Allegiant Airlines announced it will add 16 seats to its MD-83 aircraft, a move that will increase seating capacity from 150 to 166 people. The 48 MD-83s comprise the majority of its fleet, but there are also a handful of smaller MD-87s that won’t be refurbished.
Increasing the capacity means Allegiant will need to add a fourth flight attendant to its MD-83s.
Naturally, one would assume that adding so many seats would necessitate a reduction of legroom. Not so, says Allegiant. Director of Allegiant Corporate Communications Jordan McGee told AirlineReporter.com, “Our current seat pitch varies by aircraft because of different configurations, but our average is 30-32 inches. We also have quite a few seats at 33 inches and then some upwards of that, depending on the aircraft. Once we make the conversion to 166 seats, each seat will be between 30-32 inches.”
If this doesn’t make sense to you, well, you’re not alone. It seems completely illogical that an airline could increase capacity by 10 percent but keep legroom unchanged. I suppose Allegiant could take out the galley and add seats to the rear, but there hardly seems room for 16 seats back there. (Editor’s note: I contacted Allegiant for more details on the matter, but as of press time hadn’t heard anything. I’ll update the post if and when I do).
Which is not to say Allegiant is blowing smoke here, just that details would be nice, and are currently lacking. Still, I think it’s fair to take Allegiant at its word, at least until the reconfigured planes roll out.
Either way, the point here isn’t comfort, it’s revenue. In its announcement, Allegiant’s president Andrew C. Levy says, “This project effectively increases our capacity by 11 percent while lowering our cost per seat.” And you know what, if Allegiant can do that without sacrificing customer comfort in the process, good for Allegiant. Hopefully that’s what’s happening here.
(Update: Allegiant’s Director of Corporate Communications, Jordan McGee, responded to me last night. Here’s what she said: “Seats will be added by reconfiguring existing layouts, in some cases by removing unused galleys or relocating galleys and lavatories. Our current seat pitch does vary by aircraft—currently we have most seats in the 30-32 inch range, with some seats on some aircraft having a slightly larger pitch (some seats have 35 inches, for example). Once the reconfiguration is complete, all of our seats will fall within the 30-32 inch range.”)