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Hawaii: More seats, less padding

Hawaiian Airlines installing slimmer seating

Hawaiian Airlines is slimming its Boeing 717 seats to squeeze as many as 10 more  passengers into its main cabins for island-to-island hops.

Will the retrofit also reduce passenger legroom and comfort?  Airline officials say no.

The first redesigned jet was unveiled last week. It features lightweight seating that eliminates much of the customary padding. All 18 of the airline's 717s will be renovated by the end of this year.

Whatever the impact on comfort, passengers won’t occupy their seats for very long. Hawaiian’s short-haul flights last 20 minutes to an hour, linking Hawaii, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai and Oahu.

The new seats feature aluminum “tablet tables” on which to place a computing device or a drink. They’re made by Acro Aircraft Seating, a British company located near London’s Gatwick Airport.

First-class passengers will continue to enjoy bigger cushier seats, but with new fabrics and leather arm caps. The planes also will get new carpeting.

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