Guide To Alaska Airlines Premium Class: Is It Worth It?

Guide To Alaska Airlines Premium Class: Is It Worth It?

14

Airlines are always looking for ways to segment their consumer base, in order to get as much revenue from each passenger as possible. Over the years, we’ve seen just about all major US airlines introduce extra legroom economy seating, intended both as a reward for elite member, and as an ancillary revenue opportunity.

In this post I wanted to take a closer look at Premium Class, which Alaska Airlines’ extra legroom economy seating. I’ve written about similar products offered by other airlines, including American Main Cabin Extra, Delta Comfort+, JetBlue Even More Space, and United Economy Plus.

Alaska Premium Class offers extra legroom

Premium Class is the name of Alaska Airlines’ extra legroom economy seating, offering an average of an additional four inches of legroom compared to standard economy seating. Premium Class is typically located in the first several rows of economy, and also at exit rows.

Alaska offers Premium Class throughout its mainline and regional fleet, including on all Boeing 737s and Embraer E175s.

With airlines having continued to squeeze more and more seats onto planes over the years, the legroom in “standard” economy has become much more restrictive. As a result, Premium Class provides a more acceptable level of legroom, so that your knees aren’t pushed into the seat back in front of you.

Alaska Premium Class offers extra legroom

Alaska Premium Class includes alcohol & early boarding

In addition to extra legroom, Alaska Premium Class offers two other primary benefits.

The biggest perk is that you receive free alcohol, including beer, wine, and spirits, on most flights over 350 miles. The airline will serve passengers at most two alcoholic drinks or one canned cocktail at a time. There’s no official limit to how many drinks you can have over the course of the flight, aside from the crew’s discretion (in other words, if you’re showing signs of being inebriated).

Alaska Premium Class also comes with Group B boarding, which is with Alaska MVP members.

Get preferred boarding with Premium Class

Who gets Alaska Premium Class for free

While Alaska elite members receive unlimited complimentary first class upgrades on a space available basis, the reality is that those upgrades often don’t clear. One nice consolation prize is that elite members are also eligible for upgrades to Premium Class. However, there are some restrictions around which elite members can assign these seats in advance, and under what circumstances.

Here’s how access to Premium Class seating works for Alaska Mileage Plan elite members:

  • Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold 100K and MVP Gold 75K members can select Premium Class seats at the time of booking, except when traveling on X fares, when they can only select them up to two hours before departure
  • Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold members can select Premium Class seats at the time of booking when traveling on Y, B, H, K, M, L, V, S, or N fares; on Q, O, G, or T fares, they can select them up to 72 hours before departure, and on X fares, they can select them up to two hours before departure
  • Alaska Mileage Plan MVP members can select Premium Class seats at the time of booking when traveling on Y, B, or H fares; on K, M, L, V, S, N, Q, O, G, or T fares, they can select them up to 48 hours before departure, and on X fares, they can select them up to two hours before departure

MVP Gold 100K, MVP Gold 75K, and MVP Gold members, can all upgrade one companion traveling on the same flight in the same reservation. If a reservation includes more than one companion, it’s not eligible for complimentary upgrades. Meanwhile MVP members only receive upgrades for themselves, and not for a companion.

Just for some context, the X fare class is for Alaska’s Saver fares, which is the carrier’s version of basic economy. As you can see, higher tier elites can select Premium Class at the time of booking on most fares, while lower tier elite members have to book more expensive fares to select Premium Class way in advance.

Alaska Mileage Plan and American AAdvantage offer reciprocal upgrades. Here’s how access to Premium Class seating works for American AAdvantage elite members:

Elite members receive Premium Class as a perk

The cost to purchase Alaska Premium Class

For those who don’t have access to complimentary Premium Class seating on Alaska, it’s possible to purchase these seats any time from when you ticket your reservation until departure. The cost is dynamic, and varies based on demand. So you won’t find consistent pricing in any particular market, but rather it could change based on the day of the week, the time of day, etc.

However, pricing for Premium Class seats for any particular flight is the same, meaning there’s no difference in pricing between seats on the same flight (so middle seats cost as much as aisle seats, etc.).

To look at some of Alaska’s shortest and longest flights, I see Premium Class available for only $6 on the short flight from Seattle to Portland.

Alaska Premium Class pricing

Meanwhile I see Premium Class available for $115 on the long flight from New York to Anchorage.

Alaska Premium Class pricing

Is Alaska Premium Class worth it?

Obviously if you’re eligible for complimentary upgrades to Premium Class, you should absolutely take advantage of that, since it’s not costing you anything extra. But what about for those who have to pay for upgrades? I’d say it depends.

Regular economy seats are so tight nowadays, so for many people, an upgrade to Premium Class isn’t about some amazing luxury, but rather it’s about having a basic level of comfort while flying. If you’re at all tall and are in a financial situation to do so, I definitely think there’s merit to upgrading to Premium Class. If you’d otherwise buy a drink or two, the cost is also much easier to justify.

Just keep in mind that airlines often price first class pretty reasonably nowadays, so also be on the lookout for decent first class fares. In some cases they may only be marginally more expensive than an economy fare with a Premium Class upgrade.

Keep an eye out for reasonable first class fare

Bottom line

Alaska Premium Class offers an average of four extra inches of legroom, and it can certainly help make an economy flight more tolerable, given the limited pitch in “regular” economy. Fortunately most elite members are eligible for complimentary upgrades to these seats, but some might find value in paying to assign these seats, if they don’t otherwise have access to them.

What has your experience been with Alaska Premium Class?

Conversations (14)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. SeaFreq Guest

    @ben Just a clarification, "Premium Class is typically located in the first several rows of economy, and also at exit rows." Alaska sells exit rows differently and they aren't Premium Class; they're typically a bit less than Premium but they don't include perks, and their availability is a separate priority list than Premium Class upgrades (might be a whole separate article, actually). This differs from the way other airlines combine Premium and Exit.

  2. iamhere Guest

    Reasonable first class when traveling in the US.... I think you should explain this.

  3. DC not in DC Guest

    I am sitting on AS 619 PHX-SEA, then on to FAI tomorrow morning. As a Gold 75K, I can choose "premium" for free at booking, but I prefer Exit Row aisle, where I am now. AS puts all 3 lavs in the rear, so Premium have an incredibly long walk to pee.

  4. Jeffrey Guest

    I flew First - which should be better than Premium - from Vancouver to Seattle. However, the only premium element was the seat. Otherwise: NO lounge access (I continued on to Doha on Qatar Airways), NO drink(!) or snack. Their lame excuse: it's a short flight. C'mon! Thus, totally not worth it

    1. Derek Guest

      Hang on. You think it's reasonable to serve alcohol to Premium Economy on a 45-minute flight that crosses an international border? And you think you get lounge access on a partner airline when flying in Premium Economy?

      In Business/First, yeah, I would be annoyed. But Premium Economy is barely different than Economy, especially on a non-intercontinental flight. Oneworld lounge access policy is also very clear on requiring either Oneworld Sapphire or Business class to get...

      Hang on. You think it's reasonable to serve alcohol to Premium Economy on a 45-minute flight that crosses an international border? And you think you get lounge access on a partner airline when flying in Premium Economy?

      In Business/First, yeah, I would be annoyed. But Premium Economy is barely different than Economy, especially on a non-intercontinental flight. Oneworld lounge access policy is also very clear on requiring either Oneworld Sapphire or Business class to get into the lounge.

  5. Barbarella Guest

    Can you open the windows in case there's no individual air nozzles or they are non-functional?

    I've heard it's a feature in the main economy cabin on their latest 737-9s.

  6. Sean P. Guest

    I find the automatic upgrade process to be pretty inconsistent. I think it's only supposed to upgrade you to the same seat type (aisle to aisle or window to window), but even that doesn't seem to be a reliable predictor. Always worth checking even if you're supposed to get it automatically.

  7. DuaneU2 Gold

    I would rather have an aisle or window in Economy than a middle seat in Premium.

    1. BradStPete Diamond

      This was a HUGE issue for my 1K UA people...being "upgraded" to a middle seat from an aisle in main. Yeah No !

    2. Derek Guest

      Alaska allows elites to set those preferences. I have the setting enabled where if I'm Exit Row or in a window/aisle, I skip the Premium Economy upgrade. Exit Row has more legroom than Premium Economy, so I haven't taken Premium Economy for over a year now.

  8. STEFFL Gold

    ...... " having a basic level of comfort while flying "

    .. that was a good one, especially thinking of ANY US airline these days! ;-) i almost peed my pants, reading this!
    The country that loves to call things Premium but hav no idea what they are talking about!
    Champagne = cheap sparkling wine in reality
    FIRST CLASS = elsewhere this would just be about Business or Premium Class
    LOL...

    ...... " having a basic level of comfort while flying "

    .. that was a good one, especially thinking of ANY US airline these days! ;-) i almost peed my pants, reading this!
    The country that loves to call things Premium but hav no idea what they are talking about!
    Champagne = cheap sparkling wine in reality
    FIRST CLASS = elsewhere this would just be about Business or Premium Class
    LOL . . . you just made me laugh so bad, i was out of breath!
    Just flew KOA- MUC in "First"&Business . . . on a US and UK carrier, and i need to say . . . nothing was even close to earn this title in ANY way! Fare: US$ 5860,- OW shows, how much the people of this country like to "waste" there money, to try to be "ELITE".

    1. jedipenguin Guest

      The US is a third world country

    2. Derek Guest

      "FIRST CLASS = elsewhere this would just be about Business or Premium Class"

      Well US carriers don't sell "Business Class" tickets on domestic flights, unless it explicitly has lie-flat seats (like the American A321T between JFK and LAX). So you just need manage your expectations about a flight between Tucson and DFW.

  9. Daniel from Finland Guest

    What about Oneworld Elites? No free premium seats?

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

DuaneU2 Gold

I would rather have an aisle or window in Economy than a middle seat in Premium.

3
Derek Guest

Alaska allows elites to set those preferences. I have the setting enabled where if I'm Exit Row or in a window/aisle, I skip the Premium Economy upgrade. Exit Row has more legroom than Premium Economy, so I haven't taken Premium Economy for over a year now.

2
DC not in DC Guest

I am sitting on AS 619 PHX-SEA, then on to FAI tomorrow morning. As a Gold 75K, I can choose "premium" for free at booking, but I prefer Exit Row aisle, where I am now. AS puts all 3 lavs in the rear, so Premium have an incredibly long walk to pee.

1
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
5,163,247 Miles Traveled

32,614,600 Words Written

35,045 Posts Published