Caribbean Airlines has joined the ranks of other international airlines by introducing a premium economy cabin.
Dubbed “Caribbean Plus”, rows 4-10 on their Boeing 737-800s will be outfitted with new seats which are expected to be a bit more comfortable than the seats in regular economy class. They will feature 37 inches of pitch versus the average 32 inches, as well as extra legroom to stretch your feet out.
Passengers will have preferential boarding as well, and will be able to board as a separate class behind business class customers, even though we do not really see a stark difference here as the gate agents currently usually board economy customers in sequential format.
Based on the description (rows 4 through 10), it appears that business class may be losing a row to make space for the newer ‘Plus’ seats as their present 737-800 configuration has 4 rows of business class seats. Currently, their fleet of 737-800s offer 16 recliner-styled business class seats (4 rows with a 2-2 configuration) and 138 economy seats (23 rows in a 3-3 configuration).
Travelers can expect to pay between US $25-35 dollars (plus taxes) depending on their origin and destination. Here is a breakdown of how those charges work:
Flights between the Caribbean and North America cost USD 35.00 extra except in the following cases:
- Flights between Jamaica and Nassau to/from Orlando and Ft Lauderdale which cost USD 25.00
- Flights between the Caribbean to/from Jamaica and Nassau cost USD25.00
- The price for flights originating out of Canada is CAD 45.00, with the exception of flights originating out of Canada with a stopover, where the price out of the stop over point is converted from USD to the equivalent CAD based on the rate of exchange of the day.
As with other premium economy programs, these prices are applicable per flight, which means that if you have a round trip ticket and want to fly in Caribbean Plus both ways, you are going to have to purchase upgrades for each direction. This class also does not attract a bonus on top of miles earned on the economy fare, and earned miles cannot be used to purchase upgrades to Caribbean Plus (versus business class).
One thing worth noting is that row 10 does not benefit from any recline as it is near the emergency exit, even though you will still benefit from additional leg room and earlier boarding.
Caribbean Airlines seems to be responding to both market demand and competition by offering competing products already offered via other airlines serving the Caribbean, including American Airlines, WestJet, United, Delta, and others.
As the airline is in the process of retrofitting these seats, it’s hard to say from now which routes will benefit from the upgrade first. I have a trip planned with them later this year and if I am lucky to get an aircraft with this option, I will be sure to try it out and post a review of it then. This will be a great opportunity to compare it to what American Airlines offers on their 737 MAX 8 as we also have a scheduled trip report coming up for that as well.