Earlier the summer, I mentioned that I paid $350 extra for my husband and I to upgrade from regular economy to AA Premium Economy seats on our trip to Hawaii. Was it worth the splurge for our 8-hour domestic flights on American Airlines?
AA Premium Economy Hits
We sat in seats 15A and 15C, the last row in the Premium Economy section, on both flights. There are several things we loved about AA Premium Economy:
Roomy Seats–Our seats in AA Premium Economy were 19 inches wide with a pitch of 38 inches. That gave us two inches more seat width and six inches more legroom. The extra space was worth the cost, especially since our return flight was overnight. It was nice to be comfortable. When I looked behind us in the regular economy section, people seemed squished together on our full flight.
Small Cabin–The AA Premium Economy cabin had only 24 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration. It was nice for my husband and I to have our own row where we didn’t have to climb over a third person. The cabin also had walls separating it from business class and economy class. It was a quiet cabin.
Priority Check-in, Boarding and Bags–Because we were flagged as Premium Economy, we got to use the Priority check-in lanes. These lanes are usually shorter/faster. We actually had to stand in a line for check-in (instead of simply using a kiosk) because the counter agent had to check everyone’s vaccine cards and Hawaii safe travel QR codes. Having priority boarding and deboarding was nice because when we landed in Hawaii we were able to be at the front of the health and safety check line. It was also nice getting our bags from the luggage claim towards the beginning of the cycle.
Proximity to Business Class Lavatories–I liked that our seats were close to the lavatories in business class. Yes, we were allowed to use them and yes, they were nicer than the lavatories in economy. Technically, anyone on the plane can use the business class lavatories, but they were located just a few rows up from our seats.
Pillows/Blankets–Everyone in Premium Economy received a pillow and blanket on their seats. When I looked back to the regular economy section, nobody had pillows or blankets. For a longer flight, especially an overnight flight, it was a nice amenity. (Unfortunately, I still wasn’t able to sleep!)
AA Premium Economy Misses
Headphone Jack/Charging Location–I had read on prior reviews that passengers dislike the location of the headphone jack and charger. It’s under the middle armrest against the back of the seat. I figured the reviews were exaggerating how bad the location was. I was wrong, they were absolutely right. I felt like I was playing a game of Twister every time I tried to insert my headphones or chargers. It’s a terrible spot.
Footrest–I thought the footrests were uncomfortable and awkward. It was difficult to get carry-on items under the seats. The first row of Premium Economy seats has a real leg rest connected to the seat, which is probably better.
Lack of Food–Our flights were 8 hours long with no meal service. I expected we would at least get a boxed sandwich. Nope, we only received a small snack box that had some nuts, crackers and gummy bears. That wasn’t nearly enough to last an 8-hour flight, especially on our first flight that was during the day. I assume the lack of food was due to Covid precautions, although business class was served a meal.
No Headphones–While business class gets noise-cancelling headphones, Premium Economy gets no headphones. Not even crappy airplane headphones. The noise-cancelling headphones I brought with me weren’t working for the flight home, and the crew didn’t have any headphones to hand out. I wasn’t the only passenger surprised by this.
For our 8-hour flights, I was pleased with the value of AA Premium Economy. It was so nice having the extra space and quiet cabin. The next time we fly to Hawaii, I wouldn’t hesitate to upgrade to the cabin again. I would also strongly consider paying extra for this cabin on international flights.
However, if I had very young kids, I would probably pass. The arm rests are not movable like they are in economy to facilitate laying across seats. Plus, young kids usually don’t take up as much room in the seat, which results in more seat space for parents sitting next to young kids. But now that my kids are older, the extra width would be nice.
Have you traveled in the Premium Economy cabin on any airline? What did you think?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.