Southwest Airlines is feeling discomfort after facing social media backlash over its newly redesigned seats.
Last week, the airline unveiled in a press release its newly redesigned RECARO seats that include a “multi-adjustable headrest cushion for enhanced head and neck support” and aim to provide “ultimate comfort while maximizing seat width and overall support.”
However, customers are skeptical of the comfortability factor and are calling the seats “thin” and potentially “rock hard.”
The new seats also give passengers a place to store personal electronic devices for in-flight entertainment, which will be needed as photos released by Southwest show there are no video screens on the back of the new seats.
Southwest’s new RECARO seats will include a place for passengers to put their personal electronic devices (Southwest Airlines)
“Our redesigned cabin interior significantly enhances our inflight Customer experience and will complement the amazing service that our Crews provide,” said Tony Roach, senior vice president and chief customer officer at Southwest Airlines, in a company release.
But customers aren’t so sure.
In a video that’s been viewed over 5.3 million times, a TikToker named Nuha showed a preview of the new cabin.
@devotedly.yours Southwest Airlines debuts their new interior and I’m not sure anybody is excited for their smaller and thinner seats #southwest #delta ♬ Spongebob Closing Theme Song Music – Ocean Floor Orchestra
“Never in my life did I think I’d see a video from an airline showing us their upgraded interior and it would make me want to book a flight with a completely different airline,” she tells viewers. “You made smaller and thinner seats. I’m sure Southwest spent a lot of money on these upgrades but … this has completely backfired.”
Naturally, other customers and potential passengers weighed in, even comparing the new seats to “sitting on a park bench” while in the air.
“My back already hurts,” one person wrote alongside a crying emoji.
“The seats make it look like it would be more comfortable to walk to my destination,” another joked.
Southwest finished 2023 with a net income of $498 million, though it reported a Q4 2023 net loss of $219 million.
As of Thursday afternoon, the airline was down just over 13% year over year.