Above: Southwest’s B737-800s have been ordered with the Boeing Sky Interior
June 22, 2016 – USA-based low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines has revealed the new Heart cabin interior for its Boeing 737-800 fleet, which includes new seat and galley designs, as well as a new range of uniforms. The new products follow on from the new logo, airport experience and aircraft livery that Southwest introduced in September 2014.
A major development of the new interior is the seat, a B/E Aerospace model for which Southwest is the launch customer, and which the airline claims is “the widest economy B737 seat” at 17.8in, as well as being lighter than the outgoing model. Passengers also benefit from a 32in standard seat pitch, an adjustable headrest, enhanced back and bottom comfort, and more room to hold personal belongings.
The seats are upholstered in E-Leather, a composition leather made of natural leather fibers and dyed in the airline’s ‘Bold Blue’ brand color. E-Leather, which made its debut on Southwest aircraft in 2012, is manufactured using eco-friendly technology, including state-of-the-art techniques which closed-loop recycle 95% of the processed water, and convert waste streams into energy that feeds back into the process.
Above: A raised information pocket on the seatback gives more space for personal device usage and storage
“The new aircraft seats are the widest economy seats available in the single-aisle B737 market, and offer a unique design that gives our customers what they asked for: more space,” said Bob Jordan, Southwest’s EVP and CCO. “Serving as the launch customer for this seat is just one of several upcoming milestones related to our bold, new look.”
Cartless galleys clear the aisles
The galleys have also received a re-think, with the airline consulting frontline employees about how galley design could allow flight attendants to serve customers more efficiently. In what Southwest claims is a unique feature in the airline industry, the transverse (aft) galley on the new B737-800 aircraft fleet will not have carts (customers are served using trays), which reduces weight and allows passengers to move about the cabin with ease once the seatbelt sign is off – no waiting for carts to clear the aisle.
With the addition of the new G7 galley (located just past the forward-entry door), cabin crew will be able to more quickly accommodate customers in the forward part of the new B737-800s. Additionally, having more space in the forward galley area for emergency equipment means that more overhead bin space is available for passengers.
Southwest has fitted three B737-800 aircraft with full Heart interiors so far, and intends to have 28 by the end of 2016. The company’s ongoing fleet modernization effort also includes cabin interior updates on its B737-700s, the transition of AirTran’s B717-200 aircraft out of the fleet, the replacement of Boeing Classic aircraft with Boeing Next-Generation B737 aircraft, and the projected launch of the B737 MAX aircraft in 2017.
Dress to impress
Southwest’s employee uniforms have also received some attention. The uniforms, which were last updated in 1996, have been redesigned by the airline’s own employees in a collaboration with Cintas, the uniform supplier. A group of 43 Southwest employees working in everything from ground operations, inflight, provisioning, technical operations and the cargo departments discussed, debated, and designed the new uniforms with their fellow employees in mind. Once the design was complete, more than 120 employees across 37 cities tested pieces for fit and comfort, performance and functionality, durability, aesthetics, style, and ease of care.
The new uniform collection also uses Southwest’s Bold Blue, together with other brand colors such as Signature Red. The final selections will now move into manufacturing, and all employees will begin wearing the new uniform in mid-June 2017.
“Our energetic employees are the heart of our airline, and they were the perfect choice to design and develop our new look,” said Sonya Lacore, VP of cabin services. “Our brand, our planes, and our people are bold and modern, and the new uniform represents who our employees are – spirited, professional, unique and approachable.”
Below: A raised rear beam and curve in the lower rear of the seat allow for increased shin and leg clearance