American Airlines 787-9 Premium Economy Class Dallas to Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Holiday Inn Paris Montmartre
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ACE Hotel Paris Roissy
Air Canada Lounge Paris-Charles de Gaulle
American Airlines Main Cabin Extra Paris-Charles de Gaulle to Dallas
American Airlines Main Cabin Extra Dallas to Santa Ana/Orange County
Having arrived from San Diego about 2 hours before our flight to Paris departed, we spent most of that time in the Centurion Lounge (which I’ve reviewed many times before) before heading to our gate at the northern end of the D concourse.
I’ll have to admit that I was pretty damn excited as we headed from the AmEx Centurion Lounge to the gate from which our flight to Paris would be departing: a flight on the 787 is always exciting, but what really had me pumped was my first flight in Premium Economy. Given that this product had only debuted only a few months before (and wasn’t even on sale yet), I kind of felt like a trip report trail blazer stepping onto that 787… going where few airline nerds had gone before (just kidding).
American Airlines Flight 48
Dallas (DFW) to Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
Seat 11A, Premium Economy Class
American’s new Premium Economy cabin consists of 21 recliner seats (virtually identical to what you’ll find in domestic first class on American) spread across 3 rows in a 2-3-2 configuration. The cabin is quite small, though still far more spacious than the sardine can-esque economy class cabin located behind it (nine across on the 787 is pretty tight).
I had selected seat 11A, a window seat in the last row of premium economy.
The seat features generous width (two inches wide than the standard economy seat), an additional 8 inches of legroom compared to economy, and fourteen degrees of recline. Each seat features an 8.9 inch wide TV screen (the same size as economy) featuring American’s excellent IFE selection (which I’ll talk about later). Powers plugs (both regular and USB) are located under the TV screen.
Waiting at my when I boarded was a seat were a menu, pillow, blanket, and amenity kit. The pillow and blanket were of better quality than what you get in economy (i.e. not made of the scratchy, felt-like material), and were perfectly soft and comfortable.
The amenity kit was pretty basic, containing a toothbrush, earplugs, an eye-mask, and socks.
Each seat features a foot rest, which swings out from the seat in front of you. I found this interesting, as the rendering American put out when premium economy was first announced included full leg rests, which were lacking in these seats.
The seat controls and TV remote are located in the armrest, right at leg-level. The seat’s recline is controlled by the button seen at right in the picture below, which requires a good amount of pushing to get to work. Hold the button and push back and your seat should recline.
We began our pushback five minutes late, our tow away from the gate providing a fine view of another AA 787:
Our the runway was lengthy (we were heading for Runway 35L, on the other side of the airport from our gate), though provided some nice views.
At about 6:05, we lined up on the runway and immediately started our takeoff roll, climbing up into the cloudy skies above Dallas.
During the climb out, I browsed American’s extensive entertainment selection, which included new releases, classic films, and everything in between, as well as plenty of TV shows. The amount of content was far greater than what I’ve experienced on other airlines.
I eventually started watching Blazing Saddles, which was, rather hilariously/surprisingly, shown completely unedited. It certainly isn’t a movie for those that are easily offended, that’s for sure.
As we leveled off, the meal service began with the distribution of menus, which read as follows:
While both main course options (beef tenderloin and poblano renello) sounded interesting, I figured I’d go with the latter because it sounded less heavy.
The tray table folds out of the armrest.
Snacks and drinks were served prior to the food coming out.
About an hour-and-a-half into the flight, the meals were brought out, all courses being served on a tray. The poblano renello (basically peppers stuffed with cheese on top of a crap-ton of rice) definitely didn’t feel healthy, but was off excellent quality nonetheless, closer to something I’d expect in business class than a longhaul economy class meal on a US airline.
The appetizer (tomato, corn, and bell pepper) and the salad (kale with orange slices, pomegranates, and feta cheese) were both fresh and tasty.
The main course, basically consisting of rice and pepper stuffed with cheese, was cheesy as hell (American appears to have a thing for cheesy meals) and therefore may not be particularly healthy, but it sure tasted good.
The cheesecake, served with strawberries, was good as well. American definitely brought their A-game when it comes to premium economy meals!
After dinner I watched some movies and browsed the entertainment section a little. American’s IFE offerings are by far the best of any US airline I’ve encountered (save the magazine selection, which, I was somewhat amused to find, consists entirely of the latest issues of Executive Golfer).
With about five hours of flight time left, I decided to get some rest. With limited recline and padding, sleeping in American’s premium economy reminded me exactly of sleeping in a domestic first class seat plus a footrest. It’s decently comfortable, far better than economy, which is exactly what people are looking for when they buy a premium economy ticket: an amount of extra comfort, without the hefty pricetag of business class.
I slept for about 4 hours, waking up about an hour before landing. I missed breakfast entirely, though wasn’t hungry seeing as dinner had been served barely 6 hours before.
We began our descent into CDG at about 9:30 AM local time, under clear blue skies before breaking through the thick layer of clouds over Paris.
We touched down right at about 10 AM and began our long (and I mean long) taxi to our gate. We touched down on CDG’s Runway 27L, all the way across the airport from American’s Terminal 2A. Through in some congestion and it’ll take you twenty minutes to get to the gate.
We finally arrived at our gate in Terminal 2A, parking beside an American 767.
And then, lo and behold, it turns out the jetway was broken, so we had to wait another fifteen minutes for it to get fixed. We finally deplaned at about 10:45.
As we exited the aircraft, we passed through the business class cabin, featuring American’s new B/E Super Diamond seats. Definitely looked impressive in person!
Thanks to being towards the front of the plane, there was virtually no line at immigration and we were in a cab headed for the city within 45 minutes (thanks to some, shall we say, creative routings taken by our taxi driver).
So, what did I think of American’s premium economy? On the whole, I was actually quite impressed. The food was excellent (it could have been served in business class and I wouldn’t have noticed), the service friendly, and the seats comfortable. It’s a massive improvement over American’s current economy class offerings, and, even if it isn’t as excellent as the product of some foreign airlines like Cathay and Singapore, I was very impressed with my flight.