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WestJet to Add Premium Economy; Looks Like It May Actually Be Here to Stay

Canadian carrier WestJet announced that they will be adding a Premium Economy section to their entire fleet, with 4 rows of seats with 36″ pitch being implemented in all aircraft.

The bad news comes at the end of that release where they say that they will now make the rest of the cabin 31″-32″ “in line with North American competitors.” Translation: Bye-bye 34″ pitch. That’s a bummer (well, not for me – I’ve never flown WestJet. But it’s a bummer for those who do.)

Meanwhile, JetBlue said that they will add two additional rows of premium seating to their Embraer 190 aircraft (if you’re keeping score at home, you’ll get 38″ inches of pitch in Rows 1 & 12, and 39″ in rows 13 and 14).

Now about a dozen years after United introduced Economy Plus seating, North American airlines are embracing the idea of a premium economy product (or at least the option of selling – or giving to elite level flyers – additional legroom in coach. No one has Premium Economy the way that Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Air New Zealand and others have it as a separate class of service). At this point United, Delta, Frontier, Spirit, JetBlue, WestJet, Virgin America and, in the near future, American, all offer some sort of additional legroom in coach option. For those of us over 5 foot 6 inches tall, those extra 3 or 4 inches of legroom make a tremendous difference on longer-haul domestic flights. I don’t need first class for a flight to Denver, but 36″ of pitch in Economy makes that trip far more bearable than crammed in a 31″ suitcase. Good to see that airlines make the investment.

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