American Airlines announced on May 27th that it would start rolling out a system to let people know if their flight is full or not. Then, if a passenger chooses, they can move to a more open flight when available without having to pay anything extra.
With increasing numbers of people returning to travel, airlines are having to deal with packed flights. In the era of social distancing, this causes a problem. In the past few months, both American and United have come under fire for operating full flights. Passengers want to see empty middle seats. However, that is not always possible.
So, for fliers who do want a little bit more space, they can take a look at some of their other options. American usually charges to move flights on the day of departure, aside from bookings in first.
Most likely, this will be done via the airline’s app, the American website when passengers check-in for a flight, or else through a self-service kiosk on the ground. It does not seem that gate agents will move passengers to a different flight involuntarily.
Why American is doing this
Currently, American Airlines is selling fewer seats onboard each aircraft. This ensures that there remain some open seats for social distancing and gives gate agents and flight attendants more room to move people around – provided weight and balance is not an issue.
But, if passenger numbers continue to increase, American may not be able to guarantee social distancing. This new move now gives customers additional options, so they do not end up on a busy flight.
However, other flights may not be available on select routes. This is especially true for long-haul international routes or else short-haul domestic routes to secondary destinations. For connecting itineraries, however, this can become a bit of a mess for passengers.
Will this attract passengers?
This move is not necessarily a promotional one to encourage people to fly American. Instead, it is just another step the airline is taking to help its customers be assured that they can travel with some sort of back-up. It will take time to roll out this measure in full. And, in all likelihood, it will not be necessary for the next couple of months as load factors remain low.
United Airlines has already announced plans for such a move. Meanwhile, Delta is maintaining that it will block middle seats and limit capacity in First Class through part of the summer– if not longer. Nevertheless, all major airlines know that soon enough, the middle seat has to come back. Or else, for passengers, fares will have to go up, thus limiting access to air travel.
Will this new move help you choose American for your travels? Do you think this is a good idea? Let us know in the comments!