Southwest had what it called an “especially amazing” announcement this week. The big news? The airline is introducing a new seat on its aircraft. Now the question is… is this going to be good? I have no idea.
All we know is that Southwest has decided its uncomfortable Evolve seats aren’t good enough (something the rest of us decided about 5 minutes after first sitting in them), so it’s going to roll out a new seat which was developed by B/E Aerospace. The new seat looks like this:
Looks like a seat, right? In fact, it’s a slimline seat a lot like many others out there. B/E does make a good slimline seat, but this is a new seat and of course Southwest will customize it. That’s why I can’t tell you if this is good or bad. It may look fine, but the single most important thing about an economy seat is whether or not it’s comfortable. And that I won’t know until it’s actually on an airplane… more than a year from now.
There are a few things that we can take away from the announcement, some good and some bad.
- File this under good-ish. Southwest claims these are the widest economy seats on a 737. Uh, great, but most people don’t know or care what kind of airplane they’re on and A320s can (and do) easily accommodate wider seats. But still, these are .6 inches wider than most other 737 seats so I guess that’s a plus. But guess where that extra width comes from? At least some of it comes from the narrowing of the armrests. I think seat width is probably more important than armrest width, in general, but again we’ll have to see how this feels. A tiny, flimsy armrest might be really annoying.
- Seat pitch will be 32 inches, which is better than most airlines (save JetBlue, which is at 33 inches) are offering with slimline seats.
- The seatback pocket is moving from being at your knees to the top of the seat. With 32 inches of pitch, that means there will be good legroom and you won’t feel claustrophobic at your head.
- The seat will have adjustable headrests. I’ve never actually found a helpful or comfortable adjustable headrest in coach, but maybe this will be the one. Or maybe not, but it’s not a bad thing to have.
- The biggest win here? It is NOT that horrid Evolve seat. But that leads us into the bad list.
- This may not be the Evolve seat, but it’s only going on newly-delivered aircraft. Those hundreds of 737s that already have the torture chamber on them today? They aren’t getting new seats.
- No power ports will be in these seats. Seriously? I mean, not even a USB port. That’s a big mistake.
- These won’t be installed on the first airplane until over a year from now.
Looking at all these pros and cons is great, but is it comfortable? That’s really what matters when it comes to an economy seat, and we just don’t know. We’ll have to revisit this next year sometime.
[Seat photo via Southwest Airlines]