Virgin America says it will not add slimline seats

Virgin America is sticking with its old seats, at least for now. But how long will it last?

Virgin America is sticking with its old seats, at least for now. But how long will it last?

Virgin America has no plans to add slimline seats, an airline executive told me last week. 

If you fly a lot, you know the seats. As their name suggests, they're slimmer (and less padded) than what they replace. This allows airlines to add more seats to each plane, and it improves profit margins. But passengers usually find them less comfortable than the old verson.

"We are not interested in that right now," Virgin America COO Steve Forte told me last week during my visit to headquarters. "We have had lots of seat vendors come through here with seats. We try them out. If we find one that lives up to our high standards, we would take a look at it. But right now no one has been able to provide a seat we like."

I was surprised at the answer. I'm guessing Virgin America could add 10 economy class seats to each aircraft with the new seats. That's major revenue. And other customer-focused airlines are installing the seats, believing they won't hurt their brands too much. JetBlueAirways thinks it has found a decent seat, as does Alaska Airlines.  United, Delta and American have also started adding new new seats. 

Given Virgin America is a publicly traded corporation with shareholders, I suspect it's only a matter of time until it makes the switch, despite what Forte said.

What do you think?