Arguably, flying has become more democratic. Air travel is now more accessible to more people than ever before, and this is indeed a global phenomenon. Therefore not limited to only a select few developed nations where travelers with higher disposable income reside.
We’ve see the explosive growth of LCC (Low Cost Carriers) – better known as Budget Airlines – across the world. Even some of the smallest (or youngest) European countries whose state-owned (mostly) flag carriers are suffering financially now have multiple budget airlines.
The human thirst (and curiosity) to travel is unstoppable. Attractive airfares are making the quest to explore even more appealing. The other interesting reality is that as nations’ economies expand, something else – seemingly unrelated at first sight – expands as well… the passengers’ waistline. Hence, making it more uncomfortable to travel long distances. If one is of relative “plus size”, being “stuck” in a seat more than 5 hours – as is the case with any transoceanic travel, is sheer agony! What are the options then, in the “seat type” department?
The vast majority of air travelers fly coach (that’s economy for the rest of the world!), and it is therefore interesting to see what choices are out there, and whether all airline seats are created equal. The good and bad news about it is, that there is a difference – in seat pitch and mere inches – all of which add up to extra comfort when flying long haul.
In my quest for this particular information, I was then pleasantly surprised to have stumbled upon “The Most Comfortable Airline Economy Seats” blog post that appeared in Geek About. The following are their findings.
Not all economy seats are created equal. Can you get a good seat experience for decent shut-eye? By doing a little bit of digging you’ll find out enough info to help you make a flight in economy a pleasant flight, instead of an unbearable one. My suggestion is that you should be aware of what one or two inches of leg room can do — it makes the difference between being able to open your laptop all the way or being able to cross my legs comfortably. Seat pitch and width can vary greatly between airline carriers and aircraft type. So, when you’re comparing flights, be sure to check out the comparison chart at the end of the post to help you identify the differences between seat pitch and width on different airlines.
Seat pitch is the distance from any point on one seat to the exact same point on the seat in front or behind it. And while it is not the exact equivalent of “legroom”, it does give a very good approximation of how much seat room you should expect. The Bottom Line: the more seat pitch the better!
Photo: Travis Church
Virgin America – Where JetBlue attempts to woo its patrons with extra leg room and some satellite audio and video content, Virgin has opted for a sensory barrage. Stepping into what is seemingly a “purple palace” in the sky with fully-equipped mood lighting, the brand new fleet of aircrafts at Virgin America provide passengers with some of the latest technology for in-flight entertainment and productivity. The Airbus A320 features comfortable leather seats in coach class, and a comfortable pitch of 32” and width of 19.7”.
Emirates – Emirates is relatively generous to their coach passengers in terms of legroom. Coach passengers flying the A330 can expect their seats to have a pitch of 32”, while flying the B777 aircraft will up the ante to 33”-34”. Seat width remains approximately 17.5” on either type of aircraft.
Singapore Airlines – Singapore Airline were the first airline in the world to put into service the Airbus A380. The A380 has 32“ seat pitch and 19” width. The Singapore Airbus A340-500 used on long haul flight between New York and Singapore is even more spacious than the bigger A380 with 37“ of seat pitch and 20“ seat width.
JetBlue – JetBlue has recently reconfigured their fleet of A320 aircrafts which has helped to increase the seat pitch in coach. Passengers can now expect to have a coach seat with a 34”-36” pitch, and for an additional $10, passengers can request an “Even More Legroom” seat, which increases the pitch to an impressive 38” – these seats are limited, and you must call a JetBlue agent to book one of these seats at 1-800-JETBLUE.
Virgin Atlantic – Flying Virgin Atlantic offers two choices for economy passengers: Economy, and Premium Economy. Economy passengers can expect their seats to have a pitch of about 31”, while Premium Economy customers can expect a tad bit more leg room and a wider seat at 21”, compared to 17.5”. Economy seats also feature seatback TVs, video on-demand, and some seats feature video game consoles with up to 35 different games.
Qantas – Qantas provides ample legroom for economy passengers on both their domestic and international flights. The B747 fleet provides 32” pitch seating, and a width of 17.25”. Qantas recently began offering International Premium Economy seating for select flights, and these seats offer a wider 19.5” seat and footrest. Each seat also has its own personal fold-out 8.4” touch-screen monitor built-in to the armrest for watching movies on-demand.
Cathay Pacific – Cathay’s fleet of B-777s offer a seat pitch of 32”, and a width of 18.5”. Flying coach class aboard their larger A340-600 aircrafts, from Hong Kong to New York nonstop, offers a marginally slimmer seat width at 17.75”. These long flights offer economy passengers an innovative view from the nose of the plane via a nose-wheel cam that broadcasts a signal to the TV screens on-board.
British Airways – On the British Airways Boeing 747-400 the World Traveller (economy) class has 31″ of pitch, and a seat width of 17.5”. Each British Airways aircraft also features 4-5 rows of World Traveler Plus economy seating with larger 38” pitch, 18.5” width, and slightly greater reclining capabilities.
Japan Airlines – Japan Airlines offers both an Economy and a Premium Economy choice for seating. The economy seats offer a spacious 34” of pitch and a 17” width, while the Premium Economy seats offer an increased 38” of pitch and 18.9” width. Premium Economy seating is available on JLA’s Boeing 777-300ER aircraft (a total of 46 seats per plane). These seats also offer an incredible 120-degrees of recline.
United Airlines – United offers two choices to its economy passengers; Economy and Economy Plus. Economy passengers can expect differing amounts of leg room depending upon the specific aircraft. All aircraft seats have a seat pitch of 31” except for: the A319 (31”-33”), the A320 (31”-33”), the A321 (32”), and the A330-300 (32”-34”). Economy Plus seating adds an additional 4” of legroom, and this seating option is available to Premier or high status members of United’s Mileage Plus frequent flier program, or to full-fare/unrestricted economy passengers.
|Seat Pitch||Seat Width||Seat Recline|
Inspiration: Geek About