[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.
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.]