American Airlines unveils it’s new Premium Economy seats

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Things are getting quite exciting in the airline industry! I will admit that this is old news, but it was only a few days ago that I realized that American Airlines unveiled it’s new premium economy product for international routes earlier this month. I’ve never been much of a fan of premium economy anyway, so I’m pretty sure that’s why I glazed over the announcement in the first place. In my mind, economy is economy no matter what kind of label the airlines put on it, and it always seemed like an odd product offering to me. All the premium economy seats I’ve experienced so far have been so far from luxurious that I’ve never really considered it to be a big enough upgrade over standard economy to justify the cost.

But this American Airlines announcement really got my attention. These premium economy seats look so good that I’d go as far as to say that it’s going to be a better product than what all US airlines are offering as domestic first class these days. Check this out:

American Airlines new premium economy seats

American Airlines new premium economy seats.

American Airlines new premium economy seats

These new premium economy seats feature power ports and storage pockets in the center arm rest.

American Airlines new premium economy seats

No, you don’t get brake and gas pedals at each seat. These are foot rests! (duh)

American Airlines new premium economy amenities

The amenities look great for a premium economy product.

American Airlines new premium economy food

The food gets an overhaul as well. Looks good!

I don’t know about you, but this gets me really excited for several reasons. First of all, the seats look great! The extra width combined with the retractable leg rest looks to be a massive upgrade over the standard economy class seat, and I could totally see myself being content in one of these things for a 10+ hour international flight. Secondly, the perks seem to be a pretty decent upgrade over standard economy. As part of the premium economy experience, you’ll get:

  • Increased leg room (seat pitch)
  • Better meals with complimentary alcoholic beverages
  • Larger video screens
  • Adjustable / Extendable seat with foot, leg, and head rests
  • Amenity kits (woo hoo!)
  • Noise-reducing headsets
  • 1 free checked bag

That sounds good to me. But I think the biggest thing that gets me excited about all this is the pressure that it’s going to put on other airlines to do the same – or even better. Delta has already announced it will introduce a proper premium economy seat (which will be unveiled with their new A350’s sometime next year). We haven’t heard from United yet, but one can only assume they will be following suit. They are kind of forced into it at this point, at least if they want to stay competitive. All signs point to that being the case, since their new international business class product (Polaris) will be coming online early next year starting with the 777-300/ER’s.

I never thought I’d get excited over an international economy class product, but things are getting really good in the airline industry right now. American Airlines’ new premium economy is definitely something I’d pay for out of my own pocket – which is something I never thought I’d ever say. And if economy class is getting this good, I can only imagine how far they will continue to push the international business class experience.

Look for these seats to become available early next year starting with their 787-9 aircraft, and other aircraft will be upgraded shortly thereafter. Your move, DL and UA!