American Is Adding Premium Economy On Flights To Hawaii

Filed Under: American

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. The product debuted on their Boeing 787-9, though in the meantime 777-200s are also starting to get premium economy.

American’s existing fleet will be reconfigured with the following schedule:

  • American’s A330-200s will be reconfigured between September 2017 and December 2017
  • American’s 787-8s will be reconfigured between March 2018 and June 2018
  • American’s 777-200s will be reconfigured between June 2017 and March 2018
  • American’s 777-300s will be reconfigured between December 2017 and June 2018

As the number of planes with the new product keeps increasing, American has now announced that they’ll formally be introducing premium economy on flights to Hawaii. Not all flights will get it, but those operated by 777 aircraft will have the cabin. Premium economy on this plane is in a 2-4-2 configuration.

American has just put premium economy on sale for flights to Hawaii as of December 15, 2017. Specifically, the following routes will feature premium economy:

  • DFW-KOA (starting June 7, 2018)
  • LAX-HNL (only between December 15, 2017, and January 7, 2018)

Customers in premium economy on flights to Hawaii will receive complimentary food & beverages, including spirits, beer, and wine. They’ll also receive an enhanced pillow and blanket.

As far as upgrades and awards go, for all practical purposes premium economy won’t exist:

  • You can’t redeem miles for premium economy
  • You can’t upgrade to premium economy
  • You can continue to upgrade from either economy or premium economy to first class, as before

Interestingly American is allowing free premium economy upgrades day of departure for Executive Platinum members, and I’m waiting to receive clarification about whether this applies to Hawaii as well. I can’t imagine it wouldn’t, but it’s also not explicitly stated.

In many cases it looks like the premium for premium economy is minimal. For example, looking at a roundtrip ticket from Dallas to Honolulu, premium economy is just an extra $150. So this actually represents a great value when you consider that premium economy is very similar to domestic first class in terms of seat comfort. Passengers booking premium economy will also receive 1.5 elite qualifying miles per flown mile.


Would you consider booking premium economy for a flight to Hawaii?

  1. honestly, why pay more for PE when you can pay a little extra and just get a lie-flat seat in First? esp on the red-eye, which is BRUTAL coming back from HI.

  2. While I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to pay $150 to upgrade to premium economy for ~14 hours round-trip, it would be pretty hard to not pay another $382 to get a flat bed…

    If the trip was short the flat seat would help maximize time on the ground, but if it were say five days or longer, I’d probably rather have $764 more to spend in Hawaii and stick with PY.

  3. Definitely.
    I’ve been commuting for work to OGG 4-6 times per year on UA for over six years in their Economy Plus product (PDX-SFO-OGG). It’s a cakewalk at 5 hours outbound and 4.5 (or less depending on the tailwinds) return. I usually take the redeye going home but ‘m usually upgraded to First as a Platinum MM unless it’s high season.
    It’s definitely worth it to upgrade to premium economy over standard economy–more so if you get the bulkhead row. It gets pretty cramped in the cheaper seats and a lot of tourists going to the islands aren’t exactly petite.

  4. Considering how expensive the economy fare is, I’d just shell out for the first… If you are visiting Hawaii you are probably not too strapped for cash anyway.

  5. @ Rohan,

    $1669-$1137 = $532.

    Let’s say roundtrip is 14 hours, $532/14 = $38 an hour.

    You are basically paying $38 an hour to lie down instead of sitting down… Not to mention it’s typically a family of at least 4 going to hawaii, it adds up quickly.

  6. In Los Angeles. Gave up on Hawaii a few years back.

    Flight for family of 4. $4-$6000.
    Rental car $500-$1000.
    3-4 star hotel room. $3-400 a night minimum.
    5 star hotel…forget it!
    Easily $10k for a week.

    No thanks!

  7. Will this be consistent? They always switch that 767 from DFW-HNL to an old one, and sell it as the new configuration until the day of it switches to the old one.

  8. @SP

    More than a thousand dollars a flight? I generally see flights in advance of no more than 800USD. And, try a condo instead of a hotel. It’s cheaper, plus you don’t have to eat every meal out. My extended family of 11 did Maui from LA for a week for 12,000 USD. It’s not impossible.

  9. $1100 rtn in economy to Hawaii is the usual price?! Even $800 seems a bit steep…I was expecting $600…

  10. If Premium Economy at least came with free MCE on connecting itineraries, I’d be tempted. However, when having something knee-saving on the connecting flights would run an extra couple hundred r/t, it’d be hard to justify premium economy and not simply go all the way to first.

  11. I saw this equipment for the HNL-LAX flight come up a few months ago and very quickly booked in first for our redeye home on Christmas Eve. It was around $650 per seat and well worth it in my opinion!

  12. Oh, and especially well worth it with Amex 50% pay with points rebate combined with the Blue for Business 2x points for everything promo last year!

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