American Airlines Unveils Premium Economy Award Chart

by Chris Dong

After retrofitting aircraft over the past few years with premium economy seats to slot between business and main cabin, American is finally allowing its customers to book using AAdvantage miles.  As of today, American released its premium economy award chart and unlike many airline “enhancements,”  it actually isn’t terrible. The biggest plus is that the current main cabin and business award pricing isn’t going up.

Depending on destination, premium economy awards are less than half, exactly half, or more than half the difference between a main cabin and a business class award. Let’s take a look at oneway MilesAAver awards from North America.

Europe

Main Cabin: 30,000 miles (Unchanged)
Premium Economy: 40,000 miles (New)
Business: 57,500 (Unchanged

Asia 

Main Cabin: 35,000 miles (Unchanged)
Premium Economy: 50,000 miles (New)
Business: 60,000 miles Japan & Korea  / 70,000 miles elsewhere (Unchanged)

South Pacific 

Main Cabin: 40,000 miles (Unchanged)
Premium Economy: 65,000 (New)
Business: 80,000 miles (Unchanged)

Best Value For Premium Economy? Europe.

The hard and soft product differences between premium economy and economy is smaller than the difference between premium economy and business. After all, it’s called premium economy and not business lightFor that reason, I think American priced premium economy awards to Europe quite well. Relative to passenger comfort and experience, premium economy should be priced slightly below half of the difference between main cabin and business. 

Premium economy requires 10,000 more AAdvantage miles over main cabin on flights to/from Europe. From premium economy, it would cost another 17,500 miles to move up to business class. That’s not a bad value proposition for Europe.

However, the value of premium economy over business comes into question for redemptions to Asia and the South Pacific. Premium economy is a much tougher sell for me if it’s only a smaller bump to business class relative to the total award price. For example, for a flight to Japan, it’s 15,000 more miles from main cabin to premium economy, but only 10,000 more miles from premium economy to business.

What’s Going On With Alaska & Hawaii?

As you can see in the award chart for premium economy below, Alaska and Hawaii are priced absurdly high — it’s more likely than not a glitch on AA’s end. As a reference point, it only would require 5,000 more AAdvantage miles to redeem into business class (with the recent increase in mileage required for travel to Hawaii).

Here’s the chart for business class:

How To Book AAdvantage Premium Economy Awards

AA released a funky, new award booking tool on their website which hasn’t yet replaced their old award booking search function. This new tool is the only way to book premium economy awards online, but as Gary Leff pointed out at View From The Wing, there’s some issues.

It seems like a semi-botched rollout overall but I’d give it a day or two for American to get the kinks ironed out. At the very least, agents over the phone should be able to book these flights. Keep in mind that you can only redeem AAdvantage miles for premium economy awards on flights operated by American only — no partners yet.

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