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Which U.S. airlines have the best — and worst — seats in economy class


Sep 05, 2012 10:05 am

Skift Take

The US Airways example shows that Routehappy is correct: As a passenger you really need to research the amenities on a given airline for a particular route to learn what the flight experience should be like.

— Dennis Schaal

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When considering the pitch of an airline seat combined with the width of a seat cushion, the U.S. airlines with the roomiest seats on domestic flights in economy class cabins are JetBlue, US Airways and Virgin America.

And, the airlines that will squeeze you into the tightest seats? Well, that would be Delta, AirTran and Frontier.

Photo courtesy Virgin America

That’s according to flight-amenities search engineĀ Routehappy, which collected seat information from the airlines and used OAG route data for September 19, 2012, to rank the roomiest and tightest airlines in terms of their seats.

But such are the vagaries of finding a comfortable airline seat these days without shelling out extra money for a premium seat, that although RouteHappy pegged US Airways as among the top three U.S. airlines with the roomiest seats overall, the US Airways FLL to CLT route, with 13 flights per day, was judged to be fourth among airlines/routes with the tightest seats in economy class cabins.

In other words, watch out for those cramped 737-400s on US Airways’ Fort Lauderdale-Charlotte route, although elsewhere in the country, US Airways’ economy class seats can be fairly roomy.

Here’s the pitch

Routehappy defines a roomy airline seat as having 33 inches or more of pitch, or 32 inches with a seat-cushion width of more than 17.5 inches. And, tight seats would only have a pitch, measured as the distance from any point on a seat to the same point on the seat in the next row, of 28 to 30 inches.

In its flight and seat-crunching, Routehappy found that the top three airlines/routes with “100% roomy seats” would be JetBlue BOS-DCA (20 flights per day), American JFK-LAX (20 flights), and JetBlue JFK-BUF (19 flights).

And, the three airlines/routes with the tightest seats in economy? That would be Hawaiian Airlines HNL-OGG/KOA/LIH/ITO (152 flights per day), Delta LGA-ATL (32 flights), and Frontier LAS-DEN (14 flights), RouteHappy found.

Routehappy offers flight-specific airline searches for their amenities relative to other flight choices.

Complete results:

Download (PDF, 98KB)


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