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I mentioned in a previous post that in a couple of months my husband and I have the opportunity to go on a kid-free trip to Hawaii, courtesy of his company. The company’s travel agent booked us direct flights on American Airlines from DFW to Kona in economy class.
My family has flown on AA to Honolulu direct before. It’s an 8-hour flight from Dallas, and at the time it was the longest flight our kids had been on. The person in front of me had his seat fully reclined the entire flight, and his head was practically in my lap. Of course, we were going to Hawaii, so I was almost too excited to care.
But now that we’re going on a free-to-us trip and there are two of us instead of five, I decided to look into a paid upgrade. Being comfortable and getting some sleep is a priority, especially since our return flight is an overnight flight.
AA Premium Economy
American Airlines introduced its Premium Economy product a few years ago on international flights. It’s now also on select domestic flights, including our 8-hour flight from DFW to Kona.
AA Premium Economy is a solid middle ground between economy and business class. The seats are like the ones in short-haul first-class cabins. They are 18.5 inches wide with a 38-inch pitch. That’s about 1.5 inches wider than economy seats with 6+ more inches of leg room. That might not sound like a lot, but on a long-haul flight it makes a big difference.
Passengers in Premium Economy get priority at check-in, security, and boarding. Checked bags are also given priority upon landing.
Premium Economy offers a Casper sleep set as well as an upgraded amenity kit (international flights only). Seats have extra recline and a leg rest. Passengers get free alcoholic drinks and an upgraded meal.
The price of most Premium Economy fares is well below business class. In some cases, it’s only a few hundred dollars more than regular economy.
Reviewing my Upgrade Options
For our flights to Hawaii, we had several paid upgrade options:
- Main Cabin Extra: +$200 round-trip. This upgrade offers one extra free checked bag and Group 5 boarding. I already have both of those because of my AAdvantage Aviator Barclaycard credit card. The seats are at the front of the main cabin with a few extra inches of legroom, but no extra width. Not worth the $200, in my opinion.
- Premium Economy: +$350 round-trip. With all the advantages I mentioned above, this seems like a bargain.
- Business Lie-flat seats: +$1500 round-trip. Of course, nothing beats a lie-flat seat (I presume, I have yet to fly in one). However, with two of us, this upgrade would cost us $3000.
For us, choosing to upgrade to Premium Economy was a no-brainer. Our cabin only has 24 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration instead of the 3-4-3 configuration in the main cabin. Note: Upgrading to business class via miles was not available for our flights.
Is upgrading to Premium Economy necessary? Nope, not at all. After all, I managed to sit in economy for a 17-hour flight from DFW to Sydney with no issues.
But admittedly, as I get older, being comfortable is becoming more of a priority. And if we can afford an extra $350 for a more comfortable flight experience, why not?
Have you experienced AA Premium Economy? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.