DALLAS, TX – Southwest Airlines has unveiled a refresh of the cabin interior for its Boeing 737 fleet, that the airline is calling “Evolve.” The make-over includes a number of changes, including new seats, carpet and bulkhead decor. (pictured below)
When walking on board, customers will notice changes to the seats, in particular. First, the “saddle tan” leather of the older seats has been exchanged for a lighter, sand-colored tan. The seat covers are made from “E-Leather” which has been tested for over two years on Southwest’s flying “Green Plane” testbed. Travelers will also notice the shape of the new head rest is contoured for more rest and comfort. Southwest Marketing Manager Angela Vargo mentioned that the new seats are slightly thinner (in depth not width) and lower to the floor, noting “Depending how you sit in your seat, you’ll have up to an extra inch of personal space.” As we all know, every inch matters when it comes to personal comfort on a plane. The thinner seat profile has also allowed Southwest to add 6 seats to the 737-300 and 737-700 aircraft configurations. They will be upgraded from 137 to 143 seats, without any sacrifices in leg room. In addition, the capacity adjustment will help Southwest’s bottom line in the form of potential extra revenue and reduced operating cost per seat mile, along with a weight savings of over 600 pounds per aircraft.
The cabin’s former blue carpeting has been replaced by patterned grey recyclable InterfaceFLOR carpet. This new carpet has also been tested since 2009 while flying around on the “Green Plane.” It is interesting to note that this carpet is installed in squares of two sizes, versus the custom cut sections formerly used on the 737. This saves on having to replace large sections when a small area is worn out or stained, and can be done with the seats still installed, which in turn saves on labor costs for the airline, and reduces out of service time for the aircraft. When a section of the new carpet needs replacement, it is returned to the manufacturer, where it is re-engineered is a process that is completely carbon neutral.
Once seated, customers will notice a few other aesthetic changes, such as new brushed aluminum tray table locks that now click into place, and should help prevent the unwelcome tray collapse into your lap. The seatback pockets are now a mesh, allowing you to see the pocket’s contents. This could be especially advantageous to those who might be prone to forgetting their phones, books, ear buds or tablet computers when getting off the plane. The forward and rear bulkheads have also received a new design, with a dark leather-like texture, highlighted by an update of Southwest’s winged heart logo.
It doesn’t take too much guessing to realize that this is how Southwest’s new 737-800s will look on the inside once they start to arrive in March, aside from the “Boeing Sky Interior” updates to the overhead bins, window bevels and lighting systems. In comparison to the Spirit interior (2001-2012), the new interior features more muted colors, giving it a more refined and business-like feel. Overall, this is a stylish and welcome update to the brand Southwest has presented to travelers for over 40 years.
This aircraft, N935WN, goes into service this month, while the airline plans to begin fitting one aircraft per night with the new interior starting in March of this year.