Inflight Product Photo Shoot September 2016

MIAMI — Alaska Airlines announced Thursday the debut of its Premium Class, previously announced at the carrier’s 2015 Investor Day.

The airline will launch the new product on select routes beginning Jan. 5, 2017, as it continues retrofitting the cabin on its all-Boeing fleet. Alaska Airlines expects to retrofit nearly half of its 737-800s and -900s  by the end of 2016, and the remainder these variants one year later. The carrier also plans to offer the Premium Class upgrade option on the Embraer E175s operated by its regional affiliate SkyWest, and soon, Horizon Air.

Alaska Airlines will subsequently announce the cabin retrofit its 737-700 fleet by mid-2017. Some of these passenger 737-700s will be turned into freighters, which will replace the carrier’s 737-400 fleet in 2017.

In addition to four extra inches of legroom, passengers in Premium Class will enjoy early boarding, snacks and complimentary drinks.

“Premium Class is the most recent example of the on-going investment we are making to enhance the customer experience on our airplanes,” Andrew Harrison, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Alaska Airlines said in a statement.

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 Airlines.

Alaska Mileage Plan MVP, Gold and Gold 75K members will be eligible for complimentary upgrades into Premium Class at the time of booking, or up to 24 hours in advance of travel, depending on status and the fare purchased.

“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 percent of the First Class cabin being occupied by upgraded elites,” Harrison said.

Initial Premium Class prices range from $15 to $79 extra to the base fares, and are based on the length of the flight.