American Airlines Routes Losing Premium Economy or First Class This Fall

Aug 17, 2017

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American Airlines’ fleet has seen a lot of changes over the last year, mostly focused on improving premium economy products while squeezing economy seats tighter on some aircraft. In the last year, AA has retired its embarrassing angle-flat 777 business class product, completed a lie-flat retrofit project on its international 757s and 767s, brought on new 787-9 Dreamliners with premium economy and started retrofitting existing widebodies with premium economy.

Let’s check the state of premium economy routes and take a look at some of the noteworthy changes to AA’s schedule this fall.

Routes Gaining or Losing Premium Economy

On American Airlines’ current premium economy website, there are seven 787-9 premium economy routes listed with notes about upcoming premium economy service on the 777-200s and A330-200s. When we did some digging on the 787-9 routes, we found a few discrepancies between the website and AA’s schedule. So, after confirming some changes with an American Airlines spokesperson, here’s a list of where the 787-9 will be this fall.

Routes with continuing 787-9 service:

  • Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) – Madrid (MAD)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) – Paris (CDG)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) – Seoul (ICN)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Auckland (AKL)

Routes gaining 787-9 service:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Sydney (SYD): Instead of the November 6 inaugural noted on the website, this route will begin using the 787-9 on October 29. This route is currently served by a 777-300ER.
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Sao Paulo (GRU): While this route isn’t listed on the premium economy website yet, we’ve confirmed that this route will switch from a 777-200 to a 787-9 beginning October 29.
  • Chicago (ORD) – Paris (CDG): This route isn’t on the premium economy website but a prior announcement stated this route was originally supposed to get the 787-9 starting July 5. American Airlines flight #150 is now scheduled to switch from a 777-200 to a 787-9 on October 5.

Routes losing 787-9 service:

  • Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) – Sao Paulo (GRU): discontinued October 29 in favor of the larger 777-300ER
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Tokyo Narita (NRT): discontinued October 29 in favor of the 777-200

In addition to all of these 787-9 changes, premium economy class of service will begin on the 777-200 starting December 15. Here are those 777-200 routes. American Airlines will also launch premium economy on its retrofit A330-200s on January 15, 2018.

Assuming no further changes, American Airlines will have quite an extensive network of routes with premium economy in just over five months. The routes will span all five continents currently served by AA:

AA premium economy Jan 15

Routes Gaining/Losing First Class

With the last of American Airlines’ three-class 777-200s now retrofit into a two-class 777-200, international first class cabins on American Airlines are now an endangered species. Only 20 American Airlines internationally-configured aircraft have a first class product: the 777-300ER (77W), whose first class product TPG just reviewed.

Routes gaining 777-300ER service:

  • Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) – Sao Paulo (GRU): beginning on October 29, switching from a Boeing 787-9.

Routes losing 777-300ER service:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Sydney (SYD): discontinued October 29 with service on this route being replaced by a smaller Boeing 787-9

Whether or not these changes are good for you depend on the class of service you intend to fly:

Class of Service Boeing 777-300ER Boeing 787-9
First Class 8 78″ bed, 21.5″ width n/a n/a
Business Class 52 75-78″ bed, 20.5″ width 30 77″ bed, 21″ width
Premium Economy n/a n/a 21 38″ pitch, 19″ width
Main Cabin Extra 45 36″ pitch, 17.1″ width 34 35″ pitch, 17.2″ width
Economy 205 31-32″ pitch, 17.1″ width 200 31″ pitch, 17.2″ width

While the business class products on these two aircraft are both top-notch, the 777-300ER is generally considered a bit better. Also, the 777-300ER has 52 business class seats versus 30 on the 787-9, with similar number of passengers in economy. So, your chances of getting an upgrade are likely better on the 777-300ER.

In economy, the experiences are going to be similar seat-wise. However, the better pressurization, humidity control and windows on the 787-9 make it a better choice.

Bottom Line

The next five months are going to see an unprecedented roll-out of true premium economy across many of American Airlines’ international routes. However, a couple of routes currently with premium economy are losing this option soon.

As premium economy takes off on AA, international first class has dropped down to just 20 aircraft. Travelers are losing the option to fly AA’s first class to Sydney soon, while gaining the opportunity to fly it to Sao Paulo instead.

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