American Airlines to introduce premium economy from late 2016

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American Airlines Aircraft at London Heathrow
American Airlines Aircraft at London Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

More than fifteen years since British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have operated premium economy cabins on long-haul aircraft, American Airlines has today announced that is to operate a dedicated premium economy cabin on selected long-haul flights from late 2016.

Airlines were initially reluctant to install premium economy for fear of cannibalising business class revenue but its adoption has gathered pace in recent years (the latest airline being Singapore Airlines.) US airlines in particular have historically chosen to offer a few rows of extra leg room seats in economy (Main Cabin Extra in the case of American Airlines), rather than a dedicated premium economy cabin.

From late next year, American Airlines will roll out premium economy on select long-haul flights, initially on Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner aircraft. The cabin will also be fitted on all Boeing 787, 777, Airbus A330 and Airbus A350 aircraft. It will not be added to Boeing 757 or 767 aircraft.

Details are scant at the moment, other than that passengers will benefit from wider seats with adjustable head and leg rests, more leg room and enhanced on board catering and amenities.

American has not yet indicated how the cabin will be accommodated on aircraft, either by reducing seats in other cabins, or removing other cabin classes (such as First or Main Cabin Extra) entirely.

American has also not yet indicated on which routes the cabin will launch. However, we expect London Heathrow routes to gain premium economy, partly to capture premium traffic demand and to have parity with its transatlantic joint business partner, British Airways.

What information is available is on a dedicated American Airlines microsite.

In related premium economy news, Iberia is expected to add a premium economy cabin when it takes delivery of Airbus A350 aircraft next year.

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