Looking for a little more space on your next Spirit Airlines flight? Starting in January passengers on the carrier’s newest planes will see new seats throughout the cabin, adding width, padding and even a head rest for travelers.
The seats, manufactured by HAECO, also reduce weight on board, helping the company save on fuel and emissions. The new seats were introduced at the APEX EXPO conference in Long Beach, CA this week.
We wanted to push the needle on sustainability. We wanted to push the needle on comfort. We wanted to push the needle on personal space. And we think we’ve accomplished that with this new seat.– Lania Rittenhouse, VP Guest Experience, Spirit Airlines
Spirit last updated its cabins just three years ago, switching from the Acro 3 to the Acro 6. It is relatively uncommon for an airline to switch seats again so quickly. And, as VP Guest Experience Lania Rittenhouse explained, the Acro 6 offering translated into great passenger comfort and reviews. But with 100 new aircraft coming in the next tranche of Airbus orders (plus 50 options), the carrier “had the opportunity to do that again, to unlock more innovation in the seats.” Rittenhouse did not want to let that opportunity slip.
A bigger Big Front Seat
Spirit’s signature Big Front Seat sees a couple significant changes to the design. Most notable is that the seat back in HAECO’s Vector Premium offering is wider, meeting in the middle of the pair to improve comfort and privacy for passengers.
The wider seat back also comes with another benefit: no more air bag seat belts. The heavier, bulkier, less comfortable, and more expensive seat belts can be traded out for regular ones as the new design removes potential head impact points in a crash.
The BFS remains a pre-reclined offering, but will have an extra inch of recline in the newer iteration. Padding is being added to the seat back and seat pan cushions.
The seat also has a slightly larger mini-drink tray on the center armrest. The tray tables move from the center console to the outboard armrests, allowing access without disturbing a seatmate.
Extra in economy class
For economy class passengers innovation will come in the form of a slightly adjusted shape of the HAECO Vector Light seat. The company continues to take advantage of the curved seatback, allowing for knee room while maintaining the 28″ pitch that enables 182 seats on board. Rittenhouse notes the new shape opens up an extra two inches of knee room compared to a traditional, flat-back seat design. The carrier opposes the industry-standard pitch measurement standard because of this skew.
Middle seat travelers also keep their extra inch of seat width on board compared to the aisle and window options. But all three are now a half inch wider overall, boosting personal space in the cabin.
The seats maintain their pre-reclined configuration, and also add padding to the seat. The outside edge of the seat bottom and the molded headrest are the two main areas to see the increased cushioning on board.
The tray table is slightly larger on the updated seat. The literature pocket includes a hook for coats and a slot to hold glasses. Armrests are slightly longer, also improving the passenger experience.
Spirit selected Tapis synthetic leather for the seat coverings and also added yellow stitching around the edges for a bit of extra branding oomph.
Shaving weight, saving fuel
These changes are all delivered while shaving 11 ounces per seat off the weight per seat. That adds up to 120 pounds for the full aircraft.
HAECO Americas SVP Uwe Salzer highlighted key weight saving components in the design, including:
- A carbon fiber seat back
- Titanium fittings around the arm rest hinges
- A fabric seat pan
Switching to carbon fiber for the seat back is a start, but HAECO continued to optimize for weight savings. Salzer explains, “We used pressure mapping technology to look for the best shape of the backrest and cushion combination, to provide the structure while not compromising comfort.” This includes putting slots in the carbon fiber, underneath the seat cushioning.
The seat back keeps its rigidity and tensile strength from the carbon fiber, but also gains a bit of flexibility which improves comfort for passengers. The carbon fiber structure also allows for a slight reduction in the foam thickness on the seat back.
Slazer also notes that Spirit and HAECO agreed to keep a more traditional cushion in the backrest, rather that switching to a structural cushion that also delivers the shape and rigidity of the seatback. He noted a lack of long-term data on the reliability and wear of those cushion materials to support a shift.
Spirit expects to take delivery of more than 30 planes with the new seating on board in 2023, with the balance of the 100 aircraft order to follow. The new seats are only intended for new aircraft deliveries. The carrier will not retrofit the existing planes, at least not for now.
More news from APEX EXPO 2022
- Panasonic Avionics, OneWeb team for inflight internet service
- Anuvu boosts Ka-band connectivity with dual panel antenna
- Virgin Australia picks 2Ku for Wi-Fi boost
- Panasonic Avionics highlights Stellar Blu antenna for OneWeb LEO service
- Dimmable windows coming to the A350 with Starlux
- A first look at Spirit’s new seats
- Bringing the moving map online: Panasonic’s Arc gets a data feed
- Pairing, casting and streaming: The next generation of inflight entertainment emerges
- Starlink/JSX STC slips
- SLAs suck: Seeking a service specification shift
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