American Now Lets You Buy Up To Preferred Seats On Saver Award Tickets

Filed Under: American

This is ultimately a fairly minor development, though I figured it was worth passing on since I didn’t know this wasn’t previously possible.

American has informed me that customers can now buy up to Preferred or Main Cabin Extra seats when booking MileSAAver award tickets. For the time being this is only possible by calling American’s reservations phone number after purchasing your ticket, though later this summer the functionality to buy up to a better seat when on a saver level award ticket should be possible online.

As I said above, I didn’t realize this wasn’t previously already possible. You’d think American would want people to pay more to select seats, so my guess is that this has been a technology issue up until now (or something?). Elite members continue to be able to select preferred seats on award tickets at no additional costs (and Executive Platinum members even get free upgrades on award tickets), and previously you could pay to select a preferred seat on awards, as long as it was a non-MileSAAver ticket.

Given how many seats American blocks from being assigned by non-elite members for free, I imagine quite a few people will find value in being able to pay to assign seats of their choice.

This is also perhaps a good time to reiterate that the much bigger problem is American’s lack of saver level award availability across all cabins. While there are still lots of great redemption opportunities on partner airlines, saver level award availability on American’s own flights is as bad as it has ever been.

Dear American: if you want more people to pay to assign seats on saver level award tickets, make more saver level award seats available. 😉

  1. They are so good at charging fees and so dumb in some ways. I can’t believe this wasn’t offered before.

    I also can’t believe they don’t allow paid stopovers. I think people would pay a good amount for an international stopover.

  2. Paid stopover, now there’s a concept I can get behind.

    It would also help if AA released some usable space as well.

  3. Definitely new, previously their ancient system couldn’t charge as doing so would trigger other taxes that “free” tickets didn’t.

  4. When I flew AUS-PHL-CDG last winter in Y it was a 2-4-2 layout and every “2” was considered Main Cabin Preferred except the very last rows in each of the cabins. Luckily I snagged the right side back row in the forward Y cabin and they still reclined (as stated on Seatguru and verified by me on the flight). It was annoying to be near the bathrooms, and I would have gladly paid to select a pair of seats farther forward on the plane. But I was on a Saver award ticket and there was no option for it. Glad to hear it’s being allowed now, although all my upcoming AA awards are in J.

  5. @JonNYC but why could their system work it out for Aanytime seats or for elites? Is it a different system for Saavers?

  6. AA saver award availability is terrible, adding a paid stopover would at least make it somewhat easier, though costly to actually be able to piece together a trip.

    I contacted Bridget Blaise-Shamai a few months ago and was told that it is not in the cards, however.

  7. Thank you. Finally. I’ve booked away from American multiple times because of this very issue. I always thought it was idiotic. I wanted to give them money and they wouldn’t take it.

    Next thing they need to fix is allowing the purchase of these preferred/MCE seats when using gift cards for the base ticket. I wonder if that can be achieved when calling after booking a ticket.

  8. @Ryan those buying anytime awards or those with elite status get the preferred / MCE seatsfor free so they never had to buy up. Those with saver awards have to pay and supposedly the system could not handle the extra payment on free tickets (though they had no trouble charging for taxes, luggage, Admirals club day passes, etc…) UA and DL used to have the same problem, but they fixed their’s long ago.

  9. Not related to award tickets, but when I checked into my EWR – DFW flight today, I was offered a paid upgrade to first (from a $300 nonrefundable ticket) for ~$120. I checked in as soon as the alert popped up on my phone which is when the offer popped up as well. I thought this was interesting (I don’t have any status) since it precludes elites from clearing an upgrade within 24 hours. It was also only for this segment (out of 4 total).

    I haven’t had it happen before… is this standard?

  10. I thought it was just bad customer service. Was trying to upgrade a saver ticket from JFK-LHR last august and it seemed nobody wanted to help. I asked to move to an empty row after boarding was complete (there were plenty) and ended up in MCE with my own row. Glad the flight attendants were helpful.

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