American Airlines: Economy Class’ Explained


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American Airlines is proud of diversification, splitting everything into component parts as much as possible and selling at a price point. Not only has it done this with its boarding process, but in a feat of product diversification American Airlines offers a range of different seat selections within its Economy Class product.

these seats sometimes come with more legroom, wider seat pitches or just simply have more ticket restrictions placed onto them.

As such, American offers four different products in Economy, starting from Basic Economy, Main Cabin Economy, Main Cabin Plus Economy and Premium Economy.

Basic Economy

Basic economy, also called light or saver economy is the buzzword out of the big three North American airlines (Delta, American Airlines, and United) to compete against budget carriers like Spirit, Frontier, Allegiant, and Sun Country that offer no-frills fares.

It is the most restrictive class of the main economy fares that offers maximum savings to customers in exchange for a no-frills travel experience but with the comforts of an established airline.

With a Basic Economy ticket, it isn’t so much about a difference with the hard product (ie the seat), rather, the restrictions placed onto you are to do with how flexibility of the ticket and your ability to make changes if you have to.

Restrictions placed include:

  • When you can board;
  • Seat selection (or lack thereof);
  • Baggage allowances;
  • Upgrades; and
  • Changes

However if you have Elite status with the airline or a Oneworld Partner you can circumvent some (not all) of these restrictions.

Main Cabin Economy

Main Cabin Economy is the standard seats in and make up the bulk on the aircraft.

Free Seat Selection

You can choose your seat for free when you book or buy a Preferred seat in a more favourable location or pay to get a Main Cabin Extra seat with more benefits.

Free Snacks

Snacks and soft drinks are always free. Plus, additional food or drinks may be available for free or to buy, depending on your route.

Free Hand Carry

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You can bring 1 personal item and a 1 bag with you for free. Check all the restrictions before you board.

Main Cabin Plus

This category, typically found on domestic carriers, has many names: United’s Economy Plus, Delta’s Comfort +, American’s Main Cabin Extra, and JetBlue’s Even More Space. Whatever it’s called, the economy plus seat is actually part of the economy cabin. But what sets these seats apart from the rest is a few extra inches of legroom, priority boarding, a better location at the front of the cabin.

Early Boarding

Be one of the first to board after elite members with Preferred Group 5 boarding and get easier access to overhead bin space.

Extra legroom

depending on the aircraft, these seats can offer more leg room (such as on their Embraer 75 seats which offer an additional 6 inches)

Complimentary snacks and drinks

Enjoy complimentary beer, wine and spirits; plus free Biscoff cookies or mini pretzels and soft drinks. Additional food or drinks may be available for free or to buy, depending on your route.

Elite member access

All listed members are allowed complimentary access for up to 8 travelling companions on the same reservation.

Complimentary Main Cabin Extra seats?

  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro and Platinum members
  • Oneworld Sapphire and Oneworld Emerald members

Complimentary access within 24 hours of departure when seats are available

  • AAdvantage Gold and oneworld Ruby members


  • Basic Economy fare tickets aren’t eligible for complimentary/discounted access to Main Cabin Extra seats.
  • Gold members who buy Main Cabin Extra seats on or after September 5, 2018 will no longer receive a 50% discount

Premium Economy is available only on its Long Haul Fleet including:

  • 777-300s
  • 787-8s flying internationally and to Alaska
  • 787-9s
  • A330-200s
  • 777-200s

Premium Economy

Priority privileges

Speed through check-in, security and boarding at the airport and get your checked bags first when you land.

Wider Seats

More legroom and wider, adjustable leather seats with extendable foot and head rests.


On Routes with premium Economy, Passengers are provided with amenities kits which include skincare products, masks and socks.

Passengers are also provided sleeper pillows and blankets when flying in Premium Economy.

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Article Comments


  1. You can choose a specific seat at any time for a fee. Otherwise, seats will be automatically assigned for free at check-in.


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