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Airline Survey results revealed

Published: 01/11/2012 - Filed under: News »

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The annual Business Traveller Airline Survey has revealed how much space passengers get when they fly, across every cabin class. Here is our pick of the results.

Budget carrier Ryanair has the narrowest economy seats out of the 32 airlines surveyed, offering just 16 inches of width, with Air Canada’ seats the widest at 18 to 18.5 inches.

Asian carriers Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines offer the most legroom in economy, with 32 inches across their fleets, while ANA offers between 31 inches and 38 inches, depending on the aircraft.

British Airways’ sister airline, Iberia, offers the least legroom with just 28 inches on its A319s and A320s. However, just over half of Iberia’s planes have 30 or 32 inches of legroom. Easyjet comes in second-to-last with 29 inches of legroom across its fleet.

Flag carrier British Airways came in eighth for width (between 17.3”-18.1”) but only 21st for legroom (30 to 31 inches). Rival carrier Virgin Atlantic did better on both counts – in fourth place for width at 17.5 inches, and joint tenth (with Kenya Airways and United) for legroom at 31 to 32 inches.

The premium economy products on both British carriers offer the same amount of legroom, at 38 inches, while Turkish Airlines’ premium economy product offers the most space at 46” of legroom. When it comes to width, Cathay Pacific wins with 19.5 inches of space, and Virgin Atlantic loses, with 17.5 to 21 inches.

According to the survey, Virgin Atlantic has the longest fully-flat business class bed in the sky at up to 87 inches, with Thai Airways and Jet Airways the shortest at 63.5 inches. But it should be noted that Cathay Pacific comes out top when taking the longest minimum measurement for length – with a range of 81 to 82 inches. British Airways’ business class bed is in 16th place, with the length ranging from 72 to 78 inches.

Only four airlines are fitted with enclosed suites in first class – Emirates, Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines and Jet Airways.

See below for the complete rankings.

Business Traveller collated and checked more than 8,000 individual items of data from 32 airlines for the airline survey, which is published as a supplement alongside the November edition of the magazine. To subscribe to the print magazine, click here. Business Traveller and the accompanying survey are also published in digital format - for more information click here.

This month's Business Traveller magazine also features interactive augmented reality content - to see a 3D version of our Business Traveller and seatplans.com-branded aircraft on the cover image at the bottom of this article, download the free Blippar app and scan the image.

The results of the annual survey have already been picked up by the Daily Mail in both print and online.

For more information visit seatplans.com.

How much legroom do you get in economy?

1 = Cathay Pacific 32”
1 = Singapore Airlines 32”
3 ANA 31”-38”
4 = Korean Air 31”-35”
4 = Etihad 31”-35”
6 = Thai Airways 31”-34”
6 = Japan Airlines 31”-34”
6 = Emirates 31”-34”
9 American Airlines 31”-33”
10 = Kenya Airways 31”-32”
10 = United 31”-32”
10 = Virgin Atlantic 31”-32”
13 KLM 31”
14 Qatar Airways 30”-36”
15 ANZ 30”-35”
16 = Air Canada 30”-34”
16 = Malaysia Airlines 30”-34”
16 = Oman Air 30”-34”
19 Delta Air Lines 30”-33”
20 Swiss 30”-32”
21 = British Airways 30”-31”
21 = Qantas 30”-31”
21 = Lufthansa 30”-31”
24 Ryanair 30”
25 Turkish Airlines 29”-34”
26 = Jet Airways 29”-33”
26 = Finnair 29”-33”
28 = TAM 29”-32”
28 = Air France 29”-32”
30 Air Berlin 29”-30”
31 Easyjet 29”
32 Iberia 28”-32”

How much width do you get in economy? (* this list has been amended - please see comment below)

1. AIR CANADA 18”-18.5
2. SINGAPORE AIRLINES 17.9”-18.6”
3. VIRGIN ATLANTIC 17.5”-19”
4. AIR FRANCE 17.5”-18.5”
5. EASYJET 17.5”
6. CATHAY PACIFIC 17.4”-18.5”
7. BRITISH AIRWAYS 17.3”-18.1”
8. SWISS 17.3”-18”
9. LUFTHANSA 17”-19.3”
10. ETIHAD AIRWAYS 17”-19”
11 = TAM 17”-19”
12 = FINNAIR 17”-19”
13 = EMIRATES 17”-18.5”
13 = AMERICAN AIRLINES 17”-18.5”
13 = JAPAN AIRLINES 17”-18.5”
13 = KENYA AIRWAYS 17”-18.5”
13 = OMAN AIR 17”-18.5”
18 = DELTA AIR LINES 17”-18”
18 = IBERIA 17”-18”
18 = QANTAS 17”-18”
18 = KLM 17”-18”
18 = KOREAN AIR 17”-18”
18 = MALAYSIA AIRLINES 17”-18”
18 = TURKISH AIRLINES 17”-18”
18 = UNITED 17”-18”
26. AIR BERLIN 16.8”-18”
27. ANA 16.5”-20”
28 = AIR NEW ZEALAND 16.5”-18”
28 = QATAR AIRWAYS 16.5”-18”
30. JET AIRWAYS 16.1”-19.3”
31. THAI AIRWAYS 16”-20.5”
32. RYANAIR 16”

Which airlines have premium economy class and how much legroom do you get?

1 Turkish Airlines 46”
2 = Japan Airlines 38”-42”
2 = Qantas 38”-42”
3 = Air France 38”
3 = ANA 38”
3 = British Airways 38”
3 = Cathay Pacific 38”
3 = Virgin Atlantic 38”
9. Air New Zealand 33”-42”

Which airlines have premium economy class and how much width do you get?

1 = Cathay Pacific 19.5”
1 = Qantas 19.5”
1 = Turkish Airlines 19.5”
4. Air New Zealand 19”-20”
5. Air France 19”
6. British Airways 18.5”
7. ANA 18”-19.3”
8. Japan Airlines 17.5”-21.2”
9. Virgin Atlantic 17.5”-21”

Which airlines have fully flat beds – with a recline of 180 degrees – in business class and how long are they? (On some or all aircraft)

1. Cathay Pacific 81”-82
2. Lufthansa 80.3”-81.5”
3 = Qantas 80”
3 = Finnair 80”
4. Virgin Atlantic 79.5”-87”
5. Air New Zealand 79.5”-81”
6. Swiss 79”
7. Oman Air 77.5”
8. Qatar Airways 76.5”-80”
9. Delta Air Lines 76”-81.5”
10 = Singapore Airlines 76”-78”
10 = United 76”-78”
12 = Turkish Airlines 75”
12 = Iberia 75”
14 = Korean Air 74”
14 = Japan Airlines 74”
15. Etihad Airways 73”-74”
16. British Airways 72”-78”
17. Malaysia Airlines 72”-76”
18. Emirates 70”-80”
19 = Jet Airways 63.5”
19 = Thai Airways 63.5”

ANA, American Airlines and Air Canada: length unknown

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COMMENTS » 

oasis1221 - 01/11/2012 15:06

If feel sorry for any economy-coach class passenger that have to endure the discomfort of having to sit for more than an hour unable to stretch their knees because of seat pitch shorter than 32 inches.

It is the legroom space more than the seat width that matters for long flights. The worse part is the seat bottom which dips down below the thigh level. This creates a bad squeeze to the lower torso and makes it physiologically dangerous to sit for even a hour. The seat back curvature needs to push forward the lower spine. The present seat back design is totally the opposite of the normal spine curvatures.

I would rather give up a reclining seat back for a simple leg and foot support on longhaul flights in economy class.

flyingfox - 02/11/2012 04:35

How is it possible for Emirates to have the best seat width when a common complaint about them is that they squeeze 10 across their 777 fleet (which was designed for 9, and is narrower than a 747, which has 10 across). Most info i have seen says their seat width is actually one of the worst and you will be lucky to get even 17.5", so I don't know where you are getting the 18-20" from.

Ditto figures for Singapore business class - they have about 5 versions of biz class, and some have decidedly less legroom than you are quoting

BusinessTraveller - 02/11/2012 10:45

Hi flyingfox - thank you for your comments.

The figures above for business class refer to bed length, rather than legroom - we've checked the results against our airline survey, and Singapore Airlines' figures are correct as per what they have quoted to us.

Regarding your comment on Emirates - we have to hold our hands up and say we've made an error in the list above. The figures were taken from our airline survey (which is correct), but we accidentally quoted the seat width in business class rather than economy. We have revised the list above accordingly - apologies for any confusion caused.

UrsCarloGrassi - 05/11/2012 22:38

Never trust an Airline Survey...

I think thousands of Frequent Travellers wonders more and more about the mysterious results of Airline Surveys.Turkish Airlines by Skytrax was the 2nd Times chosen as the best airline in Europe (?). Anyone who has ever flown with TK in Europe - Business and Economy - can only wonder.

And the Survey of Business Traveller (BT) is full of contradictions, unfortunately. Example Omanair: Business at BT with 77.5 pitch in 7th place! But fact is: 82pitch and 1 +2 +1 configuration in AB 330-200/300 . Such an offer is there in not a single other airline! The Oman Air Business Class offers more comforts such as the 1st class on Thai Airways AB 340-600.

Instead of dubious polls look better rely on your own experience or take a look at seatguru.com. It's worth. As you can see, for example, the 777-300ER, Emirates 2 +3 +2 in business - with Qatar Airways 2 +2 +2.

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