Although no one did much sitting at the APEX/IFSA EXPO in Long Beach this week, APEX Media did get a chance to sit down (literally) with Spirit’s Lania Rittenhouse for a guided tour of the carriers new HACEO Vector Light and Vector Premium seats
“Our mission is to deliver the best value in the sky. So we continuously want to do better than we’ve done before,” Spirit Airlines’ VP Guest Experience Brand and Communications Lania Rittenhouse told APEX Media on Wednesday.
“We had a lot of success with our Acro 6 seats and we said, can we make it even better? So we set out to make a seat that was more sustainable, so lighter weight, more roomy and more comfortable. Those were the three goals and we think we’ve accomplished it here with these seats.”
Rittenhouse demo-ed the roomier version first, the aptly named Big Front Seat, and the first noticeable changes were the wider setbacks and easier to access tray tables — which are housed on the outer armrests rather than in the middle. The new and improved Big Front Seat also has extra cushion and a larger headrest as well.
“The other piece here is we pre-reclined our seats, almost an inch more than our previous Big Front Seats, so it offers passengers a little more luxury,” said Rittenhouse. “We felt like the last ones were a little too upright, so, now they’re just a bit back more, which is nice. And we did that throughout the cabin. So it causes way fewer arguments and all that good stuff!”
Not to be outdone, the HACEO Vector Light incorporates more room – with a new canted leg design which unlocks extra usable space – more comfort, with new headrests and additional cushioning on the seat, and a curved seatback which unlocks even more space at the knee level.
Also noteworthy were the subtle improvements on the seatback like the addition of a small opening for eye glasses, sweaters or other personal items and the use of pictograms rather than words to make for a more equitable passenger experience for travelers.
But perhaps the biggest change from previous Spirit seating configurations is how much more fuel efficient the HACEO Vector Light and Vector Premium seats are.
“Through using different composites and different materials, we were also able to bring the weight of the seat down by roughly 10 ounces,” explained Rittenhouse. “Which equates to around 120 pounds for an A320, amounting to roughly $2 million a year in fuel savings.“ Which, Rittenhouse added, is a substantial improvement for an ultra low cost carrier already known for being one of the most fuel efficient airlines in the US.
Set to begin flying next year, Rittenhouse said that at the end of the day, the new seats are just one more way Spirit is looking to “push the needle” for their passengers.
“Our mission is to deliver the best value in the sky, so we’re always looking for ways to do that. How do we save money? How do we save resources? We don’t feel that because we fly a dense configuration that people should be uncomfortable,” said Rittenhouse. “We feel like we can provide the best level of comfort possible for the configuration that we fly. We’re Spirit Airlines, we’re designing seats for Spirit Airlines, we’re not Emirates. And so we don’t have the space or whatever. We’re trying to design the best possible seat for Spirit Airlines. That was the goal.”