November 11, 2016 – Following Delta and American Airlines’ recent reveals of premium economy cabins, the latest development in North America is Alaska Airlines’ Premium Class. While this class isn’t a full premium economy offer, when it launches on January 5, 2017 it will boast a 35in seat pitch (4in more than standard economy), as well as a few extras including early boarding, and complimentary snacks and drinks. A video fly-through of the cabin is available HERE.
The Premium Class configuration, currently being retrofitted to the airline’s B737 fleet, falls between the standard economy and first class products, and will be offered as a complimentary upgrade for the airline’s most loyal customers who aren’t able to upgrade into first class – and as a US$15 to $79 option at the time of booking. Premium class is replacing Preferred Plus, which was a similar proposal, but only available in exit rows and bulkhead seats.
“Premium Class is the most recent example of the on-going investment we are making to enhance the customer experience on our airplanes,” said Andrew Harrison, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Alaska Airlines. “We will continue to reward our loyal customers by offering one of the most generous upgrade policies in the industry with an average of 60% of the first class cabin being occupied by upgraded elites.”
The aircraft retrofits will also see legroom in first class expanded, from 36in to 41 or 42in. Alaska expects that nearly half of its fleet will feature Premium Class by the end by the end of 2016, with the balance of planes being reconfigured in 2017. A decision on when the B737-700s will be retrofitted will be announced mid-2017, and Alaska will retire its fleet of B737-400s in 2017. The upgrade option will also be available on the Embraer 175s operated by SkyWest Airlines and soon, Horizon Air.