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Southwest first announced that it would be testing out a "green plane" cabin program in 2009, but the airline has now made the idea of a more eco-friendly cabin a reality. Southwest has identified the vendors and types of products that will contribute to environmentally-friendly cabin that has been christened "Evolve," which is the real deal. Southwest will begin retrofitting its Boeing 737-700 aircraft in March, with a goal of finishing the entire fleet by 2013. These materials were first tested on the "green plane" and now ready to fly on regular revenue service.The new interior will feature innovative products such as eco-friendly leather seat covers, recyclable aluminum tray table latches and carbon-neutral carpet. Southwest's Marilee McInnis blogs about the different products here at the Nuts about Southwest blog. To experience what the new cabin feels like, check out this full-screen 360-degree tour of the cabin, full of very fun interactive plus signs that expand when you click on them. Some of the modifications are so subtle that it seems as is nothing has changed, but there is more than meets the eye. New seat covers and cushions alone contribute to a savings of 635 pounds per aircraft, but you would probably never know just by looking at photos of the interior. Click on the orange "+" signs to unveil the sustainable features of each cabin element. If that's not enough fun for you, take a look at this cool time-lapse video that Southwest provides to show the process of building up the cabin. Southwest did add a row of seats to push up capacity when it calculated how much room it could save with the new re-design, bringing the number of seats on each aircraft up from 137 to 143 (The airline maintains that adding seats was not the motivation for the re-design, but rather a decision made later in the game after seeing how much space was freed up). Some commenters seem concerned about this fact, but Southwest says that it managed to add bodies without sacrificing comfort by designing a "down and back" seat that minimizes the need to recline. The blog does not mention changes in legroom or living space explicitly, but I am doing my best to get to the bottom of what these configuration changes really mean for passengers. Stay tuned! In the meantime, have fun exploring.
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