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I had the opportunity to fly from LA to Seattle this past week, and sure enough, I ended up taking advantage of Alaska’s same day flight change, and moved onto an earlier flight that was equipped with a retrofit Airbus A320. These planes were once fit with Virgin America seats ( with seat back entertainment ) that featured two rows with impressively reclining first class seats, and are currently in the process of being removed and replaced. This was my first time experiencing the new cabin, and I thought I’d give my thoughts.
- When: June 2019
- Where: LA to Seattle
- Plane: Airbus A320
- Loyalty: MVP Gold
- Seat: 8D
- Upgrade: Preferred to Premium Class
A look at the seatmap via SeatGuru
If you see an Airbus with more than 2 rows of First Class seating, you’ll be on a retrofit plane.
In all honesty, when I changed flights I didn’t even pay attention to the plane type, cabin layout, etc so when I entered the plane and saw a brand new cabin I was shocked. Interestingly enough, my fiancee and I were invited to pre-board, and thankfully, this meant I’d get a great clear shot of what unveiled itself.
Here’s a look at the new first class cabin. Personally, I think they should have kept the seatback entertainment systems. In an era where airlines are removing them, it would have been great to see Alaska carve out its own place and stick to their guns. Unfortunately, they didn’t, and you won’t find them in 1st or economy.
Seat 8D. Alaska Premium class.
What do you get with Alaska Premium Class?
- 4 inches of extra leg room
- Priority Boarding
- A snack plus free beer and wine
- You can actually upgrade while onboard
The leg room is fantastic, and honestly, we were bumped up due to status, but you’re getting a solid 4 inches more than you’d normally get in economy, so if the price is within budget, it’s worth the extra cost to upgrade. Plus you get some goodies.
As mentioned, you’ll also get a snack, sodas, beer or wine, and then I received some chocolate as acknowledgement of my Gold status. You can see where you can afix a tablet. Cell phones can sort of lean backwards, but my 8Plus was too short to reach both top and bottom.
The menu for snacks, etc
You can stream movies, television, plus message without paying extra for service. It’s powered by Gogo and actually works from ground to ground, whereas other equipped aircraft in Alaska’s fleet only work once you hit 10k feet. A great new addition and one I took immediate advantage of.
Don’t forget, credit cards like the American Express Business Platinum come with 10 free Gogo passes every year. This flight was fairly cheap, at just $10, but many are upwards of $20, even $3o on the coast to coast flights. A great way to offset the annual fee.
I’m not THAT bothered with flying first class domestically, especially when you land a seat with this much leg room. There are of course exceptions to that rule ( I.E. Transcon lie flats ), but when you can score leg room with this much space…it’s pretty nice. I’m not dogging First Class domestically, as it is far better than what you’d get in Europe, but it’s not usually worth the premium they charge for a flight that’s only a few hours.
Is it worth paying more for Premium Class? Could very well be. If it were a 3+ hour flight. I’d heavily consider springing for it if it clocked in between $50 AND $75. The leg room is fantastic and you don’t have to worry about overhead bin space as you board early. While 3 people still occupy a row, the increased leg room is fantastic, and having a free beer doesn’t hurt.
Thankfully, I was upgrade, as was my fiancee, free of charge due to my MVPG status. One I hope to regain again this year.
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