American Airlines Introducing Roomier, Pricier Class Of Coach Seats

More than a decade after offering — and subsequently scrapping — a better, more comfy class of economy seating, American Airlines announced today that it will begin rolling out something with the unfortunate name of Main Cabin Extra, which translates into extra legroom for extra money.

American says the new class of seats, which will require the removal of a yet-to-be-announced number of existing coach rows, will offer anywhere from 4-6″ of legroom for passengers, who will pay anywhere from $8 to $108 for each leg of a flight. The cost will vary depending on the duration of the flight.

Main Cabin Extra passengers will also receive priority boarding privileges.

Members of the airline’s Executive Platinum, Platinum and people who book a full-fare economy ticket will have complimentary access to these seats.

The seats will be available on all the new Boeing 737-800 jets being delivered this year and the airline hopes to have Main Cabin Extra available on most of its other planes within the next year and a half.

A better class of coach seat is nothing new. United has been offering Economy Plus since 1999 and began putting those seats in Continental jets last year. Meanwhile, Delta recently began expanding its similar Economy Comfort seats.

American had tried this approach in 2000 with its “More Room in Coach” program, which it scrapped a few years later in an attempt to squeeze more passengers onto its planes.

But now the business of air travel seems to be less about cramming passengers into a tin can and more about selling as many add-ons as possible, so out go those economy seats and in go the Main Cabin Extra rows.


Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.