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Alaska Airlines Offers Upgrades to Premium Economy, and Gets it Just Right

Alaska Airlines has opened up its Premium class cabin for loyalty upgrades. It has done so in such a way that it both preserves the revenue value of First Class for last-minute sales and ensures that more of its frequent flyers are satisfied.

Why would Alaska Airlines offer upgrades to Premium Economy? It’s a clever balance that leaves the airline free to maximize revenue while offering loyal customers an unexpected perk.

The airline says this approach offers its frequent flyer members access to 150 percent more upgrades.

“This will be especially beneficial to our most loyal customers,” said Ryan Butz, Alaska’s managing director of loyalty marketing. “Now our elite Mileage Plan members can enjoy one of their favorite benefits more frequently.”

Alaska offers different Premium Class configurations in keeping with aircraft types.

Aircraft TypeFirst Class seatsPremium Class seatsMain Cabin seats
  • The airline’s 737-800, -900, and -900ER aircraft are being retrofitted with new seating.
  • All 737-800s and E175s will have Premium Class by Jan. 5
  • All 737-900/900ERs will be upgraded by the end of 2017.
  • Premium Class will also be available on E175 aircraft.

This infographic from Alaska Airlines details the experiential features of the three cabin classes onboard. 


Elite members of Alaska Airlines’ loyalty program will be automatically upgraded free of charge to First class and Premium class when available.

The airline is also making upgrades to Premium class available for purchase for a small fee ranging from $19 to $79, based on the length of the flight and availability.

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