MIAMI — Alaska Airlines will soon join United, American and Delta Air Lines in launching a premium economy class product, to be rolled out in late 2016.
The new product announced last week at Alaska Airlines’ annual Investor Day, will offer customers additional legroom (three to four inches), priority boarding, and plans to offer “additional amenities” to further enhance the Premium Class in-flight experience.
“Premium Class will provide an opportunity for all customers to get an enhanced flight experience,” said Andrew Harrison, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Alaska Airlines.
The upgrade price and the details on the additional amenities will be disclosed closer to the customer availability date, and it will be available to the carrier’s elite Mileage Plan members on a complimentary basis at booking or on the day of travel, depending on a passenger’s status and fare purchased.
Alaska plans to retrofit up to 60 aircraft with the Premium Class section by the end of 2016 and the remainder of its Boeing 737 fleet one year later. The new Premium Class section seats have at least 35″ of pitch, compared to 31″ to 32″ in the rest of the main cabin.
The introduction of a premium economy product in Alaska Airlines seems to be a move to level with other airlines, which already offer extra-legroom products, and particularly to compete with Delta Air Lines, as the Atlanta-based carrier is offering its Comfort+ Product, with perks similar to those announced by Alaska.
According to Brett Snyder, from the Cranky Flier, “For Alaska, this makes a great deal of sense especially as it continues to expand into longer haul flying. In Seattle, Comfort+ was a big differentiator for Delta, and probably was enough to sway people away from Alaska. This will probably get them back.”
Alaska Air has also announced plans to increase the seat pitch in the First Class cabin from 36” to 41” and continue offering Preferred Plus seating for the bulkhead and exit rows in the Boeing 737-400s and -700s. Those seats will be priced by distance or are complimentary for certain elite Mileage Plan level members. The seats include early boarding, more legroom and a complimentary drink.
“We are listening to our customers and they have told us that more personal space and extra perks are a priority.” Harrison said.