New Spirit Seats Still Close But More Comfortable


Low-cost Spirit Airlines announced new seats going into its fleet of Airbus aircraft that, while no farther apart, are said to be more comfortable and provide effectively more room between rows. Spirit claims that a new design will “allow for a wider range of healthy postures and movements, offering an additional two inches of usable legroom compared to industry-standard flatback seats with the same pitch.”

And that’s the pitch, so to speak. Spirit has not increased the actual seat pitch, typically at 28 inches (compared to 31 on most domestic carriers), but the new seats, built by U.K.-based Acro Aircraft Seating, benefit from having a more horizontally “bowed” backrest, moving the passenger slightly farther away from the seatback in front. Spirit says that the new seats provide an extra two inches of usable legroom compared to conventional flat-back seats. But the measurements appear to be taken from the center of the seat to the outboard edges of the seat ahead of you. 

Passengers who prefer to travel cross-legged might not notice much of an improvement. Meanwhile, passengers stuck in the middle seat will be happy to note that this cushion is an inch wider, now 18 inches, than the outboard seats’. 

Spirit’s new seats also have more “pre-recline,” which is to say they’re angled backward by roughly one inch more than before, though they still do not recline from this fixed setting. Spirit also says that the “new, softer seats include a full-size tray table and an elevated literature pocket and are designed in a matte-black color with border stitching in Spirit’s signature yellow. Installation of the new seats will begin in November and continue through 2020 on all new Spirit deliveries.”

Spirit’s new Big Front Seats have improved headrests for those near the pointy end of the Airbus.

“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,” said Ted Christie, Spirit Airlines’ President and Chief Executive Officer. “We have listened to our Guests, and we are responding with these new, more comfortable seats. We also believe it is time for our industry to rethink the concept of seat pitch, a metric many industry experts and aviation media have called antiquated and misleading, given the broad differences in seating measurements that more directly affect passenger comfort. Our research shows that many Guests not only misunderstand the concept of pitch, but strongly believe that comfort derives from usable legroom. Our new seats now offer more usable legroom with their innovative design.”

Marc Cook
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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