Partner Awards in Premium Economy Now Bookable with American Miles

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Earlier this year, American Airlines introduced the ability to redeem AAdvantage miles for travel in premium economy on its own flights. Now, that option has expanded to include partner airlines as well. Currently, British Airways is the only partner showing results for premium economy on AA.com, but we anticipate that other Oneworld airlines with a premium economy service (such as Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines Iberia, and Qantas) will be added to the booking engine as American updates its systems. This is great news for AAdvantage members.

How Much Are Premium Economy Awards?

American has updated to their partner award chart to show the mileage requirements for premium economy. Prices seem to be identical to the rates published back in April for flights operated by American, but there are a few new regions which aren't served by American directly.

Key Takeaways

  • AA and partner flights cost the same for premium economy, consistent with American pricing for other cabins.
  • Partner premium economy awards are bookable online.
  • As of now, it appears these awards are limited to American Airlines and British Airways flights.
  • Based on the award chart, it seems likely premium economy will roll out to other partners in the near future.

Is Premium Economy Worth It?

Premium economy is a nice middle ground between economy and business class. You can travel in significantly more comfort without having to shell out nearly as many miles as you'd pay for business or first class. A bit of extra space can go a long way—especially on 10+ hour flights from the west coast to London.

Although the exact details of the service will vary by partner, most premium economy products come with the following perks:

  • A wider seat with more legroom and recline
  • 2 free checked bags (only 1 to and from Alaska/Hawaii)
  • Priority security at participating airports
  • Priority boarding
  • Premium beverages and food

What Makes this Redemption Special?

Foreign carriers were far ahead of the U.S. legacy airlines on the move to premium economy. It has long been possible to book premium-economy awards on Oneworld carriers using other types of miles like British Airways Avios or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. The challenge, however, is that these frequent flyer programs price their awards based on the distance traveled, which can make premium economy awards particularly expensive for travelers departing from smaller airports that require multiple connections.

With American's zone-based award chart, it now becomes possible for someone in Sacramento to fly to a non-Oneworld hub in Europe for the same number of miles as a flyer on the east coast would pay for a nonstop from New York to London. In other words, these American awards are a great deal for longer flights with multiple connections.

On the other hand, those with more direct routings may still do better using Avios or another distance-based award scheme. For example, flights between 3,001–4,000 miles in distance (think East Coast to London) normally cost 40,000 Avios points, exactly matching the new American pricing. But British Airways also offers off-peak pricing on select dates that reduces the cost to just 26,000 Avios (4,000 miles cheaper than an economy ticket using AA miles on the same route).

Are There Any Downsides?

The real value of using AA miles for premium economy won't be realized until they begin offering seats on some of the other Oneworld partners. While British Airways does offer some value, the airline is notorious for passing on high surcharges for awards booked on their planes. Premium economy is no exception to this rule, with taxes and fees on a one-way award booking to Europe clocking in at just over $200:

In the opposite direction, the pricing is even worse with taxes at around $450.

Our Take

This is a long-overdue positive change that increases the value of American miles. Though not everyone will choose to use their miles this way, there isn't any downside to having additional options. It has been common to find partner flights with plenty of awards seats in premium economy but nothing in economy or business, so this change should put more flights and destinations within reach using miles.

The big unknown is how long it will take to see options for the remaining Oneworld partners. Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific both have excellent premium economy products, so it will be a major win when American flyers gain access to those seats. We're also curious to see if non-alliance partners like Etihad will eventually join the list of premium economy booking options.

What do you think of American premium economy partner awards? Let us know in the comments.

Partner Awards in Premium Economy Now Bookable with American Miles
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Comments

  • Michael Skelly says:

    Good to know that we have an option to upgrade without breaking the bank!

  • Juan Francisco says:

    I think this is great news! I completely agree to the fact that it is always better to have more options when redeeming miles. Worst case scenario would be having none options at all.

  • For some individuals premium economy awards can be a good thing. I am primarily interested in business saver awards which are almost impossible to find!

  • This is excellent news which gives travelers the option to fly in more comfort without the huge cost increase!!!

  • You’re right that options are good! I think the extra miles for business are worth it though.

  • This is great news with more options to redeem points. I will be more interested when they add other airlines to the premium economy mix.

  • When departing the UK, Premium Economy is treated as a “premium cabin” and attracts much higher departure taxes.

    The advantage of using AA miles is that it doesn’t cost you extra miles to depart from elsewhere in Europe (via London) and avoid those taxes.

  • Well this will be good news for a trip I will take later. I may be able to go Prem Eco and not have to spend as many miles. Business is nice but if I don’t have to spend as many miles and still be comfortable then that’s doable. I wonder if you book a coach mileage ticket if a passenger could pay for an upgrade?

    I wonder if this year will be the year that AA becomes a transferable partner from a credit card? They seem to be making some good changes. Now they just have to get on the bandwagon with credit cards.

  • I think it is an excellent new. Does it mean that if I have Aadvantage and a booked flight – paid for with money – with Iberia, could I use AA miles to get an upgrade?

  • just for extending my aa points

  • This definitely makes aa miles more valuable since it makes it easier to book travel thru their website. They now also allow booking with the partner airlines using aa miles.

  • Great change but I will rather keep miles for business class.

  • For me, premium economy isn’t worth it. I’d rather be cramped in coach, or have a lie-flat seat.

  • Only the pricing to/from Europe looks compelling to me. Otherwise I would save miles by flying coach or pay slightly more to fly business.

  • Exciting news! Any excuse to use points for an upgraded premium seat is a great benefit. Let’s hope there is more to come as far as the partners are concerned.

  • Any opportunity to use miles in premium cabins is a welcome addition. When possible, I can certainly see booking PE one way for a day flight (when I wouldn’t sleep anyway) and the overnight flight in Business Class, to save some points.

  • I’m really happy about cross-booking with a partner airline with miles online. It’s an added incentive to stockpile American miles.

  • Part of me is just relieved that: “Prices seem to be identical to the rates published back in April.”

  • Whilst it is good to have the option to redeem premium economy on British Airways the taxes and charges make it less attractive.

  • While this is a welcome change, if you have them, and there is availability, for the small difference between premium economy and business I would opt for business. One can only hope the airlines open up availability.

  • Personally, I find premium economy not worth the price.
    In my experience, the comfort difference between premium economy and regular economy is minimal, yet the price difference is substantial.
    I’d say either go all the way to business class, or save miles/money and go with regular economy.

  • If you fly regional flights with LATAM don’t waste your miles in premium economy in flights that have the “3 seats – aisle – 3 seats” configuration. On those flights the “premium economy” is the same as the rest of the plane and they just block the middle seat with a small table in it.
    Always check seat guru before you make a decision.

  • Who is truly excited by the enhancements?

  • Yep. In my search I found one British airways business milesaaver with low taxes, but every other one is British airways sky high taxes on Business!

  • Steven William Van Meter says:

    When I look closely at this deal, it seems clear that premium economy will introduce other partners in the near future. I think I’ll wait and see if there’s another roll out.

  • It might be worth it depending upon the amount required, the distance flying, and the purpose of the trip. Have to evaluate based upon offerings for your own trips.

  • Just buy miles at a discount and redeem business class flights.

  • This is nice! I’ve been waiting for this for a long time!

  • To me, the increment is so small between biz and PE, that it seems hardly worthwhile to shoot lower, and likely generally get a far inferior experience.

  • This is long over due, but I am glad they have finally gotten around to it. Now to get it expanded tot he rest of the One World alliance partners.

  • ROBERTO MAURO says:

    I see it positive, everything that helps milleros get more and better air tickets always adds up. But I see that sometimes there are few miles of difference with business, and many rates. You have to be attentive to take advantage of the best. Regards

  • The_Bouncer says:

    Always nice to have extra options.

  • This is great news. Booking PE awards on AA was possible for a while but now we can redeem on BA (albeit with the terrible YQ…) and CX.

  • Good to know this offer

  • The only positive thing is that probably there will be more award seats available but the miles required are not so cheap.
    For some extra miles better choosing the business class is available.

  • Definitely a positive development. Hopefully, the award conversion charts make this worthwhile.

  • finally btw, there are some nice PE I hope will follow

  • Frequently I flight Delta (in main cabin), sometimes I get upgraded to Delta Comfort + (premium economy) due my Skyteam Elite on Flying Blue. It’s cool when I get upgraded but in my opinion it doesn’t worth to pay or even redeem miles to a Premium Economy class.

    Premium Economy pros and cons:

    Pros->
    More space.
    Priority boarding after, First, Business and Elite passengers.
    When you pay, you’ll receive more miles and in sometimes class bonus. This is usefull when you try to rech an elite status.

    Cons->
    The same service as in coach.

  • It is a great news!!

  • Hopefully JAL becomes available soon for premium economy awards booked through AA. Their transpacific business class redemptions are well worth the AA miles, so I can’t wait to see what their premium economy is like!

  • Jeffrey Showalter says:

    Interesting.

  • sophie kermaidic says:

    I would rather spend more points and fly business but could come in handy if there is no other availability.

  • Good to see – although less good that they start with BA as first partner given their surcharges…

  • I feel like they have the pricing backwards. Every Premium Economy I’ve seen is only slightly better than Economy, yet they price it way higher, only slightly below Business. From a marketing perspective, it’s genius, because it sure seems like they get a lot of folks to pay way more (in cash or miles) for just a slightly better product. Except for someone at least 6’6″, I just don’t get it.

  • good news. I will try on my next flight. Tks

  • Not all that familiar with redemptions on partner awards -so thanks for the info. Do AA partners typically have the same close-in booking fees?

    • If you use AA miles, you’ll pay the $75 fee, regardless of the airline operating the flight. To avoid the fee, look at British Airways Avios or Qantas for the same flight.

  • this might create a sweet spot for the award flights! Thanks for the info.

  • This is welcome news, but those saying the upgrade from economy to premium economy isn’t worth it give me pause.. Is it a better value to just redeem the extra points required for business class for long distances? I guess it depends on the particular seat available.

    • If we’re talking about true biz vs. PE on international routes, The biz seat & ground experience is pretty much always going to beat PE, hands down.

  • good improvements, for those who can use it

  • very well,
    so you can extend your AA points

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