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Squeezy Jet? More seats, less personal space on board major airlines

According to recent research by air intelligence company OAG, airlines are now fitting between 7% – 8% more seats into their aircraft than they were initially design to carry, potentially leading to

According to recent research by air intelligence company OAG, airlines are now fitting between 7% – 8% more seats into their aircraft than they were initially design to carry, potentially leading to a reduction in personal space on board.

To help passengers stay in the know prior to their flight, Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) has put together a guide comparing seat space across 14 major airlines.

The research compares 14 major airlines, including British Airways, Delta Air Lines and Qatar Airways, and highlights seat configuration, seat width and recline, entertainment screen size and all-important legroom space for each airline’s economy and business class cabins.

For travelers looking for privacy and aisle access, most of the airlines researched offer a spacious business class cabin. For example, the Premium Seat cabin on A330 flights with Aer Lingus offers a 1-2-1 seat configuration, and the Upper Class cabin on Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner flights with Virgin Atlantic, offers a 1-1-1 seat layout, averting any awkward squeezes to the cabin aisle.

However, some airlines’ economy cabins offer less space, since the economy cabins on board B777-300ER aircraft with Emirates and Boeing 747-400 aircraft with KLM feature a 3-4-3 seat configuration.

With regards to legroom, when flying in an economy seat the distance between the back of a seat and the rear of the seat in front (seat pitch) varies from 73.66cm for standard seats on easyJet flights, to 81.82cm with Singapore Airlines. Travellers should keep in mind that extra legroom space may be provided in the exit row of many aircraft, although there may be certain restrictions for passengers wishing to sit in these seats. For those travelling in business class seats, seat pitch varies from 94cm with First Class seats on board Delta’s 757-200 aircraft, to 200cm with Business Class seats on board Qatar Airways’ A320 aircraft.

In terms of elbow space in economy cabins, the distance between armrests (seat width) only varies slightly across the 14 airlines researched. In fact, there is just 4cm difference between Ryanair’s measurements of 43cm and Singapore Airlines’ measurement of 47cm. However, research shows that seat width varies across the airlines’ business class cabins, from 49.53cm on board Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to 76.2cm on board the same aircraft model with Singapore Airlines.

For travellers aiming to enjoy a snooze during their flight, nine of the airlines researched provide economy cabin passengers with reclining seats, including British Airways and American Airlines, which offer a seat recline of 5.08cm and 15.24cm respectively. Alternatively, for those looking for more of a recline, nine of the airlines researched provide an option for flatbed seats, including Business Class seats with Aer Lingus and Upper Class seats with Virgin Atlantic. Travellers should also note that economy seats on board five of the airlines researched, including Ryanair and WOW air, do not off the option to recline.

In-flight entertainment is becoming something most passenger expect to enjoy on their travels, and 11 of the airlines offer a personal entertainment screen for certain cabins on board selected flight routes. Of these, the size of the screen ranges from a diagonal width of 22.61cm with Economy Seats on board Qatar Airways’ A320 aircraft, to 43.18cm with Business Class seats on board Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER. Travellers should be aware that three of the airlines researched, easyJet, Ryanair and WOW air, do not currently offer entertainment screens on board any flights and that in-flight entertainment may not be provided during short-haul routes.