American Airlines

AA backs itself into corner with MCE self-upgrade policy

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Yesterday, Jaime from The Forward Cabin published a blog post about an internal policy at American Airlines that says that once the airplane door is sealed, customers seated in regular old Main Cabin (economy) seats are free to lunge into open Main Cabin Extra seats (those with the extra legroom and, soon, free booze). He has proof of the internal memo and was genuinely good info for his readers.

I’m guessing this policy comes more from the angle of AA not wanting to police these seats. After all, unlike Delta’s Comfort + seats (which are the same as MCE), AA doesn’t treat MCE as a separate entity when booking but rather as an upsell.

But then they probably were expecting that self-upgrading MCE passengers were an edge-case.

And they may have been right – except that this news has gone viral in miles and points land, first on View from the Wing and, a few minutes ago, on The Points Guy.

Now, there is a very real possibility that AA flights will start having mad rushes into the empty seats that could be chaotic. Afterall, in France, they are basically rioting to get70% off Nutella.

It also devalues the product. Why pay if you can just stalk and pounce? Of course, the answer is that there may not be any available MCE seats when you board, but that doesn’t mean many won’t try this when they would have bought MCE.

AA Main Cabin Extra

That cannibalizes margins for AA, which paints them into a corner.

Now they can either let this go and see how the chaos ensues, or they can change the policy (wouldn’t’ that be crazy if they change an internal policy because of bloggers?) and have to deal with people getting angry when denied the switch onboard because “TPG said I could do this!!!!”

Whatever the outcome, I’m going to be standing by with popcorn.