I have AA Executive Platinum status, and regularly fly both AA and BA. AA allow me free access to their new-ish Main Cabin Extra seating (which I believe is basically their equivalent of Premium Economy), but BA - at least when I change my seat/check-in online - do not allow me access to their Premium Economy. I know BA are recognising my status as regards seating as I still get access to exit seats etc. when they are available.

Am I supposed to get access to Premium Economy for free? If so, how can I request/change my seat to one of those?

More generally, does Oneworld have a cross-alliance policy on this?


No. I think in a previous thread you mentioned that you had EXP status, which is a One World Emerald tier. 1W's published alliance-wide Emerald privileges include priority check-in, preferred boarding and seating, priority standby/waitlisting, and lounge access— but not free upgrades.

To get into Premium Economy, you'll most likely need to pay for it, either by upfaring your existing booking or paying at check-in where available. (BA may also sell upgrades at the gate or even on-board, but I'm not sure). There is a slim chance you might get moved up if the WT cabin is oversold, but you'll be far down the list.

First, a word on terminology. Products like AA's Main Cabin Extra, UA's Economy Plus, and Delta's Economy Comfort are more of a preferred seating scheme than true premium economy. They give you the identical seat and service level of any other economy seat, book into the same fare classes as regular economy, and are differentiated only in that you have several inches of additional legroom (and may board in a separate boarding group, since the seats are usually clustered together).

True Premium Economy such as on ANA, Air New Zealand, or Turkish is a separate cabin between regular economy and business, booking into higher fares and offering upgraded seats, IFE, and/or food/drink over regular economy. Merely having a certain credit card is enough to get you into United Economy Plus, but don't expect to get into EVA Elite Class without paying extra, any more than you would expect to get into business or first.

Second, remember that alliance privileges are a subset of airline privileges. Most airlines will treat their own frequent flyers differently from (better than) those of alliance partners; AA, for example, grants automatic status-based single class upgrades for Executive Platinum members on domestic flights, but does not extend that privilege to OneWorld Emeralds (e.g. EC Gold, Qantas Platinum). Why should BA give AA members more than AA gives BA members? For its part, even for operational upgrades, BA reportedly processes 1W Emeralds below EC Silvers.

Third, complimentary upgrades are a rarity on European and Asian carriers in general. They have a different business model for the premium cabins from the U.S.-based carriers, owing to differences in market structure and customer preferences, and simply giving away access is not in the offing.

  • OK, that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the clarification. – Andrew Ferrier May 24 '13 at 16:54
  • FWIW, I ended up getting upgraded to Premium Economy on BA the other day anyway after an overbooking. It wasn't that great - in fact, they "upgraded" me from an economy exit seat to a PE window seat, which is almost a downgrade in my eyes. The food was marginally better, and the seat definitely had better reclining, so it wasn't all bad, but I doubt I would choose to pay much extra for it. Just for the record. – Andrew Ferrier Jun 2 '13 at 15:09

As others have said, you are not entitled to the upgrade, but will be fairly high on the list if operational upgrades are being done (coach is oversold and BA is moving people forward).

Note that you can also upgrade a BA flight using AA miles if the BA flight is booked in an eligible fare basis. On a BA flight with premium economy, the upgrade from coach is only to premium economy. On a BA flight with coach and business but not premium economy, the upgrade from coach is to business.

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