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Alaska Airlines introduces thinner, lighter seats

May 08, 2012|By Hugo Martin
  • Alaska Airlines is introducing thinner, lighter seats for some of its planes.
Alaska Airlines is introducing thinner, lighter seats for some of its planes. (Alaska Airlines )

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines is installing thinner, lighter seats that will save the carrier fuel and offer passengers about an inch more legroom.

The move is part of a larger trend in the airline industry to install thinner seats, in some cases letting carriers pack more passengers per plane.

Southwest Airlines, the nation's largest carrier of domestic travelers, announced in January plans to add six extra seats on each plane under a new interior design with thinner seats that offer less legroom and less recline distance.

In 2010, Florida-based Spirit Airlines announced it was switching to a thinner, "pre-reclined" seat -- a seat that does not adjust -- allowing the airline to fit 33 more passengers per plane.

Alaska announced Tuesday that it was installing the seats, designed by Germany-based Recaro Aircraft Seating, in 22 of its new Boeing 737-900ERs, which are scheduled for delivery starting next year. The plane, a larger model than any  Boeing aircraft flown by Alaska, will seat 181 passengers.

The seats weigh less than 24 pounds each, about 30% less than comparable seats, and Alaska claims the reduced weight will save an estimated 8,000 gallons of fuel annually per aircraft.

The seats have thinner cushions for the seatbacks and the bottom than the existing seats and recline only three inches, which is standard for the carrier's seats.

Despite the thinner cushions, Alaska spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said the new seats have won industry awards for design and comfort.


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