I found something dumber than the outrage over the “Ground Zero Mosque.” It’s the news that American Airlines is now charging for “Express Seats,” the first few rows of seats in coach behind first class. Now you’ll have to pay $19-39 extra if you want to sit there.

What will passengers be getting for that money? Apparently, lots of people request these seats because the flight attendants serve beverages there first, and because the passengers get off the plane first after it lands. Also, Express Seat holders can board the plane along with the first-class passengers, so they get dibs on overhead compartment space for their luggage. Possibly boarding the plane with the first-class people will make them feel more important, too.

None of this seems remotely worth 20 bucks to me. Devoted travel bloggers seem to agree. I suppose if customers want to blow their money this way, it’s nice of AA to give them that option. Then again, this is just one more example of how airlines make their fare structure so complicated that travelers can’t comparison shop for the best value when they buy their airline tickets. Either way, I can just imagine longtime American customer Ryan Bingham (the George Clooney character from Up in the Air, not the country singer) sitting up in first-class comfort laughing at the poor suckers who paid extra for Express Seats.


  1. Thats why I dont fly American. Paying 20 extra bucks just so I can get a pitily cup of soda(since they dont give you the entire can anymore)first and smell all the crappy food that the first class passengers are getting. No, Thanks!!