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August 19, 2021

Airlines offer seats up front for extra fee

Last week, we talked about how airlines are always looking for ways to squeeze out more revenue — without scaring off customers by actually raising fares.

Now, even the cheap seats are getting more costly. Yesterday, American Airlines announced an add-on fee for the front rows in coach class.

Fees for the so-called “Express” seats, which allow passengers to enter and exit the plane in the first group, are based on distance – $19 for shorter distances up to $39 for a cross-country trip.

Travelers can buy the Express Seat option at airport check-in kiosks only, from 24 hours before their trips up to 50 minutes prior to scheduled departure.

The carrier is following in the footsteps of several other airlines that already charge for special seats. In June, for instance, it already rolled out a $10 fee that allows travelers to board a flight in the first group.

Keeping in mind that it generally takes about five minutes for a plane to empty once the door opens, is it worth extra money just to ensure empty overhead bin space, a bit more legroom (depending on the size of the plane) and more time waiting for your luggage inside?

Probably not, says Terry Maxon, a travel writer with the Dallas Morning News: “On one hand, you don't get more legroom or elbow room. On the other hand, you can get off the airplane more quickly at the destination."

“On one foot (since we're out of hands), it's a long way back to the economy-section toilets, and you know how they feel about you trying to sneak up to the first-class toilets,” he adds.

What do you think? Would you pay the man to sneak in with the business class passengers?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...