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Going the Extra Inch: Airlines with Legroom

A post in the Economist’s travel blog, Gulliver, and a story in the New York Times had me thinking about legroom on airlines. According to, one of the few ways to forecast your leg cramping comfort is by looking at seat pitch, which is “the distance between the rows of seats and is measured from the back of one seat to the back of the seat behind.” I began charging through a few sites which graciously list the data in tables. Tables are fine for listing data but for making quick comparisons or any type of analysis, visualizing the data is much more effective. A picture says a thousand words after all. People absorb a picture in an instant while taking several minutes to digest evan a few paragraphs or tables. Wanting to share what I’d learned about legroom with others I put together a quick graphic.

Below, I’ve charted the minimum seat pitch you can expect on a particular airline. (A lot of airlines vary seat pitch by aircraft or level of service, such as economy or economy premium/plus.) A seat pitch of 28 inches is the minimum required by UK regulations. For simplicity and for a little further insight into the airlines that I tend to fly, I organized the list of world airlines to those in the big three alliances. Enjoy.

Seat Pitch by Airline

  1. 2 Responses to “Going the Extra Inch: Airlines with Legroom”

  2. I wish I had a tape measure on my flight to/from Boston on United last week. At 5′9″, I felt cramped in UA’s economy seat and wouldn’t be surprised if the seat pitch was a few inches shy of their published 31 inches. It’s now transparent why they upsell legroom during check-in: $90 (US) for 5″ extra legroom between Boston and San Francisco.

    One obvious clue UA has re-align seating comes when you turn on the overhead light and the it shines on the seatback in front of you rather than on the book in your lap. Their maintenance crews can move the row markers with the seats, but not the fixed bulkhead components.

    BTW, great chart. For a comprehensive list of airline economy seat pitch, go to

    By Peter Walker on Jul 2, 2008

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