate for MCE on domestic routes instead of waiting/hoping for freebie MCE the day of.

  9. Just flew EVA Air Elite Class (= premium economy) YYZ – BKK for Cad $1750 return. Excellent service on spotless 777-300s although BKK – TPE lagged a little bit. Baggage allowance was 130 lb (two bags). Looks a far better value than the more expensive trans-Pacific American deal for Dallas – Seoul which comes with only one bag. Agree that PE looks like the Business Class of old. Just the ticket for those of us paying our own way. Enjoy this site!

  10. Ben, I got a DFW-GRU planned in May. I’m waiting for my SWU to clear. Today I have received an e-mail from AA saying that I can upgrade to Premium Economy for US100 until April 3rd.

  11. If they have one from DFW to HKG, I am interesting. I am willing to spend a little extra for nicer seats.

  12. After being spoiled by JL’s legit PY seat, I’m less excited about AA’s sweaty pleather offering.

  13. @Travlermb – I agree with you. All but one of those new fares are out of DFW. Typical AA – they think everyone in Dallas is sitting on an oil well or trust fund.

    I used to love AA, but the degradation of the airline over the past 15 years has taken it’s toll and gouging Dallasites every step of the way.

  14. What is the reason premium economy is only available from ORD to CDG for a month from July to August?

  15. I am posting this anywhere I find a mention of AA’s Premium Economy seats, because of my recent trip xperience: Word to the wise: do not bother to pay the extra money for premium economy if your flight is on a 757. I just flew round trip Boston-Paris, with the first leg being in a premium economy seat, and the second being several rows back, in the normal economy seats. Both seats were aisle seats. Not only was there absolutely NOTHING better about my seat, it was actually notably more UNcomfortable. They must have done something to the seats to maybe give an extra inch or two (though it felt like the same amount of space), because my seat pinched me and dug into my left leg the entire trip, and I could only recline my seat back about an inch. It was the most uncomfortable flight I’ve ever had, actually. The seat belt was even shorter, so they must have screwed around with the positioning of the seats. There was no special access to anything, same food, same drink options, no USB port (though the AA website suggested there would be). The only thing was that we boarded in group 4, instead of a higher group…. which means nothing if you’ve got a reserved seat, anyway. Ridiculous waste of money. There might be some small perk if on a 767 or 787, but this was nonetheless offered on the 757, despite it providing me nothing.

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