American Airlines 787-9 Dreamliner Routes Announced & More Details On Premium Economy

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We’ve known for a while that the American Airlines 787-9 Dreamliner would be the first aircraft to feature the airline’s new Premium Economy seating and, as American has now announced the first international routes that will be operated by the 787-9, we now know when and where we’ll see the Premium Economy product in service.

American Airlines Premium Economy

American Airlines announced the introduction of Premium Economy cabins on international routes back in December 2015 and, at the time, I had quite a few reservations. Nothing has changed.

American Airlines is promising seats with width and more leg room (up to 38″ seat pitch) than Economy Class…..

American Airlines Premium EconomyAmerican Airlines Premium Economy

American Airlines Premium EconomyAmerican Airlines Premium Economy

…with an extendable foot rest if you’re in the bulkhead seats or with a far more basic foot rest if you’re in any other row:

American Airlines Premium EconomyAmerican Airlines Premium Economy

The seats will have a personal on-demand entertainment (not exactly a novelty in 2016):

American Airlines Premium EconomyAmerican Airlines Premium Economy

And the airline says that those booking into Premium Economy will have a host of other benefits, including:

  • Noise Reducing Headphones
  • Priority Check-In & Boarding
  • Checked Baggage Allowance of 1 free bag (which is the same as what Economy Class gets so I’m not sure how this is a benefit)
  • Amenity Kits
  • Enhanced Meal Service

Like I said, I’m not impressed. It seems a lot like domestic First Class for what I expect to be a whole lot more money.

When Will Premium Economy Go On Sale?

American Airlines will not be selling the Premium Economy cabin when it first launches on the 787-9 (I’m guessing this has more to do with software implantation issues than any kindness towards passengers!). Instead, Premium Economy seats will be treated the same as Main Cabin extra seats – free for some elites and bookable for a fee by others.

Premium Economy will go on sale as a separate cabin from 2017…as confirmed by this sentence in the American Airlines press release:

The new International Premium Economy service will launch in November and will be available to select customers before it goes on sale in early 2017.

American Airlines 787-9 Dreamliner

American Airlines will be receiving its first 787-9 Dreamliner in October 2016 and it will be deployed on international routes from November onwards.

The layout of the aircraft will be as follows:

  • 30 fully lie-flat, all-aisle access Business Class seats arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration
  • 21 Premium Economy seats in a 2-3-2 configuration (just 3 rows)
  • 27 Main Cabin Extra seats with up to 6 inches of additional leg room in a 3-3-3 configuration
  • 207 Main Cabin seats arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration

The aircraft will be the first to have American Airlines’ new B/E Super Diamond Business Class seat….


…which looks fantastic and which I’m really looking forward to trying out.

But, great-looking new Business Class seat aside, the 787-9 looks like it will come with issues…namely the 9-across seating that we’ve already seen in the smaller 787-8 (which is incredibly cramped). The larger 787-9 Dreamliner is longer (not wider) so the same cramped cabin will be on offer.

The second issue is that it will come with just 27 main Cabin Extra (MCE) seats as compared to the 57 currently on offer in the smaller 787-8…that’s not a lot of extra leg room seats for elites who can expect to see their upgrades no longer move them from Economy to Business Class.

First American Airlines  787-9 Dreamliner Routes

American Airlines has now announced the first routes that will be getting the new 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.

From 4 November 2016 the Dallas (DFW) – Madrid and Dallas (DFW) – Sao Paulo routes will be operated by 787-9 Dreamliners.

Dallas (DFW) – Madrid Schedule

AA36 DFW 17:45 – 09:55+ 1 day MAD
AA37 MAD 12:20 – 16:40 DFW

Dallas (DFW) – Sao Paulo Schedule

AA963 DFW 19:00 – 07:05+ 1 day GRU
AA962 GRU 22:55 – 05:15 DFW

The schedules are currently still showing these routes being operated by 777-200 (refurbished) and 777-300ER aircraft but the 787-9’s will appear from 10 July.

American is saying that passengers will be able to book the new Dreamliners from 10 July but, in effect, there’s nothing stopping you booking the flights now and then re-selecting your sets when the aircraft change comes into effect on the 10th.

Bottom Line

I’m not looking forward to the introduction of Premium Economy because (a) I fully expect it to be the end of upgrades from Economy to Business Class and (b) because I don’t expect it to be worth what American will charge for it.

American Airlines has some great Business Class seats but the overall product is lacking due to the mediocre service that’s too often on show on many of its flights. The Premium Economy seats will be an improvement over Economy (there’s no doubting that) but I fully expect indifferent service to make Premium Economy feel more like glorified Main Cabin Extra rather than anything particularly notable……but that’s just an opinion 🙂

Still, I’d like to conclude on a positive note so I’ll reiterate how much I’m looking forward to trying out the new Business Class seat on the 787-9 Dreamliner. I’m already looking at a few flight options in November and, with a bit of luck, I’ll be able to write a review within a few weeks of the aircraft entering service on the international routes.


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