American Airlines Unveils Details of Main Cabin Extra Enhancements

Jan 24, 2018

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Back at American Airlines’ Media & Investor Day last September, we got a clue that American Airlines was working on enhancements to Main Cabin Extra. Referencing a larger announcement later in the day — which never came — it was teased that Main Cabin Extra passengers would get free drinks and “enhanced bin access.”

In the four months since, there’s been an eerie quiet on the matter — leading me to wonder if that idea had been pulled. Then, out of the blue Wednesday afternoon, an internal memo went out to American Airlines front-line employees about the changes. The Forward Cabin published the memo:

Turns out that the “enhanced bin access” is just going to be the installation of placards on bins above Main Cabin Extra seats noting that this bin are reserved for the MCE seats. However, flight attendants will not be responsible for monitoring the usage of these bins.

As expected, Main Cabin Extra seats will soon receive “complimentary beer, wine and spirits.” There isn’t a rollout date yet for this new benefit — only the reference to “coming this spring.” The airline will announce this benefit when it knows the introduction date.

An American Airlines spokesperson has confirmed to The Points Guy the validity of this announcement, noting that this is just an internal communication of an item that was already “announced” at Media & Investor Day.

The spokesperson confirmed that the overhead bin placards will begin to be installed on February 1. These won’t just be found in Main Cabin Extra, but will also begin to be installed on overhead bins in domestic first class, Flagship Business and Flagship First.

Two more points of clarification: I confirmed that the free drink benefit would apply to all seats treated as Main Cabin Extra — including bulkheads and exit rows. Also, there will be no additional snack service for these customers.

Is there a downside with this change?

Currently, American Airlines lets Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum elites choose Main Cabin Extra seats for free at booking. Gold elites have the choice of paying 50% of the standard cost or waiting until check-in to select these seats for free.

Meanwhile, Delta treats its extra-legroom seats as a separate class of service — including dedicated bins, extra snacks and free drinks. However, the downside is that Delta elites have to be “upgraded” to these seats. This can lead to elite having the unfortunate choice of upgrading to an extra-legroom middle seat or turning down the “upgrade” to stay in the standard economy seat they chose at booking.

With those Delta complaints fresh in mind and with these changes to AA’s MCE product mirroring Delta’s Comfort+ amenities, the logical question is if American Airlines is going to mirror Delta’s extra-legroom upgrade system. I asked an airline spokesperson if there were any plans to change American Airlines’ Main Cabin Extra seat selection system. The great news is that the airline has no plans to do so at this time.

H/T: The Forward Cabin

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