Hate is a strong word, but I seem to spend more time than I’d like choosing an economy seat on American Airlines. While I respect that some seats should be held for the best customers, American Airlines seating choices seem to be tilted disproportionately in favor of elites.

Tomorrow, I fly from New York (LGA) to Chicago (ORD) via Washington DC (DCA) to help cover Lollapallooza for SiriusXM and currently have no status with American. My DCA-ORD seat picker at AA.com gives me ONLY middle seats in premium sections to choose from. Admittedly, I flinched and bought the bulkhead “main cabin extra” middle seat figuring that a bulkhead middle would be the best of the worst. Rookie mistake.

American's seatmap will have you believe you'll be stuck in the middle.

American’s seatmap will have you believe you’ll be stuck in the middle.

American Airlines seating is more open according to expertflyer.

Expertflyer shows what seats are being held for American’s premium passengers.

Upon reviewing what might be a more accurate seating situation at expertflyer.com, I realized things weren’t so tragic and that I’d likely be able to grab a window or aisle on check-in. Why? American Airlines seating for their premium passengers isn’t just limited to seats near the front and at the exits, but aisle and window seats throughout the plane.

So if you’re status-less with American and find yourself looking at a seatmap that oddly made up of middle-seat upgrades, it may not be as bad as you think. Before you buy a premium seat that you don’t want, create a seat alert at a site like Expertflyer.com (seat alerts are still free) to see how many are being held for premium passengers.

American elites! Let us know in the comments if this was a solution to a problem or just a way to get non-elites to buy up unnecessarily?

Update: I was able to call and upgrade both my flights on this itinerary (including the one shown below) for just the fare difference. In this case roughly $98 but wasn’t refunded the premium charges for main cabin extra. 

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