Canadian airline WestJet adds premium economy class

The Canadian airline, one of the country's first low-cost flying carriers, announced on August 1 that it will be adding areas with extra legroom combined with convenience features across its entire fleet.

The premium economy seating will include a new configuration with four rows of extra legroom. Premium economy class clients will also get priority boarding as well as complimentary on-board amenities. The airline does not offer a first-class cabin; the new premium class will create another category of ticket prices from the standard economy.

The changes will start to be introduced this month and will be completed by the end of December. WestJet is also standardizing the seat pitch for the remaining rows (31 to 32 inches or 78 to 83 centimeters) bringing them in line with North American competitors. WestJet serves 80 destinations in North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

Airlines' new approaches to prices

Airlines around the world have been increasingly introducing additional fees to the consumer for new services and products such as checking bags, preferred seating and priority boarding, as they struggle to maintain competitive.

A report from Ideaworks consultancy published back in June shows that 50 large airlines collected $22.6 billion from ancillary revenue, including additional fees for services provided during flights but also from bundled hotel, car and tour arrangements. According to figures by the Transportation Department, domestic airlines in the US alone generated $3.4 billion in revenue from checked bags in 2011, a substantial increase compared to the $464.3 million in 2007.