One of the nation's oldest airlines is jumping on a trend already embraced by its younger competitors: installing slimmer seats to cram more passengers per plane.
Hawaiian Airlines, with 85 years of operations, will replace its traditional seats with so-called slim line seats on its Boeing 717s — the smaller jets used to fly between the islands. By adding the seats with thinner cushions, Hawaiian can squeeze up to ten extra seats per plane, fitting up to 128 passengers in each jet.
"That will allow us to maintain the amount of personal space that our guests have in the main cabin while at the same time doing that with a slightly denser configuration," Peter Ingram, chief commercial officer for the airline, said during an investor presentation last week.
United, Alaska, Southwest and Spirit, among other airlines, have already added slim-line seats. But an online survey taken earlier this year found that 83% of passengers who have tried such seats say they are less comfortable than traditional airline seats.
The added seats may be one reason why Hawaiian executives are predicting higher profit margins next year.
"We are getting strong and better in all aspects of our business," said Scott Topping, the airlines chief financial officer.