When United first introduced Economy Plus extra legroom seating, it was available complimentary to United elites — but also Star Alliance Gold members (partner mid- and top-tier elites) and to customers buying full fare tickets. If you spent a couple thousand dollars on a roundtrip cross country ticket you wouldn’t get nickel and dimed for the extra legroom seat.
Over time they tightened things up. It got to the point when they had one-cabin “Ted” aircraft flying Washington Dulles – Las Vegas that a non-elite customer could buy a 3-cabin first class ticket London – Las Vegas and for the domestic segment they’d be sitting in coach and asked to buy up to Economy Plus. Sick.
With the eventual (in some sense re-)introduction of American’s similar “Main Cabin Extra” extra legroom seat product they provided it complimentary to elites and full fare customers. And “AAnytime” extra mileage award tickets counted as full fare.
Main Cabin Extra Seats
Under the new regime, though, whether it bolts down onto the plane or not it’s for sale and nothing’s free. American has changed their policy, and effective August 30 full fare customers and AAnytime awards no longer receive complimentary Main Cabin Extra and they no longer receive complimentary preferred seats either. No free extra legroom, no free seats closer to the front of the plane. Buy up, sit in back, or take what’s left.
For travel ticketed in booking code Y on or after August 30, 2017, you’ll no longer get complimentary Main Cabin Extra or Preferred seats. This includes AAnytime awards booked in Main Cabin.
We’re not talking about taking away benefits from Basic Economy customers here. We’re talking about taking away benefits from full fare customers, precisely the kind of high yield passengers that the airline claims to want to reward.
How big a deal is this? Here’s a Boeing 737 seat map. X’s are blocked. If there’s a “P” on the seat, American will charge for the seat assignment.
If you’re likely to need to book an extra mileage AAnytime award and do not have AAdvantage elite status, you might as well do it before August 30th to get a better seat assignment.