Passenger leg-room: Which airline offers you the most space?

Image Space between the rowsOn some airlines passengers are packed in like sardines while on others they can stretch their legs out, so how can you experience as much comfort as possible when you fly. On long-haul flights in particular the distance to the seat in front has a big influence on how comfortable your journey will be. Because the space between the rows is set by the airline itself, it’s something worth knowing.

It’s difficult to understand why there is no uniform regulation for the minimum distance between the rows of seats on planes in Europe. In general the EU is very keen to push uniform regulations and standards and stops at nothing to implement them. However, as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) was unable to determine a link between the amount of leg-room and thrombosis in 2010, the EU has so far refrained from setting regulations on leg-room. It is therefore down to the airlines to choose how much or how little leg-room they give their passengers.

Less leg-room on low-cost airlines

If you compare the amount of leg-room provided by different airlines, it turns out that low-cost carriers are indeed very stingy. The dubious winner here is the British low-cost airline Easyjet which offers just 73 cm of leg-room. The Turkish low-cost carrier SunExpress, co-founded by Lufthansa, offers only slightly more. On Germanwings, passengers in the first ten rows can enjoy 81 cm of leg-room. However those sitting further back have to make do with the normal amount. Ryanair, the largest low-cost airline in Europe by passenger volume, and never one to shy away from a scandal, offers their passengers a surprisingly high level of comfort. At 76 cm, the Irish airline offers 30 mm more leg-room than their competitors. That might not sound like much, but to someone who’s knees are banging the seat in front on an Easyjet flight this extra 30 mm would be very welcome.

Ryanair on a par with Lufthansa & co.

It is not just surprising that Ryanair isn’t the stingiest when it comes to leg-room; but also that the airline from Dublin is on an equal footing with more renowned airlines. The leg-room provided in economy class by the bigger airlines is also 76 cm. If we also look at the seat width as well as leg-room, the economy class in the Airbus A 321 provides the best seating comfort. Just like the fact there is more leg-room on seats by the emergency exits, seats are often wider the closer they are to the cockpit. This is because a plane gets narrower as you go towards the back.

Special offers provide more space

For anyone who often has trouble with the normal seats on a plane, but can’t afford to upgrade, there is now a range of tariffs available from different airlines. Some airlines will let you book „Premium Economy“, which guarantees an empty middle seat. Although it doesn’t increase the leg-room, it still makes the journey more comfortable. Other airlines let passengers purchase more leg-room by reserving seats next to the emergency exits. A cheaper alternative can be to just collect air miles so that you are entitled to an upgrade.

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