Southwest Airlines has always been one of my favorite carriers, a position which was recently reinforced when they refused to charge the onerous $100 checked luggage fee being levied by other airlines. My confidence in Southwest escalated another notch today when I learned a “green plane” is being added to their fleet. Environmentally friendly materials used in the interior of the Boeing 737-700 will equate to a weight savings of almost five pounds per seat, saving fuel and reducing emissions while adding recyclable elements to the cabin interior and reducing waste. Elements of the plane include:
- InterfaceFlor Carpet – reduces labor and material costs because it is laid in carpet squares, thus eliminating the total replacement of areas such as aisles. The carpet is totally recyclable and the manufacturing process is dedicated to being completely carbon neutral.
- Seat covers – offers more than twice the durability than the current leather seats as well as a weight savings per seat of almost two pounds. They are recyclable and have an environmentally- friendly manufacturing process.
- Life Vest Pouch – more environmentally friendly because it offers a weight savings of one pound per passenger. The smaller pouch creates more room under the seat for carry-on items.
- Foam Fill – A lighter weight fill in the back of the seats that reduces weight while providing increased customer comfort.
- Wind Screen – bulkhead product that lasts longer than the current leather product, thus reducing labor costs and waste.
- Aisle Rub Strips – switching from plastic to aluminum will help with durability, which reduces waste, as well as being recyclable.
As someone who is acutely aware of environmental issues, I applaud Southwest’s efforts, not only for this new plane, but for their long-term commitment to lead the industry in emissions reductions through fuel efficiency. The next time I step onto a Southwest aircraft, I will cringe just a bit less when considering the carbon footprint left by my flight.