American Airlines announced a new plan today that will charge passengers who want to sit in the first two or three rows, including bulkhead, extra.
The product, called the “Express Seats Option,” will beguile customers into paying from $19 to $39 to sit in the first rows, which typically represent prime aircraft real estate.
According to the AA site, the extra charges include Group 1 of general boarding priority.
To use AA’s word, the “option” of purchasing the tickets is extended to all AA passengers and can be purchased via airport Self-Service Check-In machines 24 hours to 50 minutes prior to flight departure time.
This is the third program AA has launched under the “Your Choice” initiative, following Group 1 stand-alone service, which allows passengers to be among the first to board, and the boarding and flexibility package that works like insurance against flight-change charges, and early flight standby options.
“Express Seats” is another tactic for generating extra revenue.
Some critics of the plan point out that the said “option” is merely charging for seats that used to be free before, which means passengers are paying for perks that used to be included in base rates.
AA spokesman Tim Smith told the Star-Telegram that AA may begin charging for other perks in the future, depending on the outcome of this move.
Also, American’s move may be a forebear that other airlines will be watching, meaning passengers may see the stratagem being practiced across other carriers in the future.