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American Airlines Adds Fee for Special Coach Seats that Aren't So Special

August 20, 2010 at 4:43 PM | by | ()

It used to be that the money you were charged for a seat in basic coach was called a fare. But in our age of nickle-and-dime airline fees, even the most trivial parts of the flight experience are up for grabs. For instance: seats closer the front of the plane. Airline fee trendsetter American Airlines has announced a new charge for "Express Seats," which are just the rows toward the beginning of coach.

For a mere $19-$39, passengers will get to board first and sit down in their cramped coach seats before other coach passengers. Then they will get to leave the plane just before other coach passengers. The seats aren't actually any bigger or better. They don't have more leg room. They're just closer to the front.

You have to admire American for this. First, they get to make more money. Second, they've finally found a way to charge people who are saving money by not checking in luggage. The thinking, we believe, went something like this: "we're already charging people to check baggage, and they don't care when they get off the plane since they'll be waiting around indefinitely anyway; how do we get everyone else?"

Our favorite part of this delightful innovation? Just like with every other additional fee or downgrade—in-flight meals, checked luggage, carry-on bags, reward tiers, etc—American is marketing the change as an empowering new "choice" or "option" that you now have. You can choose to pay for something you used to get for free, or you can choose to go without. The airline is actually including the new feature under their obnoxiously titled "Your Choices" umbrella, a name which we already found aggravating when they rolled it out to charge for early boarding. Obviously this doesn't do much to enhance our appreciation of the program.

Will you pay to sit up front on American?

[Photo: JorgeBrazil / Flickr]

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· Airline’s better coach seats cost more [AP]
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