American Has Been Selling Main Cabin Extra Seats That Have No Extra Legroom

[There is a new post with more information on this. The impact is less than originally thought.]

If you’ve bought Main Cabin Extra in rows 6-9 on an American CRJ-900, then this is going to piss you off. American has been selling Main Cabin Extra seats on CRJ-900 aircraft that, in fact, have no extra legroom. While this is clearly false advertising and seems destined for a Cranky Jackass award, I’m holding back. See, I reached out to American to get a comment on this, and they jumped into action once they realized it was happening. The quick response along with the fact the integration happened so recently makes me think that this was indeed just a bad mistake. American says it’ll make it right, but I’ll be watching closely.

It all started when I booked an upcoming flight for my wife and daughter. They’ll be flying from Long Beach to Phoenix on a CRJ-900 operated by Mesa. These, of course, were former US Airways Express aircraft. Here’s what the seat map looked like.

American Fake Main Cabin Extra Seating

I had to do a double take. Mesa does have a couple different configurations, but I’ve flown this configuration as US Airways Express many times and they’ve never had extra legroom seating before. I know that American is ordering new CRJ-900 NextGen aircraft with 36 Main Cabin Extra seats, but this wasn’t one of those.

The configuration in question is this one. Coach starts in row 4 (with only one seat on the left side). Rows 12 and 13 are the exit rows. Then rows 14-20 are behind with a lav at the back right. On its website, American shows rows 4-9 as Main Cabin Extra along with exit rows 12 and 13.

So, now what? Once I reached out to American, spokesperson Casey Norton responded right away that he was looking into it. Within a couple hours, he had spoken to several different groups and found out that it was, in fact, a mistake. They should be selling rows 4, 12, and 13 as Main Cabin Extra. Row 5 is blocked for elites, so that’s not an issue. But rows 6-9 are regular seats that are being sold incorrectly today. The IT department is racing to fix the seat map.

Who is impacted? Well, it’s not entirely clear. The seat map is wrong only for this configuration (Mesa has more than one), and I don’t know exactly what routes this configuration has been flying on. Mesa has been flying from DFW under the American name for several months, but it’s not clear to me that this particular configuration has been in DFW. All the other flying was under the US Airways Express brand until October 17 when the res system integration occurred. Of course, that first went on sale back in July, so people could have been buying these seats since then for travel from October 17 on.

The bottom line is this: if you bought a Main Cabin Extra seat in rows 6-9 on a Mesa CRJ-900, then you most likely did not get Main Cabin Extra. This all happened quickly tonight, so American hasn’t put a plan in place for how to resolve this, but it should involve proactively going in and finding every single person who was falsely sold a Main Cabin Extra seat so that refunds can be given right away. Casey did tell me that if someone knows they’ve been impacted, they should speak to a gate agent at the airport to have it refunded on the day of travel. I assume that another option would be to file a complaint with customer relations.

So far, American seems to be taking this very seriously and wants to make this right. For that reason, I’m not awarding the Cranky Jackass… for now. I’ll be watching to see how American handles this.

[UPDATE 10/29 @ 11:16am: American followed up with me this morning. They have sent people out to the airports to actually measure seats on all the different Mesa configurations. Apparently, the US Airways Express aircraft in the configuration above mostly have 34″ pitch in all those rows. If anyone is flying today, please bring a tape measure. They do, however, have 2 aircraft in an alternate configuration which might result in people buying Main Cabin Extra and not getting it (rows 8 and 9). They have an automated process set up so that if someone is impacted on those airplanes, a refund will be automatically processed.]

[Updated 10/29 @ 3:04pm: You can read a follow-up post with more information here. It apparently has less of an impact than originally thought.]

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41 Comments on "American Has Been Selling Main Cabin Extra Seats That Have No Extra Legroom"

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CP
Guest

Good catch. I think it was a glitch, as I had been on US aircraft where only bulkhead and exit rows were being sold as MCE.

I did have to laugh at the “speak with a gate agent” suggestion. I can imagine how that conversation will go. Count me highly doubtful that (a) the gate agent will listen and (b) that the gate agent can actually issue a refund.

Doug
Guest

Could this be why the seat selection process is unavailable on certain regional jets right now? I booked a flight yesterday and on the outbound leg on a CRJ200 I had no problem booking a preferred seat (I’m gold), but the return was on a PSA CR7 and it said the seat map was unavailable. Later, after the ticket had gone through, I went back to the website and to the app and it was the same thing.

Kilroy
Guest

Nice find, Brett! I’m honestly surprised that the press has yet to read your blog and put out some overly-sensationalistic airline-bashing stories based on this in order to fill a slow news day.

I trust American’s management & PR team are working hard to decide how they want to control the message on this one and spin it into a positive once it hits the mainstream press.

Please keep us informed, and I will be surprised if I don’t see you quoted in some news articles on this topic by the end of the week.

Rusty Shackelford
Guest

You got him good Kilroy… get a hobby.

SDFDuck
Guest

The same thing happened to me booking an upcoming flight from SDF to PHL on a CR7 a couple weeks ago, so the fact that nobody caught it before (seemingly) is a head-scratcher.

rpfitton
Member

This integration has been far from seamless. They just are keeping in on the down low. All sorts of weird stuff is happening like passengers getting put between my wife and I on the upgrade list when we are on the same record locator. Also getting kicked out of American’s website when you are trying to select seats.Then when you talk to someone at American they just make stuff up to explain it. Most EP’s probably know the system better than most employees so they should be really careful when they are trying to BS you.

WP
Member
I thinkit is a calculated risk American takes to increase revenue. I see this a lot and see it when they list the wrong aircraft and change aircraft at the gate. If you bought extra and American changes the aircraft they do not re imburse. American has doen this to me several times with exit row seating. I paid for exit row and then they oput a different configuration at the gate on the day of travel and the exit rows no longer corespnd to the layout. I spoke to american and file a consumer protection complaint, but American does… Read more »
Oliver
Guest

DOT complaint and credit card chargeback (didn’t receive what I paid for).

ptahcha
Guest

It’s great that Cranky got a direct line to AA’s PR department, but what about the rest of the folks who had already paid and flown the non-MCE seats? Why isn’t AA proactively refunding the purchase, and instead telling people to ask for refund instead.

Sounds like a low hanging fruit for class action suit lawyers.

Read Carefully
Guest

If you actually read what Cranky wrote, he clearly states “This all happened quickly tonight, so American hasn’t put a plan in place for how to resolve this, but it should involve proactively going in and finding every single person who was falsely sold a Main Cabin Extra seat so that refunds can be given right away.” Give them some time, it’s not like its readily available information.

Maarten
Guest

I think this issue is not just happening on domestic CR-J’s. I just flew CLT – ORD – LHR / LBA – LHR – CLT all on AA except for the domestic BA leg in the UK.

I am pretty sure I was offered Main Cabin Extra seats on the A330-300 I flew from LHR to CLT when, in fact there is no such option on this former USAir metal. Since I was in business it was no issue, but still…

David SF eastbay
Member
“””””Casey did tell me that if someone knows they’ve been impacted, they should speak to a gate agent at the airport to have it refunded on the day of travel.””””” Would a gate agent even know what a passenger was talking about and know how to check how much and how to refund? More then likely all one would hear is “Call the reservation line” or “You have to go to the ticket counter for that”. Gate agents don’t have time to do things like that or the know how in many cases. US agents now using Sabre may be… Read more »
Oliver
Guest

I am not sure that it is even reasonable to expect gate agents to be able to determine that the aircraft configuration doesn’t have those seats that the computer is selling.

Oliver
Guest

It is a nice find and thanks for getting AA to address this.

Monday morning quarterback comment: perhaps an even better story would have been to actually buy those “upgraded” seats, fly them with a tape measure, then request a refund through regular customer service channels (like us mere mortals without AA spokespeople on speed dial would have to do) and see/report what happens. I suspect AA may have proven to be less responsive to the concerns.

Richard
Member

Do you chase ambulances too?

Steven
Member

No. We don’t do personal injury cases. Just consumer class actions, which these facts lend themselves to given the terribly low likelihood that American will take the time to locate these people and given them their fares back. I know the legal system isn’t perfect, but it beats letting the airline just keep the money.

Derek Pugh
Member

I am currently booked on this LGB-PHX flight 5616 on Dec 28 2015…The seat map is still showing as it does above with rows 5-9 as MCE…so the incorrect layout is still up.

Steven
Member

Did you purchase an extra legroom seat?

Pilot
Guest

Cranky this has also happen to a few people on the east coast as well. We had 2 passengers complained that they had paid for more leg room but found that everyone gets the same space on a crj200 :-). Good catch and thanks for sharing

SAN Greg
Guest
On a Delta flight from Seattle to Spokane this past weekend I was offered to upgrade to Comfort + with the promise of “Upgrade and Enjoy: Free Wine, Beer and Spirits” and forked over $38 for two of us. But the only thing the FA offered was water “due to the short duration of the flight”. I have no qualms paying $19 for the larger seat and priority boarding but don’t promise something that you can’t deliver on. Some may consider this bait and switch – especially if it is a promised benefit that a passenger was looking forward to.
SAN Greg
Guest

Correction: Extra legroom seat – not larger seat!

jaybru
Member

Ah yes, the joys of code-share, operated by, regional jets!

[Just had to say it, Nick…!]

Brian
Guest

Just to be clear, this is no different then how USAir use to sell seats near front of cabin for fee. If you look closely the advertising also says uptp 6 inches…it doesn’t say you actually get any. Am I the only wondering why this guy who never had a real corporate airline job thinks he is saving the world?

Matt
Member

Cranky, per the update from American your headline and most of your post is wrong. Why are you keeping this post up and accusing a company of misrepresentation when you don’t have the facts right?!

SteveFromCVG
Member

If the gate agent doesn’t (won’t) have a tape measure, they can haul that bag contraption measuring device they have at the gate onto the plane and lay it across the seat. 22″ plus a few more inches for the tubes surrounding it should give a pretty indication of MCE vs non-MCE.

In Vegas, AA will refund in quarter payout from the slots.

Ken Hearrean
Guest
This is interesting in the fact that we booked my wife a return flight this morning on this same type aircraft (CRJ-900) via American out of Greenville, SC because she came down ill & needed to return home early. The on-line agent said they had no seats left, except for “main cabin extra’ seats, but for a $25 up-charge, she could get one with more leg-room. I agreed, paid the extra charge & she assigned her to seat 6D. After running across this article & looking at the seat arrangements on this aircraft, I reached back out to AA &… Read more »
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