Get used to less legroom

Each year, airlines look for new ways to capitalise on a competitive travel market. The most obvious way to do this is by fitting more passengers onto planes. While some airlines may seek an edge by marketing a more comfortable economy class with extra legroom and increased seat pitch, others are going the opposite route and putting the squeeze on economy seating by further reducing seat pitch.

Seat pitch is the distance from one seat to the same space on the seat in front, so seats with less pitch have less knee and legroom.

The standard, economy-class seat pitch in Australian passenger planes ranges between 71cm and 79cm. Those numbers are skewed by Qantas and Virgin, which both average about 78cm.

American Airlines plans to reduce its seat pitch to 74cm across its entire fleet. Prior to this announcement, most US airlines had a seat pitch between 76cm and 78cm.

In what is probably bad news for passengers hoping for comfort over value when booking economy airfare, it looks as if the reduction of seat pitch may become a trend across all airlines.

“Seat pitch has come down,” said United Airlines President Scott Kirby. “But seat pitch has come down because that’s what customers voted with their wallets that they wanted. I know everyone would tell you, ‘I would like more seat pitch’. But the history in the airline industry is every time airlines put more seat pitch on, customers choose the lowest price.

“If you take a row of seats off an airplane – you take four per cent of the seats off the airplane – it costs the same amount to fly the airplane as it did before. You’re burning the same amount of fuel. You pay the pilots the same. Maintenance is the same. So you have to charge four per cent more to make that break even. Customers have to be willing to pay more if they want more seat pitch. And the evidence is that they aren’t willing to.”

Australian airlines have fairly generous legroom, with the option of paying extra money at the time of booking or using points to upgrade legroom.

According to finder.com, the top five airlines for economy legroom in Australia are:

1. Jetstar

2. Qantas

3. Tigerair

4. Virgin Australia

5. Rex

What do you think of the legroom in Australian planes? Are you happy to sacrifice comfort for lower-cost flights?

Related articles:
Airlines with the worst legroom
Don’t book these plane seats
How to make flying more comfortable

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
Contact:
LinkedIn
Email

RELATED LINKS

Airlines with the worst legroom

Avoid being cramped on a long flight by making yourself aware of the world's stingiest seats

Want a happy, comfy flight? Then avoid these seats

Ensure a happier holiday by avoiding these plane seats.

Flying with a disability: making your trip more comfortable

Flying can be stressful enough for those more able-bodied.



SPONSORED LINKS

LOADING MORE ARTICLE...