American Airlines to Announces Premium Economy Plans

Jones "Stretching"

Soon, you’ll be able to stretch your legs in coach.  American just announced their plans for premium economy seating: Main Cabin Extra, which launches in 2013, will become available for purchase this spring.

It will bring four to six more inches of leg room and priority boarding privileges,and will first be offered later this year onboard the airline’s new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which will go into service between JFK/Sao Paulo and DFW/Sao Paulo, and will eventually expand to American’s mainline fleet.

Be on Your Way to More Legroom

We plan to enhance all of our existing and future mainline fleet with more spacious seating in the front portion of the Main Cabin. Beginning as early as spring 2012, you can reserve your Main Cabin Extra seat when flying onboard the new Boeing 777-300ER, which will come equipped with Main Cabin Extra upon delivery later this year.

AAdvantange Elite Status – Complimentary Access

Main Cabin Extra seats will be complimentary to AAdvantage Executive Platinum and AAdvantage Platinum members as well as customers who have purchased a full-fare economy class ticket.

To celebrate the launch of this new seating product, AAdvantage Gold members will also have complimentary access to Main Cabin Extra seats through December 31, 2013.

We will reserve a portion of Main Cabin Extra seats exclusively for our elite members who can select these seating options at the time of booking up until check-in.


For customers interested in purchasing Main Cabin Extra, which also comes with priority boarding privileges, you may select an available Main Cabin Extra seat when you book your flight, up until the airport check-in cut-off time. Prices will range between $8 and $108 per segment, depending on the length of the flight. Main Cabin Extra seats can be purchased through, Self-Service Check-In machines, AA Reservations, and through travel agencies that use AA’s Direct Connect.

Go here for complete details.

Photo: “Jones Stretching
Credit: J. Chris Vaughan on Flickr


  1. @ Eric – I thought the same thing.

    I have to give AA credit for their approach – while other airlines (Delta and United) are cutting benefits for their lower tier elites, American is holding the line and adding more perks at higher levels.

    You’re right though, this is one more incentive to reach Platinum or better.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. I wouldn’t necessarily say that AA is going beyond United in its benefits in all cases. United offered E+ for years and is expanding it, while AA offered more room through coach, then took it back, and is now catching up again. And UA’s recent food upgrades look like they’re starting to become comparable to AA (e.g., return of hot nuts and new ice cream sundaes).

    While UA has taken away E+ for 25K fliers at booking, it is still free at check-in. AA plans to charge eventually. And while it may be offering it to 25K fliers for free for an awfully long introductory period, but I think that’s partly because it will be hard to predict which planes have it during the roll-out.

    • @ Scottrick – I don’t think that AA is going beyond other airlines in benefits, just that their competitors have reduced some benefits for their lowest status tier and that AA has resisted the urge (for now).

      Thanks for reading!

  3. I’d like to think that this is because I recently completed a survey where I wrote an entire essay about how I’d switch to Jet Blue for the legroom if I ever lost EXP status and/or my upgrades on transcons stopped going through for some reason.

    I switched to AA from UAL ten years ago, largely because of MRTC. Since it went away, I’ve had to subsist on upgrades and exit rows.

  4. Unlike UA, non-elite AA passengers on Saaver awards will be unable to purchase MCE, at all. Non-elites on Aanytime awards or even deep discount paid tickets will be able to purchase the seats though, none of which really makes sense.

    • @ PanAm – You’re right and I thanks for pointing it out. It’s an excellent topic for a follow up post. I appreciate your comment and thanks for reading!

  5. I’m unsure how other airlines handle it because I only fly American, but is the thinking now that eVIPs will only move someone to Premium Economy and not to Business?

    • @ Stephen – I know how you feel. I’ve lived in Dallas for so long and have spent most of my time in the air with American or Southwest, that I forget there are other airlines. JetWho? 🙂

      Good new though. American confirmed that eVIPs and 500 mile upgrades will get you into domestic First and international Business, and won’t have any effect on elite upgrades (whew!!).

      They plan to treat these new Premium Economy seats like exit row and aisle seats in the main cabin (they’re just planning to charge a little more for them). Think of them as something like Preferred Plus Plus.

      I’m looking forward to these new seats, especially on those flights when the upgrade doesn’t clear. What do you think? Thumbs up? Thumbs down?

      Thanks for reading!

  6. I love the idea!

    For the very reason you said, if an upgrade does not clear we now have another option. On International flights it can sometimes be hard to get an Exit Row since I usually don’t book more than a few weeks out. At least now we have more chances at a Premium seat.

    The huge plus I see for me (father of a one year old special needs baby) and others with small children is we now have an option other than First Class if we want more room. Since we cannot sit in Exit Rows I see this as a huge improvement if we want to enjoy some extra leg room and our upgrades do not clear.

    • @ Stephen – You bring up a very good point that I hadn’t even considered, but for families unable to sit on the exit row, this is a huge benefit. Traveling with a little one can be challenging enough, and a some extra space goes a long way in making the flight more comfortable, with less anxiety.

      Though, I’m not sure that Premium Economy makes up for missing out on the baked on board cookie! 🙂

  7. Good point on the cookies… although I always pass on the Cranberry Oatmeal ones which is what I keep seeing on my flights.

    Thanks!!! We are very happy with Westin’s progression so far giving what we expected from other children with Costello Syndrome. I think it is from getting him out and about, seeing new places. Westin’s been on 14 flights so far and he just turned one.

    Mommy Points did a nice write-up on our trip to Las Vegas back in December:

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