It’s Not Your Imagination: First Class Is Getting Bigger

Doesn’t it feel like the long way back to economy class is past rows and rows of premium cushioned seats?

As more leisure travelers are willing to pay more for more seats, more legroom and better food in premium economy, first and business class, airlines has profited by reconfiguring its cabins to accommodate more of these more expensive comfortable seats. Existing routes use larger planes with more expensive seats.

The move is significant, with major U.S. airlines expanding premium seats on some of their fleets by 25 to 75 percent.

Leisure travelers have started upgrading in earnest as the pandemic eases, according to David Slotnick, who follows the airline industry at travel website. point guy. Some passengers still feared an airborne virus and were willing to pay more because they felt safer with a little more space between them. And after months of not spending any travel money, there was a significant amount of latent demand.

Slotnick said that because business travelers didn’t fly, the price of premium seats fell during the pandemic, giving leisure travelers a chance to experience life ahead of the plane in first, business and premium economy seats. said. Airlines have noticed the appetites of these customers and set prices as high as possible while keeping prices affordable, he said.

Overall ticket prices also increased sharply increased Inflation is rising and travelers are scrambling to make up for lost time. At the same time, previously delayed business trips are starting to pick up again.

Airlines see this shift in demand as an economic boon, said co-founder Chris Lopinto. expert flyer, seat maps, availability of cabin upgrades, and other information for frequent flyers. Aircraft are being upgraded with more premium seats to increase revenue per flight, Lopinto said.

According to Marc Mullen, United’s managing director of identity, products and loyalty, the cabin renovation project is planned over several years, taking into account factors such as the age of existing interiors and customer demand and expectations. It is said that there is Helene Becker, an aviation analyst at investment bank Cowen, said airlines don’t take the task lightly because it requires aircraft to be taken out of rotation.

For example, United Airlines has increased its domestic premium seat capacity by 25% overall since early 2019, including Economy Plus and First Class. In North America, there will be more than 53 premium seats per flight by 2026. United Airlines has expanded the number of business class seats from 30 to 46 on some of its international flights by removing some economy seats. Passengers are most likely to experience these changes on United Airlines cross-country flights (between San Francisco and Newark, for example) or flights to Hawaii, according to an airline-data analytics firm. Kirium.

Americans are planning More Premium Economy and Business Class seatsThe company’s Boeing 777-300ER, 787-9 and Airbus A321XLR aircraft will all offer more premium economy and business class seats. The aircraft are typically used on long-haul international and transcontinental routes, according to the company, but a schedule of network routes for 2024 has yet to be set, and that’s when changes will start to show. It says.

Delta plans to offer 15,000 more premium economy or business class seats per day than it did pre-pandemic, the company said. Delta’s 767-400 has removed 20 economy class seats and 6 business class seats to make room for a 20-seat premium economy cabin. Some A330 models have removed 16 premium economy seats and replaced them with 21 business class seats. According to Cyrium’s analysis, customers are likely to see the change on Delta’s transatlantic routes, and possibly domestic routes such as New York to Los Angeles and Atlanta to Honolulu.

Some of the most cushioned seats just got even more plush. Delta One’s “cabin” Available on select international flights, they feature full-height opening doors, plus flat beds and other amenities.

The premium cabin may be expanding, but it’s still going to cost you if you want to lie back and enjoy these new seats. In early May, we conducted a sample round trip from New York to Los Angeles on three major airlines. The first week of June started at around $300 for Economy, $900 for Premium Economy and $1,200 for Business.

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