FORT WORTH, Texas, Dec. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — American Airlines will offer customers even more choice by introducing Premium Economy on its international widebody fleet. Premium Economy will be available in late 2016, and will offer a new class of service directly behind Business Class, providing an enhanced product offering compared to the Main Cabin. This product will offer a new type of seat with benefits that include:
-noise reducing headphones
-priority check-in and boarding
-checked baggage allowance
-enhanced meal service
-spirits, beer and wine
“Travelers want more choice when they fly and have unique preferences depending on each trip. 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,” said Andrew Nocella, American’s chief marketing officer. “Premium Economy is offered today by many premier carriers around the world. We studied those offerings and developed a world-class product with larger seats, more legroom, improved entertainment and upscale headphones and amenity kits, just to name a few features of this new service. As the world’s largest carrier, we are excited to introduce this product for our customers.”
New Planes and Retrofit Plans
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 6 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.
The Boeing 767-300s will not be retrofitted with Premium Economy as those aircraft are scheduled for retirement in the coming years.
Customers sitting in Premium Economy will enjoy a leather seat featuring 38 inches of pitch, personal on-demand entertainment systems, larger touchscreen monitors with access to movies, TV shows, music and games, and noise reducing headphones.
On the ground, customers will be able to check up to two bags free of charge and board earlier with priority boarding. In the air they will enjoy an enhanced meal service, access to global Wi-Fi connectivity, hours of on-demand entertainment, as well as complimentary wine, beer and spirits.
American Airlines and Delta Air Lines are obviously not the best of friends, but on Thursday a top American executive congratulated Delta for its operational excellence.
“Delta’s done a great job: hats off to them,” Robert Isom, American Chief Operating Officer, said Thursday during a Credit Suisse investor presentation, as he displayed slides showing American’s improving operational performance – including more completions, on-time departures and arrivals and fewer mishandled bags.
All three global U.S. carriers – American, Delta and United – have been working to boost operational performance, one of a series of key improvements that are benefiting passengers as the carriers enjoy an era of unprecedented profitability.
Isom said Delta “is operating at a level that’s never been seen before, especially for an airline that large.
“Right now, we’re not too far from Delta in terms of departing aircraft on time,” he continued. “Where Delta is distinguishing themselves right now, I think, is with their completion factor.”
Delta CEO Richard Anderson has made it a priority to complete all flights. In the third quarter, Delta completed 99.9% of its flights and even had 40 days with zero cancellations. “In September alone we cancelled only 13 flights out of more than 83,000 flights and our competitors can’t match it,” Anderson said on the carrier’s third quarter earnings call. During Thanksgiving week, Delta cancelled just five mainline flights.
American is not doing badly, however. Isom’s graphs showed that during the third quarter, the carrier completed 99.3% of its flights, up from 96.4% in the first quarter. On time arrivals increased to 81.9% from 75.9%. On time departures increased to 66.4 from 61.3, while the number of mishandled bags was 3.80 per 1,000 bags in July and August, down from 4.64 in the first quarter.