Are Southwest's Seats About to Get Smaller and Thinner?

The airline's announcement of its new airplane interiors prompted an ongoing TikTok investigation.

southwest airlines new seats
Photo courtesy of Southwest Airlines
Photo courtesy of Southwest Airlines

The Southwest Airlines marketing team has probably had a busy last couple of days. On Friday, the airline unveiled its new cabin design, and flaunted its new seats that are made to "enhance cabin comfort." Yet, the internet doesn't think so—and people on TikTok are, so to speak, smelling a rat.

"Southwest Airlines debuts their new interior and I'm not sure anybody is excited for their smaller and thinner seats," reads the caption of a TikTok video that just went viral. In the video, the poster shows how seats used to be on Southwest flights, and then proceeds to compare them to the new ones, claiming the cushioning looks even thinner than before. "But at least they were nice to put a heart on it," they joke, referring to a new embroidered Southwest logo on the headrest.

The poster wasn't the only person who had these thoughts. In the video, they refer to the original TikTok that Southwest Airlines itself posted to showcase the new design, and then they back their theory up with screenshots of the comment section from that official video. "So anyways, I just booked with Delta! It's amazing," reads one comment right below the Southwest TikTok. "What I'm seeing is rock hard seats," says another user. "The best Delta ad I've seen," adds another one. And right in line with the thin seats theory, another user comments, "So you made smaller and thinner seats."

However, other travelers are giving Southwest the benefit of the doubt. "I'm sure they spent a lot of money on R&D for these," reads one comment under the viral call-out video. "Also, I know from experience that cushy seats aren't necessarily comfortable after long periods." Some people even suggested that the new seats, despite their appearance, might indeed be more comfortable than the old ones thanks to new (potential) memory foam features or ergonomic shapes.

For its part, the airline's announcement of its new cabin interior says it is "based on extensive research covering Customer and Employee perceptions of color, comfort, and their aspirations for the overall onboard experience." The airline says the new seats, which are rolling out in 2025, include "a multi-adjustable headrest cushion for enhanced head and neck support [and] an intuitively designed seat for ultimate comfort while maximizing seat width and overall support." 

Thrillist has reached out to Southwest for additional comment. The story will be updated if we hear back accordingly.

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Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She will beg you not to put pineapple on pizza. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.