Spirit Airlines has just announced the latest facet of its “Invest in the Guest” brand commitment by unveiling plans for new, more comfortable jet cabin seating that will maximize useable legroom.
The announcement was made onstage at the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) EXPO. Spirit Airlines officials indicated that the carrier will share its plans for overall cabin redesign in November, which is to incorporate both updating branding and modernize the look and feel of the space.
To inform its new designs, Spirit Airlines partnered with the Charted Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIHEF) to conduct an in-depth analysis of all factors affecting passenger comfort, as well as an investigation into optimal ergonomics in aircraft seating. Factoring in guest feedback, Spirit also conducted a research study, which suggested that people’s perceptions of in-flight comfort derive largely from the amount of useable legroom available.
While “seat pitch”—defined as the space between one point on a seat and the same point on the seat in front of it—has long been the preferred measurement of comfort in cabin seating, CIHEF has pioneered a new metric, which incorporates the several elements that actually contribute to overall seat comfort.
“Pitch is an outdated industry term for measuring seat comfort, as it does not consider a range of important key factors like seatback curvature, seat width, cushion thickness, and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.”
Spirit’s new seats, created by U.K.-based Acro Aircraft Seating and manufactured by HAECO Cabin Solutions—will incorporate several innovative enhancements, including softer, thicker padding, additional pre-recline and ergonomically-designed lumbar support—which ergonomic experts say will allow for a wider range of healthy postures and movements while seated.
The state-of-the-art design also provides passengers with an additional two inches of usable legroom, as compared to flatback seats of the same pitch that are currently the industry standard.
Upgraded, softer seats are designed in stylish matte-black with border-stitching in Spirit’s signature yellow, and include a full-size tray table and elevated literature pocket.
In a three-seat configuration, middle seats will gain an extra inch of width, and every seat will gain nearly an inch of pre-recline as compared to Spirit’s current seating, with exit rows gaining even more.
New seats will be made of a composite skeleton and padded with ultra-lightweight memory foam, enhancing comfort without increasing weight, and preserving the high fuel-efficiency of Spirit’s Fit Fleet.
Spirit’s improved Big Front Seats will also feature additional memory foam to provide a softer seat cushion and thigh support; and plush, ergonomic memory-foam headrest, also crafted in a sleek, Spirit-branded aesthetic.
Installation of the new seating is slated to begin in November 2019 and continue through 2020 on all new Spirit aircraft deliveries.
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