As American Airlines brings more new 787-9s to its long-haul fleet, it is making its international premium economy cabin available on additional routes – starting with Australia and New Zealand.
American’s new 787-9s are being delivered with premium economy seating already installed. The airline is also busy at work putting the new middle cabin into its 47 777-200s, a job that should be finished by next March; and its A330-200s, expected to be finished by this December. AA’s 20 777-300ERs should have the extra cabin by June of 2018, and its 787-8s will also get the refit next year.
It’s too early to say when those other wide-body models with new premium economy seating will start flying in specific markets (with a few exceptions – see below), but when a 787-9 is scheduled to start on a route, the new middle cabin automatically comes with it. American’s 787-9s also feature a business class with 30 new lie-flat seats, all with direct aisle access.
On November 8, American is due to introduce the premium economy option on its Los Angeles-Sydney flights when it replaces the 777-300ER on that route with a 787-9.
And this month—after a two-month hiatus on the route – American started flying a 787-9 on its daily Los Angeles-Auckland service, replacing a 787-8. (American has decided to convert LAX-Auckland into a seasonal route, operating only from October through March.)
American introduced the premium economy-equipped 787-9s out of its Dallas/Ft. Worth hub last fall and winter, putting it on routes to Sao Paulo, Madrid, Paris and Seoul.
On November 5, American is due to inaugurate its long-awaited Los Angeles-Beijing daily service with a 787-8. But according to Routesonline.com, American has plans to replace that aircraft on March 25 of next year with a 787-9, offering premium economy seating in the market.
American is expected to put the 787-9 into service early next year on a pair of Japan routes — Los Angeles-Tokyo Haneda and LAX-Tokyo Narita — both beginning January 8. They will replace 777-200ERs on those routes.
Looking at American’s recent schedule filings, we can see 787-9s scheduled to begin flying between Dallas/Ft. Worth and Shanghai Pudong on March 4, replacing a 787-8; and LAX-Shanghai Pudong starting March 25, also replacing a 787-8.
The schedule filings also show AA taking the 787-9 off its DFW-Paris and DFW-Madrid routes starting March 25, replacing them with 777-200ERs. However, those 777s are listed as three-class aircraft, so they presumably have the premium economy option. The schedule also shows a three-class 777-200ER replacing a 777-300ER on AA’s DFW-London Heathrow route starting March 25.
Although it is reconfiguring its wide-bodies with premium economy seating, American is planning to keep offering a Main Cabin Extra option as well – i.e., its extra-legroom seating in the economy cabin. While Main Cabin Extra provides up to six inches of extra seat pitch, AA’s premium economy product will offer slightly more – 38 inches, along with extendable foot, leg and head rests; larger touch-screens; and additional services and amenities including one checked bag free. Seating is in a 2-3-2 layout on the 787-9s.
Delta is also introducing a new international premium economy seating option, called Premium Select, as it puts its new Airbus A350s into service. The first one starts flying next week (October 30) on Delta’s Detroit-Tokyo Narita route. Last week, we detailed other Delta routes that will have new A350 service coming in the weeks and months ahead.
All this of course leads us to the question of when or if United is going to follow American and Delta down the path to real premium economy. Right now it sounds like they are not ruling it out– when we asked directly about this, a spokesperson said, “At this time we do not have details to share regarding Premium Economy. We’re always looking at ways to improve the customer experience and the choices we offer our customers for their travels with United.”
Have you or will you try the new American versions of Premium economy? Will United add one, too? Leave your comments below.
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