American’s Longhaul Fleet Will Be Retrofitted With Premium Economy By June 2018

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.

American’s 787-9 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’s 787-8

American has been operating 787-9s on several international routes since late last year, though they only started selling premium economy for flights as of a couple of weeks ago, as they worked out the service kinks.

We’ve known that American is going to reconfigure most of their longhaul fleet with premium economy in the coming years, though up until now didn’t know about the exact timeline.

Well, as pointed out by JT Genter at The Points Guy, during today’s Merrill Lynch 2017 Transportation Conference, American outlined the timeline during which they plan on adding premium economy to their longhaul fleet:

  • 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

That’s a pretty quick turnaround when it comes to these planes being reconfigured, because as of June 2018, all planes expected to have premium economy will feature the product.

We don’t exactly know what premium economy will mean for the seat counts on these planes. In other words, will the premium economy seats come at the expense of business class seats, extra legroom economy seats, or economy seats? I wouldn’t be surprised to see the business class seat count reduced on some of these planes, unfortunately, as Delta plans to do when they add premium economy to their 777s.

At least the good news is that the systemwide upgrades that Executive Platinum members get can continue to be used for upgrades from economy to business class, essentially allowing you to skip premium economy. Executive Platinum members will also receive complimentary upgrades to premium economy on the day of departure, which is a very nice perk.

Executive Platinum members can continue to upgrade from economy to business class

So if you’re flying American on a longhaul flight over the next year or so, keep a close eye on the seatmap…

Are you surprised to see how quickly American is adding premium economy to their longhaul fleet?

  1. Lucky – how will those same-day upgrades work? I suspect AA will try to push a purchase upgrade at check-in the same day, so would EXP get those seats within 24hours or literally at the gate once there are no more takers for a paid upgrade?

  2. Well I’m assuming on the 777-300ER that they’ll take the current MCE seat area, which is already separated as an area, for Premium Economy and then maybe adding a couple rows of MCE in the current economy section (where it’ll be 10 across instead of the current 9 across)

    On the 787-800, I’m assuming that Premium Economy seats will take place of the 8 business seats that are right in front of economy.

  3. @lucky – JT over at TPG said in a comment that an AA spokesperson confirmed to him that AA EXPs will in fact NOT get complimentary same-day upgrades to PE, nor is that the plan going forward. Very disappointing, if true.

  4. When will you post your Residence and VA business class reviews? BTW, love all your stuff.

  5. American has such great saver award availability that it doesn’t matter if they kill off a few business class seats.

  6. $100 they will miss the deadline. They’re never on time with customer improvements. How’s that one 100% lie-flat longhaul business class upgrade, promised for 2015, doing?

  7. The lie flat program was delayed by AA’s supplier – nothing to do with AA itself. And I suspect upgrades will either be soon restricted or become more expensive (a la Delta).

  8. Yes, I’m surprised at the schedule given how slowly the retrofit of the business class seats has been on the 767’s.

  9. Here’s my speculation. Once ALL the aircraft get retrofitted with PEY, those SWUs will be a one class upgrade. Y to PEY, PEY to J, etc. This is how AA has historically behaved. Once everything is in place, that’s when they drop the hammer.

  10. My recent flight JFK-Milan was a decrepit 767 with ceiling mounted video….
    Just AWFUL!!! Handing out video players in First Class….Haven’t seen this in years!
    And this was at the peak of Milan design week…Pathetic….

  11. Is the future we’re looking at in the points/miles community a world where there is no first class as we know it; that what we now know as business class will require what we now pay for first class; that premium economy will become the new business class in terms of mileage requirements and upgrades (not to mention corporate travel policies); and that economy will continue to be further degraded to incent/obligate more people to pony up money/miles to fly in a “premium” class? It sure seems that this is the direction the airline industry is headed in, though I’d love to be wrong.

  12. I really hope that AA adds real MCE to the 332s when they get PE. Of course the other side of that will probably be that the 77Ws will get 10-across MCE.

  13. Yes surprised. PE takes us back 35 years, when Business Class was really the same as Domestic First, and First Class had a reclining seat with 60 inch pitch.

  14. I thought AA just announced where they were cutting the leg room for regular economy?? Must be because they want to force everyone into paying for an upgrade to get the leg room they got before cutting it.

  15. Does anyone know what planes AA is most likely to substitute for the A330-200’s for flights to Europe from PHL and CLT during the retrofit period?

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