Earlier I wrote about the changes that Alaska Airlines is making to first class upgrades, including a change in how upgrades are prioritized, the introduction of upgrades on award tickets, and a change in which fare classes are eligible for instant upgrades. However, it looks like there’s a lot more to this announcement that I didn’t initially see.
Alaska Airlines is introducing Premium Class
Late last year I first wrote about how Alaska Airlines is introducing Premium Class, which is their version of extra legroom economy, similar to American’s Main Cabin Extra, Delta’s Comfort+, and United’s Economy Plus.
Alaska’s Premium Class will feature an additional four inches of legroom, plus complimentary drinks and snacks. So it’s not just more room, but also more service, much like what’s offered in Delta’s Comfort+.
The first plane with Premium Class is now flying, though over the next year we should see a majority of Alaska’s fleet configured with this product.
As far as Premium Class goes, we should see three rows of it on the Embraer 170, five rows of it on the 737-800, and four rows of it on the 737-900.
Here’s how Alaska Premium Class upgrades will work
While Alaska isn’t yet selling Premium Class, they’ve now announced how upgrades to the cabin will work going forward.
Elite members can receive upgrades to Premium Class for themselves at the time of booking when purchasing the following fares:
- MVP Gold 75K — all fares
- MVP Gold — Y, Z, S, B, M, H, Q, L, V, N, K fares
- MVP — Y, Z, S, B fares
In other words, only MVP Gold 75K members will receive upgrades at the time of booking on all fares. Meanwhile MVP Gold members won’t receive them at the time of booking on some discounted fares, while MVP members will only receive them at the time of booking on the most expensive fares.
For everything except the above fare classes, Premium Class upgrades will clear as follows (which matches the first class upgrade windows for the respective tiers):
- 72 hours out for MVP Gold members
- 48 hours out for MVP members
MVP Gold 75K and MVP Gold members can take one companion into Premium Class for free, while MVP members can’t take companions into Premium Class for free, even within their upgrade window.
There are a few other interesting things to note:
- Partner airline elite members won’t receive upgrades to Premium Class for free
- All elite members can continue to reserve exit row seats for free, which aren’t part of Premium Class (and therefore also aren’t eligible for free food and drinks)
- If only middle seats are available in Premium Class at the time of your upgrade window, you won’t automatically be assigned a Premium Class middle seat, but rather will be given the option of whether or not you want to upgrade
Alaska is continuing to do more to differentiate their MVP Gold 75K and MVP Gold tiers. On one hand I’d say that the news here is mostly positive, given that nothing is being taken away from existing members (they can continue to select exit row seats for free at the time of booking, as before). However, Alaska is doing more to differentiate passengers based on which fare class they book, which shouldn’t come as a surprise.
What do you make of Alaska’s Premium Class upgrade policy?