Spirit Airlines is investing in passenger experience with the unveiling of two new seats for its economy and ‘Big Front Seat’ product at the APEX EXPO in Los Angeles.
Spirit’s updated Big Front Seat will feature an ergonomically designed headrest with memory foam, as well as additional memory foam in the seat cushion for comfort and thigh support, the seat also has enhanced branding. Guest feedback helped guide the enhancements with manufacturer HAECO Cabin Solutions.
In economy, Spirit’s new seats have been created by Acro Aircraft Seating integrating thicker padding, ergonomically-designed lumbar support and additional pre-recline of an inch compared to the current seating configuration, with exit rows adding even more. The middle seats will also gain an extra inch in width.
As well as providing ergonomic benefits, Spirit said the seats also offer an additional two inches of usable legroom compared to standard flatback seats of the same pitch. Installation of the new seats will begin in November through 2020 on all new Spirit deliveries.
Ted Christie, Spirit Airlines’ president and CEO commented that the new seats are both an enhancement to the product, while maintaining the airlines’ cost structure.
He 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.”
The airline partnered with the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors to carry out an analysis of the ergonomics and comfort of the new seats.
The airline also conducted a research study to understand perceptions around seat pitch and comfort and found in the brand-agnostic study that “most people” from a sampling of more than 1,000 air travellers did not know the true definition of “seat pitch” – only 5% were able to accurately describe it.
Steve Barraclough chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors said pitch was an “outdated industry term” and doesn’t consider a range of factors like seatback curvature, seat width, cushion thickness and usable space.”
“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,” he added.
The airline aims to share its plans for a new cabin redesign in November with updated branding and a “more modern look.”