Every precious inch: these airlines offer the most (and least!) legroom


It won’t come as much of a surprise to hear that not all airplane seating configurations are created equally. But deciphering the differences can sometimes feel like an impossible task when what sets them apart is measured in inches instead of feet. Still, anyone who has ever flown across the Pacific knows that every precious inch matters when buckling into a seat for most of the day. Thanks to a little sleuthing by Condé Nast Traveler, here are the airlines with the most – and least – legroom.

U.S. Carriers with the Most Legroom

  1. JetBlue: The roomiest of the roomiest major American carriers, JetBlue’s main cabin configuration gives passengers a generous (or depressing, depending on your state of mind when reading this) 33 inches of space between seats.
  2. Virgin America, Southwest: Virgin and Southwest round out the top three with 32 inches of pitch, the distance from one seat to another, commonly referred to as legroom.

U.S. Carriers with the Least Legroom

  1. Spirit: The most miserly of the major American airlines, Spirit packs passengers into planes that average just 28 inches of pitch. Worst of all, Spirit’s seats are locked into position and don’t allow passengers to recline.
  2. Frontier: Like Spirit, Frontier crams its cabins full of seats just 28 inches apart, but at least you can recline. Or more likely, you’ll have to recline if the seat just 28 inches from you invades your tight quarters by reclining first.
  3. Allegiant: Pushing back out of the 20’s thankfully, Allegiant’s seats are 30 inches apart.

The remaining major U.S. carriers – American, Delta, United, Alaskan and Hawaiian – all have 31 inches between rows. Though most flights operated by these airlines now include several rows of economy plus seating, where you can pay extra for a few more inches of legroom.

International Carriers with the Most Legroom

  1. Aeromexico: The roomiest coach cabin in all the world, Aeromexico gives passengers a positively plush 34 inches of pitch.
  2. South African Airways: Another surprisingly generous airline, SAA barely trails Aeromexico with 33.5 inches between rows.
  3. Asiana, Air India, Air Tahiti Nui: Tied for third, these three allow passengers to spread out across 33 inches – the same amount of space JetBlue offers.

International Carriers with the Least Legroom

  1. AirBerlin, Austrian Airlines, Aeroflot: The 30 inches of space afforded to passengers aboard flights from these three honestly doesn’t sound so bad after learning about Spirit and Frontier’s 28 inch seats though, does it?

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