American Adding Main Cabin Extra Premium Economy Seating Across its Fleet

By Paul Riegler on 2 March 2012
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American Airlines will add more legroom to the first few rows of every mainline aircraft under a new program called Main Cabin Extra.

Main Cabin Extra seats will have between four to six inches of additional legroom compared to standard main cabin seats.  American plans to install Main Cabin Select on all existing aircraft and new 737-800 aircraft that are being delivered to the airline will have the premium economy seats starting in the fall.  The retrofit to existing aircraft should take place over the next 18 months.  Other new aircraft including Boeing 777-300ERs and 787s as well as Airbus A321s and A319s will also be furnished with Main Cabin Select seats.

Unlike some competitive offerings, Main Cabin Extra seats will not have any additional recline capabilities but they will come with priority boarding privileges.

Executive Platinum and Platinum AAdvantage program members as well as customers purchasing full fare coach tickets will be able to reserve Main Cabin Extra seats at no additional charge (Gold AAdvantage members will receive complimentary access through the end of 2013).  Up to eight companions of Executive Platinum and Platinum passengers (and Gold during 2013) traveling on the same reservation will have complimentary access as well.  For others, pricing will range from $8 to $108 per flight.

United Airlines introduced its Economy Plus premium economy offering in 1999, which was followed in 2000 by American’s “More Room in Coach” initiative in which the airline removed several rows of seats to add more leg room throughout the entire main cabin.  American put the seats back into coach a few years later.  United recently started to expand Economy Plus to Continental Airlines flights and Delta Air Lines has been slowly providing its version of premium economy, Economy Comfort, since last year.

American will continue to consider Main Cabin Extra seats to be part of the economy cabin so this move will not impact upgrades from coach to business class.


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