How to Select Certain Blocked Seats on American Airlines

Blocked Seats on American Airlines

If you’ve ever booked an American Airlines flight, you’ve probably noticed two or three of  right hand side bulkhead seats unavailable, or blocked.

Try looking at a flight way distant in the future. For example, I chose a 5:45a flight out of DCA for almost a year from now – a flight that wouldn’t ordinarily be booked this far in advance.

Seats 8D, 8E and 8F are blocked – on some aircraft, this will be row 7, but the premise stays the same. For a flight so far off in the future, it’s near impossible that someone would grab these three spots, especially the middle seat. Test it out for yourself.


So, what’s the story behind these seats?

They’re blocked for airport control. American traditionally blocks these seats to give to an AAdvantage elite – generally meant for Executive Platinums – who switch to this flight from another flight, whether due to same day changes or disruptions. In order to avoid placing these members in a far back middle seat near the lavatory, American blocked several of the up front seats for these folks, which can only be released under airport control.

How You Can Get These Seats

Now, because it’s up to airport control, it will depend on the agent you find who is willing to release them to you. On a full flight, these seats may automatically be assigned to a standby passenger, but if you get to the airport early enough, and the flight loads are not full, you may be able to have the agent move you to one of these blocked seats. Keep in mind, it’s not a guarantee, especially if you’re not an elite member, but you can always ask and see what happens.

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This won’t work on every plane. On small regional jets, even though there are blocked seats, they may remain blocked for weight and balance purposes.

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  1. Eric says

    Concierge key agents can unblock these seats in advance for CK members. Some exp agents will do it 24 hours in advance as well – though they are not supposed to.

    The actual stated reason for the block is for handicapped passengers, not elite standbys.

    Whenever a CK agent unblocks one they are supposed to let the CK member know that should a handicapped passenger need the seat they will have to be reseated.

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