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Alaska Airlines unveils new first class seats for narrowbody aircraft

28 Feb 2019 by Craig Bright
Alaska Airlines narrowbody first class

Alaska Airlines has unveiled a new first class seat product that will be rolled out across its narrowbody fleet starting this year.

The new seats, which are marketed as first class but are essentially a business class product, form part of the airline’s wider retrofit of its narrowbody aircraft cabins that will also include enhanced premium and main cabin seats, a new colour palette, mood lighting and high-speed wifi, among other features. Retrofitted aircraft will also see their first class and “Premium Class” cabins expanded to include 12 and 24 seats respectively.

Alaska Airlines narrowbody first class

Developed by German manufacturer Recaro, the new first class seats have been designed to “evoke the feeling of both performance and comfort, like a luxury car”, Alaska Airlines said in a press release.

Alaska Airlines narrowbody first class

The seats will be laid out in a forward-facing 2-2 configuration and will feature a sculpted design with memory foam, a 40-inch pitch, footrests and six-way adjustable headrests. Sadly, the design doesn’t appear to offer lie-flat recline – a rarity on narrowbody aircraft but a feature that has seen some uptake among airlines recently.

Philippine Airlines rolled out a new fully flat business class seat product for its Airbus A321neo aircraft last summer, while Panama’s Copa Airlines has new fully flat seats on board its Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft. Singapore Airlines’ regional subsidiary Silkair, meanwhile, is in the process of developing lie-flat seats for its B737 Max 8 aircraft with manufacturer Thompson Aero.

Alaska Airlines’ new seats will be fitted to the carrier’s fleet of A319, A320 and A321 aircraft in phases starting this year, and by early 2020 the carrier expects 36 per cent of its mainline fleet to feature the new cabin. This will include the airline’s entire Airbus fleet as well as its B737-700s and three new B737 Max 9s.

Other features of the retrofitted narrowbody cabins include:

Upgraded premium and main cabin seats with memory foam…

Alaska Airlines new narrowbody cabins

…a refreshed colour palette with neutral tones, blue mood lighting that changes hue throughout the flight to aid sleep, high-speed wifi so passengers can stream videos from services such as Netflix or HBOGo…

…in-seat tablet and smartphone holders…

…cup holders in first and premium class, USB and power outlets at each seat…

Alaska Airlines new narrowbody cabins

… and a new West Coast-inspired onboard music programme.

Alaska Airlines’ cabin refresh follows the integration of Virgin America into the mainline Alaska brand after it purchased the Virgin carrier in 2016.

“Just two years after acquiring Virgin America, we’re thrilled to introduce a modern cabin that aligns the onboard experience across our fleet,” said Alaska Airlines president and COO, Ben Minicucci.

“After extensive feedback from our guests and in collaboration with our partners, we’ve infused the Alaska Airlines cabin with key brand elements from Virgin America – the result is a premium experience at an affordable price.”

Last year, Alaska Airlines opened its first lounge on the US East Coast at New York’s JFK Airport. A new flagship lounge at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is due to open “in the next few months”, while a new San Francisco lounge is slated to open in 2020.

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