Sky Talk

American Airlines shows off new premium economy class

With wider seats, nicer headphones and peppercorn crusted beef tenderloin meals, American Airlines introduced its new premium economy class on Thursday.

“In premium economy we elevated all of our offerings from our amenity kits all the way to our headsets to our entertainment options,” said Drew Altimore, American’s market manager for Latin America flight services, food and beverage.

The Fort Worth-based carrier is launching the premium economy service on two international routes: its Thursday flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Sao Paulo and a Friday flight from DFW to Madrid. Several international carriers already have premium economy service including American’s Oneworld alliance partners, British Airways and Qantas Airways, and Japan Airlines, which operates nonstop flights between DFW and Tokyo Narita.

The new class of seats, which are on American’s new Boeing 787-9 aircraft, offers more in-flight comforts than its traditional main cabin but not the lie-flat seats found in business class. Each Boeing 787-9 has 21 premium economy seats in addition to 30 lie-flat business class seats, 27 main cabin extra featuring added legroom, and 207 main cabin seats.

As American receives more 787-9 Dreamliners from Boeing, the carrier plans to add premium economy on DFW flights to Paris in January and Seoul, South Korea, in February.

Customers will be able to try out premium economy at main cabin extra prices for the next few months as American has yet to create a separate pricing structure. The airline said it expects to start charging a higher fare for the new class early next year.

American is the first U.S. carrier to introduce a premium economy class on its international flights. On Thursday, Delta Air Lines announced similar plans for a premium class that will debut next year.

American said it plans to retrofit Boeing 777-300ERs, 777-200ERs, 787-8 and Airbus A330s with the premium economy service. It will also install premium economy class on the Airbus A350 which it expects to receive in late 2018.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk