You Can Now Redeem Miles For American Airlines Premium Economy

American Airlines has just made award redemptions in premium economy possible.

Which American planes have premium economy?

Of the “big three” US carriers, American Airlines was the first to introduce premium economy on their longhaul fleet.

The airline has quickly retrofitted their fleet, and at this point premium economy is available on 787-9s, 777-200s, 777-300s, and A330-200s. 787-8s are currently in retrofit, and will be completed by mid-2019.

Premium economy is available on longhaul international flights as well as select flights to Hawaii. Note that American also sometimes flies these planes wholly within the lower 48, and in those cases you can just reserve a premium economy seat in the same way you could get a Main Cabin Extra seat — on those flights it’s not a separate class of service.

What are the benefits of premium economy?

Premium economy comes with perks like:

  • Wider seats with foot rests and head rests
  • Enhanced meal service
  • Complimentary beer, wine and spirits
  • Noise-reducing headphones
  • Amenity kits
  • Casper pillow and blanket
  • Priority boarding
  • Two free checked bags

Here’s a guest post that Ricky wrote about his experience flying premium economy from Philadelphia to Munich.

American premium economy redemptions now available

Up until now the airline hasn’t allowed award redemptions or mileage or systemwide upgrades for premium economy. The only way to guarantee a premium economy seat has been to outright book it, and on top of that Executive Platinum and Concierge Key members have been able to request a complimentary upgrade to the cabin on the day of departure.

That has finally changed, as American has introduced award redemptions in premium economy. It’s about time, given that American was the first of the “big three” US airlines to introduce premium economy, but they’re the last of those airlines to introduce premium economy award redemptions.

Note that:

  • They’re not changing any redemption rates in economy, business, and first class
  • You can only redeem for travel in American premium economy, and not for travel in premium economy on partner airlines

How much do American premium economy awards cost?

Like other awards, American’s premium economy awards have several levels of pricing.

Here’s their chart showing the award pricing for premium economy:

Pricing is just about exactly what I expected, and about halfway between economy and business class.

Premium economy isn’t showing up through the usual award search, but if you search at this link you should be able to see all premium economy award availability.

As of now award availability isn’t great. I’m not sure if that’s just American being American, or if they’re still in the process of loading most of the inventory.

What about upgrades to premium economy?

For now American isn’t doing anything to change their upgrade policy. So while you can outright redeem miles for premium economy award redemptions, you can’t redeem miles to upgrade an economy ticket to premium economy (yet).

Furthermore, American isn’t changing their upgrade policy for systemwide upgrades for now. You can continue to use systemwide upgrades to get from economy to business class, and there’s no way to use them for premium economy.

That’s a very good thing, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see that eventually change. However, I imagine at some point we may see all of the “big three” US carriers change their policies in this regard.

Bottom line

It’s nice to see American finally introduce premium economy award redemptions without taking anything away (for now). The prices are just about what I expected.

What do you make of American’s new premium economy awards?

Comments

  1. Hey Lucky.
    I’m thinking of switching my flying to American (I’m currently a United guy, living close to Newark.) I earn United miles on my Chase Reserve, but I really want American miles so I can redeem on things like Qatar, Qantas etc, and AA doesn’t have a credit card partner.
    I’m terrified of flying AA domestic though, especially after all your issues.

    What do you think? Should I stay with UA?

  2. Do we know if they will be allowing premium economy award bookings on partners that offer the products like Cathay?

  3. Does this mean we’ll start seeing more Premium Economy reviews on OMAAT?

    I noticed when booking an award ticket on United last night that they all using miles to redeem in the PE cabin on some flights as well.

  4. @Robel Mahari Habte – Stay far away from AA. Many years ago I was loyal to AA but their award availability is absolutely horrendous and that’s on a good day. If you hope to redeem AA miles at saver award level for great premium products then just stop now – it’s not happening. AA has sadly destroyed their loyalty program over the years and I highly suggest you stick with UA given their better than average availability and fantastic partners. Remember that SA is the largest alliance so you have a lot of products/destinations to choose from.

  5. Premium economy is not exactly how I’d like to spend my precious few miles. But, to each their own.

  6. Billiken

    It really all depends on the award levels. For instance on BA when a PE award is 32.5K then a Business/CW award is 50K. The latter also comes with higher fees.

    I might therefore choose to fly PE over CW and spend the amount saved on a nicer hotel or something else to improve the quality of my trip

  7. It’s a matter of time until SWUs to J are either allowed only from PE, or at the very least are priority waitlisted whereby PE tickets clear upgrades ahead of Y tickets. A serious devaluation of SWUs, but seems inevitable.

  8. @Robel Mahari Habte You have some options. Get the AA co-brand card from Citi. AA frequently sells miles at a discount. They also process the miles purchase themselves, so it codes as travel. Buy them during a promotion when you have upcoming travel.

    Some of their partners are bookable using Alaska. They have a credit card as well, and also sell miles frequently at a discount.

  9. Robel,

    1) United has significantly better availability to Europe than American
    2) If you live near Newark, it will probably be a pain to get to LGA or JFK
    3) United has a significantly better domestic route network out of Newark (and LGA) than American has out of JFK and LGA
    4) As David W says, the best way to accumulate a lot of AA miles is to max out on their miles sales every year. $4,000 a year gets you a ton of miles.

    I use AA sparingly

  10. Pricing to Europe (40,000 OW) looks better than United’s (53,000) and could make sense if you only need one-way. Still, unless you really can’t find business award space, it’s worth coughing up the extra miles (buying them below 2-cpm thru their promos) to get a business award and access to all OneWorld partners for a business class seat.

  11. I just hope AAdvantage won’t increase mileage cost of business class redemptions anytime soon.
    For me, I’d much rather save up my miles and redeem for first class than redeem them for premium economy.

  12. I’m seeing some crazy PE pricing, even higher than the highest amounts quoted in that table you posted. For example, DCA-AKL Nov 6 out, Nov 13 return is coming up at 330,000 miles roundtrip. Heck, business is at 425,000 miles roundtrip, which I don’t recall ever seeing before with AA. Almost feels like this “new award search tool” is copying Delta with crazy high mile requirements. I wonder if this is a move to a model where pricing is more fluid, perhaps giving you $0.01 per mile or something like that. To buy a PE ticket on those dates, AA wants $3,524, so the 330k miles is not far from $0.01 per mile… coincidence?

    BTW, who would pay $3,500 to fly AA in premium economy — to anywhere?!

  13. As someone who has worked with some of these companies before, the more the travel community says things like “I imagine at some point we may see all of the “big three” US carriers change their policies in this regard.”, the more they feel emboldened to make the change. They do actually read these posts…

  14. @OT: +1. This is all part of a very well-orchestrated, and coordinated, effort by the big 3 to shift the playing field in a substantial and permanent way. PE is the old biz class. Biz is the old first. And first will become restricted to truly premium routes and for cash only. (This isn’t terrible though, given the vast improvements to biz hard products in recent years.)

  15. I flew SYD -LAX in comfort plus on Delta, their version of economy plus, with extra leg room and extra recline and my inflatable footrest. It was comparable to Premium Economy and quite comfortable for the 15 hour flight with a delay. We have to get to airport so early these days there is plenty of time to blow up the footrest. I used only 6,000 more miles than coach for the one way, well worth it.

  16. The award chart for premium economy is almost laughable because you will rarely find a segment for what is posted. For example (all one way), PHL>DUB 6/9 is 145K in PE; JFK>LHR 30K in E, but 145K in PE; and LAX>HKG 10/8 is 115k in PE. For some of us, it takes a lot of work, without spending $ on search tool, to find flights for what is listed on award charts. AA isn’t the only carrier that makes it difficult; I hardly ever find Alaska awards in Business available except for BA with high surcharge or Icelandair.

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