American Introduces International Premium Economy

American Airlines Premium Economy - Image Courtesy; AA

During a November interview with the Australian Business Traveller, Doug Parker told the publication that the airline was looking at adding a Premium Economy product, though he didn’t provide any specifics.

We’re looking at it….We think there’s a lot of opportunity there.

This morning, American became the first U.S. airline to introduce a Premium Economy cabin. Though other airlines, such as Delta, offer additional legroom and some extra amenities with their Comfort+, it’s not a true premium economy product.

Benefits

Passengers sitting in premium economy will receive the following amenities at the airport and in-flight.

American Airlines Premium Economy - Image Courtesy: AA
American Airlines Premium Economy
  • Priority Check-In/Boarding
  • Two Checked Bags
  • Amenity Kits
  • Complimentary Alcohol – a selling point for many 😉
  • Enhanced Meal Service
  • Wider Seats with Extra Legroom
  • Noise Cancelling Headphones
  • Personal AVOD

Where to Find Premium Economy

American will introduce the new product on the first of twenty-two Boeing 787-9s that should be delivered around this time in 2016. Within the next three years, existing widebody aircraft, which include the 777 (772ER/77W),787-8, and A330 fleets, will receive the new product. The A350, when delivered in 2017, will come with premium economy already installed.

The 787-9 will offer Business Class, three rows of Premium Economy in a 2-3-2 configuration, Main Cabin Extra, which offers customers up to 6 inches of additional leg room, and Main Cabin seats.

All other retrofitted aircraft will continue to offer all-aisle access, lie-flat seats in Business Class, as well as Main Cabin Extra and Main Cabin seats.

There are currently 46 Boeing 767-300ERs in the American fleet, though the fleet plan calls for the retirement of several more as more 787s come online. Because these aircraft will be retired within the next few years, the 767 fleet will not receive premium economy.

American Airlines Premium Economy
American Airlines Premium Economy

For an in-depth look at the new product, take a look at this virtual tour on AA.com. It is hard to get a true sense of what the product will be like, though it definitely offers a better look than the fixed pictures above.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 11.27.59 AM

Final Thoughts

We do not yet know what will happen with upgrades from the main cabin to business class. I see two possibilities, one a lot worse (for elites and those who like to upgrade) than the other.

  • Passengers who wish to upgrade to business class must purchase premium economy and then request an upgrade with a Systemwide upgrade certificate or with miles and a copay
  • American will do something positive and allow passengers to upgrade from main cabin to business, without having to purchase anything extra. Personally, I think this is unlikely, despite what American says on Twitter. They’ve been wrong in the past, so I wouldn’t put too much money on this statement.

https://twitter.com/Aero0729/status/674605479310454784

Stay tuned for more information regarding the first routes to receive Premium Economy, the cost and other unknown questions. If I had to guess, I wouldn’t be surprised to see London as one of the first routes to receive the new product.


 

Follow the discussion about American adding Premium Economy with other frequent flyers in the American forum on Inside Flyer.

All images courtesy of American Airlines.

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