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American Airlines has quietly introduced the ability to book premium-economy awards online. So far, you can only book an award on AA metal (not on partner airlines), and you can not upgrade to Premium Economy from Economy fares yet.
AA Premium Economy Awards Overview
- Premium Economy awards do not appear on normal searches; you have to use a special page to locate them.
- Awards are priced roughly halfway between economy-class and business-class fares.
According to the AA Premium Economy Award chart, the cheapest option is a MileSAAver award to Alaska for 25,000 miles. The most expensive award on offer is a cringe-worthy AAnytime Level 2 award to the South Pacific for 155,000 miles.
Sample Premium-Economy Awards
Finding premium-economy awards at the saver lever requires a bit of effort, but it is possible. The challenge with the new search tool is that you have to click on each day to see whether an award is available at the lowest price.
Like other classes of service, premium economy is scarce during popular travel times. Please don't pay 110K miles for a one-way Anytime Level 2 award ticket to Europe! For those keeping score at home, you could get a business-class round trip for only 5,000 miles more if you find saver-level pricing.
AA Premium Economy Aircraft
At this point, premium economy is only available on a fraction of American's global route network:
- The cabin class is in operation on long-haul, international flights and some flights to Hawaii.
- When premium economy equipped aircraft fly within the U.S., you can book the seats as main cabin extra seats.
When booking your award, the type of aircraft can give you an indication whether it has a premium economy cabin or not. All the following aircraft feature premium-economy cabins:
- Boeing 787-9
- Boeing 777-200
- Boeing 777-300
- Airbus A330-200
- Boeing 787-8 aircraft are being retrofitted, and all should be completed by mid-2019
Since we haven't seen any changes to award pricing for other cabins of service, this change is all positive for the moment. It is great news that you can now book premium-economy awards, and hopefully, AA will add the ability to upgrade to premium economy with miles soon. In the long run, we're hoping AA will roll out the ability to book partner awards in premium-economy cabins since partners like Qantas, Japan Airlines, and Cathay Pacific have an excellent hard product.
On the other hand, the award search for premium economy is badly inferior to the search tool for other award classes. The premium-economy search lacks a calendar view to see prices for more than one day at a time. The ability to filter for nonstop flights is also notably absent, but both features are present in the new interface with a “coming soon” notation. As with any major change, our biggest concern is an across-the-board repricing of awards when premium economy is fully integrated into the AAdvantage booking experience. For now, we can celebrate more options to redeem AA miles and stretch those legs on long-haul flights.
Source: One Mile At A Time
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