Alaska Airlines has announced plans to offer a new seating option called Premium Class. According to the airline,

“Beginning in late 2016, the new upgrade option will provide more legroom and other perks to customers. Customers who upgrade to Premium Class will get priority boarding and enjoy three to four inches more legroom compared with a standard coach seat. In addition, Alaska Airlines plans to offer additional amenities to further enhance the Premium Class in-flight experience. This upgrade option will be available to Alaska Airlines elite Mileage Plan members on a complimentary basis at booking or day of travel dependent on status and fare purchased.”

Amenities in addition to extra legroom and priority boarding will be announced at a later date.

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Image courtesy of Alaska Airlines

In addition to this, Alaska plans to increase seat pitch in first class from 36 inches to 41 inches. I haven’t checked other airline websites for a comparison, but that strikes me as pretty good nowadays for domestic first class. The airline plans to retrofit up to 60 aircraft with the Premium Class section by the end of next year and the remainder of its 737-800, -900 and -900ER fleet by the end of 2017. Alaska will continue to offer Preferred Plus seating, currently available for purchase at check-in for bulkhead and exit rows, will continue to be offered on Alaska 737-400s and -700s.

MJ’s Take

An enhanced coach product is the latest fad with U.S. airlines, and likely not without reason. Customers are buying up to improve their experience and Alaska appears to have reached the conclusion that it will earn enough additional revenue to justify the investment. One could wonder if Premium Class will become a separate booking inventory in the the way Delta’s Comfort Plus cabin has? I’ll look forward to seeing more details about the additional amenities planned for Premium Class when they are released. I’d speculate that complimentary cocktails, and perhaps snacks will be on offer.

-MJ, December 3, 2015