STRETCH OUT

Inch for inch, these airlines will give you the most legroom for your money

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Obsession
Getting There

The most coveted luxury on an airplane is space. Airlines have re-configured their cabins again and again to maximize every last centimeter, cramming in as many passengers as possible.

Online flight search engine Skyscanner crunched the numbers using ticket prices to the 10 most popular destinations outside of the UK, as well as data from airplane seat analysis site Seat Guru, to determine which carriers offer the least expensive legroom.

Turkish Airlines came out on top, with each inch of precious space going for $15.40. The airline offers economy-class legroom of 31 to 34 inches. Legroom on Air India, where the seat pitch on long-haul economy flights ranges from 31 to 33 inches as measured by Sky Guru, was $17.76 per inch.

Legroom on many international flights start at about 31 inches, but the advent of premium economy offers a bit more to passengers willing to pay what is sometimes double the regular economy fare. Skyscanner also analyzed the legroom on the 10 most popular airlines for destinations outside of Europe last year.

Here’s how the top five carriers by value stacked up:

Airline cost per inch
Turkish Airlines $15.40
Air India $17.76
Qatar Airways $21.50
Delta Air Lines $21.88
Etihad Airways $22.49

And here’s how airlines compared overall on space:

Airline Economy (in inches) Premium Economy (in inches)
Air Canada 30-35 37-38
Air China 31-33 36-38
Air France 31-34 38-40
British Airways 30-31 38
Cathy Pacific 32 38-40
China Southern 29-33 34-38
Delta Air Lines 31-35
Emirates 32-34
Etihad Airways 31-33
Jet Airways 32
KLM 31-35
Lufthansa 31-32 38
Norweigian 31-32 46
Qatar 31-33 38-42
Thai Airways 31-34
Thomas Cook 29-31 35-36
Turkish Airlines 31-34
Virgin Atlantic 31 38
West Jet 31-38

Lawmakers in the US last year failed to pass a law that would have established minimum legroom standards, leaving carriers the freedom to reconfigure their planes at will. British Airways recently said it would reduce the amount of legroom on some of its planes to fit more seats.

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