Here’s A Look At Alaska Airlines’ New “Cabin Experience”

a row of seats in an airplane
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Alaska Airlines has recently unveiled the refurbished interiors of its Airbus aircraft that it eventually plans to roll out across its entire fleet and the airline is keen to show off what passengers can expect onboard.

When Alaska Airlines bought Virgin America it took over Virgin’s Airbus fleet which had very little in common with what Alaska already offered inside its Boeings – what we’re seeing now is supposedly a compromise between the two.

Here’s what Alaska has revealed:

  • Refreshed color palette from the updated bulkhead design to the carpet, bringing in neutral tones that are associated with relaxing environments against pops of Alaska’s signature blue.
  • Ambient mood lighting with calming, cool blue hues developed by lighting and color experts to complement the human body’s natural circadian rhythm. The result is lighting that changes throughout the flight to promote an uplifting energy during the day and calming energy into the evening.
the inside of an airplane with blue lights
Alaska Airlines new cabin interior – Image courtesy of Alaska Airlines
  • Advanced high-speed satellite Wi-Fi by Gogo will deliver faster connection speeds, including the ability to stream content from popular services like Netflix or HBOGo.
a woman pointing at a tablet on a plane
Alaska Airlines new cabin interior – Image courtesy of Alaska Airlines
  • Redesigned first class Recaro seats that evoke the feeling of both performance and comfort, like a luxury car. The sculpted design features memory foam and a 40″ pitch, along with footrests to support guests of varying heights.
people sitting in an airplane with a laptop and a woman on the lap
Alaska Airlines new First Class seats – Image courtesy of Alaska Airlines
  • Ergonomically-friendly tablet holders at each seat that accommodate most tablets and smartphones. The holders free up tray table space and an added shelf keeps devices in prime viewing position. Flexible mesh pockets also allow for easy access to essentials during the flight.
a phone charging on a seat
Alaska Airlines tablet holders and USB power – Image courtesy of Alaska Airlines
  • Upgraded premium and main cabin seats now feature memory foam for added comfort.
  • Conveniently-placed and tilted power outlets at every seat (USB & 110V) that allow guests to easily locate and charge two devices at once. The electrical boxes under the middle seat have been relocated to provide more personal space for guests.
a group of chairs with a pocket in the back
Alaska Airlines power outlets and flexible mesh pockets – Image courtesy of Alaska Airlines
  • Curated, onboard music program with a cool West Coast vibe that complements the relaxing and modern ambiance.
  • Cup holders throughout first class and premium class, so that guests can multi-task while they savor a craft beer, wine, or cocktail and have full use of the tray table.

Alaska’s A319’s, A320’s and A321’s are all being upgraded this year in a series of phases and the airline expects 36% of its mainline fleet to offer the new cabin interior by “early 2020″ – this will include all the Airbus aircraft, the airline’s Boeing 737-700s and 3 new Boeing 737 MAX9 aircraft.

It’s interesting to note that The new First Class cabins (which will have 12 seats) will offer seats with 40″ of pitch compared to the 55” which Virgin America offered….but then Virgin America offered 4 fewer seats upfront.

Alaska has also followed American’s lead by stripping out the personal IFE screens that Virgin America’s aircraft offered in both cabins so passengers will now be expected to board with their own devices if they wish to make the most of any entertainment on offer – not great for families who may not have a mobile device for each person in their party.

Bottom Line

I suspect these new cabins (which look perfectly nice) will get mixed reviews and I expect the split of like/don’t like to be almost exactly the same as the split of legacy Alaska fliers and Virgin America Flyers.

Overall these cabins are probably an upgrade on what Alaska has offered up to now (the First Class seats and foot rests look to be a particular improvement) but I can’t see the die-hard Virgin America fans being overly impressed.


  1. Will the 737-800,900’s also have only 12 seats in FC? I’m guessing yes since they’re expanding pitch to 40”. That’s 4 fewer seats in FC, which does not make me happy.

    • I don’t have a definitive answer to that question but don’t forget that pitch won’t be the only factor to influence the size of the FC cabin – it will probably come down to how many Economy Class seats Alaska wants in the back.

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