American to introduce “Main Cabin Extra” fleetwide

American has just announced that they’ll be matching United and Delta in offering an “Economy Plus” cabin fleetwide, which they’ll call Main Cabin Extra, and will feature an additional four to six extra inches of legroom.

The product will initially be rolled out on their Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, though all other existing and future mainline aircraft will offer Main Cabin Extra as well.

AAdvantage Executive Platinum and Platinum members (along with up to eight companions on the same reservation), as well as full fare customers, will receive complimentary access. Furthermore, through the end of 2013 AAdvantage Gold members will receive complimentary access. For anyone else that wishes to purchase Main Cabin Extra, the cost will range from $8 to $108 depending on the length of the flight.

As long as this doesn’t come at the expense of first class seats this is fantastic news. I’ve only flown American coach twice, so as long as my upgrade percentage doesn’t change I doubt I’ll see this cabin a whole lot. But this is a very nice enhancement, and I’m quite looking forward to seeing it rolled out.

It’s amazing how over the course of a couple of years Economy Plus went from a competitive advantage for United to a standard offering among the legacies. Years ago American actually offered “More Room Throughout Coach” whereby all of their seating was similar to Economy Plus, though after a few years they removed it since they determined passengers weren’t willing to pay a few bucks extra for more legroom across the board. This business model makes a lot more sense, whereby you have the option of paying for more legroom, while you’re not driving away business by charging a few dollars more than the competition across the board.

Comments

  1. Do you think that because this is promoted as a separate cabin, you will either have to be seated in it(either through purchase or because of status) to be upgaded to Business. i.e. will this be treated as an upgrade from regular coach?

  2. @ Erik — I can’t imagine that would be the case, since this isn’t really a separate cabin but rather just a section of coach with more legroom (it’s similar to their previous “preferred” seating in the front of the cabin in that there’s a fee to sit there. But as we’ve seen with Delta and United, it hasn’t impacted the ability to upgrade from coach to business class.

  3. “Main Cabin Extra” is a terrible name. Someone in Marketing needs to lay off the juice….

  4. Do any of the E+ knockoffs still offer their extra pitch seating for first tier status like UA used to?

  5. @ Dax — American is offering Gold members access through December 31, 2013. United does within 24 hours of departure as well, though Delta doesn’t.

  6. American is making their product more and more attractive for UA fliers. If they would have more flights to Asia I might consider changing. Also hard to tell how CH11 will end (US buying them ?) and what this might mean to their program.

    I guess I sit it out for 2012, finish my 2MM on UA and then try to status match / challenge for 2013. By then the dust around CH11 should have somewhere cleared as well.

  7. @ Alex — They haven’t made that announcement yet, though I suspect OneWorld elites would get access to. Hopefully we’ll find out definitively soon.

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