Banner for Aviation Consumer Protection web pages

You are here

American Airlines

American Airlines confirmed the accuracy of this table on September 5, 2019.  Airline policies are subject to change.  Additional information is available on American’s website here.

Tips for families: How would an adult best ensure he or she is seated next to a family member under the age of 14 when flying your airline?

  • Book as early as possible and choose seats on the seat map online for your entire family.  If adjacent seats are not available, skip seats for that flight.
    • Seat availability is very limited closer to day of travel, so you are encouraged to select seats ensuring your children are seated next to at least one adult.
    • It is better to skip seats than choose just a few seats or seats throughout the cabin.
  • Book children on the same reservation as adults.
    • American Airlines’ system will only be able to detect and help families flying together (see below) if all the passengers are on the same reservation record.
    • If a child is alone in a reservation, a seat will be assigned but American can’t recognize that the rest of a family is on a separate reservation. Thus, each party will be seated separately.
    • American Airlines prioritizes keeping families together if it must reassign seats due to an equipment change.
  • Confirm any seat selections made through an online travel agent on
  • If you are unable to choose adjacent seats during booking, do not want to pay for seats, or choose the Basic Economy fare, American Airlines’ system will detect families traveling on the same reservation record and will search for seats together automatically after you purchase your ticket.
    • American’s system will try its best to sit the family together, but if seats are limited, it will try to assign seats so children under 15 are next to at least 1 adult on the same reservation record (which may result in adults in the party being separated).
    • For the purposes of seating families together, American’s system only considers reservations that include at least one passenger 15 years old or younger. Also, if customers do not select seats together or chose partial seats for their family prior to check in, American’s system will not capture the reservation as one that it needs to try and sit the family together.
  • If a family arrives at the airport (i) without seats assigned or (ii) with separate seats (child is seated alone), an American Airlines’ gate agent will try to seat families together if adjacent seats are available
    • American strongly encourages customers not to choose scattered seats or partially select seats for some members of the family so that its system can help sit the family together before the family arrives at the airport.  Adjacent seats may not be available for families who try to obtain them at the airport (ticket counter/gate).

Seating Policy

Seating Model: Does your airline provide seat assignments or does it use an open seating model?

  • American Airlines allows customers to select seats, and provides seat assignments at time of check in for those customers who didn’t select or purchase a seat. If no seats are available at check in, seats will be assigned prior to boarding.

Advance Seat Selection: Does your airline enable consumers to reserve seats at booking?

  • Customers purchasing First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy, or Main Cabin tickets can select seats while booking.
  • Customers purchasing Basic Economy tickets for flights to or from Europe can select seats for a fee during booking.
  • Customers purchasing Basic Economy tickets for flights within the United States, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean, may only select seats for a fee within 7 days of departure.

Fee: Does your airline charge an additional fee for these advance seat reservations?

  • Advance seat selection is complimentary for First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy, and Main Cabin tickets. However, certain seats in the Main Cabin (Main Cabin Extra and Preferred seats) are available for purchase for non-elite customers and AAdvantage Gold members (Main Cabin Extra for a fee, Preferred for free).
  • Customers with Basic Economy tickets must pay a fee to reserve seats.  For Basic Economy flights within the United States, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean, the option of obtaining advance seat assignment is only available near the date of departure, and seats together could be limited.  Otherwise, seats are assigned after check-in if available, or prior to boarding.


Airline: What disclosures relevant to family seating does your airline provide to consumers during the booking process?

  • American’s online booking process includes a disclosure that seats will be assigned if not selected by the customer, and that if the party must be split, American will assign seats so children are next to at least one adult in the customer’s party.
  • Customers shopping Basic Economy fares online must affirmatively check a box during the booking path acknowledging that Basic Economy has the most restrictions and that seats are assigned after check-in.
  • Customers purchasing tickets by phone are notified about seating restrictions or other limitations related to families sitting together upon request.
  • Families who partially select seat assignments on the seat map page, are displayed a message to let them know that it is best to select seats for everyone, and if the customer skips seats American will assign them before the date of travel.  The disclosure also states that American will work to seat families together, but if seats are limited, American will assign seats so children are next to at least 1 adult.  This is to avoid partial seat selection, since the system won’t be able to recognize this family reservation if a seat is assigned.
  • In the event a flight only has single seats available (non-continuous seats), families are displayed a message on top of the seat map to let them know they should skip seats and American will attempt to sit the child next to at least one adult. This is to avoid scattered seats selection.
  • Content is available on to let families know American will attempt to sit them together or sit the child next to at least one adult if not enough contiguous seats are available. Same disclosures appear for Basic Economy fares.

Travel Agent: If your airline allows others to sell tickets on its behalf, do the family seating disclosures provided by these entities differ from the disclosures provided when booking directly with the airline?

  • American works closely with travel agencies to ensure that they include similar disclosures on their websites.  American, however, cannot guarantee that these disclosures are always provided.
Updated: Friday, September 13, 2019
Submit Feedback >