Only A Few More Days to Get Free Extra Legroom Seats on Some AAdvantage Awards

Aug 26, 2017

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As anyone who’s searched for AAdvantage award availability anytime recently knows, American Airlines isn’t known for being generous with award availability at the lowest “MileSAAver” levels. However, one concession that the airline has made for those stuck booking the more expensive AAnytime awards is free extra legroom “Main Cabin Extra” or preferred seating.

But this week, through a simple website change, this perk ended for AAnytime award tickets booked on or after August 30th. See if you can find the changes in the fine print below:

AA AAnytime award seating changes

If you want to take advantage of the current rules, you’ve only got a few more days to book your award ticket. That said, this leaves a catch-22: should you give up on getting MileSAAver award availability and book a much-more-expensive AAnytime award just to get free extra legroom seats? If it’s a domestic flight and you’re looking at 12,500 miles vs. 20,000 miles, that’s paying 60% more to guarantee better seats. Of course, there’s no guarantee that saver space will open up… you might have to pay the 20,000 miles after all and won’t get the free seating. Thus the conundrum.

Another thing to know is that the changes aren’t going to affect everyone the same way:

Cost for MCE seats MileSAAver
awards
AAnytime
(pre-change)
AAnytime
(post-change)
No status Full price Free Full Price
AA Gold 50% of standard cost,
free starting at 24 hrs
Free 50% of standard cost,
free starting at 24 hrs
AA Platinum, Platinum
Pro, Executive Platinum
Free Free Free
Oneworld Ruby elites 50% of standard cost,
free starting at 24 hrs
Free 50% of standard cost,
free starting at 24 hrs
Oneworld Sapphire
and Emerald elites
Free Free Free

To be blunt, this is a petty change for the airline to be making, especially for a program that continues to alienate elites and is dropping in mileage program rankings. How much additional revenue was American Airlines losing out on by allowing those who had to overpay for award seats to at least get an extra-legroom seat?

However, this does act as a perverse appreciation in the value of AAdvantage elite status. Since less non-elites will have free access to Main Cabin Extra and Preferred seats, there will likely be more of those seats open for later-booking AA elites.

We have reached out to American Airlines for an explanation of what led to this change. We will update the post when we hear back.

What do you think of these changes?

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