Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Finally, an airline gets it: Southwest selects larger seats for new 737s

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines announced that it has selected innovative new seats for its future 737-800s and 737 MAX aircraft that will give its passengers (wait for it) … more room!

Southwest (NYSE:LUV) announced that, in partnership with Boeing (NYSE:BA), it will be the first to roll out the new next generation seats on new Boeing 737-800 aircraft beginning in mid-2016 and on the 737 MAX aircraft at its projected launch in 2017.

Next-gen seating
The seats, designed and engineered by B/E Aerospace, embody a number of features that will give passengers more room. A “C” shaped design, raised rear beam and curve in the lower rear seat allow for increased shin and leg clearance while thinner armrests and a wider seat give passengers approximately 0.7 inches of additional hip room.

"The new aircraft seats are the widest economy seats available in the single-aisle 737 market, and offer a unique design that gives our Customers what they asked for: more space," Bob Jordan, Southwest's executive vice president and chief commercial officer, said in a statement introducing the new seats.

View showing raised info pockets
A raised information pocket gives passengers more space for personal device usage and storage.

New seats will be upholstered in eLeather, a composition leather made of natural leather fibers and manufactured using eco-friendly technology including state-of-the-art techniques which recycles 95 percent of the processed water, and converts its own waste streams into energy. Seat color will be a variant of Southwest’s Bold Blue, introduced when the airline introduced its Heart livery in September 2014.

The seats are also lighter than existing options, allowing more fuel-efficient operations.

The additional space will be most welcome by the airline's passengers. According to SeatGuru.com, existing seats are 17 inches wide, among the narrowest in the U.S. airline industry. However, most of the carrier's passengers will still find themselves wedged into those narrow confines, as the carrier does not intend to retrofit its existing fleet of 665 Boeing 737 aircraft with the new seats.

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Photos provided by Southwest Airlines
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