In an effort to improve the passenger experience, ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines on Monday announced it is installing new seats in its aircraft.
The seats, ergonomically designed and dressed in Spirit’s signature black-with-gold stitching, were introduced on stage at the APEX (Airline Passenger Experience Association) Expo in Los Angeles.
The Miramar, Florida-based airline says its new seats, padded with ultra-lightweight foam and made of a composite skeleton, will add comfort as well as 2in of "usable legroom" compared to industry-standard flat-back seats with the same pitch.
The seats will have a full-size tray table and an elevated literature pocket. Every seat will gain nearly 1in more "pre-recline" than Spirit’s current seats, with exit-row seats getting more.
"Pre-recline" is an industry term for seats that are set in a somewhat reclined position and cannot be adjusted by passengers. Spirit defines "usable space" as "the distance from the center of the back of the seat cushion to the outer edges of the seat in front".
Installation of the new seats, created by UK-based Acro Aircraft Seating, is scheduled to begin in November and continue through 2020 on all Spirit's new aircraft deliveries, the airline adds.
Ted Christie, Spirit's chief executive, says the move came in response to passenger criticism of Spirit’s on-board comfort.
“Last year I signed a pledge to look at every facet of our guest experience and determine where we could improve. This investment in our seats and onboard experience is a direct result of that commitment, and it also allows us to enhance our product value while maintaining our industry-leading cost structure,” he says in a statement.
Spirit partnered with the Charted Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIHEF) to develop seats it says “create a comfortable posture and make available more usable legroom”.
In July, the airline reported earning a $114 million second quarter net profit, up from $11 million in the same period last year.
Spirit reported $1 billion operating revenue for the second quarter ending 30 June, up 19% year-on-year from $852 million.
Spirit's fleet consists of 135 Airbus aircraft, including two Airbus A320s the airframer delivered during the second quarter. The carrier expects to take delivery of 10 additional A320neo-family aircraft by the end of 2019, four aircraft in 2020 and nine in 2021.