The Guide to American Airlines Premium Economy

Premium economy will always get you a bigger seat, but full amenities are reserved for longer international routes.
Updated
Profile photo of JT Genter
Written by JT Genter

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Nerdy takeaways
  • There are no mileage upgrades to American Airlines premium economy, but elite members might get lucky.

  • Expect more legroom and wider seats in premium economy.

  • Not all domestic flights offer premium economy tickets — check before booking.

Nerdy takeaways
  • There are no mileage upgrades to American Airlines premium economy, but elite members might get lucky.

  • Expect more legroom and wider seats in premium economy.

  • Not all domestic flights offer premium economy tickets — check before booking.

In May 2017, American Airlines became the first major U.S. airline to introduce a true premium economy product. Now, you'll find American Airlines premium economy seating installed on all of the airline’s Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft for international flights.

If you're new to premium economy on American Airlines, you may wonder how premium economy differs from standard economy.

Let's take a look at the airline's premium economy seats, meals and amenities, plus some frequently asked questions about how American Airlines premium economy works.

What is premium economy on American Airlines?

American Airlines' Premium Economy offers an elevated travel experience compared to regular coach seating.

The ticket option is available on select long-distance international flights, flights to Hawaii and Alaska, and on some longer domestic routes.

The seats are larger, there is a deeper recline, you'll get to board the plan earlier.

Premium economy is still a step down from the business class experience. It offers passengers a more comfortable flight at a cheaper price point.

Are American Airlines premium economy tickets refundable? Yes, so long as you purchase at least two days before your planned travel. Note that all American tickets, including premium economy, are refundable within 24 hours of your original booking.

American Airlines premium economy seats

One of the primary benefits of booking American Airlines premium economy is getting a bigger and wider seat than you would in economy.

How big are American Airlines seats in its premium economy product? American installed Collins Aerospace MiQ seats that are a bit wider (around 18.5-19 inches) than its economy seats (around 16-18 inches).

Premium seats also have around 38 inches of pitch compared to around 31-32 inches in economy. This allows for more legroom and a deeper recline.

So, what does premium economy look like on American Airlines?

Photo courtesy of JT Genter

If this seat looks familiar, it's because American Airlines also uses this same seat type for domestic first class seating on its retrofitted domestic fleet.

Photo courtesy of JT Genter

American Airlines premium economy seats are better than these domestic first class seats in a couple of ways. The main advantage: Premium economy seats have an in-flight entertainment screen and remote — rather than just a tablet holder in domestic first class.

Photo courtesy of JT Genter

Also, all premium economy seats have either a footrest or a leg rest.

Seat configurations on American international flights

Depending on the aircraft type, American installed between 21 and 28 premium economy seats across three to four rows for this class of seating.

American 787 premium economy

American's 787 premium economy class has seven seats per row arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration.

Boeing 777

In American's 777-200ER premium economy, American Airlines installed eight seats per row — two on each side along the window and four in the middle.

On either plane, couples will want to snag seats together near the windows, while families will likely prefer the middle seat options.

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American Airlines premium economy menu

American Airlines premium economy includes "chef-inspired dining" and complimentary beer, wine and spirits. On long-haul international flights, American will serve multi-course meals with real metal silverware on top of white tablecloths.

Add in its solid drink menu and an American Airlines premium economy ticket can rival what you get in business class on some airlines.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Unfortunately, not all routes with premium economy service get this nice of a meal. Because American determines meal type by region and distance, some premium economy passengers simply get the same meal and drink service as economy.

For example, the premium economy meal on a recent flight from Dallas to Bogota didn't seem particularly "chef-inspired."

Photo courtesy of JT Genter

Amenities and other perks

In addition to bigger seats, American Airlines premium economy passengers get a Casper sleep set, an amenity kit and headphones on select international flights.

Premium economy sleep set

American Airlines provides a Casper sleep set for premium economy passengers. This sleep set isn't as comprehensive as what you'll find in business and first class; however, the lumbar pillow and "day blanket" are nice touches that you won't get in economy.

Photo courtesy of American Airlines

Premium economy amenity kit

American Airlines partners with Shinola and D.S. & Durga to produce its amenity kits. In premium economy, the amenity kit includes items like socks, an eye mask, hand and body lotion, a dental kit, earplugs and a pen.

Photo courtesy of American Airlines

Not every American Airlines premium economy route gets an amenity kit. American notes that amenity kits are only available on international flights — meaning premium economy routes to Hawaii and Alaska don't qualify.

In addition, American Airlines premium economy passengers on certain short-haul international routes don't receive an amenity kit.

Other perks of American Airlines premium economy

  • Headphones: Does American Airlines give headphones? Yes, in all classes; that said, American Airlines premium economy passengers on eligible routes get "noise-reducing headphones."

  • Priority check-in and boarding: American Airlines premium economy passengers can use the Priority check-in line and board during Group 4 priority boarding.

Book smart: Use American Airlines credit cards

Through its own co-branded cards and partnerships, AAdvantage offers flyers plenty of ways to earn and redeem miles for premium economy flights via credit card spending.

More brand-agnostic flyers might choose a card with transferable points to get access to additional travel rewards bookings outside of American Airlines and its transfer partners.

Cards for booking AA flights
Citibank AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard Credit Card
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Rates & Fees
Citibank Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® Credit Card
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Rates & Fees
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Chase's website

Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card
NerdWallet Rating
Annual fee
$0 intro for the first year, then $99
$595
$95
$95
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If you seek more flexibility in redeeming miles for award flights, consider applying for a more general travel credit card instead. A more general travel credit card differs from an airline card in that you can book flights with multiple carriers, rather than reaping the benefits of staying loyal to a single brand.

The more high-end the travel credit card, the more benefits you can enjoy, including airport lounge access or automatic elite status in certain programs. That said, a brand-specific airline card can net you benefits like waived baggage fees, which can have meaningful dollar value.

Is premium economy worth it on American Airlines?

Over the past few years, many airlines — including American Airlines — have narrowed seats in economy while installing true premium economy seats. By offering premium economy, American, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines all now offer a way to fly that's better than economy but not nearly as expensive as business class.

Be aware that not all perks are included in every American Airlines premium economy ticket, and the availability is highly dependent on the flight route itself. It's not uncommon to be served economy meals and few amenities on flights to Hawaii, Alaska and even some international routes, limiting the value of an American Airlines premium economy experience to a more spacious seat.

You'll need to fly on eligible long-haul international routes to get the full premium dining experience and in-flight amenities.

Frequently asked questions

American Airlines has premium economy installed on its entire fleet of Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft — including the 777-200ER, 777-300ER, 787-8 Dreamliner and 787-9 Dreamliner. That means that the majority of American's international aircraft fleet offers premium economy seats.

When operating domestic and short-haul international routes, American often sells premium economy seats as part of the main cabin instead of as a true premium economy product. Just look for a small cabin of seats with fewer seats per row.

No, American Airlines doesn't allow mileage upgrades into premium economy. Since its first introduction, American has teased that upgrades will be added "at a later date" but still hasn't added them.

American Airlines AAdvantage elites will get complimentary upgrades from main cabin or premium economy to the next fare class on eligible flights within North America. AAdvantage elites may also be eligible to receive day-of-departure upgrades from economy to premium economy on routes to/from Hawaii and Alaska and the contiguous U.S.

American Airlines premium economy seats are virtually identical between aircraft. The only difference is the number of seats per row due to some aircraft being narrower than others. American Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft are arranged with eight seats per row (2-4-2) while Boeing 787 aircraft have just seven seats per row (2-3-2).

Not necessarily. You'll earn the same number of AAdvantage miles (and Loyalty Points) whether you pay $800 for an economy ticket or $800 for a premium economy ticket. The only way you earn more miles through a premium economy ticket is by spending more.

Top photo courtesy of JT Genter.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

Cards for American Airlines from our Partners
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

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Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases.

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