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We got a tip from reader Patrick K. on our Beginners Guide to Choosing Seats on American Airlines. He pointed out there’s an aspect we missed: “Any Active Duty military will be given free access to any preferred or MCE seats” on American Airlines flights. We asked AA to confirm that this was its policy — to make sure Patrick hadn’t just gotten ahold of an exceptionally generous agent. Sure enough, he’s right.

An American Airlines spokesperson provided this statement about the policy:

Active U.S. Military members (and their family members traveling on the same reservation) receive complimentary access to Preferred Seats and Main Cabin Extra. Preferred Seats can be selected by active U.S. Military traveling on a Military or Government fare. If not traveling on a Military or Government fare, active U.S. Military can request a Preferred Seat or Main Cabin Extra from an airport agent if available.

As Main Cabin Extra seats are only available to US military members at the airport, it’s likely that the absolute best-available options will have already been scooped up by American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Platinum and Platinum elite members. On routes where American Airlines is selling business-class seats as part of economy, there probably aren’t going to be any such seats available at the airport. However, there will still likely be some Main Cabin Extra seats to choose from — especially as elite members are upgraded at the gate.

This benefit is in addition to other perks that American Airlines grants US military members: first to board (after ConciergeKey members and special needs passengers) and up to three free checked bags for personal travel.

Bottom Line

From free baggage allowance to being able to select the best economy seats for free, American Airlines offers plenty of benefits to active US military members. We encourage active US military members to take “AAdvantage” of these complimentary benefits, and we thank you for your service.

Featured image courtesy of American Airlines.

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