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When one of the major US airlines makes a change, it usually isn’t long until the other competitors follow suit. This is usually bad news, but every now and again the changes turn out to be useful. You can already book Premium Economy awards with Delta and United Airlines, and just recently American Airlines added the same option.
Premium Economy isn’t just seats with extra legroom, like an exit row seat. It’s a separate cabin in between Economy and Business Class. It’s a nice alternative if you’re looking for increased comfort, but don’t want to shell out the miles (or cash).
I’ll let you know which American Airlines planes have Premium Economy seats and what you’ll pay for a Premium Economy award ticket.
American Airlines Premium Economy Awards
Currently, the only way to book American Airlines Premium Economy awards is with American Airlines miles. So no partner airlines have access to them.
These Premium Economy seats are just like domestic First Class seats (not lie-flat) and come with other perks like an amenity kit, improved food options, and two free checked bags.
American Airlines Premium Economy seats are available on the following aircraft with more coming soon:
- 787-8s flying internationally and to Alaska
As expected, Premium Economy awards are priced in between Economy and Business Class awards.
Here is the chart:
Comparing Economy awards to Premium Economy awards there are some sweet spots:
- Asia 1 & Asia 2 for 15,000 more miles than Economy
- Alaska for 10,000 miles more than Economy
- Europe for 10,000 more miles than Economy
- South America 2 for 10,000 more miles than Economy
The best deals here are Europe and South America. I could see myself booking Premium Economy awards to Europe, assuming it isn’t a nightmare trying to find available awards seats.
One thing to note is that there is no peak or off-peak pricing for Premium Economy awards. So if you happen to be traveling on off-peak dates, the price difference between Economy and Premium Economy on some awards will be greater.
There are also some Premium Economy awards that don’t look like great deals:
- Hawaii for 27,500 miles more than Economy during peak season, 30,000 miles more during off-peak season and only 5,000 to 12,500 fewer miles than a Business Class award
- South Pacific for 25,000 miles more than Economy and only 15,000 fewer miles than a Business Class award
For flights to Hawaii or the South Pacific, you’re probably better off booking a Business Class award as long as you can find available award seats and you have the extra miles.
Options for Earning American Airlines Miles Without Flying
The only transferable points program that includes American Airlines as a partner is Marriott. But Marriott points are usually more valuable if you transfer them to other partners, so I recommend earning American Airlines miles with their co-branded credit cards.
American Airlines partners with 2 banks, so you can earn miles with any of these cards:
- American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card – No annual fee
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® – Comes with American Airlines lounge membership worth up to $650!
- Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®
- Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®
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