Two months ago I wrote that American would be introducing ‘seat coupons’, so that non-elites and Gold members could earn preferred seat assignments on American Airlines instead of having to pay for these seats.
We’ve now seen the first targeted seat coupon challenge: “register by May 15th and fly two qualifying flights by August 31st to earn one coupon.”
Eligible flights for completing the challenge are American Airlines flights and American codeshares on joint venture partners British Airways, Iberia, Finnair or Japan Airlines.
Here’s how seat coupons work:
- Coupon valid for one seat on one flight operated by American
- Expires after 180 days, and travel has to begin by the expiration date
- Can only apply a seat booking when paying for a seat
- Non-transferable but can be applied to any passenger in the same reservation as the person with the coupon
- Can’t be used on basic economy fares
One Gold elite member reports receiving a seat coupon with no requirements, although not all Gold accounts have them.
Seat assignments — even the most undesirable ones, if a non-elite wants them in advance — can come at a premium. So ‘coupons’ to get them without cost or at a discount at some level have value, but they’re hardly aspirational.
I’m skeptical that seat coupons are going to be a big incentive. I just don’t see a future seat assignment getting people to book additional American Airlines flights with less desirable seats today. Am I wrong?