Air travel has been in the news quite a bit recently, what with everything going on with the Boeing 737 Max 9 planes.
For those not caught up, basically the act of air travel—a feat which is still an absolute technical marvel despite being downplayed as commonplace nowadays—has become stressful enough as it is without airlines continuing to upcharge travelers for slowly declining quality and anxiety-inducing experiences.
However, it appears Southwest Airlines has instead decided to double down.
On Feb. 2, 2024, the airline shared an official announcement and TikTok video detailing their new interiors, which showcased an updated, modernized design including “a redesigned cabin, new seats, and a uniform refresh.”
Of the changes, the Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, Tony Roach, said in an official statement: “Southwest flies above our competition with industry-leading flexibility and our legendary Hospitality. Our redesigned cabin interior significantly enhances our inflight Customer experience and will complement the amazing service that our Crews provide.”
But the reveal appeared to have the opposite effect as intended, with unhappy travelers taking to the comment sections of their announcement, X, and TikTok to let the airline know that—rather than being impressed by the new design—they will now instead be booking with other airlines in the future thanks to this change.
For one, many viewers were quick to point out not only how much smaller the seats looked in general, but specifically how much thinner the already thin seats appeared in the TikTok video they shared:
The seats in question, which were noted in the press release as having been designed by RECARO, a brand known for designing seats in the realms of racing and gaming, were said to “include a multi-adjustable headrest cushion for enhanced head and neck support, an intuitively designed seat for ultimate comfort while maximizing seat width and overall support.”
This backlash has also led users on X to remind others of the monopoly airlines hold over our choices for long-distance travel in the United States, given that travelers have few other choices than these airlines for traveling long distances:
Whether Southwest’s new seats are actually comfortable or not will have to wait until these new designs are officially unveiled in 2025—so, until then, enjoy the plush(ish?) cushioning currently available!