Last updated: 12:55 PM ET, Thu December 10 2015

American Airlines To Add ‘Premium Economy’

Airlines & Airports | American Airlines | Rich Thomaselli | December 10, 2015

American Airlines To Add ‘Premium Economy’

PHOTO: What ‘Premium Economy’ will look like on American Airlines (Courtesy American Airlines)

Mimicking what several other airlines are doing, most notably its U.S. competitor Delta, American Airlines on Wednesday announced plans to create a new class fare.

The fare, to be billed as “premium economy service,” is for international flights. It’s being marketed as being somewhat better than a regular economy-class ticket, but not quite as good as a business-class airfare.

The new service will start late next year, American officials said.

Premium Economy will offer wider seats, more legroom, on-demand entertainment, noise reducing headphones, priority check-in and boarding, complimentary alcoholic drinks, and two free checked bags.

“Travelers want more choice when they fly and have unique preferences depending on each trip,” Andrew Nocella, American’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “Our customers tell us they want a class of service between business class and main cabin, and this feedback provided the genesis for our new premium economy service. Premium Economy is offered today by many premier carriers around the world. We studied those offerings and developed a world-class product … As the world's largest carrier, we are excited to introduce this product for our customers."

American's first plane with Premium Economy seating will be its Boeing 787-9, which is expected to enter service in late 2016. The 787-9 will offer Business Class, three rows of Premium Economy in a 2-3-2 configuration, Main Cabin Extra, which offers customers up to six inches of additional leg room, and Main Cabin seats. Premium Economy will also be installed on the Airbus A350, which arrives in 2017.

American will also add Premium Economy to all Boeing 777-300ERs, 777-200ERs, 787-8s and Airbus A330s over the next three years. The 777-300ER will feature First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy, Main Cabin Extra and Main Cabin seating options for customers. All other retrofitted aircraft will continue to offer all-aisle access, lie-flat seats in Business Class, as well as Main Cabin Extra and Main Cabin seats.

Other Premium Economy features include:

• Adjustable leather seats with extendable foot, leg and head rests

• An enhanced dining experience

• AC power outlets and USB ports at every seat

• Amenity kits

• Priority boarding

And, according to the Chicago Tribune, United Airlines is planning to offer a “no-frills” fare next year, Credit Suisse analyst Julie Yates wrote in a research note today.

“We’ve said for some time that over time we would like to give customers a great ability to choose fares that have a varied set of amenities,” United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson told the Tribune. “Perhaps it’s the ability to buy extra leg room or a checked bag at a discount, or a no-frills fare that is discounted (and) would simply include the cost of the ticket.”

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