Gol to reconfigure five 737s with extra legroom seats

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Brazilian low-cost carrier Gol will reconfigure five Boeing 737-800s to boost the legroom of some seats on its Rio de Janeiro Santos Dumont-Sao Paulo Congonhas shuttle flights.

The reconfiguration will reduce the total number of seats on each aircraft to 177 from 183, says the airline. After the change, each aircraft will have 22 seats at the front of the cabin with a 34in seat pitch, up from 30in. These seats, to be branded Gol+Conforto, will have an additional 50% recline. They will be offered on the shuttle flights from 11 November.

"These seats will provide the best comfort in the market on the shuttle service," says the airline.

Before the reconfiguration, these seats already had more elbow room as the middle seat in each row on either side of the aisle was blocked off, says a Gol spokesperson. As a result, the seats in these rows are in a 2-2 configuration while the remaining seats on the aircraft are in a 3-3 layout.

Gol's spokesperson says the new reconfiguration is in response to customers' feedback. He declines to specify Gol's investment in the project, but says the project does not represent a big expenditure. "It's simple work and can be done overnight," he adds.

The extra legroom seats will be offered free of charge to Gol and Delta Air Lines' elite frequent flyers, while other passengers can pay Brazilian reals $30 ($13.20) for the seat subject to availability. Delta and Gol have a codeshare partnership and Delta has invested $100 million in the Brazilian carrier.

As part of the reconfiguration, the remaining seats on the five 737-800s will also get an additional inch of legroom, from 30in to 31in, says Gol.

Gol operates several shuttles a day between Rio de Janeiro Santos Dumont and Sao Paulo Congonhas, schedules in Innovata show. Competitor TAM also operates several flights daily on the shuttle route, which has a flying time of about 1h. Avianca Brazil, and to a lesser extent Azul, also serve the route.