Are you sure this is a two way street?
Calling airline programs “loyalty” programs is an increasingly amusing choice of word. On an alarming basis, travelers pledge their loyalty, spend vast sums of money and are presented with fewer perks than ever before. The latest installment: American Airlines has cut discounted “Main Cabin Extra” – extra legroom perks from select frequent flyers. For many travelers, this was one of the dew definable benefits of their elite status – which now leaves more and more people wondering: why bother?
“Main Cabin Extra” Discount Cut
Earning low tier elite airline status doesn’t have many visible benefits, but one instant money and back saving benefit for American Airlines AAdvantage Gold elite members has been the ability to book “Main Cabin Extra” seats in advance at 50% off. That perk will soon be gone. Going forward, Gold members can still select complimentary “Main Cabin Extra” seats within 24 hours of flight departure, assuming any seats are left. Pay full price, or chance it – those are the new options for “loyal” American Airlines Gold customers. Unfortunately, these changes take effect September 5th, 2018. It hardly seems fair, not that anyone asked us.
Main Cabin Extra Gets Upgrade
For the cynics, it’s no surprise that this announcement comes on the same day American Airlines announced changes to “Main Cabin Extra”, which make it something actually worth potentially buying into. Anyone who purchases a “Main Cabin Extra” seat will now enjoy complimentary beer, wine and spirits on all flights- in addition to the extra inches of legroom, snacks and soft drinks. Main Cabin Extra will also receive Group 5 priority boarding, which will help to secure overhead bin space before the cabin fills up.
Platinum, Partner Or Bust
This new change leaves AAdvantage Gold members with a few options. Option 1: aim to achieve a status like British Airways Silver, which requires a similar amount of travel, and secures OneWorld Sapphire. Once achieved, travelers flying on American Airlines are able to use luxurious Flagship lounges on all trips – even in economy, and secure Main Cabin Extra at the time of booking for free. Other option? Go for Platinum with American – or don’t bother with status at all. Losing benefits is never cool, and this cut from American Airlines to loyal customers feels very petty.
As a Gold AA flyer this is a big straw on the camels back for me. However the drink benefits for MCE buyers starts now and Golds don’t lose the MCE discount until September 5th unless they devalue loyalty again unannounced prior to that. In my world BA silver would work but I think just buying an economy plus subscription on United is a better route. I’m not hub captive. AA and UA work well for most of my business travel. I fly 40 to 50 segments a year and get UA priority boarding with a credit card already. So to me the odf chance at upgrades on AA using stickers is about the only benefit left. And I’ll hit UA silver with my Marriott stays this year and would if I move my loyalty anyway. Not much to lose even without a status match.
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