When Sharon and I fly, we’re usually sitting somewhere in the back half of the airplane because I’m too cheap to pay for a better seat and we have no status to allow us to get the better seat assignments. There was the one exception this year when I paid way too many miles for a last-minute seat on a Delta flight and ended up getting upgraded to a Comfort Plus seat, but that was just a lucky break. However there was one flight this year where I knew we were going to get a better seat, unless it was taken away from us. The flight home from New York on the Monday after Thanksgiving on American Airlines.
I’ve already told you about how I was able to book this flight with British Airways Avios for 7,500 miles each. How was I able to reserve us seats in Main Cabin Extra seats? Because Sharon was an American Platinum Pro flyer, that’s how. Back in January, Sharon received an email offering her Platinum Pro status on American for nothing more than replying to the email. Of course I signed her up but we didn’t have any plans to fly on American during the time frame before her status would expire. However, Platinum Pro status provided one perk we could use – the ability to pick Main Cabin Extra seats.
After I booked our flights on the British Airways website, I logged into the American website under Sharon’s account to pick out seats. Wouldn’t you know it, I was able to choose seats that would normally cost $52 extra per seat for free.
Don’t hate me for picking the window and aisle seat. I’m always hoping that no one will willingly pick a middle seat and unless the flight is totally full we’ll get a row to ourselves. Sometimes it works, but most times we end up taking the middle and window and give another traveler a surprise gift of an aisle seat. This time though, it worked.
Sharon’s Platinum Pro status expired back in May so I was half expecting American to take the seats away from us, but they never did. I was also wondering, since I booked the flights under my British Airways account, if we would still each get a free checked bag for having the American Airlines Barclays Aviator Red card. While I wasn’t able to choose a checked bag online, when we got to the airport the kiosk noted we each received one checked bag for free. That was helpful since we each had a bag (weighing 49.5 pounds) and I didn’t want to pay $30 to check each bag.
So what was flying in Main Cabin Extra like?
First of all, I was assigned Boarding Group 4 (Priority) and Sharon was in Group 5 (Credit Card Member). I’m not sure why I got a better boarding group than she did but we each boarded at the same time as soon as group 5 was announced.
When we boarded the plane, we got to our seats in row 8 and the overhead bin was already partially used even though there was no one else seated in our row. I managed to fit both of our bags in the bin and took our seats (aisle and window). The person seating in row 7 managed to self upgrade to first class once the flight finished boarding and no one was sitting in a seat (leaving his bag in the bin above us) :0(
First thing I noticed was that I actually had some legroom on this 737-800 as Main Cabin Extra has an additional three to nine inches of legroom (according to SeatGuru).
Once we were on the way home, the in cabin service started. I took advantage of the free drinks and ordered a gin and tonic and was provided two mini-bottles at no charge. Sharon also didn’t receive any looks when she asked for two packages of Biscoff cookies.
My seat was comfortable, at least until the passenger in front of me decided to recline. Then I had considerably less room but still enough to leave my tray table open and watch an MST3K episode on my iPad (there was no seat back entertainment on this flight and they played Tangled on the drop down monitors, because Orlando means Disney World).
If I was always able to pick an Main Cabin Extra seat like American Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro or Platinum members are, then I guess flying on American isn’t all that bad. You get a seat with decent legroom, aren’t berated at the gate about the size of your carry on and can order whatever snacks you want. That’s not the experience I’m accustomed to, sitting back with the regular travelers.
Since we’re not going to get this privilege again, American hasn’t moved up on my list of airlines that we look to fly on. However, I still have enough Avios for 6 one way flights between Orlando and New York or Chicago so I guess we’ll be flying on American at least a few more times. We just need to make sure Sharon’s carry on will fit in the sizer.
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