American Now Lets You Use Trip Credits To Book Yourself An Extra Seat

Delta, Southwest, JetBlue and Alaska have all limited capacity on their flights so that passengers can have an empty middle seat next to them. American and United have been willing to fill their planes to full capacity.

Whether or not an empty middle seat is an important protection during Covid, when comparing similar itineraries at similar prices airlines like Delta and Southwest have been offering clearly better value to passengers than American and United. The number one thing that gives you a better flight experience is extra space. Your food tastes better, flight crews seem nicer, and the trip seems less stressful overall.

What I’ve stressed from the beginning of the pandemic, and long before, is that you can generally buy yourself an extra seat on U.S. airlines. With airfares low, this can be a great deal. While the procedures are different at each airline you canofteneven do it even when booking basic economy (which can even get you two seats without paying for seat assignments). I first wrote about this over two years ago, but it takes on even greater significance now.

Several airlines will now sell blocked middle seats and even entire empty rows to customers during the booking process. No U.S. airline does this, which seems strange to me: it’s an opportunity to earn more revenue from the customers they already have today.

However they’ll sell you the seat. And American Airlines will now even let you use electronic trip credits to pay for it. They should really publicize this feature more!

This is brand new, it’s live, and based on internal documentation here’s how the process works:

You shouldn’t need to worry about the particulars. An agent who is unfamiliar with the process can look it up. It’s useful, though, to know that this is possible – and something to consider doing on your next trip.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] American has been replacing paper vouchers with ‘trip credits’ which allow payment towards an adult passenger fare on American and American Airlines codeshares only. These can be used as partial payment towards a ticket (topped off with a credit card) or partially used towards full payment of a ticket, with residual amounts emailed to the passenger. Trip credits can also be used to book yourself an extra seat. […]


  1. This is totally stupid; I know of no employer who is set up to pay for a second ticket for an empty seat! Mine has agreed that I can fly Delta no matter what the price because of their distance guarantee (my wife wouldn’t allow me to fly otherwise, and she’s a lawyer!), which works for their finance department. American truly doesn’t get the needs of the business traveler.

  2. Even if buying 2 seats on AA, delta and southwest are much safer, paying attention to social distancing getting off and on planes and in the gate house area

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