Apparently US Airways Economy Is Now Business Class

Filed Under: US Airways

Yesterday I flew US Airways from Chicago to Tampa via Charlotte using British Airways Avios. American didn’t have award availability on the nonstop and revenue fares were ~$500, so at 9,000 Avios one-way it was the best value.

I’m still trying to learn the whole US Airways system, because it doesn’t make much sense to me. For example, after putting my Executive Platinum number on the reservation I was given these seating options at check-in:


So I have to pay $49 to reserve seemingly arbitrary seats, which aren’t in exit rows, or extra legroom, or…?

Anyway, I had selected seat 6C, which is an aisle seat in the second row of economy on the Airbus A321.


Since it was a 5:50AM flight it wasn’t totally full, so I wanted to ask the gate agent if there were maybe seats with empty middles a bit further back. I far prefer an empty middle since I find it’s easier to get work on my laptop with a bit more shoulder space (not to mention that I don’t want anyone glaring at my laptop screen).

The conversation went something like this:

Me: “Morning! Do you by chance have a seat with an empty middle somewhere a bit further back? I had tried to select another seat online earlier, but it tried to charge me for other seats even though I’m an Executive Platinum with American.”
Agent: “What seat are you in?”
*showed her my boarding pass*
Agent: “Oh you’re in row six. Trust me you won’t want to switch, you’re in business class.”
Me: “Isn’t this a domestic plane? Aren’t there only four rows of first class?”
Agent: “I didn’t say you was in first class, but you is in business class. Trust me, you don’t want to switch.”
Me: “Since when do your domestic planes have first and business class?”
Agent: “Do you hear me? You won’t want to switch. Trust me.”
Me: “Bu… bu… bu… b…. b…”
Agent: *turns to other agent* “This guy does not trust me, I’m just trying to keep him in the best seat.”

At this point the other gate agent announced boarding — “we’re now boarding our first and business class passengers.”

Okay, was I the one going nuts? Did American somehow sub one of their premium transcon A321s in for this flight?

Nope, it was a standard US Airways A321. And I was in exactly the economy seat I was expecting…


The most bizarre part? As boarding finished up that same gate agent came aboard with a standby passenger she was going to put in 6C. When she saw me there, she goes “oh that’s right, I knew you were in 6C, not sure why I thought this seat was empty.”

Oddly she didn’t ask me how I was enjoying my business class seat.

Anyway, it was no big deal, though I did find it all a bit odd…

  1. If you is in business class, just shaddup and enjoy it! Reminds me of a Lufthansa flight where the pilot instructed us that “you will enjoy your flight with us”. Oh, maybe you could do a full review of the new business class product.

  2. As an AA EP, I shed a tear each time I fly USAirways as I realize that this is probably the future of my favorite domestic airline under Parker. They may as well paint their planes bright yellow…

  3. Sounds like you just had a gate agent that either was intent on messing with you or, omire likely, is really stupid. Although based on the boarding announcement it seems like they were probably just not that bright. Either way, do you know if these articles get reviewed by the social media people at US Airways/AA. Assuming this gate agents are just not that smart maybe some additional training would do them some good. IMO, the most likely scenario is that they know these seats cost extra and dont realize that it is only because they are at the front of the plane.

  4. Back when US was in Star Alliance, the domestic boarding announcements would always include a mystical business class.

  5. Yea the whole having to pay for certain economy seats as an ExPlat was a surprise when I booked with US Air about 6 weeks ago. The PAArker Plan.

  6. Some of the US Air agents are not only incompetent they are illiterate
    Did I say stupid too
    Add to that some airports don’t even have a first class elite line to check you in
    You stand with other Priceline customers at a kiosk
    I hate the way US Airways operates and I fear D.P. will destroy American and anything that was good about it
    I expect horrible food (already happening in some markets or no food
    online and partner Award booking fees hello us air
    and worse award availability
    Good luck to us all

  7. WOW.. hilarious and sad at the same time. The sad part is that you are so experienced flying and still not able to convince gate agent about their mistake. What people who don’t fly so often should think when they are seated in such business class:-)

  8. Well, let’s face it and stop trying to sugar coat it…the world is full of a lot of morons!
    What else is there to know?

  9. It appears US Scareways is having difficulty meeting the low standards they have set for themselves…..

  10. Were you not able to upgrade to first. What baffles me as a AA Platinum is that I’ve been shown fees for the “Premium” economy seats but upgraded to First at no cost. I mean it benefits me as a Platinum since there is no real hierarchy in how they clear, but the model is nuts.

  11. ha, and i thought you never redeem for coach. Didnt you say that you have not traveled in Y for the past 10 years? I would have redeemed BA miles for first on this route much better value.

  12. @ Ivan Y — I do plenty of domestic coach flying, but haven’t done coach on a longhaul in over 10 years.

  13. @ John
    If the booking was made with Avios points you have to call BA to get it on
    Like AA some BA agents are clueless how to do this others do it with no issue

  14. Maybe main cabin extra, before the branding has been added? Or they’re experimenting with a eurobiz type 3 cabin? Are they keeping the middle seat open as a courtesy to executive platinums? This is weird. But hey, you get priority boarding! I think. #thenewamerican

  15. ‘Just got off one domestic US Airways flight that called for “Business and First Class Passengers” and boarded another one that called for the same. Seated in row 4 for both flights, I guess I’ve had the business class experience on both! To be fair, I did get offered a second plastic cup of Coke, so I suppose that qualifies as upgraded service!

  16. I have often wondered why the seat map arbitrarily charges for random seats that seem less desirable to me. Seats further back, middle seats, etc. Weird.

  17. @ Lucky – I disagree with the other Ivan Y. Domestic coach is fine using Avios since AA/US claim they have “first class” and we get charged x3 instead of x2. That never made any sense to me but I guess that’s probably a way to keep AA happy otherwise there would be a lot more Avios redemptions for “first”.

    ~ Original Ivan Y.

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