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1 October 2020

Which airline has the best seats?

Fed up with folding yourself in half when you fly? We reveal the airlines with the widest seats and most generous legroom
Seat squeeze 475548

 

Plane seats are getting smaller. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s played armrest wars in cattle class, knees painfully wedged against the seat in front. 

As well as seats and legroom, aisle space is also shrinking, all in the name of cramming more people on to flights.

Back in the 1950s, you could expect a 40-inch seat pitch (the distance from your headrest to the one in front, and the best indicator of legroom). Compare that to the current 31 inches on British Airways and Virgin long-haul flights and the grazed knees suddenly make sense.

If you’re after extra legroom, you’ll need to pay a pretty penny for the privilege (£50 minimum with BA).

LONG HAUL
Airline Seat pitch (inches) Seat width (inches) Overall seat comfort
Air Canada 31-35 17-18
American Airlines 31-37 16.2-18.5
BA 30-31 17-18
Emirates 32-34 17-18
Etihad 31-33 17.5
KLM 31-35 17.5
Singapore Airlines 32-34 17.5-19
Thomas Cook 29-31 17-18.2
Tui Airways 33 17-18
Virgin Atlantic 29-31 17.5-18

Using the table: Seat pitch The distance between two seat rows – an indicator of legroom. Data from SeatGuru. Seat width The distance between the armrests of a single seat. Data from SeatGuru. Seat comfort Rated out of five by Which? members in 2017.



 

SHORT HAUL
Airline Seat pitch (inches) Seat width (inches) Overall seat comfort
BA 29-34 17-18
Easyjet 29 18
Jet2 29 17
Ryanair 30-34 17
Tui Airways 28-34 17.2-18

Using the table: Seat pitch The distance between two seat rows – an indicator of legroom. Data from SeatGuru. Seat width The distance between the armrests of a single seat. Data from SeatGuru. Seat comfort Rated out of five by Which? members in 2017.