London - As any frequent flier knows, just a couple of inches of extra legroom can make all the difference between a pleasant start to your holiday and a torturous one.
So before booking your next trip, it may pay to take a peek at the results of the most extensive survey ever into seat size when flying in economy.
As might be expected of a budget airline, Ryanair came bottom of the study of 32 of the world’s leading airlines for seat width, with a miserly 16 inches (about 40cm).
Its rival easyJet fared much better, however, with its seat width of 17.5 inches giving it sixth spot.
But when it came to legroom – defined as the distance between the back of one chair to the back of the one in front – the roles were reversed.
With just 29 inches, easyJet finished second from bottom, whereas Ryanair came 24th with 30 inches. So a short, plump passenger might be more comfortable with easyJet but a taller, slimmer passenger might be more likely to enjoy a Ryanair flight.
Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines were rated joint top for legroom, with 32 inches, while Emirates was top for seat width, with a minimum of 18 inches and a maximum of 20.5 inches.
British Airways was in eighth for width (17.3 inches minimum, 18.1 maximum) but only 21st for legroom (30 to 31 inches).
Virgin Atlantic did better on both counts, with width of 17.5 inches and legroom from 31 to 32 inches.
The Airline Survey dossier was carried out by Business Traveller magazine and its sister website Seatplans.com. British Airways’ sister airline Iberia finished bottom for legroom with a minimum of just 28 inches on its Airbus A319s and A320s.
However, the survey noted that over half of Iberia’s planes have a larger legroom than this, with 30 or 32 inches minimum.
Many passengers upgrade to “premium economy” to get some extra space without paying business or first-class fares. Here the most legroom is offered by Turkish Airlines at 46 inches. Virgin Atlantic won the prize for best premium economy seat width at 21 inches.
Jenny Southan, who edited the Business Traveller Airline Survey supplement which accompanies the November issue of the magazine, said: “If you’re flying economy, an inch or two can make a lot of difference after a few hours, so it is worth knowing that while you might get a little bit more legroom on Ryanair than on Easyjet, your seat won’t recline on Ryanair.”
She noted: “The airlines are fitting more seats on to the aircraft, although they say that this isn’t affecting our legroom because the new type of economy seat cushion is thinner, increasing the amount of legroom by a small margin.
“Airlines are also charging for seats in exit rows or by bulkheads which can provide passengers with up to two extra feet of space.”
The magazine collated and checked more than 8,000 individual items of data from 32 airlines who are given the opportunity to double-check, update and verify the figures before publication. - Daily Mail