Great news: American Airlines adds partner premium economy awards

Oct 30, 2019

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Compared to some of its Oneworld partners, American Airlines was late to adopt premium economy. But, it was the first US-based airline to introduce a true international premium economy product, and quickly went all-in on the product. In just under two years from AA’s premium economy product debut, the airline installed over 3,000 premium economy seats on 124 wide-body aircraft.

However, it wasn’t until January 2019 that AA added premium economy AAdvantage awards. At the time, premium economy awards were only available on AA’s own flights, but we hoped that partner premium economy awards would quickly follow.

It’s been a long nine months since then, but the wait is over. This morning, American Airlines added its first premium economy partner awards for flights on British Airways. AAdvantage members can book British Airways premium economy — called World Traveller Plus by BA — on AA’s website or by calling an airline reservation center.

Sure enough, we are seeing premium economy awards on British Airways between New York Kennedy (JFK) and London Heathrow (LHR) at 40,000 miles each way. And, as we’ve come to expect with British Airways awards, there’s a steep cash co-pay.

Midday Wednesday, American Airlines updated its partner and Oneworld chart to reflect the premium economy award pricing for all regions. Here’s the pricing for British Airways premium economy awards between the continental US and overseas destinations:

  • Europe: 40,000 miles
  • Middle East: 62,500 miles
  • Indian Subcontinent: 62,500 miles
  • Africa: 65,000 miles

AAdvantage doesn’t allow routing to other regions via transatlantic routes served by British Airways. However, AA also added the following award prices that we will hopefully see soon on partner airlines such as Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qantas:

  • Asia Region 1 (South Korea, Japan): 50,000 miles
  • Asia Region 2: 50,000 miles
  • South Pacific: 65,000 miles

The strangest aspect of the new partner premium economy award charts are for domestic flights and flights between the US mainland and Alaska and Hawaii. Currently AA’s primary partner in North America is Alaska Airlines. Alaska doesn’t offer premium economy, and the mileage partnership between these two airlines is ending March 1, 2020.

In addition to searching through AA’s website, you can check British Airways premium economy award availability through BA’s website or through ExpertFlyer. If there’s no award availability for the flight you’re looking for, make sure to set up an ExpertFlyer availability alert for “P” availability:

While AA is only adding British Airways premium economy awards for now, AA realizes “members value the ability to book award travel with partner airlines.” A spokesperson confirmed that the airline is “actively working to provide even more opportunities to book award travel in Premium Economy through additional partners in the near future.”

In 2018, I flew British Airways premium economy three times and found it rather lackluster, dubbing my experience a “trifecta of mediocrity.” However, in early 2019, British Airways announced a number of enhancements to premium economy including improved catering, new amenity kits and better blankets and pillows.

TPG’s Ben Smithson got a chance to check out the improved product just recently. Sure enough, the meal options and amenities have certainly improved — from plush pillows and blankets to an actual amenity kit. However, Ben summed up the experience as “refreshed but with room for refinement.”

British Airways Premium Economy on the Boeing 777-200. (Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)
British Airways Premium Economy on the Boeing 777-200. (Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy.)

Whether or not you’ve been anxious to book British Airways premium economy awards with AAdvantage miles, it’s always good news when airline mileage programs add new opportunities to redeem miles. As a fan of multiple Oneworld premium economy products, I’m looking forward to AAdvantage expanding its premium economy award offerings to additional partners.

This post has been updated since publishing to reflect the addition of premium economy award prices to AA’s partner award chart.

Featured photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy.

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