Sky Talk

Southwest unveils new seat for Boeing 737 MAX

Southwest Airlines unveils a new seat to be used on its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft starting in 2017.
Southwest Airlines unveils a new seat to be used on its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft starting in 2017. Star-Telegram

It’s a little wider and a brighter blue.

On Tuesday, Southwest Airlines unveiled a new seat that is 0.7 inches wider than its current seats and features the “Bold Blue” color that the Dallas-based carrier debuted last fall with its new aircraft livery.

“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,” said Southwest chief commercial officer Bob Jordan in a statement.

The seats will only be installed on its new Boeing 737-800 aircraft deliveries starting in mid-2016 and on the new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that are scheduled to arrive in 2017. Both aircraft types will have 175 seats, the same number that are currently on Southwest’s 737-800. But the new seats are lighter, saving about 200 pounds of weight on the aircraft.

The airline does not have any plans to retrofit its existing 737-800s and older 737-700 aircraft with the new seat, Southwest said. In 2012, the carrier announced plans to spend $60 million retrofitting its 737-700s with a new “Evolve” interior that had smaller seats allowing Southwest to squeeze six additional seats on the airplane.

Developed by B/E Aerospace, the new seat is 17.8 inches wide with a “C shape” design compared to the 17.1 inches and “L shape” design Southwest has on its current seat. It has an adjustable head rest and two backseat pockets, one for Southwest’s promotional and safety materials and another for passengers’ 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. The seat design, called “Meridian” was debuted by B/E Aerospace at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg Germany earlier this morning and will be available for other airlines to order.