Slick new uniforms for the crew, charming blue colors to promote relaxation and ... much thinner seats.
That’s what Southwest Airlines, which operates a hub out of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, teased earlier this month as part of a redesign of its airplane cabins.
The airline said it would begin using a redesigned aircraft interior featuring new seats in early 2025 and would be adding larger overhead bins and charging outlets to existing airplanes. The company also said it was working with employees to redesign uniforms to bring a “modern look” to its staff.
“Our redesigned cabin interior significantly enhances our inflight Customer experience and will complement the amazing service that our Crews provide,” Southwest Airlines Chief Customer Officer Tony Roach said in a statement.
The seats, designed by Germany-based RECARO, include “multi-adjustable headrest cushion for enhanced head and neck support, an intuitively designed seat for ultimate comfort while maximizing seat width and overall support,” according to Southwest.
Some flyers, however, appear concerned that the thin new seats might not be the most comfortable. The news from Southwest has received a reaction that, at best, could be called mixed.
Commenters on the airline’s YouTube video announcing the changes compared the new interiors to budget airline Spirit and said their necks hurt just looking at the seats.
Others on social media compared the new seats in imaginative ways — saying, for example, that they looked like relaxing on a boulder after a long hike, or likening them to a lawn chair in the sky.
On TikTok, where Southwest posted a video revealing the new cabin interiors, commenters compared the seats to one-ply toilet paper, slates of granite, wooden benches and plastic pool recliners.
The consensus over thousands of posts and comments: The new seats look fancy, but do not look comfortable or good for one’s back, neck or butt.
”Southwest conducted multiple rounds of comfort testing with hundreds of participants, and we’re confident in the comfort and reliability these seats provide,” a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines said in an email.
Southwest’s customer share at BWI is massive — about 70%, according to a spokesperson for the airport. The airline is generally considered a convenient option — besides the usual headaches of air travel — for people looking to fly to or out of the Baltimore region.
However, Southwest’s newest promotion has some considering whether it’d be worth spending more on a ticket to not arrive at a destination with numb legs and a sore neck.