Sun Country is scrapping first class, introducing 'slimline' seating

The $20M overhaul was announced on Wednesday.
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Sun Country is eliminating first class tickets and packing more seats onto its planes as part of an interior refresh.

The Eagan-based airline announced the change on Wednesday, with CEO Jude Bricker saying it's in response to a lack of demand for first class tickets.

Under the refresh, first class will be removed from its larger, 737-800 planes and replaced with "slimline" premium economy seating that will take the capacity of its Boeing 737s up to 183 passengers.

Currently its 737-800s seat up to 168.

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 12.19.13 PM

Above is a look at the projected layout, showing first class will be replaced by a number of premium economy seats.

These will offer extra legroom and a complimentary drink, but doesn't come with the complimentary meal that first class passengers enjoyed.

There will be a selection of extra legroom seats, as well as typical economy seats.

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The $20 million changes, which will be introduced by November/December, will also see free in-seat power and streaming entertainment in all seats.

Sun Country, now owned by a New York private equity firm, recently came in for criticism when it stranded passengers bound for MSP in two Mexican airports after heavy snow closed the Twin Cities airport.

Will it mean less legroom?

It's hard to say, given that the "pitch" range (the gap between seating rows) will vary hugely between planes and configuration.

The Star Tribune reported that the "pitch" – ie. gap – between seating rows will range from 34 inches at the front to 29 inches at the rear under the changes.

Currently, Sun Country planes have an average pitch of 36-37 inches in first class and 29-33 inches in economy on 737-800s.

In an email to Bring Me The News, Sun Country argues that there will be more seats with generous legroom than there is currently.

The pitch range will be between 29-39 inches under the new configuration – with the 39 inches presumably for those in exit rows.

Under its existing system, Sun Country says 40 percent of its seats have a pitch range of 29 inches or below, while only 15 percent are at 34 inches or above (mostly first class).

Under the changes, Sun Country says more than 20 percent of seats will be at 34 inches or above, while only 29 percent will be at 29 inches.

Given it's increasing the total number of premium economy seats on the plane though, it's not surprising that the proportion of 29-inch seating would lower as a result.

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