You want the best of both worlds from your airline, the most legroom you can get and the best economy airfare available. Both of these become increasingly important, particularly if you’re flying a long distance. Most airlines offer various levels of seating and service on their aircraft, this is particularly true for longer flights. When booking your next flight be sure to understand the various levels of service and seating available.
Airline Seats and Legroom are Shrinking
A little history and a couple of definitions first. Overtime your onboard amenities like pillows and blankets have disappeared, and now your legroom is starting to disappear too. According to Fortune Magazine in the 1970s the average seat width was 35 inches and today it is 31 inches. So while the average size of Americans has grown over the years the average size of airline seats has decreased. The other measurement which is important is what the industry refers to as pitch. Pitch translates to how much legroom you will have. Specifically, it is the distance on a point on the seat to the same point on the seat in front of it. The greater the number, the greater the comfort. It is also the measurement that airlines can adjust a bit by adding or deleting rows in their cabins.
Which leading airlines offer the best legroom in their economy class? Here are the results from our research showing which airlines flying within the U.S. with the most legroom in their economy class. Classes of service such as economy plus, or economy premium, etc. offer seats in the economy cabin with more legroom for a price.
Lastly, the list below includes only the most recognizable airlines.
In the United States
Airlines with the Most Legroom (Economy)
Jet Blue – 32-33 inches
Southwest – 31-32 inches
Hawaiian Airlines – 31-32
Alaska Airlines – 31 inches
American Airlines – 31 inches
United Airlines – 31 inches
Delta Airlines – 31 inches
Airlines with the Least Amount of Legroom
You’ll get a little less legroom on no-frills carriers such as Allegiant 30 inches, while Spirit and Frontier offer 28 inches. Lastly, airlines are constantly updating their cabins and fleets so these numbers are subject to change. Knowing what you’re getting ahead of time can help manage your expectations for your next upcoming flight.
Tips to Find Additional Legroom or on Any Flight
- Pay for it
Several airlines offer a class of service that is better than regular economy, but not as luxurious as business class, or the most costly first class of service. Several such as economy plus, or economy premium, etc. offer seats in the economy cabin with more legroom for a price. Depending on the length of your legs or the length of the flight, this may be a reasonable choice for you.
- Seat selection
If you’re looking for the maximum legroom in economy class when booking your flight online select an exit row or bulkhead seats to get the maximum legroom, maybe up to 39 inches of seat pitch. Be careful though, some of those seats particularly near the emergency exit do not recline. So weigh what is most important to you in terms of comfort the ability to recline or legroom. Some airlines do not offer seat assignments, like Southwest Airlines you’ll need to be in the first boarding group for a chance to get those seats. Of course, you can now pay an additional fee to get automatic check-in and a position in that coveted boarding group.
Find Comfort on Any Flight, No Matter the Legroom
- Personal travel gear
You can make your travels more comfortable regardless of your seat by taking a few travel comfort items onboard with you. We like the following choices for comfort to help make your shrinking space as comfortable as possible.
The Airhook helps maximize your personal space onboard by holding your phone or tablet on a closed tray table.
The Flight Flap Phone and tablet holder fits all phones and Kindle devices.
This molded sleep mask includes earplugs and carry-pouch. Mold cups won’t smudge makeup or put pressure on your eyes.
TripYee Inflatable Travel Neck Pillow with Removable Cover and Drawstring Bag Included, Navy Blue
Long Shawl, soft and solid color goes with everything and can be used as a blanket on board.
Niaiwei Cashmere Scarf Blanket made of soft Pashmina, a perfect travel companion.
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