Spirit Airlines has unveiled new seats for its upcoming aircraft, aiming to maximise ‘usable legroom’ for passengers.

The airline is the launch customer for Acro Aircraft Seating’s new Series 6LC Economy Class seat which will be upholstered in a matte-black synthetic leather with border stitching in the airline’s signature yellow. The seat features an upper literature pocket and sliding single-leaf table with cup recess.

The seat also features enhanced ergonomics, thicker cushioning and lumbar support, as well as a seatback pre-reclined to 24 degrees, while the middle seat will be an inch wider. Installation of the new seats will begin in November and continue through 2020 linefit on all new Spirit deliveries.

Spirit is also upgrading its ‘Big Front Seat’ product to feature a new ergonomically improved headrest with memory foam, additional memory foam in the seat cushion for thigh support, as well as a branded appearance. These enhancements with HAECO Cabin Solutions were drawn from guest feedback and survey results.

Ted Christie, Spirit Airlines’ president and chief executive officer, said the new seats form part of the airline’s investment in onboard experience, adding: “We have listened to our guests, and we are responding with these new, more comfortable seats.”

“Series 6LC is Acro’s next-generation seat which has been designed to fulfil the product requirements of our low-cost carrier customers such as Spirit Airlines who want to achieve a robust and lightweight seating solution, without compromising comfort and the ability to offer seat features which will improve the passenger experience,” said Alan McInnes, Acro’s SVP Sales.

Spirit Airlines partnered with the Charted Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIHEF) to conduct a study on the ergonomics of the Series 6LC seats, concluding that the enhancements provide an additional two-inches of usable legroom compared to industry-standard flatback seats with the same pitch.

Announced at the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) Expo, Spirit also hopes to share its plans for a new cabin redesign in November.

Seat Pitch versus Usable Legroom

Spirit also conducted a research study to understand perceptions around seat pitch and comfort, finding that most people, from a sample of more than 1,000 air travellers, did not know the true definition of ‘seat pitch’ – with only 5% of respondents able to accurately describe the term.

Spirit’s Ted Christie commented that he believes “It is time for our industry to rethink the concept of seat pitch.”

He continues: “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.”

Meanwhile, Steve Barraclough, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors called the ‘pitch’ terminology an “outdated industry term” that does not consider factors like seatback curvature, seat width, cushion thickness and usable space.

He comments: “The ‘Usable Legroom’ metric is the distance from the centre of the back of the seat cushion to the outer edges of the seat in front. We believe this metric provides a potential basis that all airlines could calculate and could offer the passenger new, evidence-based information about the potential comfort of the seat.”

'Ditch the Pitch' Spirit seat survey results infographics

Image: Spirit new economy seats, Acro Series 6LC
Image inset: Spirit’s Ted Christie and Alan McInnes of Acro Aircraft Seating.
Infographic: Spirit’s Ditch the Pitch and Usable Legroom infographic

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