Following an industry trend aimed at generating extra revenue, Alaska Airlines will roll out a new enhanced coach class cabin section with extra legroom and other perks beginning in late 2016.
Following an industry trend, Alaska Airlines announced Thursday at its annual investor day that it will roll out a new enhanced coach-class cabin section with extra legroom and other perks beginning in late 2016.
Passengers in the new “Premium Class,” which is lower than first class but better than standard coach class, will get priority boarding and have three to four inches more legroom compared with a standard coach seat. Pricing was not announced.
Alaska said it will also offer additional amenities to further enhance the premium class experience, though it didn’t provide details.
In a strategy aimed at bringing in extra revenue, airlines have introduced such differentiated coach seating for a premium price. On rival Delta Air Lines, for example, passengers pay more for “Comfort Plus” seats with similar perks.
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The upgrade will be available free to Alaska Airlines elite Mileage Plan members, “dependent on status and fare purchased.”
Alaska plans to retrofit up to 60 aircraft with the new seating class by the end of 2016 and the remainder of its larger 737 aircraft fleet by the end of 2017.
The airline’s Embraer 175s, operated by SkyWest, will also be configured with 12 seats in a premium section.
Seats in the new seating class will have at least 35 inches of pitch — that’s the distance from any point on the seat to the same point on the seats in front of and behind it — compared to an unchanged 31 inches or 32 inches in the rest of coach class.
At the same time, pitch in the first class cabin will be increased from 36 inches to 41 inches to preserve the space advantage for those customers.
To make the extra legroom possible, Alaska will reconfigure its cabins, introduce new slimline coach class seats and reduce the number of seats available on some aircraft.
The 737-800 will be configured with four fewer first-class seats than currently. And the 737-900ER will have three fewer coach-class seats.
Alaska said it also plans to outfit all of its 737-800s and 737-900s with larger overhead bins that increase room for carry-on baggage by 48 percent.
On those aircraft, the new slimmer coach seats will be leather and all will have power outlets for passenger electronics.