American’s Long-Haul Flights to Feature More Legroom In Coach?

It’s something that can make a world of difference in your flight. Too little of it and you’re in for, at the very least, a few hours of misery. Just the right amount or more and you could sit on that plane for hours on end, enjoying the entertainment, WiFi, and pretzels. We’re talking about economy legroom and it’s something that’s changed a bit over the years when it comes to American Airlines. 

Previously, American Airlines had given passengers about 31 inches of seat pitch in the economy cabin, though that could sometimes be less on some aircraft. This is very similar to most of the major U.S. airlines, save for the budget carriers. 

Photo: American Airlines

Then, last summer, AA announced a plan to reduce legroom in economy by two inches to 29 inches of seat pitch, putting AA more in line with some of the ultra-budget carriers. The plan was not to reduce room for the entire cabin, though; rather, this change would just occur to three rows. The rest of the seats would just be cut by one inch. The hope was, the extra room would allow for more seats on 737 Max aircraft and eventually the older 737s.

However, in spite of this, the more recent news is that American is switching up its economy-class cabins on many other planes, retrofitting aircraft with seats that allow for more legroom — the airline’s premium economy offering, Main Cabin Extra.

What Does Main Cabin Extra Mean?

Photo: American Airlines

Main Cabin Extra seats in the economy cabin are wider and have more legroom. They’re still in coach, but they cost a little bit extra and offer a somewhat higher level of service. Paying for more room throughout coach isn’t even that much more expensive, though; in fact, getting those extra few inches of legroom, which can make all the difference, can cost as little as $20, dependent on your route.

Currently, American’s entire fleet of 67 Boeing 777 aircraft are being refitted with Main Cabin Extra seats, with complete reconfiguration finished by December. 

Little Extra Perks

The extra legroom is hardly the only thing to love about Main Cabin Extra. Starting in June of this year, American Airlines offered passengers in Main Cabin Extra an even posher perk, similar to what you’d find in business or first class — complimentary beer, wine and spirits. 

Other new perks added to Main Cabin Extra this summer include priority access to overhead bin storage space and earlier boarding than regular economy ticket holders. 

With these ultra-attractive benefits, obviously some are hoping to get in on the action without paying an up-charge. American Airlines reported that it’s been having to deal with passengers sneaking into empty Main Cabin Extra seats during the hectic boarding process, hoping to blow past potentially unaware flight attendants. 

American Airlines 777. Image public domain via Wikipedia.