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Meet EVOLVE: The New Southwest Interior

‎01-17-2012 11:03 AM bjordan1
‎01-17-2012 11:03 AM

One of the most satisfying aspects of my job is to work alongside my colleagues to plan and execute exciting major companywide strategic initiatives. I’m pleased to report significant progress that we’ve made recently on one of these, which is a fleet modernization plan to ensure that we maintain a safe, efficient, and Customer-friendly fleet. Last month, we made a huge announcement regarding the evolution of our planes with the 737 MAX expected to join the Southwest fleet in 2017. Today, we have more big news regarding the interior of our Boeing 737-700s. Allow me to introduce you to EVOLVE: The New Southwest Interior, an eco-friendly, cost-efficient new look for our cabin with an emphasis on comfort and personal space.

We will begin retro-fitting our Boeing 737-700 aircraft with the new interior this March, and we expect to have that done by the end of next year (2013).

EVOLVE will maximize the space inside our planes, and grants us the opportunity to increase the number of seats on board from 137 to 143, without sacrificing the Customers' personal space. In fact, sleeker seats will provide additional space under each seat for carryon luggage and approved pet carriers. To be clear, it was never our objective to add a row of seats, and the extra row isn't the main reason for this redesign. Once we examined how much space would be saved, it was determined we could accommodate the increase, without sacrificing comfort.

Spirit Seats

Remember the Green Plane?  The materials tested on the Green Plane are being incorporated into the Evolve interior.  Each seat is lighter by nearly six pounds, which adds up to a savings of 635 pounds per aircraft (even with the extra row) and is expected to result in more than $10 million in ongoing annual cost savings.  The new seats are made using E-Leather, an eco-friendly, lightweight, and scuff resistant alternative to traditional leather. E-Leather is made from natural leather fiber that is upgraded and combined with a high performance core utilizing eco-friendly technology.  The seat cover is manufactured by Irvin Automotive of Pontiac, MI, and they produce high quality covers quickly and at a much lower cost than our current manufacturer.

The new design also makes the bottom cushion lighter and more comfortable. These seats are better for your back, and provide better lumbar support.

Spirit Headrest

We're also installing a fixed wing headrest on each seat that will provide for a more relaxing experience, especially if you decide to take a snooze.

Evolve Seatback Pocket

We've replaced the seatback pocket with a netted pocket that's not only more form-fitting to the seat which allows for more knee room, but also makes it easier to see what items have been stowed in it.

Evolve Carpet

Additionally, we're rolling out some new carpet… well, quite the opposite actually. Completely recyclable, carbon-neutral carpet will be laid in squares, rather than rolls, which eliminates the need for total carpet replacement. The new carpet will reduce labor and material costs and is fully recyclable at the end of its life-cycle.

Under the seat, we're replacing our current life vest pouches with lighter, more environmentally-friendly pouches.  This is also one of the main reasons you'll have more space under your seat: each pouch is smaller and about one pound lighter.

As you can see, the redesign is inspired by Southwest's past with a nod to its future (and our commitment to being a Green Company). Natural, earthy tones combined with our Canyon blue and clean, aluminum accents give our Red Bellies a more modern, fresh appeal.

Spirit Tray Table

So about those extra seats: we hope to start making those additional seats for sale on here by the end of the first quarter, for travel in the second quarter. Of course, this isn't as easy as flipping a switch; we will gradually introduce those extra seats into the system as newly retro-fitted planes come online. Needless to say, we’re excited to EVOLVE our cabin experience!

love the new seating with 2 seats on one side. That always works out for my husband and I as we are old and retired, do travel on your airlines though.
Is this redesign going to reduce the amount of seat pitch? As a 6'5" man, I am really really hoping you say no.
So, I read the entire article and cant find a comparison to the leg room previously vs. the new. What was the width of seat before, and what is it now? Congrats to you for this move if it does not take away ANY leg room, width, or persona space. I don't know how you would accomplish this without the removal of a Galley or etc.
Sounds good. When you remove the old seats from the planes are you selling them? A lot of people might like to have Southwest seating in their lobbies or rooms in their homes.
And another airline succumbs to the slim-line seats. I guess I'll be standing a lot more on the longer flights. I just told someone the other day that southwest had the most comfortable coach cabin of all US domestic carriers. Should have known that was too good to last.
I'll reserve judgment until I actually experience flying in the new interior, but I wish you had foregone the extra seats in favor of extra leg room. For us long legged travelers, even fractions of inches can make a difference!
Maybe it would have been even better to use that extra room to increase the space between the seats instead of adding more seats. More leg room for your customers would have been much more impressive than adding more peole on the plane.
What is the width of these "sleeker" seats and how does that compare to before?
So - an extra row of seats. Not wider seats. Just more seats that are too narrow for average people. Yours were uncomfortably narrow, but Jet Blue were not. Guess who I'll be flying with.
Once again, the people in the aisle seats get jipped on space for carry-ons under the seat in front of them. The aisle seats have always had the thinnest space for carry-ons, and sometimes you can't put your carry on and your feet there at the same time.
I noticed that you intentionally left out the fact that the seats are the same or if indeed they are smaller what's up with that. I fly SW almost excclusively & you did a real good job of keep that fact out . So what say ye are the seats small or are they the same. You devoted patron.
New Arrival Aaron_Kalina
New Arrival
It looks great...however, in this digital age, why not spend the money to add USB ports and/or A/C plugs at ever seat? It can't cost that much more considering you are redoing the entire inside of the airplane.
Very nice look but what about the pitch of the seats?
Looks nice, but I'm concerned about the "personal space" you are talking about. Im 6'4", so hopefully will have no less leg room in this new configuration.
I wish more elements of the Boeing Sky Interior were incorporated...particularly the new overhead bins and LED lighting. I also feel those netted seatbacks are going to rip and tear often, although I do like them.
Are the seats going to be so small a heavy weight person has to buy another seat because the new seats will not accomadate their size?
Southwest has always put safety first, so I will only fly with them...I wanna be around for my kids
More seats? Really? How many of us are you going to CRAM into the cabin? Why not add more leg room? I'm an A-List member, and fly often. I'M NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO MORE SEATS ON BOARD. PLEASE RE-THINK THIS BEFORE YOU START DOING THE REMODEL!!!!
Why didn't you use the extra space to add a couple of extra large seats for your 300lb. Passengers instead of continuing to make the regular size people sitting next to them suffer? If you used the space for 3 seats to hold two larger seats, charge one and a half times the regular fare you wouldn't lose any money and if there weren't enough large people on a given flight, you could sell those seats to someone wanting the extra room and willing to pay for it. Be what southwest is known best innovator! And I do love you best of all
I started flying SWA because of the great rewards program. That changed, and not in a good way. I do like the business class boarding very much; that was a good change. SWA has always had the most comfortable and roomy seats in the industry. If it wasn't broken, why fix it? Your airline has been making money where others are failing, and your employees are always friendly and intelligent. So how will cramming another row of seats in help anyone? Do the right thing and give your loyal customers more room.
Love the new Look it is great . Needed a little more room! Above all stay the safe airline you are ! I just can't fly any other I only feel safe on Southwest . Have not got to fly in about 7 years but up till then was at least 2-3 times a year and I was always very happy with my flights on Southwest the only Airline for me . God Bless , dress it up , Keep it safe and Have a wonderful 2012 !
Its shamfull to try to cover up a reduction in customer service, like adding another row of seats, with a bunch of environmental fluff. Isn't SWA one of the only profitable airlines? Why are you killing the goose that lays golden eggs?
Somebody asked why the money wasn't used for installation of USB ports? I find that humourous. I'm still waiting for SW to put Wi-Fi in its fleet. Something that was touted something like two years ago. Bunch of crap.
The evolution in new seating should include "zero clearance" reclining seats. As a tall person, it is always aggravating to have my personal space invaded and my knee's crushed by the person recliner their seat. Instead of the seat reclining back, the seat bottom move forward to give a recline option. This gives both people the comfort they need.
Looks WONDERFUL!!! Are the overhead bins being changed to allow more room so suitcases can be stowed "wheels in"?
Wow! I love the new look. I always fly South West Airline. I love everything about them. Can't wait to fly on one of the new Green ones. Ellen
The new design looks great, However, Making the seats smaller is not the answer. I hope that you are considering the bigger people that fly. I love Southwest and allways fly Southwest whenever I can. So Please don't make it more uncomfortable for the larger ones.
No Boeing signature interior?
The reading lights and air vents don't seem to line up with the seats anymore.
More leg room would certainly have been the better way to go! You would have gained more fliers with that approach. If tou save 600 lbs with lighter seats what does the added weight of 6 new passengers plus luggage do to the equation? 10 million in fuel savings that would be impressive to see if actually true.
Ok, I have always given Southwest the benefit of the doubt in the 15 years that Southwest has been my exclusive domestic carrier... and I have rarely been disappointed. I will do so again... but... I cannot express how concerned I am about this improvement that "does not sacrifice existing personal space." Umh... I don't buy it yet. I'll have to see it in practice before I will be OK with this. As it is, there is only two seats on an entire Southwest 737 where I can actually be comfortable due to my high-end-of-the-bell-curve leg length (yep, the over-the-wing seat behind the 2-seat row at the emergency exit + the window sit in that 2-seat row). What Southwest needs to do is not focus "preserving space" but rather on INCREASING space. Here's a thought: figure out the average increase in revenue from the 6 extra seats. Divide that number by 137. Add the result to the cost of each purchased ticket. Make all changes detailed in this blog entry *except* leave cabin-capacity at 137. Revenue increases by the same amount and each row of the plane gains more than an inch of precious space. My quick-and-dirty estimation is that the per-ticket fare increase would be between $5 and $10. I would GLADLY pay this additional cost in order to have a tiny bit more legroom and I suspect that many loyal Southwest passengers would agree with me b/c we KNOW how many thousands of dollars we have saved over the years on this excellent airline. (Look at the revenue generated by the $10 Early Bird Check-In fee... a fee which provides an actual value-add, unlike the nickel-and-dime fees that every other airline now charges.) Don't get me wrong -- I love the concept of running a greener business; the moral statement that Southwest is making with this planned change is wonderful and I support it 100%. But let's be honest here: Southwest is a corporation in a capitalist economy and as such its #1 goal is to make money. Could we examine how to keep profit up without putting yet again MORE people on a small jet profile that is already prone to being a claustrophobic nightmare during peak travel times? Just this once? Please?
Hey Brooks: A question for the Handicrapped out there like me.... The current interior was -great- for those of us who need the removable armrests to get into the seats... Please tell us that those haven't changed!
will my wife get to try this new inside when flying from lax to chicago on Feb. 5th?
I too would like to see more legroom rather than more seats. I fly southwest because without the Frequent Flyer upgrade programs that other airlines use to the detriment of most people on their planes, I actually have a shot at an exit row or bulkhead. But I wish southwest would up their legroom to that of jet blue... I'm 6'3" and the shortest in my family. For my husband (6'8) it's generally just painfull to fly.
So nobody's happy about the extra row of seats. How about not putting those six seats on sale, and instead keep them open for standby seats and/or extra breathing room? After all, SW has gotten by this far without those six seats -- at least four people might be spared the dreaded middle seat if these are considered surplus seats on board. Just a thought, crazy as it may sound ...
I love the new look all around and hope one of them will be ready when I fly again. Smart idea from a smart airline. Keep up the good work. And thanks for keeping the customer at the fore front of your improvements. I love SW, never change your ideals. Sincerely...
New Arrival airtran371
New Arrival
Is the bulkhead black or brown, I can't tell. I LUVVV this so much... Now lets see Jblu try to compete with that.
Would it have killed you to ditch the extra row and give everyone an inch more room? I've been in those wafer-thin seats and it's like sitting on plywood despite what the brochure tells you. The extra space would have been a nice compensation. The under-seat room is nice. It gets crowded down there with my big feet sharing space with my computer bag.
Flying to Los Angeles Ca next month on the 9 from Chicago and i only fly SWA
Is this some kind of bad joke like new Coke? This is a bad idea, period. This makes the seating more cramped, more luggage trying to fit in the same amount of overhead bin space. The space under the seat just lost another inch, there is no way to spin out of that one. Southwest just took away the one product differentiater that made me like go there. Now I can just shop by price, and get the same cramped seat on Virgin, Frontier, United, or Delta, and possibly get in flight entertainment and choose my seat at time of booking. What are you thinking? Here is some constructive advice. Have Boeing build the 737 MAX 7.5 at 120' length. This will allow for seating of 150 with 32" pitch and 34" pitch of 12 rows for the A group and business travellers. People do notice more space, what is going on, and will vote with their feet and their money.
It's hard to get excited about the new changes when they fail to address two of the biggest concerns most passengers have - width of the seat, and leg room - not weight of the seat or materials of the seat! I read on that the current seats measure 17 inches across, which is laughable. (Doing something about that would be a real breakthrough.) Besides being a person of size, I am also handicapped and use a cane to get around. I would welcome a section where people like me wouldn't have to buy two seats in order to travel with more than a modicum of comfort.
Patricia Kuralt brings up an excellent point. Why should one have to pay for two seats when one and a half would easily suffice. Southwest should experiment by adding one row of four seats instead of the usual six and sell them for 1.5 times the price of a regular fare at booking. I bet they would be so popular that they would have to add more rows of premium width seats.
Comfort, cost savings, green-er........ a win win for all, way to GEAUX Southwest!!
Looks nicer and brighter but always found SW to have one of the bigger seats in domestic airline industry and guessing that adding 6 more seats takes away all that space. Sounds more about cost savings for SW than any actual customer advantage. Hope I am wrong.
Beautiful interior. Too bad I won't get to enjoy it since it looks like SWA is not flying from PHL to MHT anymore. Is that correct? Please reconsider-----
Wow... as American as ever... An Airline "improves" their seats without compromising legroom, or seat width to a point that they can add an extra row and all "most" of you can do is complain... How typical... I guess not many of you actually "get out" and fly other Low Cost carriers around the world... Just as well by the sounds of it. You would have to endure narrower seats by an "average" of a touch over an inch, and less leg room by an "average" fo almost 2 inches... I wont even start on the available amenities... Best you all stay home :-/ (I DO NOT work for SWA, but fly them often)
Am delighted to see that SWA has put in LUMBAR support! Just returned from DC on another airline that flies out of DCA into Amarillo with the worst backache ever! And not the greatest service for the disabled either...Southwest takes the BEST care of the disabled and now I'll FOR SURE insist that my daughter book my next ticket on SWA...5 hours of comfortable flying will be something to look forward to! An airline that looks out for the comfort of the passenger is one that really cares! Add in the extra legroom, that you care about going you still offer peanuts or cookies....something to go along with the free beverages on board. While others are cutting corners, Southwest is still working to make passengers comfortable and feeling welcome. And another big plus for me, a disabled person, is that my walker has always been properly checked, bagged and waiting for me me at baggage claim. I've always been taken from check-in to the gate by wheel chair, as arranged at time of reservation, quickly taken to the next gate when changing planes in Dallas and to baggage claim at my destinations. A BIG thank you to Southwest...this kind of thing spreads among the disabled community...and we remember when holidays come and it's time to make our reservations!
I am a frequent flier and will reserve judgement until I get in a plane with this new interior. I am 6' 3" and will know as soon as I sit down if what you are advertising is true or not. I am skeptical. As it is the virtual tour shows a tall person and it looks like the headrest is hitting him in the shoulder blades worse than the old seats would have. It looks very uncomfortable and is a back killer, especially on long trips.
I have flown a few of Republic's Embraers with what appears to be similar style seats (in Frontier configuration...the planes in Republic configuration were horrible) and, based on that experience, don't see a problem here. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised with those. Obviously I'll reserve final judgement until I've actually experienced them in the Southwest configuration, but initially, I see no problem here. (DISCLAIMER...I have never had a problem with Southwest's seat pitch or width.)
I am only 5'4" and don't have enough leg room, so I can only imagine how uncomfortable it is for taller passengers. Airline travel is increasingly uncomfortable and claustrophobic. I would have been more impressed if you got those sleeker seats and ADDED leg room and/or width.