American Airlines Unveils Another International Premium Economy Route

Apr 11, 2017

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In October 2016, American Airlines first debuted its brand-new premium economy product on flights between Dallas (DFW) and Los Angeles (LAX). Ever since these Boeing 787-9s were reassigned to international routes on November 3, LAX hasn’t seen scheduled service of AA’s newest Dreamliners. That’s set to change this summer; American Airlines’ sixth international 787-9 Dreamliner route is launching August 4 between Los Angeles (LAX) and Tokyo, Japan (NRT).

Let’s take this chance to review when and where the 787-9 will be flying — and how you can try out AA’s newest business class and premium economy products.

Routes

Currently, there are four routes being serviced by American Airlines’ fleet of six Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. All four of these routes are based in Dallas (DFW), but Chicago (ORD) and LAX are getting some premium economy love later this year. Here are the routes that have — or will have — premium economy service:

  • Dallas (DFW) — Madrid (MAD)
  • Dallas (DFW) — Paris (CDG)
  • Dallas (DFW) — São Paulo (GRU)
  • Dallas (DFW) — Seoul (ICN)
  • Chicago (ORD) — Paris (CDG) — starting July 5
  • Los Angeles (LAX) — Tokyo (NRT) — starting August 4
AA 789 PE routes
The current and future American Airlines premium economy routes. Image courtesy of Great Circle Mapper.

Premium Economy Class of Service

While you can currently fly premium economy on four international routes, American Airlines’ premium economy class of service doesn’t officially launch until May 4. Confusing enough? For the time being, American Airlines is working out the bugs on its premium economy service. So, it’s treating its international premium economy seats and service as part of the regular economy cabin for another few weeks.

If you’re an American Airlines elite, this is a golden opportunity — but it’s about to expire. Now through May 3, you can fly on one of the four existing routes (DFW-MAD, DFW-CDG, DFW-GRU, DFW-ICN) and select a premium economy seat when you book an economy ticket. As these seats are designated as Main Cabin Extra, non-elite members will have to pay extra to select these seats. The cost for these MCE upgrades can be steep (up to $211 one-way), so this option is best for American Airlines Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum members — who can select MCE seats for free.

Status of Upgrades

As it currently stands, you’ll still be able to use systemwide upgrades (SWU) to upgrade from economy to business class on flights that have premium economy class of service. AA hasn’t announced when it’ll let travelers upgrade from economy to premium economy, noting “AAdvantage awards and upgrades into Premium Economy aren’t available now, but will be at a later date.”

While some may be looking forward to using miles to book premium economy, it’s concerning to us Executive Platinum elites that AA follows that statement with the following: “Until then, you can upgrade to Business from Main Cabin and Premium Economy using your AAdvantage miles or systemwide upgrades” (emphasis added). It’ll be quite a blow to the value of a SWU if this transition marks the end of SWUs bypassing premium economy.

Have you flown in AA’s new premium economy cabin?

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