Anyone who flew on an airplane twenty years ago and has recently flown knows that the amount of space between the seats on just about every airline has gone down. It used to be that you could spread out and stretch your legs (to a certain extent) on your flight from New York to London or Los Angeles to Tokyo. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.
In today's world, you will be lucky if you have three feet between seats. In fact, most airlines offer well less than 36 inches. In some cases, less than 30 inches.
There are two kinds of flights presented in this list: long haul and short haul. International and long National flights would be expected to have more legroom than regional and local flights. Often, this is the case, although you will find that a couple of long haul airlines on this list have less legroom than some of the short haul flights.
If you value your leg room, you probably hate flying these days. Would you believe that there seems to be a minimum of 28 inches, which a lot of airlines test the limit of with their legroom offering to the passengers that pay so much for the privilege of flying with them.
25 Virgin Airlines - lucky to get 29 to 31 inches of legroom
The family of Virgin airlines are generally known as some of the classier airlines in the business. Yet, it may come as somewhat of a surprise to you that they actually have some of the worst legroom in the business. For international and long haul flights, you will be lucky to get 29 to 31 inches of legroom on a Virgin flight. That barely qualifies them to be outside of the magical 28 inches that seems to be the low point of legroom on airlines.
24 Malaysia Airlines - 32 to 34 inches of legroom
Asian airlines are generally deemed to be some of the friendliest out there, and Malaysia Airlines regularly ranks as one of the top airlines in the region. However, for their international flights, fliers on Malaysia Airlines get a whopping 32 to 34 inches of legroom. That may seem like quite a bit, compared to other airlines on this list, but that amount of room is not enough for even an average sized person to stretch out and relax on a flight that is multiple hours long.
23 KLM - about 31 inches of legroom
KLM is another European airline that regularly wins awards and accolades for the quality of their service. However, on a KLM international flight, you will be lucky to get about 31 inches of legroom. For an airline that is essentially a national symbol, you would think that they would work harder to accommodate passengers who actually want to enjoy their flight. But, like most airlines, KLM actually seems to care more about making more money than passenger comfort, which puts passengers in a tight spot.
22 Delta - 31 inches of legroom
Delta airlines is one of the biggest and most well known airlines in the world. Yet, like the rest of the industry, their seat space is shrinking to make room for more seats on the planes that carry people around the world. On an International Delta flight, you can expect to be afforded about 31 inches of legroom, which is actually quite spacious when you consider other airlines will give you less than 30. Yet, it still seems rather cramped when you are in that seat for six or more hours.
21 Etihad - 33 inches
Etihad is one of the national airlines of the UAE, which would lead passengers to believe that they are going to be treated like royalty on their flight. Unfortunately, that is not the case when it comes to legroom on the airline. Etihad legroom tops out at about 33 inches, which is a very uncomfortable situation to find yourself in if you are flying long distances from the Middle East to Europe or beyond. It seems that even the "royalty" of UAE get treated like cattle in the sky.
20 South African Airways - 31 inches of legroom
South African Airways is not really a well known airline, but still, they are one of the worst in the business when it comes to offering legroom. This national airline of South Africa brings about 31 inches of legroom to the table on their International and long haul flights, which seems to be about industry standard for the second decade of the 21st century, but is a far cry from what passengers could have expected in the heyday of flight transportation.
19 Air Transat - about 32 inches of legroom (On International Flights)
Air Transat offers a little more than the so called "industry standard" (as standard as that can be in the airline industry) with about 32 inches of legroom on their International flights. That is not quite three feet of space in your seat which you will be sitting in for hour after hour. If that seems like something you would not enjoy, then maybe you should consider taking a different airline than Air Transat for your International travel options.
18 Thomas Cook - about 29 inches
There are some small airlines out there that offer a lot of nice amenities for people that want to fly with them. Then there is Thomas Cook, which is a small airline with small legroom. This particular airline only offers passengers about 29 inches of space between seats. Does that seem cramped to you? It should seem cramped, because 29 inches is not a lot of space between seats. A lot of small airlines offer big airline amenities, but Thomas Cook obviously does not do that.
17 Tui Airways - 33 inches
Tui Airways is an airline out of the UK that actually offers quite a nice amount of legroom - a whopping 33 inches. Although, if you consider that it's still less than three feet, you will recognize that even Tui Airways is not offering a lot of legroom on long haul and International flights. It seems that even European airlines are cutting back on the amount of legroom that they offer their passengers, regardless of how far those passengers are flying.
16 Air Canada - Between 31-35 inches of legroom (better hope you're one of the lucky ones)
On a good International flight on Air Canada, you will get about 35 inches of legroom. On a not so good International flight on Air Canada you will only get about 31 inches of legroom. That is a lot of variance, and chances are you will end up on that bad flight with only 31 inches of legroom. Air Canada is the National airline of Canada, so you would think they would offer some nice features to passengers, but that is just not the case with legroom.
15 British Airways - about 30 inches of legroom
British Airways has always seemed like they would be a great airline to fly with. However, the majority of their flights are going to be long haul (multiple hour) flights that passengers are going to want the utmost in comfort to enjoy. Too bad British Airways only affords passengers about 30 inches of legroom on all of these long flights. Could you imagine flying across the Atlantic Ocean with only 30 inches of legroom? That does not seem like something the Royal Family would approve of!
14 AA - 31 inches of legroom
American Airlines is one of a few National airlines for the United States, and one would think their legroom would be sufficient. Unfortunately, passengers aboard American Airline's International flights only get about 31 inches of legroom to cram into. That hardly seems ample enough for a normal sized person, much less someone who is a little taller than normal. But somehow American Airlines gets away with this small amount of space between the seats, and people continue to fly on this airline.
13 United Airlines - 31 inches
United Airlines is another U.S. airline that you would think would have a lot of legroom because they have a lot of long flights. But even on their International flights, you may only get 31 inches of space between yourself and the seat in front of you. For an airline that is supposed to represent a nation, United Airlines certainly seems to be saying that people should be cramped and uncomfortable when they are flying, rather than free to enjoy the flight.
12 Joon - just over 30 inches
Joon is yet another small airline with small amounts of legroom. Coming in at just over 30 inches of space between the seats, Joon does little to afford passengers any form of comfort when it comes to legroom and space between passengers. But, as we have seen, that is pretty much to be expected. After all, how are airlines supposed to make money if they don't try to cram as many people on the plane as possible. And this is especially true for the little guys like Joon.
11 Aurigny - only offers 29 inches of legroom
When it comes to long flights, you would expect more legroom. But even on short flights, you need your space. Unfortunately, Aurigny only offers 29 inches of legroom on their short and domestic flights. Even for an hour or two, 29 inches is not a lot of space between seats for your flight. People need their space, and Aurigny obviously has little interest in delivering or providing that to their passengers. That said, they are a smaller airline, with smaller planes.
10 Norwegian - 29 inches of legroom
Norwegian is another National airline that offers a no-frills option when it comes to travel. For their domestic and short flights, Norwegian has a spectacular 29 inches of legroom to offer passengers. That is just about the minimum that they can offer and still be considered "reasonable." That said, for a National airline, Norwegian is certainly not offering up anything special in the legroom department with only 29 inches of space between the seats on their local and short flights.
9 Jet2 - about 29 inches of legroom
You have probably never heard of Jet2, likely because they are a small local carrier. That may be the case, but if you ever fly on this particular airline, you are only going to have about 29 inches of legroom between you and the seat in front of you. Jet2 is not going to be winning any Regional or International awards for their legroom or comfort, that is for sure. But the least they could do is offer a little more than 29 inches of space.
8 EasyJet - only about 29 inches of legroom
EasyJet is another small airline that offers minimal comfort to their passengers. With only about 29 inches of legroom, who would want to fly on EasyJet? They are a British low cost carrier that really goes for the no-frills when it comes to a lot of things, especially the legroom option. As we have seen, 29 inches is about the minimal amount that airlines will offer passengers. EasyJet certainly takes advantage of that, not offering any more than that for their regional and local flights.
7 Flybe - 30 inches
Flybe is an airline that offers a little more legroom than some of the other options on this list, but still not a lot. On their regional and local flights, you will get about 30 inches of room between the seats. That actually is a lot of space for a regional flight, considering many of the International flights only had about that much space. Yet, even on a short flight, passengers are not going to be thrilled with only 30 inches of legroom.
6 TAP Portugal - 28 inches of legroom
TAP Portugal is another airline you have probably never heard of, but they are the first airline on this list that only offers 28 inches of legroom. If you thought some of the airlines with 29 or 30 inches of legroom were bad, TAP Portugal has them beat with a whole inch less. You may not think that an inch makes a difference, but sitting on a plane, cramped into your seat, you will be hoping for a lot more than an extra inch of legroom.
5 Spirit Airlines - 28 inches
There are some airlines that are so stingy with the legroom that they only offer 28 inches of space between the seats. Spirit Airlines is one of those airlines. 28 inches is barely more than two feet, which means that a passenger on Spirit Airlines would be unable to put their feet toe to heel. Or, at least, a relatively normal sized passenger. Unfortunately, as the size of the legroom decreases, it seems that passenger size increases. With that, 28 inches seems a mighty small space between seats.
4 Wizz Air - less than 30 inches
Wizz Air offers passengers a less than comfortable 30 inches of legroom on their local and short flights. That may seem mighty comfortable compared to some of the other airlines on this list. But for some people, 30 inches is certainly not going to make for a comfortable ride on an airplane. Even over short distances, like those that Wizz Air flies, that small amount of legroom is going to end up proving mighty uncomfortable for just about anyone stuck in one of those seats.
3 LATAM Brasil - The Bare Minimum (28 inches)
LATAM Brasil is a Brazilian airline that provides regional and local air transportation. With your flight, you are not going to get a lot, especially legroom. On LATAM Brasil you only get the 28 inches that seems to be the bare minimum on airlines around the world. However, 28 inches, as we have seen, is hardly enough for a reasonable person to bear while they are flying from point to point. Regardless of the length of the trip, or the country you are flying in, you should expect well more than 28 inches of legroom.
2 Vueling - 29 inches of legroom
Some airlines will do a little more to help their passengers feel comfortable. For example, Vueling, a small airline, offers passengers 29 inches of legroom on their local and regional flights. However, as we have seen that is hardly more than what people will need on their flight. It seems strange that Vueling will offer 29 inches because their planes are not all that big so they are not saving that much space. However, every inch counts in the airline industry, when it comes to packing passengers onto a plane.
1 Icelandair - 31 inches of legroom
The final airline on this list is Icelandair. This small-ish airline offers 31 inches of legroom on their short haul flights, which may be adequate for some people. Unfortunately, for most passengers in today's world, 31 inches is not going to provide for a comfortable ride on an airplane. But Icelandair seems to be able to get away with that small amount of legroom on a lot of their shorter flights. However, that amount of legroom would seem voluminous compared to some of the airlines on this list.