Qantas' high-rating frequent flyers, and their equivalents in other oneworld airlines, will enjoy extra legroom on more American Airlines flights as the US carrier rolls out Main Cabin Extra seats across its US fleet.
Main Cabin Extra isn't a premium economy seat, it's just regular economy seats with four to six inches of extra legroom -- but those are four to six very useful inches if you're tall or just like a bit of extra space to work with.
As a bonus, because Main Cabin Extra is always located at the front of the economy cabin, you'll be faster off the plane.
An American Airlines spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller that Platinum, Gold and Silver members of the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme -- along with oneworld Sapphire, Emerald and Ruby cardholders -- are eligible for free upgrades from economy to Main Cabin Extra.
Take pot luck with seats during the rollout
However, it all hinges on aircraft being refitted for Main Cabin Extra -- and American Airlines hasn't revealed a timeline for this rollout, saying only that "we plan to enhance all of our existing and future mainline fleet with more spacious seating in the front portion of the Main Cabin."
(The 'mainline' section of that would seem to exclude some smaller regional planes: the ones marked "operated by American Eagle" on your ticket.)
"Until the seats are for sale once an entire fleet has been reconfigured with Main Cabin Extra, there is not an option for a customer to book the Main Cabin Extra seat" the American Airlines rep told Australian Business Traveller.
"Customers will be assigned seats in the Main Cabin as they are today when they fly on a prototype aircraft."
"Once an entire fleet type has been reconfigured, customers will be able to select or purchase [a Main Cabin Extra] seat at time of booking through check-in".
So until the rollout is done, it seems like you're on your own to snag an extra-legroom seat.
Tips for snaring a Main Cabin Extra seat
Figuring out whether your plane has the extra legroom seats is difficult – and, if you've booked with Qantas or another airline, potentially impossible to do online.
The AAdvantageGeek frequent flyer blog has several advanced tips to help frequent flyers on American work it out, but there are a few steps you can take to up your chances of snagging the extra legroom:
- ensure that your elite frequent flyer card is entered into your booking
- select a seat as far forward as possible, since the front rows of economy will be the Main Cabin Extra seats
- keep an eye out for anything marked Main Cabin Extra on the seat map, especially at the key times when airlines shift around their plane allocations: 7 days, 3 days and 1 day before departure
- enquire every time you talk to the airline: at check-in, bag drop, in the lounge and at the gate
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About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.