United Airlines doesn’t let you move to any open seat in coach. When passengers try to change seats on United, the airline’s flight attendants stand on the bridge between seats declaring “none shall pass.” It used to be that passengers could change to any empty seat in the cabin, but now the airline charges extra for some seats in economy and flight attendants are the airline’s revenue protection force.
American’s policy is vague, but they do not ask flight attendants to enforce seating with a cabin. If there’s an empty seat with more legroom and you move to it, flight attendants aren’t expected to stop you (let alone charge you, the way United might).
With American starting to offer free booze to customers in extra legroom coach seats this spring this takes on increasing significance.
The Forward Cabin shares what American Airlines is telling flight attendants about the new benefits for Main Cabin Extra seats with more legroom.
Specifically, passengers in these seats get free alcohol. And anyone can move to these seats if they’re open.
By the way this is true even if you’re booked in Basic Economy, you had no advance seat assignment and are stuck in a middle seat in back. Basic Economy, therefore, gets free beer, wine, and spirits on a space available basis.
Just as flight attendants won’t be asked to police the supposedly dedicated overhead bins for Main Cabin Extra and first class, they won’t be asked to monitors passenger seats.
Ultimately American Airlines management wants employees to like them. They gave employees unilateral raises. They’re afraid to insist that employees do more work. But this doesn’t translate into happy employees or good service, it just makes management weak. American Airlines must not fly to Munich and they’ve forgotten that appeasement increases aggression.