Spirit Airlines or Military Transport? Testing Their New Exposed Metal Seats in the Wild

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Spirit Airlines Exposed Metal Slimline Seats

Spirit Airlines Exposed Metal Slimline Seats

Spirit Airlines has taken the low cost carrier model that has proven successful in Europe and Asia and made it their own. With their new bright yellow color scheme and a bit of a sense of humor, I sort of have a strange affection for the airline. At the very least I respect what they are doing. They are a profitable trendsetting company.

Of course, setting trends isn’t always a good thing for customers, or at least for the comfort of customers. I have flown Spirit quite a few times in my life and their seats have never been all that comfortable. Their pitch is famously 28″ and their seats come pre-reclined. With that said, yesterday I had the privilege of flying on their newest seats. Spirit has the bare fare and now the bare metal seat.

Spirit Airlines Exposed Metal Slimline Seats Spirit Airlines Exposed Metal Slimline Seats

A couple of years ago Spirit ordered 5,000 of Acro Aircraft Seating’s “Superlight” seats. Beginning last year these seats began to make it onto new Spirit Airlines aircraft. My flight from Las Vegas to San Diego was on a brand new looking A321 with these seats. They don’t just use these seats on short routes though, my plane was incoming from Detroit to Las Vegas!

The seats are minimal in every way. A small tray table exists to hold a phone or tablet and bungee netting keeps the safety booklet in place. Even the small armrests are light and minimal. Of course, the most noticeable thing about these seats are the bare metal back and the complete lack of padding.

Spirit Airlines Exposed Metal Slimline Seats
The little bulge you see is the only padding on the seat.

Spirit Airlines Exposed Metal Slimline Seats Spirit Airlines Exposed Metal Slimline Seats


Spirit is perfecting the art of moving people around the country for less money. Some people hate it, but the truth is you get what you pay for. These seats may be minimal and may make you think you are flying on a military transport, but the plane is new and the fare is often significantly cheaper. That is a great value proposition for some people. Now excuse me while I ice my back.

What do you think? Has Spirit taken it too far with this seat or should they push it even further?

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  1. I flew from CLE to PHX in a Frontier that had these exact same seats. They were firm, but even though I have a bad back, I felt OK after the long flight. The small tray is not for anything but small items, the seats DO NOT RECLINE at all. Still more comfortable and a Greyhound Bus.

  2. Spirt seats are fine for most flights. If it is 2, 3, or 4 hours most people wont be uncomfortable. Long flights might be different, I have actually never tried them for that. But they are doing well and get a lot of people a lot of places they could otherwise not afford, so for that I give them credit. And there is no allure of air travel on any US carrier. That is gone, its like riding a bus now.

  3. I’ve flown Spirit several times! The new seats are actually “second generation” no recline (or pre-recline as NK says). The seats are noticeably narrower than earlier seats, but the aisle is much wider (something Delta has done on Airbus 320 series and MD80/90 aircraft too – instead of the wider 18 inch seat, use the standard 17 inch seat giving a wider aisle). Being a larger than average person, I initially hated the new narrower seats, but there is an upside. With the wider aisle no one hits me (I sit in an aisle seat) as they walk by during boarding or during the flight! Padding is thin, but I’ve been on several legacy carriers where their cushions were as hard as concrete.

    I’ve always enjoyed Spirit’s service. Yes, I have had the occasional 5 hour delay, but I know that going in…NK is not AA DL or UA where there is another flight in a couple of hours. Spirit has one or two flights in each market. And sometimes, there are not the cheapest, but always worth a check first!

  4. If you want to fly for less, then learn how to fly “Soul Plane”. I buy an aisle seat and I have leg room. I have purchased a bag that fits the requirements for a free carry on and I hop on and ride. I like paying sometimes $40.00 for a ticket one way or I have purchase a round trip ticket from Dallas to Detroit and paid 67.00. Learn how to fly the airlines and you are good.

  5. Being a frequent Spirit passenger, I believe these new seats to be quite an improvement over the old. They’re more reclined, provide slightly more legroom, and don’t wobble like the old-style seats common on EVERY carrier (no hinge=less flex). Yes they look minimalistic, but they’re actually quite comfy. I’m 6’1″ and my knees still have a little clearance. So no complaining about “legroom” for those of you shorter than me :-). And face it, its 2016 and even 4-year-olds have iPads now, so who needs a magazine pocket with a ridiculous inflight magazine? There are only so many watches one can own, and so many steakhouses one can eat at. If you’re a frequent traveler on AA, United or Delta you’ll understand what I’m talking about!

  6. Honestly , I’ve been flying with Spirit since 2009 taking the Aquadilla, PR to D.C. National route with one change normally in FLL, but I’ve actually found the seating okay considering the price. I do however think the bare metal back is a stretch too far, especially on longer flights. I’ll be flying out to Vegas in a couple of weeks, but I certainly am contemplating wether or not to take the chance with Spirit. A bit too far is my 2 cents worth.

  7. We can crack jokes about how far spirit has gone and continues to go in their attempt to reduce cost. Truth of the matter though is if you want to complain, fly an alternative carrier. I personally will continue to take advantage of their ridiculously cheap fares even at the expense of confort. I fly my family of four from michigan to florida for under $400 including fare and 3 checked in bags. No one beats that.

  8. Back in the 80’s, I flew a MAC flight three times out of St. Louis Lambert airport to Germany. Can’t recall if there were three or four sections, except rows each had four seats. One flew in your Class A and hardly anyone got up to use the restroom.

    Now I did fly prop planes from Germany to Crete and back, four times. The sounds of parts moving inside the bare interior, got on my nerves.

  9. Flew up MGA-FLL-DTW yesterday on Spirit, and both 321s had these seats. I’ve flown this route before only on Spirit 319/320s, and these seats struck me as actually a little better than the older ones. But I also found out during the leg to Florida that Spirit provides no blankets at any price to its passengers, which is going too far I think if you plan to keep the cabin at meat-hanging temperature when leaving the sub-tropics.

  10. I’ve flown my share of military transports (military charters / C130s / C141s).
    I don’t normally complain about Spirit’s seating issues, given the price to comfort ratio has been quite good. All that said, if I’m seeing your pictures of the new seats clearly, I would take the C130 bench configuration any day – at least I wouldn’t have some jackass shoving his/her knees in my back for 4 hours……
    Spirit needs to realize that there is in fact a limit to what people will accept as a “value proposition”. I wonder how long until Frontier follows suit?

  11. On one hand, replacing the seat pocket with a bungee will remove the element of surprise. Plus it’s one less place to discover that someone didn’t pick up a used air sickness bag. Yes this happened to me.

  12. Just because I hate Spirit, I’m bringing my Emotional Support giraffe . He’s very friendly except when he goes into must….then he tends to spray urine and charge at random people. Should be fun!!

  13. I’m waiting for the day they introduce stationary bikes instead of seats. The more you pedal, the more energy that is produced to reduce fuel. Those in the upper percentile of pedalling get a credit towards a future flight.


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