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Update 11/10/16: Alaska Airlines has finally begun selling upgrades to its new Premium-Class section, with prices ranging from $15 to $79 depending on the length of the flight. Passengers will be able to purchase upgrades for flights departing beginning in January. Tickets include early boarding, snacks and drinks, in addition to four extra inches of legroom. As for elite members, here’s what the airline has to say about Premium upgrades:
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. With the addition of Premium Class, Alaska’s most loyal customers who aren’t able to upgrade into First Class will see a significantly increased likelihood of getting a seat with more legroom near the front of the cabin.
In recent months, Alaska Airlines has been working to become more competitive with American, Delta and United. Between adding new routes and placing first in U.S. News and World Report’s annual ranking of airline frequent flyer programs, the airline has had a great 2015.
Yesterday, Alaska took another step in expanding its product, announcing plans to add a new Premium Class section. As the airline’s version of premium-economy seating, it will offer three to four additional inches of legroom, along with extra amenities to make the experience more comfortable.
Seats in the new Premium Class will have at least 35 inches of pitch, compared to the 31-32 inches for the main-cabin seats. Additionally, seats in the first-class cabin will be increased from 36 inches to 41 inches. In order to make room for the changes, Alaska will reconfigure and reduce the number of seats on some aircraft, as seen in the image above.
The airline plans to retrofit up to 60 aircraft with the Premium Class section by the end of 2016, and the remainder of its fleet will be updated by the end of 2017. Unfortunately that means four fewer seats on Alaska’s 737-800s, though the same number of seats will remain on the airline’s other 737s. The upgrade option will also be available on Embraer 175s, which are operated by SkyWest.
The airline currently offers Preferred Plus seating on its 737-400s and -700s in the bulkhead and exit rows. It’s available for purchase at check-in and will continue to be offered on those aircraft after the Premium Class addition.
Full details regarding the pricing and included amenities are not yet available, but be on the lookout for an update. The option to upgrade to Premium Class will be available to Alaska Airlines elite Mileage Plan members on a complimentary basis at the time of booking or day of travel, dependent on status and fare purchased.