Allegiant’s passenger base is big on savings. But it is not just about saving money. The carrier sees strong demand from travelers looking to save time thanks to nonstop flights between smaller markets. And they’re willing to pay, both for the convenience of that flight, and to be a bit more comfortable on board.
The airline is, not surprisingly, keen to help those passengers willing to pay. To that end, the upcoming 737 MAX fleet will feature even more rows of “Allegiant Extra” seating with additional space on board than the rest of the fleet.
While the A320s are retrofit with five rows of Extra on board, the upcoming 737 MAX 8200 deliveries will have ten rows of the extra leg room seats available to sell. This includes the first five rows on board as well as five rows around the over wing exits.
Chief Marketing Officer Scott DeAngelo confirmed the new seating plan at the Future Travel Experience Global conference in Las Vegas this week:
One of the key urban legends about Allegiant is that as an ultra low cost airline the people who fly don’t have any money. When we ask our customers which airline they last flew, about a third answer Southwest, a quarter Delta, a fifth American and 15% United. Less than 10% of our customers have ever flown Spirit or Frontier.
That was a wake up call that we needed to have a cabin experience that was on par within the network carriers and Southwest. With he extended legroom option, more comfortable seats, and just overall refurbishment of flooring and everything, we think we can liken our cabin experience to that of the just about any [US] airline out there.
In the test markets the company previously flew, DeAngelo says the aircraft brought in an average of $800-$1000 in additional revenue per flight, even after accounting for the seats removed to create the Allegiant Extra product. He expects that number to increase with the additional seats available to sell on the MAX fleet, though the company won’t have a “before” case without the extra legroom option against which it can compare.
“The experience is just so much better. And we absolutely have a customer base as shown in the test willing to pay for that.”
DeAngelo also notes that a large share of passengers buy up via the company’s bundles, rather than choosing the ancillary products a la carte. That bodes well for the company’s profitability goals with the Extra offering, as it has some flexibility in how it positions legroom as part of the overall trip cost. “We have a lot of customers who fly us for the non-stop. So they pay the $50 base fare and then tack on 100-150 bucks for a bundle including picking seats. Soon they’ll see these Extra seats in there as an option as well.”
Increasing revenue is a positive for the company, but reducing costs is equally important. And the new seating delivers on that as well. The reduced weight of the new seats helps the company save significantly on fuel burn. That they’re more comfortable, with a real tray table for passengers, is almost an incidental benefit for the airline.
Finally, all passengers on the airline’s upcoming 737 MAX fleet will see another passenger experience improvement on board. The carrier plans to have in-seat power available on those planes as they join the fleet.
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