Ultra-low-cost airline Allegiant Air has from early June been trialing a premium economy seat. According to the carrier, the configuration will see out the summer.The Las Vegas-based budget airline is best known for its championing cheap fares and extra charges. In June it began an assay of its “Allegiant Extra” seats on a selection of flights out of LA. The move brings Allegiant, at least temporarily, into line with other LCCs offering premium economy, such as Floridian dime-a-dozen Spirit Airlines.
The Points Guy remarks that Allegiant Extra is offered only for a handful of flights out of LAX and on just three of the airline’s A320s. After the LAX phase, Allegiant plans to continue the trial on flights from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The new high-caliber array is located towards the front of the all-coach cabin. The configuration includes a further six inches of seat pitch, softer seats, priority boarding and a complimentary drink.
Allegiant Extra cost
Allegiant’s second-in-command Drew Wells revealed that the premium seats, which would take up the first five rows of the cabin, had been in the test phase since June 5th.The jury is out however on how much passengers will have to pay should the scheme be a success. The Points Guy quotes an additional $45 for an Allegiance Extra seat from LAX to Missoula. USA Today points to a similar surcharge for travel between Los Angeles to Bentonville.
Most industry analysts believe such a surcharge is not unreasonable, and amply matches the cost of a superior economy cabin a few years back.
Writes The Points Guy the carrier is seeing “mixed” results from its “Extra” program. Mr. Wells admits to there being an understandably higher demand for the posh seats on Allegiant’s longer flights than its short-haul point-to-points. But he is nevertheless optimistic.
“If we come out of this winter and can’t piece it all together, we’ll have no problems,” said Drew, hinting at the fact that should Extra not work for the airline the seats the cabins will revert to coach-class. “But I do feel it’s going to be successful.”
The budget airline was founded in 1997 and was then called WestJet Express. Since its inauspicious birth, it has grown to be the ninth-largest commercial airline in the US. The airline’s customer base consists primarily of northern sun-seekers.
Its relatively small fleet reaches a greater number of subordinate destinations than other airlines.The company created the biggest name for itself by its penchant for ancillary billing. Almost half of the airline’s ticket revenue comes from supplementary products such as booking, first bag checking and the assignment of a seat.
In addition, Allegiant actively encourages its customers to book their hotels and car hire through the company at the same time as they book their flight.
In an interview with Fast Company in 2009, the carrier’s boss Maurice Gallagher said of the model of his teaser airline: “We collect $110 from you at the end of your trip. If I tried to charge you $110 up front, you wouldn’t pay it. But if I sell you a $75 ticket and you self-select the rest, you will.”
The model mirrors that of Ryanair, which also seeks to supplement ticket revenue with ancillary products.