Low-cost carrier Allegiant Air will add six larger seats to its Boeing 757 aircraft as a result of adhering to new pilot rest rules.
These “giant” seats will be larger than the standard seats on the 757s today and will replace three rows containing three seats each in the bulkhead and exit rows, says an Allegiant spokesperson.
The first of six 757s began flying with the larger seats earlier this week, says the airline, nothing that it has not included the “giant” seats as an option for passengers to purchase just yet. In addition to the new seats, Allegiant will outfit the 757s with the same leather slim-line seats available now on its Boeing MD-80 models. The 757's total seat count has been reduced from 223 seats to 220 in the process.
The decision to add the new seats was driven by the US Federal Aviation Administration’s new flight and duty time for pilots that went into effect on 4 January, Allegiant says. The new rules require the carrier to install the roomier seats for pilots to rest on flights with augmented crews of extra pilots.
Under the new rules, pilots on part 121 carriers are limited to flying between eight and nine hours depending on the time of day.
The carrier underscores that the larger seats do not represent a move to introduce a premium cabin, but rather an opportunity to capitalise on a change required by the new FAA mandate.
“It’s not changing our business model,” says the airline.
Allegiant flies its 757s from Honolulu and Maui, Hawaii to cities in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona, a flight map on its website shows.
Because the 757 is the only type of aircraft in Allegiant’s fleet that may fly for more than 8h at a time round trip, the rest of the aircraft in the carrier’s fleet will not need to be outfitted with the new seats, the airline says. Allegiant plans flights so that its crews return to the airline’s hub in Las Vegas after round trips instead of overnighting in other cities.
Allegiant passengers today can pay a fee of up to $75 to guarantee seats in exit rows and bulkheads where the giant seats will now be installed. Pricing for the new seats has not been disclosed yet. Two of the seats would be reserved for the members of the augmented crew on applicable flights, while all six would be available when a regular crew of two pilots is flying.
“We are hoping probably in the next two months we’ll have the seat map live on the website,” says Allegiant, noting that this deadline is a moving target because the configuration requires FAA approval and some aspects of the plan need to be finalised.