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.
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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’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 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?