The ‘Big Front Seat’ on Spirit Airlines is one of the best deals in travel. However their regular seating is miserable.
As bad as American’s new ‘Project Oasis’ domestic interior is, featuring 30 inches of pitch – the distance from seat back to seat back – Spirit Airlines has just 28 inches of pitch.
Spirit is installing new seats and since they offer packed seating matched only by Frontier they don’t want to talk about comfort in terms of pitch.
- New coach seats will be angled differently so tall people will have more knee room in the same space
- Middle seats will get an extra inch of width
- The Big Front Seat gets new seat covers
Copyright: boarding1now / 123RF Stock Photo
Seat pitch and width remains the best measure we have because it describes how much aircraft real estate each passenger gets. Spirit gives passengers less space than everyone else (other than in some cases Frontier). That will be true even with these new seats, even if they’re better.
Width is just as important here, and one thing many people don’t realize is that Spirit’s seats aren’t as wide as coach seats on similar aircraft operated by major airlines. Instead of 18″ wide seats on an Airbus narrowbody, Spirit has 17″ wide seats. That creates a wider aisle, which means faster boarding. Delays are costly and they’re all about low costs.
Spirit is going to give back that inch to the middle seat passenger only, the window and aisle seats will still be more narrow than comparable major airline coach seats.
The coach seats lean back one inch farther – Spirit calls it “pre-recline” since the passenger doesn’t get to move their seat back – and the bottom of the seat back curves inward, pushing the passenger back up to an inch so taller passengers have more space for their legs in front of the seat.
The Big Front Seat gets “new ergonomically-improved headrest with plush memory foam, additional memory foam in the seat cushion for comfort and thigh support, and sleek Spirit-branded aesthetic with yellow and black stitching.”
Credit: Spirit Airlines
The seat itself is the same up front, but new padding should be a plus. The major win here is for middle seat passengers getting an extra inch of width.
Spirit wants to drop discussion of pitch because they give the least aircraft real estate to passengers, they say passengers don’t understand what pitch is. That’s irrelevant. Aircraft real estate is the primary consideration, and then what an airline does to optimize the space matters next.
The ultra low cost carrier is optimizing within the most constrained footprint of any U.S. carrier. That’s a good thing, but it doesn’t mean their coach is comparable to what other carriers offer. Spirit offers cheap transportation in part by giving each passenger less space on the aircraft. These seats don’t change that formulation.