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American Airlines has been running its industry-leading premium economy cabin under the radar as “economy” for the last few weeks on the 787-9 Dreamliner as crews get comfortable with the aircraft and the airline’s IT system prepares to sell a new class of seats.
With everything now apparently starting to fall into place, the airline has now put a stake in the ground for when it wants to officially launch.
Thanks to some nice sleuthing by The Points Guy’s JT Genter, it appears that American is officially separating premium economy seats from the rest of the cabin starting on April 2. Though American hasn’t formally announced the updates, a spokesperson for the airline confirmed “The Premium Economy rows are being blocked prior to its first departure as its own class of service.”
For now, that new cabin will be limited to a small portion of 787-9 flights, which will be from Dallas to Madrid, Paris, São Paulo and Seoul, though American plans to expand the product to other aircraft and routes.
The cabin also isn’t yet officially for sale — between now and April 2, American will enter the cabin into its booking engine, likely in step with an advertising campaign.
Despite the modest launch, the entry of premium economy into American’s portfolio of offerings represents a significant unknown for travelers on the airline. Principally, elite members of AAdvantage may soon be affected in how they upgrade across cabins and whether their current instruments (miles, upgrade certificates, etc.) will still be valid for passage from standard economy all of the way through to business class.
Perhaps because of this complexity, American appears to be cautiously approaching the rollout of its premium economy — after all, with AAdvantage’s transition from a mileage to a revenue-based program this year, elites are already edgy.
Meanwhile, American’s premium economy cabins are still bookable as “economy” cabins, both now on the domestic routes and before April 2 when the 787-9 starts flying internationally. The Points Guy has a robust strategy for booking those premium seats on its site.