I didn’t fly in premium economy class, but I did fly in a premium economy seat. For reasons I cannot explain nor understand, American Airlines does not market its premium economy cabin as a separate class of service on domestic flights.
American Airlines 777-200 Premium Economy Review
But if you hold elite status with American Airlines or Alaska Airlines, that is to your advantage, as these seats are available for FREE on a space-available basis.
Depending upon your status, you can book economy class and reserve these seats at no extra charge:
- American Airlines Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Executive Platinum members – free access at time of booking
- American Airlines Gold members – free access within 24 hours of travel
- Alaska MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members – free access at time of booking
- Alaska MVP members – free access within 24 hours of travel
If you do not have elite status, you can still purchase these seats while ticketing your reservation or anytime after. Prices vary, but typically run $59-99 on a transcontinental flight.
Now there is a drawback, of course, to not making premium economy a separate cabin. Namely, service is no different than what you will experience in economy class. While United offers business class meals to its premium economy passengers on domestic flights, American Airlines will not…as you’ll see below.
But the seat is nice…significantly more comfortable and spacious than an economy class seat.
American Airlines 1235
Miami (MIA) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Monday, March 22
Duration: 05hr, 45min
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Seat: 15L (Premium Economy)
Boarding began at 3:30pm, nearly an hour before scheduled departure.
American Airlines 777-200 Premium Economy Seat
The premium economy cabin on American Airlines features 24 seats spaced out in a 2-4-2 configuration over three rows. Front row seats have attached leg rests while the second and third rows have flip down leg rests from the seat in front. Legroom is 38 inches while the seat is 19 inches wide, two inches more than economy class. That may not sound like much, but it makes quite a difference on a transcontinental flight.
Note that there is space for the seats to recline in the last row, where I was seated.
Every seat was filled on this flight and I appreciated having only one passenger next to me instead of two. I ended up napping for half the flight. The extra legroom really makes a difference.
Seat control is via push button control and there is also a “passenger service unit” to control the IFE. The tray table flips out from the armrest.
American Airlines 777 Premium Economy Cleaning
I noticed a cookie wrapper in my seatback pocket when setting into my seat:
It seems that AA’s cleaning team either does not clean seatback pockets or missed something very obvious.
American Airlines Premium Economy IFE
I appreciated the large (12 inch) touchscreen, which was extremely responsive and featured an extensive library of movies, TV shows, games, music, and American Airlines-related programming.
Do note the complimentary headphones offered to guests are of very poor quality. Not only must the sound be turned way up in order to hear, but the earphones themselves become quite uncomfortable after a relatively short period.
Bring your own headphones, but you don’t have to bring your own IFE…the selection is great.
American Airlines Premium Economy Food + Drinks
As I mentioned, the premium economy cabin on this flight was considered no different than economy class. As a result, we received only a package of biscoff cookies and one beverage for the entire six hours flight…no refills, even of water, were offered.
On international flights, expect an enhanced meal served on ceramic and metal tableware – it actually resembles what AA is currently serving on transcontinental flights in business class. Alcohol is also free on international flights in which premium economy is offered as a separate cabin of service.
American Airlines 777-200 Premium Economy Lavatory
The premium economy cabin does not have its own lavatories and passengers are instructed to use the economy class lavatories rather than business class ones (the curtain was closed and snapped shut between business and premium economy).
I did use the lavatory toward the end of the flight and found it fairly clean.
The views were beautiful coming into Los Angeles and we arrived more than an hour early thanks to a short wait to takeoff and plenty of schedule padding.
My assessment of American Airlines premium economy class is the same as that of Premium Plus, the premium economy class of United: it’s a really nice, domestic first class style seat for daytime flights, but is not ideal for overnight flight. Ironically, I did spend half the flight sleeping, but I am not sure I would have slept and better or worse in a standard economy class seat.
To American and Alaska elites: enjoy the free seat assignments while they last. I cannot imagine that American Airlines will not charge to sit in these seats indefinitely. But for now, it sure beats economy class:
Post-script: with only a biscoff cookie served onboard, I treated myself to In-N-Out after landing at LAX.