Southwest Airlines Plans Modernization of Brand Elements with a Redesigned Cabin, New Seats, and a Uniform Refresh
Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) is onboarding a new look and feel with plans for redesigned aircraft cabin conveniences and interiors that are distinctly Southwest® and will feature new aircraft seats from RECARO. Alongside these efforts, Southwest announces an Employee uniform refresh that will bring a modern look to more than 53,000 Southwest Employees.
New Interior Design and Seats to Enhance Cabin Comfort
Southwest Airlines partnered with Tangerine, a leading design company that specializes in transportation, to create an updated cabin interior for new aircraft deliveries beginning next year. The design is based on extensive research covering Customer and Employee perceptions of color, comfort, and their aspirations for the overall onboard experience. The design 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.
As part of this refresh, Customer research and product testing guided Southwest to select the global supplier of premium aircraft seats, RECARO, to provide comfortable seating that complements the calm blue palette planned for the refreshed cabins. The Southwest Heart will be threaded throughout the interior with the recognizable symbol debossed on seat headrests, alongside a sunray pattern on the seats.
“Southwest flies above our competition with industry-leading flexibility and our legendary Hospitality,” said Tony Roach, Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at Southwest Airlines. “Our redesigned cabin interior significantly enhances our inflight Customer experience and will complement the amazing service that our Crews provide.”
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. The upgrades continue as each seat also will include a personal electronic device holder for Customers to enjoy free1 Inflight Entertainment on their devices more easily.
“RECARO is proud to collaborate on expanding our footprint in the Americas, especially when working with a local partner like Southwest who began their story at the same time as us,” said Mark Hiller, Ph.D., and CEO of RECARO Aircraft Seating and RECARO Holding. “Our new seat will be a great addition to the Southwest Customer Experience, as its durable design and comfort features will serve Passengers well.”
“We’re delighted to be part of Southwest’s historic journey and next phase in their modernization plan,” said Matt Round, Chief Creative Officer at Tangerine. “We’ve listened to Southwest’s Customers and Employees and responded by creating a distinctive new cabin interior that meets and exceeds their desires. By working closely with Southwest and all suppliers involved, we were able to ensure the design intent was executed in the cabin to the highest possible quality. The stunning result is a testament to what can be achieved through a collaborative spirit from all those involved.”
Newly-Designed Employee Uniforms Will Also Take to the Sky
Additionally, a Uniform Inspiration Team with 75 Southwest Employees is working alongside current apparel vendor, Design Collective by Cintas, and uniform brand consultant and fashion stylist, Bonnie Markel, to develop the new look for Southwest Employees who work in and around airports, including Inflight Operations, Ground Operations, Cargo, and Technical Operations.
“This design project brings together unique points of view in a dynamic and engaging co-creation process,” said Caroline Bartek, Creative Director with Design Collective by Cintas. “It’s a true collaboration between Southwest Airlines and the Uniform Inspiration Team, Design Collective, and Bonnie Markel,” said Abby Groshek, Apparel Designer with Design Collective by Cintas. “As the design process unfolds, Design Collective and Bonnie Markel are creating an apparel line that represents the Southwest Brand, with crucial input from the Uniform Inspiration Team Members who bring their everyday working knowledge and experience to ensure the apparel of the future fulfills all their functional and fashion needs.”
Other Customer Experience Enhancements Continue Making Southwest Easy to Fly
Since its first flight in 1971, Southwest has been a maverick, disrupting the airline industry by giving people the freedom to fly and creating a new era of affordable air travel. More than 50 years later, Southwest remains the most flexible airline2, giving Customers more value for their money through two free checked bags3, no hidden fees, flight credits4 and Rapid Rewards® points that don’t expire, and world-renowned Hospitality.
Southwest has implemented many enhancements and initiatives outlined in a May 2022 five-year plan of investment and evolution across its Customer Experience. Most recent updates include:
Enhanced WiFi: Southwest completed upgrades of WiFi equipment fleetwide at the end of 2023 to offer an enhanced inflight internet browsing experience with more bandwidth and faster data.
Onboard power ports and larger overhead bins: All new 737 MAX 8 aircraft delivered to Southwest are outfitted with onboard USB A and USB C power ports and larger overhead bins. Additionally, these features will be added to existing MAX 8 and 737-800 aircraft, a process that is anticipated to be completed over the next several years.
New functionality for Southwest’s digital platforms and airport kiosks: Free Same-Day Standby5, Digital Bag Tracking, and Online Baggage Check-In allow Customers the option to self-serve on common requests.
This year, enhancements to the award-winning Rapid Rewards program6 make it easier for Customers to earn tier status7, and A-List Preferred Members may enjoy up to two complimentary premium drinks per flight8. Customers can also pay for Southwest flights using a combination of cash and Rapid Rewards points9 soon. Additionally, Southwest plans to introduce a new onboard salty snack and refresh snack offerings on flights between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii.
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