Third time Winner? – American Airlines Main Cabin Extra

If you follow this blog or my YouTube, you’ve read about my first two (ever) segments with American Airlines. A quick summary: Segment one was “just OK”, first class is never really that bad, after all, and segment two was in American Airlines main cabin extra. Segment two left me asking, “where’s the extra?” Will I be a third time winner? Or loser?

Checking In – Atlanta

This flight, like most, started in the general check-in area at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Many travelers don’t have time or want to explore airports, but there are some nice areas at many of the airports I visit. One of my favorites in Atlanta is in the pre-TSA area. A large central atrium provides an open space feel with surrounds that include shops and restaurants.

ATL Atrium
Pre-TSA in Atlanta. Large central atrium with food and shopping.

While airports create open spaces pre-security, many passengers prefer to check-in and get to the gate. Checking in is performed by self-serve computer kiosk.

Self Check-In
American Airlines in Atlanta features self check-in.

I found the process of self check-in to be easy. All the information presented is easy to read with several acknowledgements in the process. American Airlines includes several up-sell opportunities for seats and so called “bonus” frequent flyer miles. I’m not sure how they are a bonus, by the way. Regardless, the self check-in completed I went to the bag drop to discover that I could have had an agent check me in since one leg was in first class! Not a problem either way as the self check-in was easy.


Boarding groups are assigned to passengers based on their seating location on the aircraft. Priority passengers, like first class, get on earlier, the the main cabin, e.g. steerage, board last. I’ve misplaced my boarding group somewhere in my brain. I think Main Cabin Extra boarded third or fourth in the 8 or so boarding groups. I arrived in my row first and quickly settled into my window seat, 8F.

Seat Selection
Seated in 8F – notice the armrest snug to the cabin wall.

Today’s flight is on a Boeing 737 aircraft (not a Max). Notice how the arm rest is snug against the cabin wall? For the less frequent travelers reading this, a similarly sized Airbus A320 (or A319 & A321, the A320 family) have a larger inner diameter where the passengers sit. This equates to several inches of space between the armrest and cabin wall. I find the Airbus A320 family of aircraft to provide a better seat experience over the similar sized Boeing 737 aircraft when you are not in first class. Keep this in mind when looking and booking flights.

American Airlines In-Flight Experience

Our flight safety briefing was provided via overhead drop-down screens. Flight attendants do not deliver the briefing, but observe the passengers during the presentation on the overhead screens. Unfortunately for me, this Boeing 737 only had the overhead screens, no seat-back screens.

Safety Video
With no seatback IFE, the safety video is shown on drop down screens.

American Airlines has been using the BYOD – bring your own device philosophy for in-flight entertainment (IFE). Since most travelers have a device, I can see how this might be a useful method of providing entertainment to your passengers. Have them connect to a WiFi portal on-board and entertain themselves. I’m sure it is lighter, no screens mean less maintenance, and therefore more profitable for American to have the passengers bring their own device for IFE. I would rather have a seat-back screen to provide IFE.

American Airlines BYOD
Entertainment is streamed to your own device.


Wrapping up this flight with a cool shot taken while turning toward Dallas Fort-Worth. The flight was uneventful, except for a small bout of turbulence that suspended service for a few minutes.

The view from 8F

On-board service was gluten filled snacks and a drink. I don’t find that to be much of an “extra”. A YouTube comment informed me that alcoholic drinks are provided for free in the “extra” section, but I’m not really a drinker, so that’s lost on me. Airlines continue to lack gluten free snacks, but I usually travel with my own snacks, just in case. My go-to snack these days is a mix of Skittles and pistachio nuts, sweet and salty!

Like the flight to Atlanta, the flight to Dallas was just ok. To be clear, the “extra” in the “Main Cabin Extra” seems to be extra leg-room. I plan on more flights with American in the future. I’ll let you know if things change.

Next up, a second try with American Airlines domestic first class. Hint: it was awesome!

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