Spirit Airlines (NYSE: SAVE) is advancing its promise to invest in the Guest experience by unveiling new, more comfortable seats that provide additional usable legroom. Spirit’s new seats, created by UK-based Acro Aircraft Seating, integrate state-of-the-art design features, including thicker padding, ergonomically-designed lumbar support, and additional pre-recline. Middle seats will also gain another inch of width, and every seat will gain nearly an inch of pre-recline compared to Spirit’s current seating configuration, with exit rows adding even more.
Spirit’s new seats, padded with ultra-light weight foam and made of a composite skeleton, will add comfort without increasing weight, maintaining high fuel efficiency on Spirit’s Fit Fleet™. According to ergonomics experts, these innovative enhancements allow for a wider range of healthy postures and movements, offering an additional two inches of usable legroom compared to industry-standard flatback seats with the same pitch. The new, softer seats include a full-size tray table and an elevated literature pocket and are designed in a matte-black color with border stitching in Spirit’s signature yellow. Installation of the new seats will begin in November and continue through 2020 on all new Spirit deliveries.
In addition, Spirit is adding comfort to its Big Front Seats™, making the best value in the sky even better. Spirit’s updated Big Front Seat™ will feature a new ergonomically-improved headrest with plush memory foam, additional memory foam in the seat cushion for comfort and thigh support, and sleek Spirit-branded aesthetic with yellow and black stitching. Guest feedback and survey results helped guide these design enhancements with manufacturer HAECO Cabin Solutions.
“Last year I signed a pledge to look at every facet of our Guest experience and determine where we could improve. This investment in our seats and onboard experience is a direct result of that commitment, and it also allows us to enhance our product value while maintaining our industry-leading cost structure,” said Ted Christie, Spirit Airlines’ President and Chief Executive Officer. “We have listened to our Guests, and we are responding with these new, more comfortable seats.”
Christie continued, “We also believe it is time for our industry to rethink the concept of seat pitch, a metric many industry experts and aviation media have called antiquated and misleading, given the broad differences in seating measurements that more directly affect passenger comfort. Our research shows that many Guests not only misunderstand the concept of pitch, but strongly believe that comfort derives from usable legroom. Our new seats now offer more usable legroom with their innovative design.”
Partnering with the Charted Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIHEF), Spirit Airlines conducted in-depth analysis on the ergonomics and comfort of the new seats. Both beautiful and efficient, the seats were designed to curve gently around a Guest’s back to create a comfortable posture and make available more usable legroom. Spirit also conducted a research study to understand perceptions around seat pitch and seat comfort. The brand-agnostic study showed that most people, from a sampling of more than 1,000 air travelers, did not know the true definition of “seat pitch”, the space between a point on one seat and the same point on the seat in front of it. In fact, only about 5 percent of respondents were able to accurately describe seat pitch.
“Pitch is an outdated industry term for measuring seat comfort, as it does not consider a range of important key factors like seatback curvature, seat width, cushion thickness, and usable space,” said Steve Barraclough, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors. “The ‘Usable Legroom’ metric is the distance from the center of the back of the seat cushion to the outer edges of the seat in front. We believe this metric provides a potential basis that all airlines could calculate and could offer the passenger new, evidence-based information about the potential comfort of the seat.”
The new seats were announced on stage at the APEX (Airline Passenger Experience Association) EXPO. Spirit plans to share its plans for a new cabin redesign this November, complete with updated branding and a more modern look and feel for Guests to enjoy.
“Spirit Airlines today unveiled a new generation of seats designed to give greater recline, full-size tray tables, more memory foam comfort, enhanced ergonomic comfort, and more knee space to their guests,” said Dr. Joseph Leader, CEO of APEX. “APEX applauds our airlines for taking genuine steps to advance customer experience, but the best actions by our airlines are when they genuinely give more within existing space as Spirit has done today.”
To learn more about how Spirit is Investing in the Guest and watch a video highlighting the new usable legroom seat comfort measurement, please head to www.investintheguest.com/#newseats.