On September 4, American’s Boeing 787-8 registration number N800AN arrived at Chicago O’Hare from London Heathrow. Then it flew the next day to Everett, Washington’s Paine Field. And it’s been sitting in the Pacific Northwest ever since.
This was the very first Boeing 787 delivered to American at the start of 2015. And the reason for it’s visit to Everett? Removal of 8 of the plane’s 28 business class seats to make room for premium economy.
Boeing 787-8 Concept D Business Class
Back in February I wrote that it seemed likely that American Airlines would be removing business class seats from Boeing 787-8 aircraft. That’s on top of removing business class seats from some Boeing 777-200s.
This makes awards and upgrades super difficult on the aircraft (awards are nearly impossible now in business class as it is). A 20 passenger business class cabin is a loss of 28% of the business class seats on the aircraft. In contrast United’s Boeing 787-8s have 36 business class seats. British Airways 787-8s have 35 business class seats.
Boeing 787-9 Premium Economy
American does not yet offer the ability to confirm upgrades to or redeem miles for premium economy. Premium economy is selling well for American. Airline President Robert Isom reported at the Cowen and Company transportation conference that they’re earning double the fares of coach. Separately executives have said they believe customers are predominantly buying up from economy rather than trading down from business.
The first Boeing 787-8 that American Airlines received is the first one to be receiving a premium economy retrofit, and will become the first one in the fleet with only 20 seats up front.