Which airlines have the best and worst legroom?

Every inch counts when it comes to legroom, Key Aero investigates which carriers offer the most and which fall short in this crucial department and some are quite surprising 

When booking a flight, the amount of legroom each operator provides isn’t always clearly advertised, but for tall people especially, it can be one of the biggest concerns.  

(Photo: Heathrow Airport)

There’s nothing worse than trying to fold your legs into space where they won’t fit and then having to sit there for hours, so if you’re tall – or just want lots of room – then we have a list of airlines which offer some of the best in the industry. We’ve also collected some names where you might want to avoid the basic economy class if you can. 

seat pitch
Seat pitch is measured using the distance between the same two points. Wikimedia Commons/Carlo Salgado

The term “seat pitch” is the relevant technical term in this situation – it describes the distance between the same points on two seats. It could be the back of the headrest or the mount which is used to fix the seat to the floor. 

The worst 

The industry standard for seat pitch is 30-31in with most carriers opting for this in their basic economy class offering. More seat pitch usually means more legroom but not always, because it can be impacted by such things as tray table placement and seat thickness. 

Spirit Airlines: 28in 

The US-based ultra-low-cost carrier’s Deluxe Leather class – which is its basic economy offering – provides a seat pitch of only 28in. This distance is the same across its entire fleet of various Airbus narrowbodies.  

TAP Air Portugal: 28in 

On a selection of the Portuguese flag carrier’s Airbus A319 fleet, it offers a mere 28in of seat pitch to customers in its Economy class. The remainder of its narrowbody fleet provides a roomier 30in in the same class. 

Iberia: 28in 

The Spanish flag carrier Iberia provides only 28in of seat pitch on the majority of its narrowbody fleet. The width of the seats is also at the bottom end of the normal industry offering at 17in. 

Wizz Air: 28in 

Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air also affords passengers 28in of seat pitch across its entire fleet of Airbus narrowbodies. The single-class configuration of its fleet means there is no variety apart from exit rows which by law, are required to be much wider. 

easyJet: 29in 

Luton-based easyJet offers customers a comparatively roomy experience with 29in of seat pitch across its entire fleet. Despite being below the industry average for this measurement, the low-cost carrier is above average for seat width at 18in. 

AirAsia: 29in 

Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia offers 29in of seat pitch on both its Airbus A320ceo and neo fleet.  

Frontier: 29in 

The second US-based ultra-low-cost carrier on the list, Frontier Airlines offers slightly more seat pitch than Spirit Airlines with 29in on most of its fleet, apart from its A321 examples which provide a generous 30in. 

The best 

With the industry-standard being between 30 and 31in, most carriers stick to that, but some offer significantly more! 

Emirates: 33in 

The UAE’s largest airline provides a comparatively spacious 33in of seat pitch across its fleet, most notably on its two-class configurations. 

Japan Airlines: 33in 

On some of its aircraft used for domestic operations, Japan Airlines manages to offer passengers seat pitch up to 33in and on its international fleet up to 34in in economy class. 

WestJet: 33in  

Canadian airline WestJet is able to provide up to 33in of seat pitch for some of its aircraft used on domestic operations. Its De Havilland Dash 8 fleet however only has 30in. 

Royal Jordanian: 34in 

Amman-based Royal Jordanian offers a huge 34in seat pitch in economy class on its Airbus aircraft, but only 32in on its Embraer fleet. 

Aeromexico: 34in 

In Main Cabin Economy class on its Boeing 737 MAX 8s, Aeromexico offer passengers up to 34in of seat pitch.  

Air Canada: 34in 

Also using its 737 MAX 8s, Air Canada has a selection of economy class seats that boast a seat pitch of up to 34in.  

Air New Zealand: 34in 

Auckland-based Air New Zealand is able to offer up to 34in of seat pitch on its Airbus A320neo fleet and up to 33in on some of its A320ceo roster. 

Ryanair, which stereotypically is seen as an airline that would cram as many seats into its aircraft as possible, actually offers a very respectable 30in of seat pitch across its entire Boeing 737 fleet.