American Airlines Will Allow You To Upgrade To A Seat With More Legroom For Free. Who Knew?

There’s not much that surprises me nowadays in aviation.  I’m genuinely shaking my head here.

United Airlines makes a point of announcing on every flight that you can’t just pick a new seat in the Economy Plus section.  The verbiage is something along the lines of “please contact a flight attendant who will be happy to assist you with paying for the upgrade”.  I just assumed that all 3 of the legacy carriers did the same thing.

I Was Wrong

When I first saw Forward Cabin reporting on this last night, I though “Nah, that can’t be right.”  It’s definitely not right.  But, it is correct:

In yesterday’s notice to front line employees, there’s an interesting question posed and answered.

Here’s Why It’s Not Right

Those Main Cabin Extra seats are reserved for elite members and for folks who pay for them.  Letting customers upgrade creates a crappy customer experience after take-off.  “Hi, is that seat taken?  Can you move your stuff so I can sit there?”

American Airlines will begin offering free drinks to customers in Main Cabin Extra.  So, the quicker I decide to vault forward to an empty seat, the more free drinks I get?

I’m literally flabbergasted that American is willing to let people poach empty seats so they don’t have to ask employees to do their job.  Instead of trying to maximize revenue for that last seat, they’d rather turn a blind eye.

The only way I could see this decision being “right” is if the loads in Main Cabin Extra prior to take-off are so high, that virtually nobody gets the chance to self-upgrade.

I’d love to understand why I’m wrong here.  I just think this sends a bad message to employees about foregoing revenue while also incurring additional costs (giving away free drinks).

The post American Airlines Will Allow You To Upgrade To A Seat With More Legroom For Free. Who Knew? was published first on Pizza in Motion


  1. First of all this is clearly not AAs intention. Since it keeps being blogged about watch it die very quickly. Second, if said person did not pay for two seats then he must move his things off of that seat if asked..

    Yeah definitely would be annoying if I was that person thinking I was having an empty row/ middle seat 😉

  2. Yeah. This is dumb. Rules that are not enforced are not rules.

    This also creates an environment where the rule will be selectively enforced, which IMO is even worse. FA doesn’t like your attitude or , boom, no changing seats for you!

    1. Charlie, selective enforcement is the worst. There’s more commentary out there from One Mile at a Time that enforcement is up to the discretion of the flight attendant. About the worst possible instructions.

  3. False. Free Drinks benefit is determined by the phablet the FAs carry, which color code each seat based on the status of the person sitting there. Those who paid for a Main Cabin ticket will not show eligible for a free drink on the device.

  4. The little blurb says “within their ticketed cabin” – think this is airline speak for they have to have a valid ticket for that seat. For example – they’re in a middle seat in row 28 – they can move to an aisle seat in row 27, but not an MCE seat unless they are so ticketed and paid for same? Then, maybe I’m wrong?

      1. AA has been self-imploding for some time now. First they make changes to their awards program that HURT loyal customers. Now they give away for free the hard earned benefits of those left behind… really sad.
        I am hopeful that Richard may be right, and that in AA’s jargon. MCE will be considered a cabin in itself.

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