Comparison of Legroom on Major Airlines - Thrifty Traveler

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Comparison of Legroom on Major Airlines

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Airlines may appear similar but different aircraft and seats can make a huge difference in your flight comfort. Although the cost may be the same, flying Spirit is generally an entirely different experience from flying JetBlue. I'm a fan of the GIF above giving the various airline's average seat pitch. JetBlue is the clear winner at 34″ while Spirit wins the toilet bowl award with a measly average pitch of 28″. A couple of inches of legroom might not sound like much, but it can make a big difference.

Define Seat Pitch: The distance between two rows of seats, this is the best indicator of legroom.

We always recommend avoiding Frontier or Spirit, regardless of price. Seat pitch of 28 or 29 inches is unacceptable unless you don't mind being packed in like a sardine. The only time it's acceptable to fly Spirit is if you are packing light and it's a short flight. Don't plan a family vacation flying Spirit, as there are better options for the same price. Frontier or Spirit might appear cheaper up front, but once you add in the bag fees and seat assignment, it's likely on par with other carriers. Pay a little more for your ticket, the extra legroom is worth it.

We've talked about how SeatGuru is a great resource to find the perfect seat for your next flight. SeatGurualso features a listing of seat pitch by airline and aircraft. It's a great reference guide to know how much seat space you'll have, before you book. Here is the round-up of the best domestic and international airlines when it comes to legroom. There are generally many aircraft in each airline's fleet, we tried to average it out.


Best Domestic

  • JetBlue – 34″
  • Southwest – 32″
  • Virgin America – 32″

Worst Domestic

  • Spirit – 28″
  • Frontier – 28″


Best International 

  • Aeromexico – 34″
  • South African – 32 – 33.5″
  • Asiana – 33″
  • Air Tahiti – 33″
  • Korean Air – 32 -33″
  • TAP Portugal 32 – 34″
  • Emirates 32 – 34″
  • American Airlines – Up to 36″
  • Finnair – up to 37″
  • Westjet – up to 37″
  • EL AL – up to 36″
  • Delta/KLM – 35″

Worst International 

  • easyJet – 29″ (short-haul international)
  • Germanwings – 29″ (short-haul international)
  • Air Asia – 29″ (short-haul international)
  • Condor – 29″
  • China Southern – 29″
  • Thomas Cook – 29″
  • Air Berlin – 30″
  • Air Canada – 30″
  • Austrian – 30″
  • Jetstar – 30″
  • Iberia – 30″
  • Ryanair – 30″ (short-haul international)


Bottom Line 

Aeromexico surprised me in the long-haul international section. They have 34″ of legroom on both their Boeing Dreamliner 787 and 777 routes. Typically the Dreamliner can be packed in economy, so Aeromexico makes a great choice for long-haul flights. One airline I expected to be worse was Ryanair, but they surprisingly offer 30″ of seat pitch. It's not a lot more than the bottom of the barrel but every inch helps.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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