American Airlines Gold AAdvantage members over entitled, too!

Bottom-tier elites can say sayonara to complimentary advance selection of Main Cabin Extra seats on American Airlines flights starting next week. The carrier has updated its policies regarding the extra leg room seats today to exclude AAdvantage Gold, US Airways Dividend Miles Silver Preferred and other oneworld Ruby elites from grabbing these seats in advance, at least for free. This policy mimics that which United Airlines put in place a couple years ago at the time, a decision which was accompanied by that carrier’s CFO suggesting that some elites were “over entitled.”


This time around there was no quote to take out of context by folks on FlyerTalk, just a quiet update to the published policy on the AA website:

AAdvantage® Executive Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum members and their oneworld equivalents, as well as Dividend Miles Preferred members* and customers who purchase a full-fare Main Cabin ticket receive complimentary access to Main Cabin Extra seats. This benefit is also extended to our AAdvantage Gold members through March 17, 2014.

We know extra legroom is important to you when traveling in the Main Cabin, so starting March 18, 2014, we are pleased to offer AAdvantage Gold and oneworld Ruby members, as well as Dividend Miles Silver Preferred members^ two ways to access Main Cabin Extra seats:

  • Purchase Main Cabin Extra for 50% off
  • Enjoy complimentary access to Main Cabin Extra within 24 hours of departure (if seats are available)

This move is not much of a surprise. When the Main Cabin Extra product was announced it was noted that Gold elite members would have access only for a limited time. That was initially set for expiry at 31 December 2013 but was extended a short period. Now we know the exact end date. The limited notice isn’t so great, but at least there was a smidgen of warning.

The good news is that AA’s policy remains the most generous of the “big 3” when it comes to accessing the seats. United offers no discount to its elites. Delta offers either a 50% discount/free day-of access on flights which are not long-haul and 25% off for long-haul flights. I guess AAdvantage Gold members are the most entitled of the over entitled group??

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Do AA golds ever get free upgrades to Business or first, at the gate, if available?

    1. Not without redeeming earned upgrades (500-mile “stickers”). Golds may get an op-up, but that’s rare to happen behind higher elites.

  2. I’m confused. Main Cabin Select on American is equivalent to Economy Plus on United. United Premiers and above DO get access to Economy Plus seating for no fee: Premier Silvers at time of check-in, and Gold and higher at time of booking. I’m not sure why the article is painting a different picture? Is Main Cabin Select somehow superior to United Economy Plus in pitch or other details?

    1. This blog post is saying the same thing you are. AA Golds/US Silvers no longer get ADVANCE (ie, time of purchase or before check-in) selection of MCE seats for free. The options now are to pay in advance or to wait until check-in for free MCE seats (if available).

  3. So you’re bemoaning the policy that was supposed to end on December 31st, which was then announced to end on March 1st, was quietly updated to end on March 17th? I’m confused too. Seemed to be an actually friendly move to give free access longer than promised.

    1. Honestly, doesn’t read like he’s bemoaning the policy, merely stating that it’s happening.

      1. A little bit of both. I’m disappointed that it finally happened, even though I knew it was coming.

        And I’m having a bit of fun with the “over entitled” thing given that it was this specific benefit change which Rainey was talking about when that sound bite trickled out. And yet somehow there’s still an incredible love of AA and hate of UA, even on topics where the policies are nearly identical. I find that very, very amusing.

        1. Maybe because AA didn’t explicitly call their customers overentitled? Or maybe because they introduced MCE pricing with the stipulation that 25K flyers only got it free for a while? Or maybe because they extend free MCE to their equivalent partner elites (both oneworld and Alaska) unlike UA? I know you’re a UA flyer but your bias toward them is incredible.

          1. Perhaps you’ve missed the many posts I’ve written recently noting the craptacular policies United has put in place??

            Yes, AA introduced it with the caveat there at the get-go. And now that time has come. And somehow nearly identical policies are seen so differently. I don’t really get it.

  4. So even if there is space in business, after all the platinums and exec. platinums get their upgrades, the golds won’t upgrade golds to business without upgrade ‘stickers’?

    1. Correct. EXPs get complimentary upgrades. Plats and Golds require stickers. You can upgrade a non-status companion on the same reservation with stickers (EXPs have to use stickers for a companion).

      I’ve only missed 1 upgrade as an EXP and it was when I switched JFK-LAX flights due to impending weather.

  5. ALCO, only AS MVPs will lose advance access, but they still can get free MCE 24 hours out. MVPGs and up will still enjoy complimentary access to MCE seats.

  6. The AA Platinum member still earns a 100% mileage bonus vs 50% for gold UA, they are the next over-entitled group who will see a reduction. But they are still not as over entitled as UA 1K’s.

  7. The initial benefit was announced as temporary from day one. However, the new benefit is really pretty good. Gold elites can “Purchase Main Cabin Extra for 50% off” or take a chance and “Enjoy complimentary access to Main Cabin Extra within 24 hours of departure (if seats are available).” Note that the higher elites that get their upgrades will usually free up some of the Main Cabin Extra seats. The 24 hours bit is somewhat problematic as many of the upgrades occur only a few hours before the flight or at the gate.

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