American Airlines (and other carriers?) have no scruples. Now when you buy a ticket, there are very few seats to choose from. That's because they want you to spend more money to buy your seats. The fine print says that once you've bought them, you cannot get a refund if cheaper or free seats become available later on. The "x"ed out ones are not filled, just temporarily "reserved" (for “elite” customers supposedly). And very few if any at all are seats that would have previously required extra money. Any way to make more money at the expense of your customers! Since our flight is 11 hours long, we don’t want to risk having really bad seats or not being able to sit together.
This has been going on for a while, but I haven’t flown internationally for almost 2 years. After all, airlines are businesses that want to turn profits. For more information, see the following links: