Here is Alaska Airlines' new first class (okay, business class) seat

By David Flynn, March 4 2019
Here is Alaska Airlines' new first class (okay, business class) seat

Alaska Airlines will begin flying its new domestic first class seat – which the rest of the world knows better as ‘business class’ – from this month, along with high-speed WiFi suitable for streaming video above the clouds.

The new first class seats, supplied by Recaro but redesigned for Alaska Airlines, are set to a 40” pitch and padded with memory foam.

From tip to tail, tablet holders – which can be adjusted to suit a smartphone – take the place of in-seat TV screens: Alaska Airlines is not the first to go down this path when it comes to its domestic fleet, and it certainly won’t be the last.

Pleasingly, even the economy seats have their own AC and USB sockets, both of which have been conveniently located on the seat-back rather than being tucked away between or under the seats.

To make the most of that BYO tech, Alaska Airlines is ramping up the installation of a faster Gogo Internet service, which should feature on most of its Airbus and Boeing fleet by next year.

The cabin’s refreshed colour palette adopts relaxing neutral tones with pops of Alaska’s signature blue, while the ambient lighting similarly works its way through “calming, cool blue hues developed by lighting and color experts to complement the human body’s natural circadian rhythm… to promote an uplifting energy during the day and calming energy into the evening.”

As part of the upgrade, Alaska Airlines will standardise the first class cabin of its single-aisle Airbus and Boeing jets to 12 seats (the old Virgin America Airbus jets had eight first class seats, but with 55 inches of pitch) and a 24-seat Premium Class section.

The unified seat and cabin will sweep away the last vestiges of Virgin America, which Alaska Airlines bought out 2016. The cabins will also be fitted to Alaska’s factory-fresh Boeing 737 MAX 9 jets, the first of which is due out of the hangar mid-year.

Alaska Airlines says that a third of its fleet – including all Airbus jets obtained through the Virgin America take-over, plus Boeing 737-700s and three new Boeing MAX 9 planes – will sport the new seats “by early 2020”, although there’s no timeline stretching beyond that for the remaining two out of three jets.

Clearly on a roll, Alaska Airlines also plans to open an all-new flagship lounge at its Seattle-Tacoma Airport hub mid-year.

Perched on the rooftop of the North Satellite terminal, the sprawling 15,800ft² (1,400m²) space boasting a cocktail bar, fireplace and sweeping views of the runways and Mt Rainer. As to the design, the airline suggests you think “living room with a barista”.

Qantas’ top-tier Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers plus Qantas Club members are able to use  Alaska Airlines lounges at Seattle and Los Angeles provided they are travelling on an Alaska flight which connects to or from a Qantas international flight – a non-uncommon pattern for Australian business travellers headed to the home of Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing and other giants.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 653

Looks OK but, like everything with Alaska Airlines, it doesn't really constitute something extraordinary. It's a shame much of the innovation for which VX was famous has been lost following the AS takeover.

AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 293

I always have a giggle when US carriers call their domestic premium cabin as "First Class".

I have a giggle too, until you try to book one of those flights using points and the program wants to bill you the full first class points rate, rather than the more appropriate business class rate, given the experience it provides.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Jul 2014

Total posts 58

Yes, agree entirely. Despite the woeful exchange rate, cash remains the best option for most domestic F flights in the US - prices are far less than J in Australia, and the SC earn on AA can often be quite lucrative.

05 Dec 2018

Total posts 147

Yes I booked a ‘First class’ LAX-SFO leg with AS later in the year. It ended up cheaper than an economy ticket + 2 checked bags.


AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 293

And conversely it’s nice to get F class status & points when you book $$$ ticket eg AA flight number under QFF. But my giggle is more about it being so American, on the lines of imperial measurements. All good.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Nov 2018

Total posts 91

Yes, expensive with points but paid fares are fairer than Australian domestic J class

05 Dec 2018

Total posts 147

Anybody here tried the new AS ‘first class’ seats yet ?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1387

So the business (First) IFE holder is built into the tray table? Doesn't look as sturdy as the seatback model in economy.

I like it!

QF

25 Feb 2014

Total posts 20

Looks good, basic, but good. Anyone know why they have installed airbag belts on these seats? Seems odd.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1387

Airbags possibly just the Row 1 bulkhead seats. Can't see a pic of subsequent rows.

Suspect that was needed to get certification.


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