Southwest Airlines has chosen the Recaro R2 seat for Boeing 737 Max aircraft it will be receiving from 2025 onwards.

The enhanced and customised version of the R2 adds new features which focus on Southwest’s desire for additional passenger comfort. 


Source: BillyPix

Recaro executives Mark Hiller and Sunitha Vegerla (left and second right) with Matt Round from design house Tangerine (second left) and Bill Tierney (right) from Southwest Airlines at today’s signing

Recaro chief executive Mark Hiller notes that the company’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas – “more or less in the neighbourhood of Southwest Airlines” – celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. “Now, for the first time we are able to celebrate the co-operation with them,” he says. 

Sunitha Vegerla, general manager of Recaro Seating Americas, says that getting to the prototype that was unveiled in Hamburg took two years of development effort. “Southwest did a really great study in terms of coming up with these features and also testing them not just from the passenger comfort point of view, but also from the maintenance point of view,” she says. 

The new seat for Southwest is actually part of the airline’s larger customer experience investment, according to Bill Tierney, Southwest Airlines’ vice-president customer experience.

“We have the objective to keep things simple and to put customers at ease and make them comfortable when they fly. That starts really when they go to book with us. We start that process of making the customer feel calm right at the beginning. And we’ve been making investments in WiFi, larger bins, everything around two attributes – comfort and functionality,” he says.

”All of this went through rigorous testing for 18 months to two years; it was a long process.” 

Tierney cites the “very mobile” headrest as one custom feature. “We invested considerably in the areas of the neck, the back and the bottom. In all three areas, the ergonomic design has come together so that passengers can have a comfortable ride,” he adds. “Still on comfort, the seat material comes from Tapis and is both very soft and very durable.” 

The seats features a fast charging power outlet, while a special personal device holder is also included. 

Aiding this complete Southwest cabin programme has been design house, Tangerine, whose chief creative officer, Matt Round, described the new design as the result of intense research and deep creative exploration.

“We had a team in Dallas who talked to everybody in Southwest, from Bob Jordan, CEO, all the way through to the cabin crew and everybody in between – all thinking about what was important for the airline. We also talked with many Southwest customers to understand what it was that they wanted from their flights,” he says.

 “There were many comments about trying to ‘feel natural’ which inspired this cabin interior design so it feels natural, light and airy, letting the world into the aircraft. That was the inspiration for the lines across the seats, like rays of sunlight falling in through the windows. And Southwest has this incredible colour palette, which we translated into something that would work for the cabin interior,” Round emphasises.