September 24, 2023


For splendid leisure

These Airlines Have the Most Legroom

4 min read
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Flying in comfort with enough legroom to stretch out and, yes, maybe even stow your bag under the seat in front of you seems like a simple ask. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case—not all economy seats are created equal—but doing the research to select a flight that’ll give you an extra inch of space may make all the difference.

After all, economy class legroom continues to shrink as some airlines add newer, but tighter, aircraft to their fleets, while other airlines seem almost pervertedly proud of squeezing in passengers (we’re looking at you, Allegiant Air and Spirit Airlines, with your 28-inch “pitch”—the industry word for how much space you have between your seat and the one in front).

It’s a zero-sum game between the airlines for passengers, but winning brings little vindication. The pandemic stressed already strained airlines, and when you combine fewer flights and the crew to operate them with a public hungry to return to travel, you’ll find that airplanes are packed, tickets pricey, and cramped conditions unlikely to improve soon.

Thankfully there are some airlines that haven’t yet adopted the sardine-tin model, and still offer some space to travelers in economy class. Below, we share the airlines in the U.S. and abroad with the most legroom. 

Editor’s note: Because airlines are constantly updating their cabins and fleets, the figures listed below are subject to change after publishing. 

This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

The airlines in the U.S. with the most legroom in economy are:

JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines: 32 inches

It may be no surprise to see both of these customer-centric airlines sitting atop the legroom rankings, but what is a shock is how they now share the top spot. In the past, JetBlue easily won out with a reliable pitch of up to 34 inches, but the additions to their fleet of Airbus A321LRs for new transatlantic routes and Airbus A220s for domestic hops drag down the average, as both offer just 32 inches in economy. Meanwhile, Southwest’s commitment to 32 inches of legroom stands firm, even when faced with the tempting opportunity to slim seats for their new Boeing 737 MAXs, as other airlines have done.

Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines: 31-32 inches

Every inch of space counts during the lengthy flights and long travel days necessary to reach Alaska or Hawaii, and their airlines deliver with an average range of 31 to 32 inches of legroom in economy. There is a simple trick to securely score a 32-inch seat on Alaska Airlines, however; the airline shed their tagline of “Proudly All Boeing” in 2016 with the acquisition of Virgin America, bringing Virgin’s generously spaced Airbus A320s in with their standard flock of Boeing 737s. Opt for an Alaska Airlines flight flown by an Airbus, if possible for your plans, and then you can count on the extra inch.

Delta Airlines: 30-32 inches

As one of the world’s largest airlines, Delta operates a wide range of aircraft with a range of legroom in economy, averaging 30 to 32 inches. For the better and worse, that average is trending down as Delta takes deliveries of brand new Airbus A220s, A321neos, and CRJ900s with 31 inches of economy pitch. Everyone loves a shiny new aircraft, but not everyone loves sacrificing an inch or two of legroom to fly in one.

American Airlines, Silver Airways, and United Airlines: 31 inches

While nothing much has changed in economy legroom for the giants of American Airlines and United Airlines, tiny Silver Airways has had a busy 2022. The airline, based out of both Puerto Rico and Fort Lauderdale, previously ranked higher, but recent fleet changes have lowered their average economy legroom. Silver not only retired the last of their Saab 340s—saying goodbye to their 33-inch legroom, too—but added more ATRs to their fleet (with 30-31 inches legroom) and finalized the integration of two de Havilland DHC-3 Twin Otters after acquiring Seaborne Airlines. The plane may have a cute name, but squeezing into its cozy cabin for an island hop is where the cuteness ends.

Avelo Airlines and Breeze Airways: 30 inches

The two newcomers to the skies as well as to the list of best economy legroom tie for fifth place, with an average economy legroom of 30 inches. Of the two, the most notable is Breeze, headquartered in Salt Lake City, as it’s the fifth airline start-up from former JetBlue founder David Neeleman. Routes like Tampa to Tulsa may not be tropical, but at least the seats are relatively comfortable. Over at Houston-based Avelo, which operates low-cost flights to 30 destinations, Boeing 737s with standard legroom get passengers where they need to be without much frippery.

The international airlines with the most legroom in economy are:

  1. Japan Airlines: 33-34 inches
  2. ANA, Emirates, EVA Airways, and Singapore Airlines: 32-34 inches
  3. Air China, Air France, Ethiopian Airlines, and Korean Air: 32-33 inches
  4. Cathay Pacific, SWISS, and Vietnam Airlines: 32 inches
  5. Aer Lingus, Aerolineas Argentinas, Eurowings, Turkish Airlines, Virgin Australia, and many others: 30-32

Later this October, it will be easier for fliers to enjoy the legroom onboard Japan Airlines, as the country is set to lift remaining travel restrictions as of October 11. Also available are the airline’s “Sky Wider” 33-34 inch seats—and with more than two years of pent-up traveler demand for Japan, planes are expected to fill up.

Regrettably, the old adage of “you get what you pay for” applies when it comes to airline seats. So, to secure the flight experience you truly want—and which maybe your long legs really need—plan on paying an extra fee for a premium seat reservation. Since most extra legroom seats are towards the front of the cabin, at least you’ll also be off the plane faster, too.

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