I recently flew my first long haul flight in American Airlines Premium Economy. I’ve flown this seat on some wide body planes domestically, when it is treated just as standard economy with the better sear. On a recent trip from Hong Kong to Los Angeles, I did finally get to try out this product on a long flight. This trip is part of a work trip to Singapore. Looking at availability when booking, it seemed like the return would more easily clear, but that ended up not happening. I was in business on the outbound from Dallas to Hong Kong, but Premium Economy from Hong Kong to Los Angeles.
As a reminder, American Airlines Premium Economy tickets (W or P fares) earn 1.5X EQM per mile flown, which is a nice bonus. The flight cost approximately $1400 round trip from Milwaukee to Singapore. This is an economy ticket, with the eastbound trans-Pacific flight in Premium Economy. While I would have preferred my upgrade to clear both ways, I’m glad I got to try out this new-ish product on a long flight. The seats are the same as many domestic first class seats, and 8 seats across the cabin certainly beats regular economy, especially in packed into narrow 3-4-3 seats.
American now has premium economy seating on most of their widebody fleet. No plans for PE on the 767s, which are being retired. Another exception is the A330-300, which were originally scheduled for retirement, but have been extended in the airline’s fleet plan. A PE ticket allows Priority access at ticket counters, security lines, and boarding lanes. This isn’t much, as it is the same benefit extended to all elites, but it is better than nothing.
American Airlines Premium Economy 777-300ER
On the 777-300ER, the cabin is located over the wings, with 3 rows of seats in a 2-4-2 configuration and one additional row with 4 seats in the middle of the cabin. Seats in the front row of the cabin have a leg rest, and the rest of the cabin has a foot bar attached to the seat in front. I’m tall and haven’t found either of these to be particularly comfortable. On my flight, I was seated in the front row of the cabin, and I had hoped the leg rest would help with comfort. Maybe it did, but I couldn’t get it high enough to be very comfortable, and the footrest at the bottom is too short for someone over 6 feet, and probably less.
The American Airlines Premium Economy seat offers 38 inches of pitch and is 19 inches wide. The bulkhead seats on the window sides (row 16) have much more legroom, due to their placement at an exit door. There are air vents above each seat, and large monitors. I opted for the bulkhead thinking the leg rest would be more comfortable than a foot bar as in other rows. That is probably true, but I didn’t find the leg rest that comfortable. Lots of legroom is a plus, and even though there are 2 lavatories directly in front of the seat, it is far enough away not be that much of a distraction. One annoyance with the bulkhead seat is that the monitors are below the arm rest so no IFE until takeoff or on approach. Some tradeoffs, but I’d still probably prefer these seats to others. Just more space is available.
American Airlines Premium Economy Hong Kong to Los Angeles on the 777-300ER
I didn’t take many photos of the cabin, but I did find some stock photos and an excellent virtual tour of the cabin on American’s website. Note that this is a mockup of the cabin, rather than an actual video of the cabin on a 777 in that there seems to be a solid wall in front of the cabin. The Business Class cabin is in front, with lavatories in between.
Beyond the wider seat, and more legroom, there are some other nice improvements from regular economy. There are Bose headsets provided (although as usual, I just used my own in ear Bose). A small Casper pillow, which I mostly used as lumbar support, plus a nicer blanket than provided to economy passengers. An amenity kit is also offered for passengers in PE. Seats have a universal AC plug, along with a USB charging port.
American Airlines Flight 192
Hong Kong to Los Angeles
Depart: 18:24, arrive 15:59, same day
Seat: 16C, Premium Economy
Meal service on board
Before departure in Hong Kong, I enjoyed some of excellent Cathay Pacific lounges. Conveniently, the departure gate was just down from my favorite of the bunch, The Pier. The food here let me mostly skip out on the dining options. All classes of service on this route are provided menus. While the descriptions sound decent enough, the food was rather mediocre. This is the same items offered to economy, but served on china. Here is the menu:
And drinks list. The wines are served from 1.75 liter plastic bottles…
Here is my main course, with a choice between beef and mushrooms serve over rice. I opted for the short rib. Catering seems better from HKG than LAX, but I don’t think either will win any culinary awards.
There is a mid flight snack service as well, but I missed it since I was sleeping. This is the same as economy, a small box with a chicken pastry and a sweet cake. Finally, about 90 or so minutes before arrival, another full meal is served. Options of an American breakfast, fruit plate or “Dim Sum”. This doesn’t look much like the Dim Sum I’ve had in Hong Kong, but it was fine for my last bit of Asian food on this trip.
Sad to miss another upgrade on a long flight this year, but at least I was in Premium Economy. This seat is a clear improvement in comfort to regular economy. To me, well worth a small price premium, especially on such a long flight. The seat itself is the same seat family as on several of American’s narrow body planes as first class. These are various versions of the Mi-Q seat from Rockwell Aerospace.
My flight had favorable winds, which made for a shorter than normal routing. We arrived nearly an hour ahead of schedule, and miraculously, there was even a gate available right away at LAX. Service was not very premium, since flight attendants just serve this cabin before economy. I always try to sit in business class on long flights, when possible. PE is a nice option when that isn’t possible. I’d like to try it on another airline and see how well they compare with what American offers. What do you think of American Airlines Premium Economy?