Southwest just announced it’s time for a change to aircraft interiors after 8 years, among other things. How will that impact comfort on flights to Hawaii? In a word, unsure. The airline will revamp their cabins on 737 MAX airplanes that will soon be delivered. Southwest has more than 500 of these aircraft on order.
We are already left wondering whether or not the seating will be as comfortable as is currently the case of Southwest Hawaii flights. While overall comfort isn’t great now, as is true throughout the industry, the airline does offer the most economy-class legroom of any airline flying to Hawaii.
We hope that is still the case a year from now when the new seats and aircraft configurations debut. After all, why install German-brand Recaro 3710 variant seats that are lighter (about 17 pounds each) and thinner if you aren’t also trying to add more passengers? The design came together under guidance from London-based Tangarine.
“A world-leading aviation design consultancy. We have created some of the most innovative and beautiful cabin interiors flying today and solved some of the most complex puzzles in aircraft seating design in the industry.”Tangarine
Southwest said “The design is based on extensive research covering Customer and Employee perceptions of color, comfort, and their aspirations for the overall onboard experience. The design brings to life Southwest’s warm energy with deep blue tones, sky blue accents, and a nod to the Southwest Heart woven throughout the carpet.”
Southwest has not indicated that they will have more than the current 175 seats per plane. So at least for now, there’s no clear indication of more or less legroom ahead. No matter which way that goes, you’ll be pleased to know that Recaro says of their seats, “high comfort is possible even at low pitches.”
Comfort on Southwest Hawaii flights of five plus hours is of utmost importance.
We can fly easily for two or three hours on hard seats, but it gets infinitely more challenging to be comfortable on longer flights to Hawaii.
New seats look to be as comfortable as sitting on a rock.
The highlight of the upgrades planned will be these new Recaro brand seats. We’ve heard people say that these may not recline (we can’t confirm that) and that they will be as comfortable as flying on Frontier Airlines, which is a joke. Frontier also uses a slightly different variant of the same Recaro seats. These also look similar to what Hawaiian has used for years interisland on their Boeing 717 fleet. With Hawaiian flights, we are only seated on them for about a half hour, which is hugely different than five or more hours to Hawaii.
For sure, the seats look extremely thin (photo above) and less padded, as is the way things are going nowadays to increase cabin space while reducing aircraft weight. We’ve found Recaro seats, whether in economy or a premium cabin, to be extremely uncomfortable. On the other hand, the current 737 MAX seats on Southwest are already quite uncomfortable for the long duration of Hawaii flights. So we don’t know if what the future holds will be worse or not.
Other features of the Southwest upgrade.
The plane seats will each be equipped with personal device holders, not unlike those found on Hawaiian’s Airbus A321neo. That’s a nice touch that has been missing, especially since Southwest also offers no seatback entertainment. The seats will also feature an improved, highly adjustable headrest for comfort and support.
Power outlets en route to all Southwest Airlines planes.
As has been known for some time, the company is adding USB (A and C) ports to all of their planes, including retrofitting those already in service. They don’t plan to add AC power, however. The issue with most USB outlets is that even though they can charge many current-generation laptops, they may not have enough power to do so. It also isn’t clear what power supply boxes may be needed seats to provide the new power offering.
Are you happy with the news of this Southwest overhaul?