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The 9 Major US Airlines, Ranked From the Most to Least Legroom

Airports + Flying
by Jori Ayers Jan 17, 2024

The things that most frustrate airline passengers flying in economy are no secret: security, delays, cancellations, bad seatmates — the list goes on. And near the top of that list when it comes to the actual in-flight experience, few pain points match up to the amount of legroom, which always seems to keep shrinking.

Airline legroom space has long been a problem for travelers. According to Flyer Rights, a passenger advocacy group, “Since the 1990s, the width of airplane seats has shrunk from 18 inches to about 16 inches, and the distance between seat backs has decreased from 35 inches to sometimes less than 28 inches.”

In 2019, the FAA opened up a forum for 90 days on the topic, and it had many comments flood in, with descriptions ranging from “torture” to “miserable” to the matter just being outright unsafe. Six Democratic senators wrote a letter to the FAA urging them to change seat size requirements and legroom, but it ended in nothing.

Everyone comes in different shapes and sizes, and even the average-sized passenger gets uncomfortable on an airplane. A passenger can only stand a certain number of hours comfortable in an economy-class seat. Note that the issues stem primarily from the economy class perspective, with extra fees for a small amount of extra room — those flying business and first-class have nothing to complain about.

No matter which airline you typically fly, legroom needs to be addressed. Upgraded Points studied the airlines in the United States with the most and least legroom to get a deeper dive into the issue. To do so, Upgraded Points reviewed the 10 busiest domestic flight paths to calculate these statistics. The company analyzed the airline legroom for an economy seat on the flights and calculated the average across each airline.

US airlines ranked from the most to least amount of legroom

1.JetBlue Airways: approximately 32.2 inches of legroom
2.Southwest Airlines: approximately 31.8 inches of legroom
3.(tie) Alaska Airlines: approximately 31.0 inches of legroom
3. (tie) Delta Airlines: approximately 31.0 inches of legroom
4. American Airlines: approximately 30.2 inches of legroom
5. United Airlines: approximately 30.1 inches of legroom
6. Hawaiian Airlines: approximately 29.0 inches of legroom
7. (tie) Frontier Airlines: approximately 28.0 inches of legroom
7. (tie) Spirit Airlines: approximately 28.0 inches of legroom

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