Last updated: 01:36 PM ET, Wed April 15 2015

Southwest Airlines Gives Passengers Room to Breathe with Wider Seats

Airlines & Airports | Donald Wood | April 15, 2015

Southwest Airlines Gives Passengers Room to Breathe with Wider Seats

Inside the wide: A look at Southwest's new wider seats. (courtesy Southwest Airlines)

Talk about going against the grain. At a time when airline plane seats are getting smaller and thinner, we're hoping Southwest Airlines starts a new trend.

There are few things as uncomfortable as squeezing into a cheap seat of an aircraft, but Southwest is changing the game by adding the widest coach cabin seats for any Boeing 737 in the United States.

According to Southwest, the company has decided on which seats it will use for the next crop of planes being added to their fleet. The Boeing 737-800 and 737 MAX aircraft deliveries are expected in the middle of 2016 for the former and 2017 for the latter.

The new seats were designed by B/E Aerospace and are wider than any current seat in the economy class on the market. Not only will the seats be wider, but they will also feature an adjustable headrest, increased legroom and more storage area.

Southwest Airlines executive vice president and chief commercial officer, Bob Jordan, released a statement about why the company is making improvements to its fleet:

“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. Serving as the launch customer for this seat is just one of several upcoming milestones related to our bold, new look launched in September of last year, and is specifically aimed at enhancing our Customer Experience.”

As for how the airline itself benefits, the lighter weight of the seats will help with fuel efficiency.

The seats will measure 17.8 inches and will be the largest in the class. As pointed out, the new seats would be wider than Southwest’s current 17.1-inch seats and bigger than the current economy class leader, United Airlines at 17.3 inches.

TravelPulse Founder Mark Murphy will be on Money with Melissa Francis at 2:50 p.m. on April 15 talking about Southwest’s new wider seats.


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