American Lets You Self-Upgrade to Main Cabin Extra for Free

Jan 26, 2018

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Want a free drink and more legroom on American Airlines? Just switch seats. On Wednesday, American sent a memo to front-line employees, detailing some passenger-friendly changes to the carrier’s Main Cabin Extra product — most notable of which was complimentary beer, wine and spirits for MCE passengers. Now, we’re learning that AA is not going to monitor if passengers self-upgrade, meaning you can switch seats after doors close to one that offers free booze. (Update: American Airlines has cracked down on the practice.) 

The Forward Cabin has published a memo that American sent to employees regarding the upcoming changes to Main Cabin Extra. In the memo, American answered the following questions:

Outside of complimentary beer, wine and spirits, what does MCE include?
In addition to complimentary beer, wine and spirits, MCE seats will receive preferred boarding, additional legroom, and reserved overhead bin space.

Can customers move into open MCE seats once boarding is complete?
Yes. Once the door is closed, customers are allowed to move to any available seat within their ticketed cabin (no change to current procedure).”

So, according to AA’s procedures, you can be booked in an economy seat and move to a MCE seat, as they’re in the same cabin. Once the door is closed, if there are still open seats in the Main Cabin Extra cabin, you can self-upgrade to a seat with complimentary alcohol, more legroom and more overhead bin space.

We’ve reached out to American Airlines for confirmation but have yet to hear back.

While this policy is good if you’re able to take advantage and get one of the Main Cabin Extra self-upgrade seats, it could cause some trouble — for both passengers and crew. Allowing passengers to experience a seat for free that others have paid extra for could create some issues. Plus, if there’s a mass rush of passengers after the doors close to claim an open MCE seat, it could get messy.

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