American Really Took Away Main Cabin Extra From Bottom-Tier Elites This Time

A month ago I reported that American planned to eliminate confirmed-at-booking access to extra legroom economy seats for first-tier elites effective March 17.

Only March 17 came and went and several American AAdvantage Gold members and similar tier elites shared with me that they were still able to book Main Cabin Extra seats.

American it seems actually took away the benefit as of April 16th.

As an Executive Platinum I continue to have access to these extra legroom seats at booking, so I don’t have an easy way to confirm that the change has been implemented, but it’s what they’re telling travel agents.

American launched extra legroom seats in coach  two years ago. (Of course 10 years ago they offered ‘More Room Throughout Coach’ – extra legroom throughout the whole cabin.)

United removed the ability for their ‘Premier Silver’ 25,000 mile flyers to reserve extra legroom coach seats at booking. (It may have been these flyers that United had in mind when calling their members over-entitled). Now Silver members get to reserve these seats only at check-in, while higher level elites get to reserve them at booking.

American took a similar approach, announcing that their Gold 25,000 mile flyers could have the benefit at time of booking through the end of 2013 only. Then they extended this benefit through March 1, 2014.

Presumably the delays have been IT-related, so Golds have been getting more than is offered by United and have been getting it for longer than promised. And American has been offering it to partner elites, too, which is also more generous.

So nothing unreasonable here, just noting for readers who are (or know) first tier elite frequent flyers that this change has apparently been implemented.

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. Not sure why this is big news? AA announced the current policy wen they rolled out MCE nealy a year ago… That Gold’s would only have advance access through 12/31/13.

    So it actually was a benefit a bit longer….And from my experience there are usually many (domestic) MCE seats still available at T-24 at OLCI.

    So reasonably generous in my view.

  2. As a UA 1K and AA EP, I am glad that bottom-tier members can only confirm economy plus / main cabin extra at check-in. I generally book my travel only 2-3 days ahead of time, and many times there are very few seats available. The airlines are smart to make sure that their top-tier elites get good seats or upgrades.

  3. I’m an AA PLT (on target EXP this year but never know how business will shift) and as much as I hate to see benefits taken away from the program, between this and the new boarding order its nice to see some benefits other than just RDM bonus and higher upgrade/standby order compared to GLD.

  4. I am a lifetime Gold with AA and they managed to turn this perk useless. AA and Delta should merge so there is just one worst airline in the world and not two.

  5. @Santastico You are bonkers if you think Delta is one of the worst airlines in the world. Nothing like some hyperbole to try and make your point!

  6. @Santastico – this perk didn’t even exist before a couple of years ago and when it was introduced they announced it wasn’t going to be permanent for Golds. They gave more time with it than promised, so kudos to them. And you still get to pick these seats at check-in, which you didn’t have more than 2 years ago. So it’s an improvement compared to then.

  7. As a lowly US Silver I might just as well switch back to SW . It’s easier to maintain elite status with them and can usually get Exit row for no extra charge. They have tons more flight options for me out of STL. Sad. I’d rather flight American.

  8. @Keith: you clearly never flew on Emirates, Singapore, Cathay, Air France, Lufthansa, etc… Keep flying Delta and enjoy their “spectacular” service.

  9. @Gary: AA Gold used to be something. Now it is almost useless. They even reduced the number of free bags you get. You cannot get Main Cabin Extra in advance and they keep turning that status down. All that for flying 1MM BIS miles with them.

  10. @Santastico – well they used to count miles from ALL SOURCES towards status, which is how I became a 2MM lifetime Platinum before even making them my regular airline (actually I hit 3MM just as I was switching).

  11. This perk was the only reason I have been loyal to American. Prior to the MCE initiative, I was still able to pre-reserve exit row seating. Being 6’5″, the legroom is critical for me on long flights. Now if I want to reserve an exit row, I have to pay extra as a gold member. So yes, this is a loss of a critical perk. I would have been happier if the never added the MCE seats as I would still be flying in the exit rows. I will be switching to a carrier with more convenient schedules for me after being loyal for 10 years.

  12. Suppose I, as gold elite, book a premium seat for $25 extra. Then my upgrade request (to business class) is honored. What happens to the $25?

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