Lonely Planet Writer

Need more space when you fly? These airlines have the most legroom

With airlines cutting back on beloved amenities like in-flight meals and free drinks, there is still one thing that most travellers are even more devastated to lose: legroom.

A jet plane flying low over a city.
A jet plane flying low over a city. Image by pbombaert/Getty Images

Legroom is generally defined in the business as seat pitch, which described the distance between an airline seat and the same point on the seat in front of it. Most travellers – particularly the tall and long-legged – are somewhat perturbed by the shrinking of that vital space, so Skycanner has broken down what different airlines provide on long-haul flights.

With data from Seatguru.com, the report shows that legroom can vary greatly based on the different aircrafts operated by each airline. However, Canadian airline West Jet provides the most space, with economy seats ranging from 31 to 38 inches in pitch, depending on the plane. The 38 to 40 inch range is generally found on other airline’s premium economy offerings. Of the nearly 20 airlines included, China Southern and Thomas Cook had the least seat pitch on some flights, ranging from 29 to 33 and 29 to 31 inches respectively.

Would you speak up if someone reclines their seat?
Would you speak up if someone reclines their seat? Image by Jason Hetherington/Getty Images

Most airlines offer seat pitch starting at 31 inches on economy seats, with slightly more room on certain flights. In the US, Virgin Atlantic offers 31 inches on economy flights and 38 inches in premium economy, while Delta’s range is 31 to 35, with no premium. Air France economy flights provide 31 to 34 inches of seat pitch, while premium economy flights have between 38 to 40 inches. British Airways flights range from 30 and 31 inches in seat pitch, while premium economy seats provide 38. Norwegian Air and Qatar Airways both provide standard 31-plus inches in economy, but also offer the most room in premium economy, with seat pitch hitting the highest range at 46 inches on Norwegian, 38 to 42 inches on Qatar.

But, if what you truly want is value for money, the study also looked into which of the most popular airlines provide the best price for legroom, based on the cost per centimetre on the average flight price for 2016. Turkish Airlines provides the best value at £4.97 per centimetre, followed by Air India (£5.73), Qatar Airways (£6.94), Delta (£7.06), and Etihad Airways (£7.26).

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