Very Cool: American Airlines Texting Elites As They Head To The Airport, May Even Block Middle Seats

I’ve heard from several Executive Platinum passengers recently who have received texts from Admirals Club agents shortly before they arrived at the airport. These usually welcome them and let them know the status of the club and Covid procedures. The texts aren’t from an automated system – they’re from an agent in the Admirals Club, which I think is a really nice touch.

I used to have one agent in the club at Washington National airport who would see me on the list of people flying, and if my flight was going to be delayed with a risk to my connection would proactively give me a call, “I’ve got you protected on an earlier flight, if you can come to the airport now!” Her efforts meant a lot, and is one of the reasons why that club used to be one of the two best in the system. (My two favorite agents are sadly no longer there).

The other piece of this that I found interesting is a report that one of these texts noted that the passenger wasn’t likely to clear their upgrade but that the agent had blocked the middle seat next to them. Middle seat blocking on American Airlines!

Middle seat blocking is something I suggested at the start of the pandemic as as an elite benefit airline should consider because it’s low cost to offer (it just prioritizes elites as the ones to get empty seats next to them) while meaning a great deal to the customer – especially during Covid Times.

According to American,

The text messaging from Admirals Club agents to our elite customers prior to their arrival at the airport is an initiative we started last year during the pandemic. Our Premium Guest Services team takes care of our elites and have the flexibility to accommodate our customers when possible.

The passenger who reported middle seat blocking wasn’t a Concierge Key member, just an Executive Platinum. That was a great touch – though bear in mind seat blocking isn’t a guarantee that the seat next to you will remain empty. If the flight goes out 100% full, the seat will be used. But the seat should stay empty if the flight isn’t full.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. I’m Platinum now, working towards Platinum Pro and , hopefully, Executive Platinum for next year. Thanks for heads up!

  2. Indeed, a fantastic, cost free benefit. This was UA’s practice for mid level and up some time ago. Dunno why they abandoned it.

  3. Blocking middle seats for elites is a cool concept but I can 100% assure you that it will be viewed by the fragile public as classist and oppressive.

  4. I’ve been texted personally every time I go to DCA. The premium service rep also meets me at the gate and greets me by name. No middle seat blocking yet. They usually tell me I didn’t clear the upgrade list and wish me a good flight.

  5. Just a Plat Pro with an Admirals Club membership (based in NYC)… but ever since I returned to flying last summer, every time I’ve had a flight from LGA, someone from the Admirals Clubs has texted me a few hours before departure. It’s really been a nice gesture. A few other recent things from this month- boarding a flight at LAX there was a second agent standing by the boarding door with a tablet thanking some people for their loyalty (not sure if it was everyone or if she was looking for elites?)… and also before landing at JFK one FA went to each passenger in the Business Class cabin, addressed them by name and thanked them for flying. Again, I’m not sure if these are all one offs or is some areas within the airline are making a concerted push to recognize and thank elites and premium cabin passengers.

  6. Love the fact Alaska Airlines does this in Premium Cabin… makes life better when our upgrades dont clear.

  7. Clearly the view from up front differs from actually seated over the wing somewhat. After feeling extremely safe in coach with taged off seats in the Ecuador airports and onboard Avianca and Latam both to and from Galapagos, our flight from Miami home to L.A. was disturbingly frightening. The dollar is the bottom line with American, not the health just the wealth of the client is required to be included in this conversation. 100% packed 777. Just awful. Caveat Emptor fellow peasants.

  8. Clearly the view from up front differs from actually seated over the wing somewhat. After feeling extremely safe in coach with taged off seats in the Ecuador airports and onboard Avianca and Latam both to and from Galapagos, our flight from Miami home to L.A. was disturbingly frightening. The dollar is the bottom line with American, not the health just the wealth of the client is required to be included in this conversation. 100% packed 777. Just awful. Caveat Emptor fellow peasants.

  9. “After feeling extremely safe in coach with taged off seats in the Ecuador airports and onboard Avianca and Latam both to and from Galapagos, our flight from Miami home to L.A. was disturbingly frightening. The dollar is the bottom line with American, not the health just the wealth of the client is required to be included in this conversation. 100% packed 777. Just awful.”

    If sitting 2 feet away from people vs 1 foot away from people is “disturbingly frightening,” it’s time to have your head examined.

    if you’re really that worried about getting sick, why are you flying to the Galapagos?

    Empty middle seats are simply the airline version of virtue signaling. They aren’t sustainable, profitable, nor do they make any difference epidemiologically.

    What’s next? The government needs to provide padded sidewalks and ban diabetes? Airlines need to provide individual parachutes?

    When you walk out your front door, you take on risk. The risk of making poor dietary choices, the risk of slipping and falling on a sidewalk, including the risk of contracting any number of communicable diseases.

    One that is 99.8% survivable should not be a cause for concern.

    If you are really this ignorant and scared, hide in your basement.

    The sad truth is, you will die from being pathetically obese long before a cold virus can have its way with you.

  10. Right, so health, safety and the right to live should only be extended to the most wealthy travelers. Way to be an obnoxious elite.

  11. I’m pretty sure AA has been blocking middle sears for ExecPlats for ages. I can’t remember the last time I had anyone next to me in coach, even when the airplane was jam packed full. Long before Covid.

  12. I can confirm DWT’s account, I’m an EXP based in New York, and this has been occurring for me out of LGA and JFK since like May or June last year.

  13. Lol I am an EP and so is my girlfriend, we’ve taken 6 flights this year and on our last one AA tried to downgrade us on a paid business class ticket. SO over American after nearly a million miles.

  14. I’m EP and twice in the past week a last minute equipment change to an oasis 737 (side note, the designer of that interior clearly didn’t know what an “oasis” is) caused a last minute seat change separating me from my daughter. It would be nice if they could at least look out for that.

  15. As an EP I have been met on 4 occasions by the Premium Service Representative when connecting through Dallas snd escorted to the connecting gate or Admirals Club on foot or by cart. This also occurred 2 in LA and the same PSR was greeting elite members when boarding . Great way to recognize elite passengers.

  16. I’ve been an EXP and Admirals Club member for many years and have never gotten a personal text from anyone at AA, and never offered to block the middle seat if I don’t get an upgrade. Probably because I fly out of DFW as my home airport. No special treatment for people at their hub!

  17. I’m a Platinum Pro and not an Admiral Club member, and was texted by Premium Services at DCA. Then I was greeted at the gate by the gentleman. It was a nice touch. It has happened once out of four trips since October.

  18. Kate I can agree with you totally. EXP and an Admirals Club Member and I have never received a notice by anyone. I have flown all but 2 weeks since the Pandemic began. I do not even receive notices of my upgrades. I think we are just looked at as we will be there. Sad!!!

  19. Got a text at DCA on a connection but nothing at PHX, LAX, SJC, EGE, SFO, CUN, DFW, this year.

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