Main Cabin Extra is American’s extra legroom economy section. Passengers can pay to upgrade to these seats, and elite members are able to select these seats either at the time of booking or at some window prior to the flight, depending on their status.
In many ways American is lagging behind Delta when it comes to their extra legroom economy seating (which they call Comfort+). That’s because Delta offers free alcohol and snacks in Comfort+, while American doesn’t. Instead, American only offers Executive Platinum members in economy a free alcoholic drink and snack.
The Forward Cabin notes that American will be introducing new features in Main Cabin Extra, per an internal memo sent to employees. Here’s how the memo reads:
Coming this Spring, we’ll be introducing enhancements to Main Cabin Extra (MCE) on widebody, narrowbody and regional fleets. In addition to extra legroom, MCE includes:
- Complimentary beer, wine and spirits — In addition to normal Main Cabin snacks and soft drinks, customers in MCE seats will enjoy complimentary beer, wine and spirits.
- Easier overhead bin access with preferred boarding — Beginning February 1, 2018, new onboard placards will be installed to identify MCE seats and reserved overhead bin space. Flight attendants are not responsible for monitoring MCE overhead bins.
On the surface these are welcome changes. It’s interesting that American is introducing free alcoholic drinks in Main Cabin Extra, but isn’t matching Delta by introducing enhanced snacks in the cabin. I’d note that we also don’t know when exactly free alcohol will be introduced, other than “this spring.”
My concern is that American stops offering Executive Platinum members a complimentary snack item. Now that American is offering everyone in Main Cabin Extra complimentary alcohol, I could see them no longer offering Executive Platinum members complimentary snacks no matter where in economy they’re seated. That would be a shame.
Personally I wouldn’t place too much value on the enhanced overhead bin access and preferred boarding. The flight attendants won’t be policing overhead bins, and American has so many boarding groups nowadays that preferred boarding goes all the way up to Group 5.
Still, overall I’d consider this to be a mildly positive change, assuming they don’t take anything away for now. Of course American’s goal here is to actually sell more Main Cabin Extra seats, so maybe it’s not all good news for elite members. If more seats are sold to non-elite members, then that leaves fewer free Main Cabin Extra seats for elite members.