American Airlines Introducing Premium Economy

American Airlines just announced that they will be launching Premium Economy seating on international routes in late 2016 with delivery of their new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. They will also be phasing it into their 777, 787, A330 and A350 planes (they will not add it to the 767 as they expect to retire that aircraft). AA is the first US carrier to introduce premium economy service.

AA Premium Economy Features

  • Extra leg room (38 inches of pitch and footrest)
  • Adjustable leather seats with extendable foot rests (reminds me of the old school business class seats on United)
  • Wider seats
  • Enhanced dining
  • On-demand inflight entertainment
  • Amenities (like eye shades and noise reduction headphones)
  • Free alcohol
  • Priority boarding
  • Power outlets and USB ports
  • Two free checked bags

AA premium economy seatsAA premium economy on demand entertainment

This is certainly a welcome announcement by AA, and one that is a long time coming since BA introduced premium economy over 2 years ago. The seat configuration will be 2-3-2 on the 787, which I think is an ideal layout with the exception of the middle seat in the center, three seat section.

It will be interesting to find out how they plan to price these seats. Since it is a considerable upgrade from economy, and appears to be a clear step down from business class, they will likely price it as a separate cabin from economy, and not as a seat assignment. According to their press release they plan to price it dynamically based on route, season, and demand. Of course their current pricing is based on all of these factors, so what makes it “dynamic” is a good question.

Regardless, this is great news for AA flyers and for the rest of the industry as it shows this era of low oil prices and reduced competition due to mergers has at least resulted in investment in product improvements.

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