Southwest Is Making These 4 Major Changes to Seating

The airline is adding a few new features that could make travel more comfortable.

Your seat on an airplane can arguably have a bigger impact on your travel experience than anything else during your flight. After all, no one wants to be uncomfortable, bored, or feel like they're crammed in during even the shortest trips. But even if you can't afford to shell out for a more expensive first-class ticket, some airlines are still making it a point to improve conditions for their passengers. The latest is Southwest, which just announced it's making some major changes to its seating. Read on to see what's getting upgraded in the near future.

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Cabins on Southwest planes are getting a makeover—including the seats.

Passengers boarding a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800
Shutterstock

In a Feb. 2 press release, Southwest announced the next phase in its five-year overhaul of its customer experience. And while some previous steps have included improved WiFi and tweaks to its frequent flyer program, the latest set will likely be immediately noticeable to anyone boarding one of their aircraft when the changes begin to roll out early next year.

The airline is partnering with interior transportation design company Tangerine to give seats and cabins a refreshed new look. The company says it conducted research involving input from travelers and crew to develop its latest motif, which will create "warm energy" by incorporating deep blue tones, sky blue accents, and the company's heart logo embossed on each headrest and woven into the carpeting.

"We're delighted to be part of Southwest's historic journey and next phase in their modernization plan," Matt Round, chief creative officer at Tangerine, said in the press release. "We've listened to Southwest's customers and employees and responded by creating a distinctive new cabin interior that meets and exceeds their desires. By working closely with Southwest and all suppliers involved, we were able to ensure the design intent was executed in the cabin to the highest possible quality. The stunning result is a testament to what can be achieved through a collaborative spirit from all those involved."

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Each seat will also offer new features that make them more comfortable.

A Southwest Airlines airliner taking off with an air control tower in the background
Bradley Caslin/Shutterstock

In addition to their updated look, passengers will also notice a few more features once they sit down and buckle in. The company says it's working with aircraft seat producer Recaro to make all elements of their seats feel more comfortable, including incorporating an adjustable headrest cushion. Seats are also being redesigned to maximize available width, increase support, and create "ultimate comfort" for flyers.

"Recaro is proud to collaborate on expanding our footprint in the Americas, especially when working with a local partner like Southwest who began their story at the same time as us," Mark Hiller, PhD, CEO of Recaro Aircraft Seating, said in the press release. "Our new seat will be a great addition to the Southwest customer experience, as its durable design and comfort features will serve passengers well."

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Improved seat backs will make watching entertainment easier for travelers.

The back of an updated Southwest Airlines seat, featuring an electronics holder
Southwest Airlines

Your smartphone or tablet can be a lifesaver on long flights if you want to stay entertained. But soon, Southwest passengers will be able to kick back and watch movies and shows more easily with newly added personal device holders on each seat back. The convenient feature should make it simpler for guests to take advantage of the airline's free inflight entertainment options.

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Passengers will also have access to charging ports while buckled in.

A USB charger and power outlet plug on the back of a seat on a plane
Shutterstock

Whether you're using your device to stay entertained or just need a little more juice before you touch down at your destination, Southwest's latest cabin upgrades will make it less likely you run out of battery mid-flight. The carrier says seats will now have USB A and USB C charging ports. According to the press release, the feature will be available on all new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft coming into Southwest's fleet and will be added to its other existing aircraft "over the next several years."

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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