By Dana Niland
Spirit Airlines says it is adding more space to its cabin.
The low-cost carrier has unveiled what it’s calling new, more comfortable seats that provide “additional legroom.”
Spirit’s new seats, created by UK-based Acro Aircraft Seating, integrate “state-of-the-art” design features, including thicker padding, ergonomically-designed lumbar support, and additional pre-recline.
“Last year I signed a pledge to look at every facet of our guest experience and determine where we could improve,” said Ted Christie, Spirit Airlines’ President and Chief Executive Officer. “This investment in our seats and onboard experience is a direct result of that commitment, and it also allows us to enhance our product value while maintaining our industry-leading cost structure. We have listened to our guests, and we are responding with these new, more comfortable seats.”
Middle seats will also gain another inch of width, and every seat will gain nearly an inch of pre-recline compared to Spirit’s current seating configuration, with exit rows adding even more.
Spirit’s new seats, padded with lightweight foam and made of a composite skeleton, will add comfort without increasing weight, maintaining high fuel efficiency on Spirit’s Fit Fleet.
The new, softer seats include a full-size tray table and an elevated literature pocket and are designed in a matte-black color with border stitching in Spirit’s signature yellow.
Installation of the new seats will begin in November and continue through 2020 on all new Spirit deliveries.
In addition, Spirit is adding comfort to its “Big Front Seats,” the company said.
Spirit’s updated Big Front Seat will feature a new ergonomically-improved headrest with plush memory foam, additional memory foam in the seat cushion for comfort and thigh support, and sleek Spirit-branded aesthetic with yellow and black stitching.
“We also believe it is time for our industry to rethink the concept of seat pitch, a metric many industry experts and aviation media have called antiquated and misleading, given the broad differences in seating measurements that more directly affect passenger comfort,” Christie said. “Our research shows that many Guests not only misunderstand the concept of pitch, but strongly believe that comfort derives from usable legroom. Our new seats now offer more usable legroom with their innovative design.”
Partnering with the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors, Spirit Airlines says it conducted in-depth analysis on the ergonomics and comfort of the new seats.
The seats were designed to curve gently around a guest’s back to create a comfortable posture and make available more usable legroom.
The study showed that most people, from a sampling of more than 1,000 air travelers, did not know the true definition of “seat pitch,” the space between a point on one seat and the same point on the seat in front of it.
“Pitch is an outdated industry term for measuring seat comfort, as it does not consider a range of important key factors like seatback curvature, seat width, cushion thickness, and usable space,” said Steve Barraclough, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors. “The ‘Usable Legroom’ metric is the distance from the center of the back of the seat cushion to the outer edges of the seat in front. We believe this metric provides a potential basis that all airlines could calculate and could offer the passenger new, evidence-based information about the potential comfort of the seat.”
Spirit has been on a rapid expansion push in the Caribbean, particularly out of Orlando.