Southwest Airlines introduced its new Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes on Sunday, becoming the first carrier in North America to offer service on the aircraft.
“Today, we begin a new chapter in Southwest's history by introducing the Boeing 737 MAX 8 to our customers and employees,” Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chairman & CEO, said in a statement onboard the inaugural flight from Dallas to Houston. “The MAX 8 is the future of the Southwest fleet.”
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The new aircraft feature a single-class cabin with 175 seats, each with 32 inches of seat pitch. The planes offer an LED lighting sequence for each phase of flight and a “music-infused cabin experience featuring playlists for boarding and deplaning,” according to the statement, much like Virgin planes have done for years.
The airline has already started service with nine of the new planes, expects to have 14 in rotation by the end of this year, and has orders for 200 more Boeing MAX 7 and MAX 8 aircraft.
The planes boast all-new LEAP-1B engines, which are “designed to be more fuel efficient and produce less noise,” according to Southwest.
But of course with all this new something old must be retired. To make room for all these fancy upgrades Southwest retired 30 planes on Friday, including the classic Boeing 737-300s, which have been a part of the airline’s fleet for 33 years, NBC reported.
Those planes, however, may take to the skies again someday. As Jon Stephens, the airline's director of fleet transactions, told the Dallas Morning News “It’s going to be in a state where we could sell it to someone and they could turn around and fly it. Our thinking is it's a short-term storage program.”