These airlines’ standard economy seats offer the most legroom. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.
We all know that traveling in economy (or coach, depending on your terminology) can be more of a necessity than enjoyment, but there are ways to make the trip more enjoyable. Here we look at the airlines around the world that give the most legroom, plus a couple of tips for how to squeeze the most out of your space to make your journey the most comfortable it can be.
Oh, and just so you know, we’re talking about what’s known as seat pitch, which is the distance between a row of seats — the measurement from the same position on two seats, one behind the other — and while this might not always tally with legroom, it’s generally the best measure available.
The best airlines with the most legroom in economy
JetBlue Airways (32” – 34”)
Often voted the best of the US low-cost carriers, JetBlue Airways doesn’t only offer the best legroom — a spacious 32 – 34 inches — but adds free WiFi and TVs in every seat, giving customers a generous experience.
Southwest Airlines (32”)
Wondering how much legroom a 737 Boeing has? Another US-based low-cost carrier, Southwest operates a fleet of Boeing 737s, all of which boast seats with 32 inches of pitch. However, unlike some other carriers, when traveling on the Boeing 737 MAX, Southwest have opted against adding more rows, leaving the customer with a nice bit of legroom regardless of the aircraft.
Eurowings (30” – 32”)
For a European short-haul carrier, Eurowings is relatively spacious, offering legroom of 30” – 32” across the board. The low-cost subsidiary of the Lufthansa group continues to expand its range of routes across the continent.
Japan Airlines (33” – 34”)
The nation’s flag carrier is extremely generous with its cabin space, and its medium- and long-haul economy is among the best around. The company now also uses Airbus A350s for short-haul domestic flights, but even these compare well (31”) with similar airlines, as we’ll see later on!
Alaska Airlines (32” – 34”)
Alaska is one of the airlines that’s now offering power points and USB ports in their economy section, a nice bonus that just makes the journey a bit more pleasant.
TUI UK (33” – 34”)
Thomson Travel’s airline subsidiary isn’t a huge network — 80 destinations doesn’t seem that many compared to many of the bigger operators — but their fleet of Boeings flies from many of the UK’s regional airports, offering something a bit different.
Aerolíneas Argentinas (32” – 33”)
The national airline of Argentina has good space in economy across its 80 aircraft, with a 15kg baggage allowance on domestic flights, and a bag allowed free of charge on other routes.
ANA, Emirates, EVA Airways, and Singapore Airlines (32” – 34”)
These four are consistently ranked highly in customer satisfaction awards, and the legroom almost certainly has something to do with it. If you can afford it, it’s worth splurging for Premium Economy too, where you’ll get wider seats, footrests, as well as USB and power outlets.
United (30” – 34”)
United has a wide range of seats across its fleet depending on aircraft and duration of flight (domestic medium-haul, domestic short-haul, international, etc.), but you’ll generally get decent space as well as on-demand TV, power points, and WiFi on many routes.
Aer Lingus (31” – 34”)
Ireland’s flag carrier is a good option, offering 31” – 32” seats on short-haul flights and up to 34” on transatlantic trips. They also boast of their Irish-sourced food, a full bar service, and WiFi’s also available.
How to bag yourself the best legroom
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There are certain seats that give more legroom — exit row seats and bulkhead seats, for example — but these are often left unfilled. Sure, they have extra space so people can exit the aircraft quickly, but because of this airlines often charge a premium to sit there. However — and here’s the thing — airlines are obliged to have at least one person on these rows to comply with safety and security regulations. As long as you seem physically capable of opening the emergency exit door, you might be able to bag yourself one of these seats simply by asking.
That’s another tip that seems like common sense: be friendly to the staff on board. It’s amazing how far a smile and a polite request will get you, especially when those exit row seats need to be filled. Common courtesy seems to sometimes go out the window when flying, and hey, it’s nice to be nice.
Other nifty economy-class hacks
If you’re flying with a friend and you have the option to choose your seats, try going for one window and one aisle seat, ignoring the middle seat. It’s less likely this one will be given away unless the flight is very full indeed, meaning that at least you get a row to yourselves. Plus, even if the middle seat is booked, you might very well be able to swap with that person and at least have the benefit of battling for the armrest with someone you know!
Check what’s on offer to make the trip more pleasant. A number of airlines have started introducing power outlets, USB slots, and other, greater pleasantries such as WiFi into their economy cabins. It’s a little thing but can make a difference to the overall experience.
The same goes for food and drink: it’s not common anymore, but a few airlines still do a free drinks and snack service in economy, and others are now making a big noise about using completely recycled material to produce their food packaging. Whatever makes you feel happier about flying economy, there are options out there.
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