Alaska Airlines Updating Boeing 737-800 Cabins With New Seats

Alaska Airlines Updating Boeing 737-800 Cabins With New Seats

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While Alaska Airlines is modernizing its fleet by taking delivery of new Boeing 737 MAXs, the airline is also updating the cabins of some existing aircraft, which passengers will no doubt appreciate.

Alaska Boeing 737-800s get more first class seats

Alaska Airlines currently operates a fleet of 59 Boeing 737-800s, which are an average of nearly 16 years old. It sounds like these planes have quite a bit of life left in them, as the airline will be investing $130 million to update the interiors of these aircraft in the coming years.

The main part of this project is expected to start in late 2024 and be completed by 2026. So, what exactly is changing?

  • Currently these planes have 159 seats, including 12 first class seats, 30 extra legroom economy seats, and 117 standard economy seats
  • Once reconfigured, these planes will have 161 seats, including 16 first class seats, 30 extra legroom economy seats, and 115 standard economy seats
  • Alaska will be installing an improved version of the seats found on Boeing 737 MAX 9s; you can expect first class to have 40″ of pitch with a footrest and seat back device holder, while extra legroom economy will feature 35″ of pitch

More first class seats are always great news in terms of upgrades, and it’s nice that the extra legroom economy cabin will remain the same size. Of course this means that the space has to come from somewhere, though, so only time will tell how that plays out.

Alaska’s 737-800s currently have pretty tired interiors. Back in 2022, Alaska had intended to update the interiors of these jets — a few planes did end up getting reconfigured, but it was a minor cosmetic update. The airline ended up pausing that project, and I assume that’s because Alaska decided on a new plan, which is what’s happening now.

There’s another interesting wrinkle to this. In the coming months, Alaska plans to do a cosmetic refresh to some 737-800 cabins, to make them look a bit more modern. So some planes will get updates twice in the next few years, which is an interesting way to go about things.

Alaska will update its Boeing 737-800 interiors

Alaska’s quirky Boeing 737 MAX 8 interiors

This is where it gets weird. As I wrote about earlier, Alaska has just taken delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX 8. The 737 MAX 8 has an identical cabin size to the 737-800, as it’s simply the updated version of the jet, with better fuel efficiency and range.

Alaska will take delivery of a total of five 737 MAX 8s between now and March 2024. These planes feature an interim interior with 159 seats, the same number of seats as on the 737-800. However, starting in the second half of the year, newly delivered 737 MAX 8s will feature the new interiors with 161 seats. Eventually the five initial 737 MAX 8s will be reconfigured with those updated interiors.

That sure is a strange way to go about things, though I suspect this comes down to supply chain issues, or something, as that seems to be an issue plaguing the entire industry.

Alaska Boeing 737 MAX 8s will also feature these interiors

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines will be updating the cabins on all of its Boeing 737-800s between late 2024 and 2026. 737-800s will get a net increase of two seats, with four extra first class seats, the same number of extra legroom economy seats, and two fewer economy seats. You can expect an improved version of the seats found on existing 737 MAX 9s, so this should be good for passengers.

What do you make of Alaska updating its 737-800 cabins?

Conversations (16)
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  1. Justin Guest

    Do they have plans to retrofit 737-900s and 737-900ERs?

  2. Florida Sunshine Guest

    Ben,
    Not on the subject you are writing about, but you should do a review trip of Dutch Harbor, Alaska from flights, airport approach / take off, hotel, food, history and seafood industry. I think it would be very interesting. If not a post, could you email me back if you have any insight on this.
    Thank you,

  3. BAM Guest

    The 5 MAX8s with 12F won’t be the old seats, but the same as the MAX9. The interiors will all look like MAX9, just with the seat counts of the old 800s.

  4. Michael Guest

    Upgrades are always appreciated. My suggestion for an upgrade would be the installation of larger restrooms. As a big man I have difficulty utilizing the first class race restroom. A wider seating area would be enjoyable.

    1. Kelley P Diamond

      Yes, absolutely. I'm not all that big, and I sure find the restrooms to be so small as to be difficult to maneuver in!

  5. Douglas Guest

    I just the 737-800 in F. While the interiors are old school with a strange macrame Alaska Airlines monument at the head of the cabin, the seats were the most padded and comfortable I have been on. I would have no complaints flying on this seat on a transcon. The are probably more heavy than the seats they are using for the retrofit.

  6. JetBlueFanboy Gold

    It’s going to be weird to see a brand-new 737 MAX with those old-style (and thicker) seats flying around. Other than that, maybe they’ll use the 159-seater version for longer flights such as their upcoming ANC-JFK route. But, I have to wonder, does having 2 seats less really increase range that much?

  7. Steve Guest

    Alaska is adjusting their cabin configuration to meet demand. Our family flies them frequently and virtually every time I go to select seats Main Cabin is heavily booked or booked solid, Premium is not and there are passengers on the list waiting for seats who aren't elite and eligible for an upgrade. That means Alaska is giving away free Premium seats to non elites when they could be selling more first class tickets and/or accommodating...

    Alaska is adjusting their cabin configuration to meet demand. Our family flies them frequently and virtually every time I go to select seats Main Cabin is heavily booked or booked solid, Premium is not and there are passengers on the list waiting for seats who aren't elite and eligible for an upgrade. That means Alaska is giving away free Premium seats to non elites when they could be selling more first class tickets and/or accommodating more elites. Given I consistently see first class on west coast routes for as little as $50 over the cost of main cabin (but no upgrade space) the plan looks to be to reduce the price of first to where they can sell all or most of the cabin to cash customers. So while it's good to see more first seats I would not expect it to result in more availability of upgrades thought it's good news for solo travelers, (those not anyone using a companion coupon), who are willing to buy up.

  8. DCJoe Guest

    Nice, just flew on one of these older -800s, and the little niceties of the newer interiors really showed in their absence. In particular, in economy, having the smaller overhead bins, where you can't put bags on their sides, meant 20+ people had to gate check (per multiple announcements before boarding), and not having the tablet holders/USB chargers in the seatback at eye level. Glad they will be getting all that.

  9. Dave Guest

    They have really generous pitch in F which makes a huge difference for comfort but the lack of a tablet holder for IFE is really frustrating.

  10. Sharon Guest

    Good, increase first-class seats. Higher revenue generation. We can see that Jetblue is missing out on a lot of revenue without first class, while Alaska has been doing good with it. (I know But 6 has mint. but its deployed on competitive routes with long ranges).

  11. Due Guest

    So with 121 seats in Main Cabin, there will be at least one row with 2 seats?

    1. That Guy Guest

      Just a guess. Likely the first exit row will only have 2 seats on either side, and the last row will have only 3 on one side due to galley/lavs.

  12. Asdf Guest

    Yeah I have to think they needed the Max 8 in service to start ANC-JFK and the plan became to worry about the interior later.

    I think the old F seats are more comfortable but they are old at this point and more is better.

  13. Willem Guest

    Maybe those 5 planes w/ 12 First seats will do the especially long routes like JFK-Anchorage? (Or, fingers crossed for Anchorage to Tokyo someday! Altho I figure that will probably run into Russian Airspace issues at present)

    1. Aric Guest

      A straight line from Anchorage to Tokyo just skims the edge of Russian airspace. Just swinging a little wide would add like 50 miles to the journey and keep the plane hundreds of miles away from Russia.

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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.

Steve Guest

Alaska is adjusting their cabin configuration to meet demand. Our family flies them frequently and virtually every time I go to select seats Main Cabin is heavily booked or booked solid, Premium is not and there are passengers on the list waiting for seats who aren't elite and eligible for an upgrade. That means Alaska is giving away free Premium seats to non elites when they could be selling more first class tickets and/or accommodating more elites. Given I consistently see first class on west coast routes for as little as $50 over the cost of main cabin (but no upgrade space) the plan looks to be to reduce the price of first to where they can sell all or most of the cabin to cash customers. So while it's good to see more first seats I would not expect it to result in more availability of upgrades thought it's good news for solo travelers, (those not anyone using a companion coupon), who are willing to buy up.

3
Michael Guest

Upgrades are always appreciated. My suggestion for an upgrade would be the installation of larger restrooms. As a big man I have difficulty utilizing the first class race restroom. A wider seating area would be enjoyable.

1
That Guy Guest

Just a guess. Likely the first exit row will only have 2 seats on either side, and the last row will have only 3 on one side due to galley/lavs.

1
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