Is Main Cabin Extra Worth the Cost of AA Gold Status Renewal?

I flew AA Main Cabin Extra a couple of times recently on my trips to Europe and Australia and thought I would comment on the experience overall. The routes I flew this product on were DFW-LHR (777), ORD-VCE (787), and SYD-LAX (777). The hard product was identical across the board, but there were a few minor differences in the soft product. 

I’m doing this review to sort of think about whether it is worth my renewing my AAdvantage Gold status given that I didn’t meet the spending requirements last year. Is main cabin extra enough value to renew AA Gold status?

The Good: 

Finding Main Cabin Extra Seats as an AA Gold

The nice bit about American is that I have found seats in Main Cabin Extra quite consistently even with my miserly gold status. And given that they open up those seats only 24 hours before departure, I’m quite surprised that I have had a 100% success rate in getting those seats. Maybe I’m just lucky?

Legroom in Main Cabin Extra definitely makes a difference on long haul flights. While I was fine with my extra long United flight from SFO to Sydney last year, my ability to get Main Cabin Extra seats was what made my AA experience more pleasant. This is the one aspect of flying which makes me think I should renew my AA gold status for 2019. 

The Not So Great

The meals on all my AA flights were absolutely identical. They consisted of pasta, dessert, and some packaged snacks. And the pasta was absolutely the same on each and every one of those flights. For some reason I have never been able to order and confirm a AVML on any of my flights. Even if it is confirmed, I always seem to get the same pasta. 

The breakfast service on all my European flights consisted of the same box with a muffin, some yogurt + granola. Not the worst kind of breakfast, but United does have a bit more on offer for breakfast for economy passengers. I don’t see why they need to wake passengers up to hand out these boxes. They could just leave them as bags while people sleep. It’s not like they have to clear trays here. Might as well throw in an orange juice in one of those sealed packs they serve at hospitals. 

The only real difference between AA’s Euro flights and Australia flights was that they handed out a printed menu and some ice cream after the meal service was completed. And since it was a longer flight, they decided to give me a large plate of fruit instead of just a small cup of it 🙂 As you can see it’s really the same stuff. If you do like alcohol, the selection is slightly better on the Australia flights. 


Bottom Line: 

Main Cabin Extra was an absolutely fine way of getting around and it was definitely nice to be able to choose these seats despite being a miserly AA Gold member. If my travel plans were set to be as frequent as last year, I might even have gone for AAdvantage Gold again at $675:

The overall positive aspect about AA is that they don’t have slimline seats in their fleet like United or Lufthansa. Lufthansa is IMHO the worst of the lot because of them having those on long haul flights

On the other hand AA economy as a whole lags behind its US competitors in food and service. The downsides are pretty clear: the meals are the same throughout the flights, and the service is just machine like. Given that, I don’t think there is too much to complain about unless you have a choice of airlines at your home airport. 

So conclusion: NO to AA Gold given that I won’t be traveling enough this year……