It might have been the best kept secret in aviation. In late 2022, rumors started circling that Southwest Airlines was exploring an aircraft seat deal with Recaro Aircraft Seating. Now Southwest has made it official, revealing that a new Tangerine-designed cabin interior, inclusive of Recaro’s award-winning BL3710 economy class platform, will debut on new Boeing 737 MAX deliveries in early 2025.
“The new Recaro seats 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,” explains Southwest in a statement.
Notably, each seat will also feature a personal electronic device holder for customers to enjoy the carrier’s inflight connectivity and free inflight entertainment. This device holder has proven extremely popular with Recaro’s airline customers, management recently told Runway Girl Network.
Though financial terms of Southwest’s new deal with Recaro have not been disclosed, the low-cost carrier has orders in the books with Boeing for several hundred 737 MAX 8 and MAX 7 twinjets so the new seat arrangement is quite substantial in scope.
All new 737 MAX 8 aircraft delivered to Southwest are also outfitted with Astronics’ in-seat USB-A and USB-C power ports and larger overhead bins, as part of a $2 billion PaxEx (passenger experience) transformation plan announced in 2022. The MAX 7, the smallest model in Boeing’s MAX series, has not yet received FAA certification.
Clad in a calm blue palette, the lightweight Recaro BL3710 seats are part of Southwest’s wider cabin update for its new MAX deliveries. Passengers should expect new CMF (color, materials and finish) across seat covers and carpets.
Working with leading design house Tangerine, the new interior “brings to life Southwest’s warm energy with deep blue tones, sky blue accents, and a nod to the Southwest Heart woven throughout the carpet”, notes the airline. Thankfully, Southwest will not use the occasion to squeeze more seats into its traditional 175-seat MAX 8 configuration, it tells View From The Wing.
Matt Round, chief creative officer at Tangerine says the stunning result of the firm’s work with Southwest and its partners “is a testament to what can be achieved through a collaborative spirit from all those involved”.
The Recaro deal could be seen as a blow to Southwest’s incumbent seatmaker Collins Aerospace (previously B/E Aerospace), which mid last decade started supplying its Meridian seat for Southwest’s 737-800s and later MAX 8s.
Those existing aircraft in Southwest’s fleet are not being snubbed by the carrier, however. Whilst the twinjets will retain their Collins seats, Southwest will retrofit USB-A and USB-C power ports and larger overhead bins to its current -800s and MAX 8s. The process is expected to be completed “over the next several years”, says the airline.
Southwest has also announced an employee uniform program that it promises “will bring a modern look to more than 53,000 Southwest employees” who work in and around airports, including Inflight operations, ground operations, cargo, and technical operations.
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All images credited to Southwest Airlines