American Airlines was the first of the big 3 US airlines to introduce premium economy back in 2015. They quickly installed the product across their fleet with the last of the 787’s receiving the update by the middle of this year. The one place were AA has been lagging is the ability to redeem miles for the product. Both Delta Air Lines and United Airlines allow awards to be redeemed in premium economy. I wouldn’t recommend using your miles as it really isn’t a great value.

While many people disagree with me here, American Airlines landed the last spot on my top 5 premium economy products. It’s not on the list for its cleanliness but because it’s easily available across the entire fleet and the earnings towards elite status are pretty good. In my opinion, premium economy flights are the easiest way to make a status run.

American Airlines Premium economy seats come with:

  • Wider seats with foot rests
    • Leg rests available in the first row on each plane
  • Enhanced meal service
  • Complimentary beer, wine and spirits
  • Noise-reducing headphones
  • Amenity kits
  • Casper pillow and blanket

American Airlines premium economy award redemptions are now live. It is important to note that American isn’t introducing premium economy award redemptions on partner airlines and the upgrade policy isn’t changing, yet.

How to access the new American Airlines search tool with Premium Economy

Right now it’s little complicated to find, but if you visit this site: https://www.aa.com/booking/find-flights/award and run a search you will see Premium Economy awards available, even though it isn’t listed on the drop down.

You can also find the new award search tool from the Advanced Search button on the home page and following the link shown in the box below.

American Airlines New Premium Economy Award Chart

American Airlines New Award Search Tool

 

While I haven’t had much time to explore, a few things have instantly stood out for me with the new tool.

Pro’s of the new tool
  • AA is being clear about taxes and fees before check out
  • AA is being honest about Mixed Cabin itineraries booked mostly into coach, as its listed in the economy column.
  • AA is prioritizing its own flights over British Airways to Europe
    • This is a big pro as BA charges huge taxes and fees
Con’s of the new tool
  • Where is the sAAver level Premium Economy availability?
  • AA is showing one stop options over non-stop options first
    • After running a search it sorts by relevance at default, but qualification for relevance doesn’t make sense as the direct flight shows up 5 spots down to a one stop flight with British Airways
    • Sort by number of stops to fix that for now
  • Because AA is prioritizing its own flights, the most expensive awards are showing first over the cheapest
  • AA may have added new AAnytime award levels
    • Flights from Miami (MIA) to London (LHR) are now pricing up to 215k miles one way (a terrible deal) while under the old system, the maximum AAnytime 2 level was 175k one way
  • AA doesn’t allow you to book Economy Web Special fares via this new tool

Thoughts

The new tool clearly needs work, hopefully the fix will come when American Airlines adds in filters and the 30 day calendar. Hopefully AA doesn’t kill its existing tool until the new once is ready for prime time. The new premium economy award costs are a lot like United Airlines when they first released premium economy awards with almost all space showing at a higher rate over the sAAver level. One of our readers David Lamb offered one of the best analysis of Premium Economy awards.

To paraphrase him, mileage awards are important to the frequent flyer, but they are a liability for the airline and adding award seats dilutes the revenue on each flight. UA, AA and DL need to know how this product will impact their overall profitability first. This is a question of how many passengers will pay to upgrade from Economy to the new product vs the number of passengers that downgrade from Business. To get that right, they can’t have award seats diluting the yield on that class until they have a firmer idea of how to position the product.  Airlines will figure this out over the course of the next year which will hopefully lead to revenue management being able to accurately load award space.

Have you found any other sAAver level routes yet?