American Airlines made an announcement today that they are launching Premium Economy in late 2016 first with its new 787-900 Dreamliners and gradually to 777, 787, A330 and A350 fleet.
Many international airlines have had Premium Economy products for years because increasing number of businesses have economy only travel policy even on long-haul flights.
Here’s the press release from AA:
FORT WORTH, Texas, Dec. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — American Airlines will offer customers even more choice by introducing Premium Economy on its international widebody fleet. Premium Economy will be available in late 2016, and will offer a new class of service directly behind Business Class, providing an enhanced product offering compared to the Main Cabin. This product will offer a new type of seat with benefits that include:
- more legroom
- wider seats
- personal on-demand
- noise reducing headphones
- priority check-in and boarding
- checked baggage allowance
- amenity kits
- enhanced meal service
- spirits, beer and wine
“Travelers want more choice when they fly and have unique preferences depending on each trip. Our customers tell us they want a class of service between Business Class and Main Cabin, and this feedback provided the genesis for our new Premium Economy service,” said Andrew Nocella, American’s chief marketing officer. “Premium Economy is offered today by many premier carriers around the world. We studied those offerings and developed a world-class product with larger seats, more legroom, improved entertainment and upscale headphones and amenity kits, just to name a few features of this new service. As the world’s largest carrier, we are excited to introduce this product for our customers.”
New Planes and Retrofit Plans
American’s first plane with Premium Economy seating will be its Boeing 787-9, which is expected to enter service in late 2016. The 787-9 will offer Business Class, three rows of Premium Economy in a 2-3-2 configuration, Main Cabin Extra, which offers customers up to 6 inches of additional leg room, and Main Cabin seats. Premium Economy will also be installed on the Airbus A350, which arrives in 2017.
American will also add Premium Economy to all Boeing 777-300ERs, 777-200ERs, 787-8s and Airbus A330s over the next three years. The 777-300ER will feature First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy, Main Cabin Extra and Main Cabin seating options for customers. All other retrofitted aircraft will continue to offer all-aisle access, lie-flat seats in Business Class, as well as Main Cabin Extra and Main Cabin seats.
The Boeing 767-300s will not be retrofitted with Premium Economy as those aircraft are scheduled for retirement in the coming years.
Customers sitting in Premium Economy will enjoy a leather seat featuring 38 inches of pitch, personal on-demand entertainment systems, larger touchscreen monitors with access to movies, TV shows, music and games, and noise reducing headphones.
On the ground, customers will be able to check up to two bags free of charge and board earlier with priority boarding. In the air they will enjoy an enhanced meal service, access to global Wi-Fi connectivity, hours of on-demand entertainment, as well as complimentary wine, beer and spirits.
This probably doesn’t bode well for those Executive Platinum eVip upgrades that grand one cabin upgrade. You probably need to purchase Premium Economy in order to upgrade to business once this seating option is available fleetwide.
It probably will take a year or two before this product is installed to all existing widebody fleet. This is usually done during the heavy checks.