Yesterday, I dove into American’s new Premium Economy cabin offered on the new Boeing 787-9. I am excited to try out the new offering and am extremely excited that on an upcoming trip I was able to book a premium economy seat for free on an international itinerary.

Booking

I started by checking out American Airlines’ route schedule for the new 787-9 aircraft listed here. I then took advantage of the extremely inexpensive transatlantic flights currently offered by majority of carriers. In this case, I was able to book a flight from Chicago O’hare (ORD) to Paris (CDG) via Dallas (DFW) for just about $500 round trip! Once I selected my flights (making sure I was on the 789 from DFW to CDG) I was directed to select seats.

Seat Selection

Thanks to my American AAdvantage Platinum status I am able to reserve main cabin extra seats, without a fee, at the time of booking. Since American is currently only selling premium economy seats as main cabin extra, I could select any premium economy seat on the plane. For my trip, I also made sure to find dates with an open window seat in row 9 (the bulkhead).

In this case, as seen in the photo above, premium economy (row 9) seats on the 789 flight from DFW to CDG would typically cost $190 extra, but because of my current elite status the seats were free of charge. Furthermore, if I had upgraded the entire itinerary to MCE I would have to pay an extra $381! (ORD-DFW-CDG-ORD)

Is Elite Status Worth It?

This is a question that I receive often and this example sheds light on just how valuable elite status can be. In this example, I save $381 and anyone traveling with me would also receive MCE seats for free. If I booked this trip for 4 people I would more than covered my cost of paying for AA Platinum Status. I do not recommend buying status from the airline, but because this past year was unusual and my next year should include much more travel (on American) I may end up paying for Platinum status.

Final Thoughts

I can’t wait to try out American’s new Premium Economy cabin, nor can I wait to fly on American’s 789 aircraft. I am also excited to see my AAdvantage Platinum status, earned in 2015, is still paying off in the form of free premium economy seating to Paris in early 2017. I do worry my seat assignment will change between now and my departure date, but only time will tell.

Booking this trip helped me realize how valuable elite status can often be, especially when traveling internationally. I have already decided to pay for American Airlines Gold Status outright for 2017, but now I am beginning to wonder if it is worth paying up to Platinum status. I have plans for at least two international trips in 2017 so it may be worth coughing up the large sum upfront to realize future savings. More on that to come.

Lastly, I used my American Express Platinum Card to pay for this trip so I earned 5x points on the total cost.

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