charging EXP for preferred seats?

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by ChicagoEric, Jun 27, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. ChicagoEric
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    ChicagoEric Silver Member

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    When I checked in at the kiosk for an American Connection flight this morning was offered a chance to buy-up to bulkhead for $29 (maybe it was $39 - and I think the offer was called 'express seats').

    As an EXP I thought I had access to any seats fee-free. The interesting thing is that the seats offered weren't even ones I like. I took the A-side seat on the EMB-140 that I like.

    On my return I already have 1A, a bulkhead and didn't pay a fee. So maybe my outbound was a fluke.
     
  2. mundosurfer
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    mundosurfer Gold Member

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    I brought this exact same thing up to lounge staff at SFO and they said they don't have access to the seats, but assumed EXPs can select them.
     
  3. demkr
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    demkr Silver Member

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    Unfortunately, elites are not exempt from these fees if they want the seats.:rolleyes:
     
  4. aamilesslave
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    aamilesslave Silver Member

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    preferred seats and express seats are two different things. express seats, since their introduction, have not been free for anyone, elite or not. however, they are only for sale up to a certain point (50 minutes before flight, I believe). after that, they can be assigned by agents for free.
     
  5. Microwave
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    Microwave Silver Member

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    Unfortunately not... Express Seats are available to everyone--at the same cost. :(
     
  6. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    Wow, huge disappointment.
     
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  7. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Indeed.
     
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  8. Eloy Fonseca Neto
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    Eloy Fonseca Neto Silver Member

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    I just post about this change in another thread, it seems my contact at AA was right. And the Dark Ages have begun again!!!
     
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  9. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    "dislike" Of course, most of my AA flying is on codeshares or TATL...
     
  10. swag
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    swag Silver Member

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    Info: http://www.aa.com/i18n/urls/yourChoice_expressSeats.jsp
    Press Release (from Aug 2010): http://aa.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=2994

    So, I think there's nothing new here. Not unless AA has started designating fewer Preferred seats and more Express.

    Of note, I think that exit row seats are always designated as Preferred.
     
  11. Art234
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    Art234 Milepoint Guide

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    So they took a page out of the US playbook.....I think this crosses a line with regard to elite benefits. Elite members (or at least top 1 or 2 tiers depending on program) should NEVER pay for any preferred or express seat. To me it is a dis-incentive to remaining loyal to that carrier.

    There are a number of high profile US flyers who have left due to their charging elites for "choice seats"....but probably not enough who are vocal enough to let the bean counters at US know why....

    The question to AA and US is this..... is it worth getting my extra $29 now and risk my $10K or more in future travel?
    Apparently it is.
     
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  12. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    Especially and EXP traveling in Y...could you imagine being a top-tier elite and paying an additional fee for a Y seat...terrible.
     
  13. aamilesslave
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    aamilesslave Silver Member

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    There's a note on TB that some tinkering is happening with Express Seats.

    Not knowing what the change is yet, I think speculation on how it may affect me/elites is useless, so I will refrain from that for now. But, I do not find the current Express Seats impact elite perks. Most of the current Express Seats are bulkhead and seats previously assigned at the airport, so these were never really available to elites in advance. In fact, if I have to book late, it is nice to know that there is a possibility to buy up instead of suffering in 38E.
     
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  14. ChicagoEric
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    ChicagoEric Silver Member

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    I guess that my response would be that, if I'm really a valuable flyer to AA, if I have to book late (as I often do, and pay a premium ticket price as a result) and the bulkhead is unassigned, AA should put me there without having to "buy up."

    One of the reasons I show loyalty to one airline is avoid fees. If fees start becoming I part of EXP life, then my experience on AA does not differentiate itself from UA or other airlines (where I can buy-up to E+ or preferred seats without any status).

    This is all interesting for me personally. I'll hit 100K points soon and I've been debating continuing to fly AA or 'spreading the love around,' perhaps to Aegean for Star Gold or just UA for Premier. The one thing that gives me pause - and incents me to keep flying AA - is the possibility of avoiding fees that I would end up paying to UA and others. So if those fees start popping up on AA even though I am EXP, then that factors into my decision.

    Again - in this instance it was moot - I don't even like bulkhead seats on EMB aircraft. I had one on the return - preassigned without paying a fee - and I didn't like it. But if the practice spreads...
     
  15. Flyer
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    Flyer Silver Member

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    Wow, that's ridiculous.
     
  16. swag
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    swag Silver Member

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    I agree. I don't want to pay either. But the counter-argument is that without the fee, that seat might not be open at all. There may be other late-booking elites who purchase just before you who would have snagged that seat had it been free, but instead decided to not pay and sit in back. I suppose this way at least you have the option.

    Ideally, AA should have sufficient Preferred seats to accommodate all late-booking elites, but as we all know, load prediction is an inexact science.
     
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  17. gemac
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    gemac Silver Member

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    Actual facts available on TB here. EXPs don't have to pay for seats. Some seats that were previously only for elites now also available for purchase by non-elites. Others still elites-only. Unless you book last minute a lot, this is a nothingburger for elites.
     
  18. Microwave
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    Microwave Silver Member

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    Just a month or two ago coming out of LHR I was asked to go to a kiosk if I wanted to buy express seats for my flight for £39 each (EVIP never cleared, and the Mrs. and I were unable to secure adjacent seats in advance--ill tempered LHR employees didn't care). What sucks is that AA's current program is crystal clear that elites can get express seats if they buy them (source). If AA are going to change the program to make these seats free for elites, I'll be the first to rejoice; that's more than a nothingburger to me!
     
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  19. gemac
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    gemac Silver Member

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    It appears you are confusing LHR employees' refusal to follow the policy with the policy itself. LHR employees have a long-standing and well-deserved reputation for not following AA policies.
     
  20. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    $40 for 1 time traveler to upgrade > EXP loyalty...
     
  21. Microwave
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    Microwave Silver Member

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    Check the source I gave--the policy is that elites are welcome to buy express seats, but nowhere has AA ever stated internally or externally that express seats should be free to elites (I've had them given by TAs and GAs before, but not as a matter of policy). Here's the lowdown, straight from the Express Seats FAQ:
     
  22. Travel2Food
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    Travel2Food Silver Member

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    Just a comment. It would be much easier to justify the purchase of an "express" or "preferred" seat if it came with more legroom (see "E+")
     
  23. gemac
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    gemac Silver Member

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    The following discussion is my understanding of the situation. There are "preferred seats", available to elites for free, and "Express Seats", available to anybody for a fee. The number of preferred seats has not changed. Some of the preferred seats have also been express seats. There are also a few express seats that are not preferred seats, and that cannot be reserved by elites. What is happening at this time is that the number of express seats is being increased somewhat, by including more of the preferred seats. The number and location of express seats that are blocked and unavailable to elites has not changed.

    Express seats cannot be purchased by anybody until 24 hours prior to flight departure. Therefore, from 330 days until T-24 hours, all preferred seats are available only to elites. For any elite who makes their seat selection prior to 24 hours, there will be no difference at all. At T-24, express seats are opened up for purchase by anybody. This includes both seats that are also preferred seats, and a few seats that are not preferred seats. This has always been the case. Presumably, the seats that you were offered were those that were not also preferred seats. With or without this change in the number of express seats, you would not have been able to reserve those seats in advance of the T-24 mark, but could have reserved them between T-24 and T-1 as express seats.

    When the gate agent opens the flight, they can assign those express seats to anyone at all at no cost. So what you are complaining about here is a handful of seats that cannot be reserved in advance for free by elites, but which can be reserved by anyone for a charge between T-24 and T-1. Since the number and location of those seats has not changed, I don't see any impact on elites. If the gate agents at LHR arbitrarily refused to assign you those seats without a valid reason, that is a violation of AA policy. If they had a valid reason but didn't inform you of it, that is not a violation of AA policy, but it isn't particularly good customer relations.

    What does affect elites slightly is that at T-24, there are more preferred seats that can be reserved by non-elites who are willing to pay the fee. Again, any elite who has their seat assignment by T-24 will not be affected by this. The only effect of this is on elites who ticket between T-24 and T-1, and they will only be affected if a non-elite has chosen to purchase as an express seat the particular seat that the elite wants. That's why I said it is a nothingburger. YMMV.
     
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  24. aamilesslave
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    aamilesslave Silver Member

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    I suspect the poster was asked to use the kiosk to consider purchasing the seat > 1 hr before flight time. Within 1 hr (int'l, 50 min domestic), the kiosk should not offer the option and any agent should be able to assign for free.
     
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  25. Travel2Food
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    Travel2Food Silver Member

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    It will impact folks that book at the last minute or change flights within that 24 hour period (think standbys or same-day-changes). Otherwise, I agree with your analysis.
     

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