A US budget airline’s TikTok unveiling its new economy seats has gone viral – but not necessarily for the right reasons.
Southwest Airlines shared the updated cabin interiors that will be on its new aircraft next year for the first time this week in a video that has been viewed more than 8.5 million times.
But instead of celebrating the new look, travellers flooded the comments shocked that the seats appeared even thinner than before.
“What I’m seeing is rock hard seats,” said one comment with 160,000 likes.
“So anyways, I just booked with Delta! It’s amazing,” another person wrote about the airline’s rival, gaining almost 80,000 likes in support.
“We wanted TVs and chargers. SW: best we can do is worse chairs,” a third comment read with more than 35,000 likes.
Other top comments read: “Are the improvements on board with us?”, “My back just flared up,” and “Is there an option to just stand?”.
The new seats were made by RECARO Aircraft Seating and include an adjustable headrest cushion and personal electronic device holder.
The pattern on the seat represents sunrays and on each headrest is a heart from Southwest’s logo.
Southwest Airlines said it partnered with transport design company Tangerine to create the new cabins with the design based on “extensive research”.
“Our redesigned cabin interior significantly enhances our in-flight customer experience and will complement the amazing service that our crews provide,” Southwest Airlines senior vice president and chief customer officer Tony Roach said.
According to RECARO Aircraft Seating’s website, the seats are made for short and medium-haul flights and are promoted as being “distinctively lightweight” at less than ten kilograms.
It said research results from the company’s in-house ergonomics team went into the design.
“The six-way adjustable headrest with integrated neck support is just one of the many innovations that enhance passenger comfort,” the website states.
“Another practical comfort feature is that the tray-table can be folded out even when the tablet holder is in use.”
Southwest wasn’t only copping the heat on its own account.
TikToker Nuha, who has 1.3 million followers, posted her own video making fun of the new seats.
“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 said.
Her comments were filled with people in agreement.
“Sitting on park benches … in the AIR,” said one top comment with almost 90,000 likes.
“It’s an office desk chair,” penned another critic, attracting almost 40,000 likes.
Some hoped they would be pleasantly surprised and the seats would be more comfortable than they looked.
“They could be memory foam seats, which may be thinner but MUCH more comfier and with that the thinner seat means more space to move around in,” one person reasoned.
“I actually prefer the look and mostly would prefer to sit on those seats. I do prefer firmer seats, mattresses, pillows etc.” said another.