Fresh off my ride in Nice Class from Louisville, I continued my trip to New Orleans in Breeze Airways Nicer Class. Compared to Nice, “Nicer” fares include a carryon, checked bag, and extra legroom seats in the fare. I paid $89 for this leg, a $50 premium over the base Nice fare on this route. So is the upcharge worth it?
Note: click the link to my Nice Class review above for basics on Breeze Airways fare classes and amenities. Click here for the trip report summary and introduction.
Breeze Airways (MX) Flight 202
- Monday, December 13, 2021
- Depart: Charleston International Airport (CHS), Gate A2, 17:54, 6m early
- Arrive: New Orleans – Louis Armstrong International Airport (MSY), Gate A1, 18:41, 24m early
- Duration: 1 hour 47 minutes
- Seat: 2F (Nicer Class)
- Equipment: Embraer 190
Check-In and Boarding
I checked in online the day before with no trouble. (Strangely, though my PreCheck didn’t work departing Louisville, I did get it leaving Charleston.) The plane I arrived on from Louisville continued on to New Orleans; thus, I didn’t have to worry about a late arriving inbound aircraft. With 2+ hours to spare, I headed over to The Club at CHS to kill some time. I’ll have a review of the lounge in a future installment. Boarding began on time, and this time, the gate agent did follow group numbers. I ended up being one of the first passengers onboard, and settled into my window seat up front.
Before heading to the gate, I snapped a photo of our E190 basking in the evening light.
Breeze Airways Nicer Class – Seating and Interior
The main perk of the “Nicer” fare is access to the extra legroom seats for free. Normally, these cost $30 each. Breeze’s Nicer seats consist of 12 rows of extra legroom seats in a 2×2 configuration. Needless to say, 48 out of 108 seats sure is a premium-heavy configuration. Most Nicer seats have 33″ of pitch, though the exit row (Row 11) checks in at 39″. Width remains the same as standard Nice seats, at 17.6″. Nicer seats are also differentiated by the red trim, compared to the yellow on the Nice seats.
As with the Nice seats, the refurbished interior does still have that new plane look, with a clean, stylish look.
Needless to say, legroom is far superior in the Nicer seats. In fact, it seemed better than the advertised 33-inch seat pitch suggests. Legroom felt comparable to other extra legroom products like American’s Main Cabin Extra, etc.
As a point of comparison, these are the extra legroom seats on American’s A321S and Delta’s A320, respectively. It felt about equal to Main Cabin Extra, but more spacious than Comfort+.
And here’s how it compares to its LCC arch-rival, Spirit’s Big Front Seat. Legroom was comparable, though the BFS is wider at 20″.
Unfortunately, the increased pitch doesn’t do much to fix the seat comfort issue. As mentioned in my Nice Class review, the lack of padding makes for tired thighs quickly. I hope Breeze uses better seats in its A220s, because these won’t be pleasant for longer flights. Also remember, the seats don’t recline, even the Nicer seats.
What did help was the empty seat next to me, giving me extra room to stretch out. In fact, I saw but a handful of Nicer seats occupied, with the plane about half full in total.
Breeze Airways Nicer Class – In-Flight Entertainment
Like my Nice Class flight from Louisville, the answer is – nada. Not even a USB port to charge your phone. Which makes sense, of course, since it was the same plane.
Breeze Airways Nicer Class – Food, Beverage, & Service
For now at least, the food and beverage selection on Breeze is decidedly simple. As a reminder, here’s the menu in both classes.
Nicer fares include one drink and one snack as part of the fare. It’s not clear from the card, but the complimentary snack does NOT include the snack box, only one of the “a la carte” snacks. So Chex Mix and Sprite it was.
I overate badly in Louisville, and already had plans for beignets in New Orleans, so I found the offering good enough.
Note that while anyone can pay $30 for a Nicer seat, the flight attendant did verify that I had bought a Nicer fare when taking my food and drink order. So sorry, no sneaking in a free soda on this airline.
Service was great on this leg. Prior to departure, the captain came into the cabin to make his announcements and thank everyone for flying Breeze. I found out later, after receiving a post-flight survey, that the airline expects this as a matter of course. (My guess is the corny dad jokes was the captain improvising, though.) The FA serving the front of the cabin was friendly and attentive. Though the lights were turned out quickly after meal service, the FAs made a couple of passes for trash.
So as far as the actual hard and soft product, Nicer Class is decent enough. But I couldn’t help but shake a feeling…
This Seems Like a Guaranteed Money-Losing Proposition
I get that Breeze wants to define itself as a more premium/user-friendly version of Allegiant, the ULCC with the closest business model. In other words, infrequent service between secondary destinations serving primarily leisure traffic. Breeze also offers a larger selection of extra legroom seats than just exit rows, doesn’t charge the junk “electronic carrier usage charge” for booking online, and offers a much simpler flat fee for bags. And of course, the ability to avoid the middle seat entirely with the 2×2 configuration.
But I have trouble wrapping my head around the extra premium-heavy configuration. Selling 48 out of 108 seats as extra legroom – more than 40% of the total – seems like a bold bet. I guess Breeze thinks enough people will pay $30-50, either for just the seat or the Nicer bundle, to make money. That didn’t seem true on either of these flights, though. In both cases, the Nicer seats went out almost completely empty. And I’m just not convinced you’ll find enough people in the airline’s target market willing to pony up. (In fairness, the E195 configuration makes more sense to me, with 22 out of 118 seats extra legroom.) I have a feeling many of those Nicer seats will end up assigned to people for free by default on full flights.
Breeze is also missing some easy layups to make the product more compelling. For starters – why can’t the “tech company that happens to fly airplanes” offer in-flight entertainment? This would actually be a meaningful differentiator over Allegiant, which offers none. And for that matter, provide an easy enticement to buy up to a Nicer fare or pay for a seat. They could, for example, offer free streaming content and power ports in these seats.
Breeze Airways Nicer Class – Final Thoughts
Personally, I do like the Nicer seat, a spacious alternative to the usual bone-crunching ULCC cheap seats. However, I’m just not sure I get the economics of this product. I have a hard time believing the premium-heavy E190 configuration will attract buy-ups from the cost-conscious travelers Breeze targets. While I really hope Breeze succeeds – I do think there’s a market for a “more humane” ultra low-cost carrier – I just think the product mix needs a little tweaking. And yes, the “tech company that happens to fly an airline” really does need to live up to its moniker better…