Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air has rolled out a roomier seat dubbed the “Giant Seat.”
It represents the latest way the airline industry has created new seating options for travelers willing to pay more for extra elbow room.
In the first row and the midcabin emergency exit row, the six Giant Seats on the carrier’s Boeing 757 offer more than 36 inches of legroom and a width of 25 inches, compared with a typical 17.5-inch width on Allegiant’s economy seats. The seats are locked in a semi-reclined position.
Allegiant was required under federal rules to install such seats so crew members can rest during long flights. But when pilots and crew are not using the roomier seats, the airline is offering them to paying passengers.
Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines is coming out with its own wider seats – 17.8 inches in width – when it debuts its Boeing 737 Max jets in 2017.
“Smart airlines are starting to look at their cabins almost like retailers,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst with Atmosphere Research Group.
“Their objectives are similar to retailers as well: maximize their revenue per square foot,” he said.
In fact, nearly every major carrier has an extra-roomy version of the standard economy seat.
Virgin America offers the “Main Cabin Select.” US Airways has the “ChoiceSeats.” The “Economy Plus” seat is offered by United Airlines. JetBlue has the “Even More Space” seat. Delta has “Economy Comfort” seats and American Airlines has “Main Cabin Extra.”
In addition to the Giant Seats, Allegiant has a new “Legroom +” seat with up to 34 inches of legroom, compared with the regular 30-inch space.
Allegiant charges about $40 to $50 more for the Giant Seats over the typical economy seat, depending on the route. The Legroom + seats are about $6 to $32 extra.
Alaska is top airline choice
Business travelers prefer flying Seattle-based Alaska Airlines over any other carrier, but Delta and United Airlines carry the most business travelers in the U.S.
Business travelers also love the gourmet sandwiches at Jimmy John’s eateries, but most of their expensed meals are eaten at Starbucks or McDonald’s.
These are among the findings of a new report by Certify, a Portland, Maine-based expense management company that processes 1.5 million business expense transactions each month.
Certify analyzes how much and where business travelers spend company money. But the firm also asks road warriors to rate the businesses they frequent while on the road.
Of all the food expense reports analyzed by Certify, the greatest number were at Starbucks (5.3 percent) and McDonald’s (2.8 percent). But Jimmy John’s got the top ranking, 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5, even though it did not make the top 10 list for total expenses.
Nearly 21 percent of all airline expenses were for flights on Delta, with 14 percent for flights on United, according to Certify. But when business travelers were asked to rank airlines, Alaska got the top score of 4.6, followed by Southwest with 4.3.
The top-rated businesses may not always be those that are most often used by business travelers because such eateries and carriers may not be widely available or may not be part of a corporate travel plan, said Robert Neveu, president and chief executive at Certify.
That may change, he said.
“More and more, travel managers are trying to use vendors that their travelers prefer,” he said.
Alaska Airlines hopes so.
“We’re always seeking new opportunities for business contracts, and we do have major business contracts with many large corporate customers throughout the Pacific Northwest and up and down the West Coast,” said Mark Bocchi, Alaska Airlines managing director of sales and community marketing.