First class is coming to Allegiant Air, the super discount airline. Yes, you read that right.
The airline is installing six first class-style seats on its fleet of six Boeing 757s, which mainly fly to Hawaii from Western U.S. cities. There will be four seats at the first door to the plane — called 1L — and two more seats at the second door, called 2L. All you’ll get is a bigger seat. There will be no first class catering or any other fancy amenities.
“They are about the size of a pretty standard first class seat,” Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler said. “I wouldn’t say they are at the high end of first class seats, but they’re comfortable, much bigger than the standard economy seat.”
This is more of an experiment than anything else. The Federal Aviation Administration changed its crew rest rules on Saturday, a move that essentially required Allegiant to install two relatively comfortable crew rest planes on its 757s for the Hawaii flights, if it wanted to continue scheduling pilots as it does now. To keep non-flying pilots comfortable, two of the seats will have especially nice recline, as well as foot rests.
It’s a bit complicated, but Allegiant will only need those crew rest seats on certain flights. So we’re when they’re not used, Allegiant will sell them at a premium.
Of course, that only accounts for two of the premium seats. The other four — which will not be quite as comfortable and won’t have footrests — seem to be a bit of a ploy to see if the airline can gain extra revenue.
“It was not our intention to do this,” Wheeler said. “The crew rest rules created an opportunity. We knew we would have to put these two seats in anyways. So we put them in and added the other seats.”
Wheeler said the changes will be made as Allegiant updates its 757s with new “slimline” seats in the coming months. She said is isn’t sure what the carrier will charge for the fancy seats.
“We’ll probably play with that a little bit and adjust as we see what the demand is for them,” she said.
The rest of the airline’s 65 or so planes — A319s, A320s and MD-80s — will remain in an all-coach configuration.
UPDATE: Perhaps I should have made it more clear that, while these seats are similar to domestic U.S. first class seats, Allegiant is not going to be branding them as a true first class. I expect them to be more like Spirit’s Big Front Seats. On Spirit, another ultra low cost carrier, you get a larger seat, but not much else.