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.
- 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.
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?