Southwest unveils wider seats

Southwest Airlines is giving passengers a little more room for their bottoms.

On Tuesday, the Dallas-based carrier unveiled a seat that is 0.7 inch wider and will be installed on new Boeing 737-800s to be delivered starting in mid-2016 and on the new Boeing 737 MAX in 2017.

“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 chief commercial officer, said in a statement.

The seats feature the “Bold Blue” color that Southwest debuted last fall with its new aircraft livery.

Despite the added width, the two planes will still have 175 seats, the same as Southwest’s current 737-800. But the new seats are lighter, saving about 200 pounds on the aircraft.

The airline does not plan to retrofit its 737-800s and older 737-700s with the new seats. In 2012, it announced plans to spend $60 million to retrofit its 737-700s with a new “Evolve” interior that had smaller seats and allowed Southwest to squeeze six more seats into the cabin.

Developed by B/E Aerospace, the new seat is 17.8 inches, up from 17.1. It has an adjustable headrest and two backseat pockets, one for Southwest’s promotional and safety materials and the other for passenger items.

The new seat is also upholstered with the same eco-friendly recycled leather that Southwest uses today and has horizontal stitching to make the seat appear wider.

B/E Aerospace unveiled the seat design, called “Meridian,” at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, on Tuesday. It will be available for other airlines to order.

Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631

Twitter: @Sky_Talk

Seat sizes

Southwest’s new seats on its Boeing 737-800 planes will be 17.8 inches wide. How that compares with other airlines:

▪ American, Delta and United Boeing 737-800s: 17.2 inches

▪ American’s Airbus A321: 18

▪ Delta’s McDonnell Douglas MD-88: 18.1

▪ JetBlue’s Airbus A312: 18

▪ Japan Airlines’ 737-800: 17.3

▪ KLM’s 737-800: 17

▪ Qantas’ 737-800: 17.2

▪ Spirit’s Airbus A318: 17.75

▪ Virgin America’s Airbus A320: 17.7