The top three airlines all offer some sort of ‘premium economy‘ cabin seats for their passengers, these seats usually have a little more legroom than the standard seats and are located towards the front of the plane. Delta Airlines has Economy Comfort and United Airlines has Economy Plus. American Airlines calls it Main Cabin Extra (MCE) seats, which began approximately two years ago.
Delta allow their bottom-tier elite members to get these seats during check-in or for 50% off upon booking your flight. United only allows their bottom-tier members to receive them during check-in or if you pay full price prior to. On long-haul flights, the discount is only 25% for Delta silver elite members. American Airlines offered free MCE seats selection to all elite members, until now. The deadline for the Gold members to lose free MCE access before check-in was originally December 31, 2013, however, American extended it until March 17, 2014.
Effective March 17, 2014, AA Gold elite members, US Dividend Silvers, oneworld Ruby and Alaska MVP members will only be able to pick MCE seats for free during check-in (24 hours before the flight), another alternative is by purchasing them at 50% off, even for long-haul flights. Still, American is the most generous of the three major airlines when it comes to their bottom-tier elite members getting cheap MCE seats. It is important to remember that when American first began its MCE product it noted that Gold elite will only have free access to them for a limited time.
Below you will find the statement from American.
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)
If you currently have a Main Cabin Extra seat selected for a future flight, do not change it. Any seating changes you make to your reservation will result in the new policy applying to that reservation. In other words, if you want to keep your free MCE for that flight, leave it alone!