Does Size Matter? Shrinking Airline Seats

Added 23/10/2012

Airplane taking off

With recent reports highlighting that some airlines are reducing seat size, enabling them to fit more seats in to an aircraft and increase revenue, it might pay to check the measurements before you travel, particularly if you are tall.

The Sunday Times reported that some airlines including Lufthansa and Air France have replaced old fashioned steel-framed seats with new lighter models, enabling then to squeeze more seats in to their aircraft.

The average economy class leg-room has shrunk by over 3 inches since 1978.

Thankfully the Civil Aviation Authority sets a limit to how low it can go; to comply with CAA regulations, an airline has to provide a seat pitch of at least 26 inches.

Can shrinking seat pitch be a good thing?

If your priority when booking a flight is price, then shrinking seat size is definitely a good thing, because squeezing more seats in enables the airlines to sell flight tickets for less. Research shows that for most people price is a higher priority than comfort on short haul flights, however when it comes to long haul flights this changes and comfort becomes much more important to people.

How can you compare leg-room and seat size?

The universally accepted way of measuring seating space on an airline is seat pitch. The seat pitch is the distance from a point on the headrest of one seat to the same point on the headrest of the seat in front.

Although a seat pitch measurement won’t tell you exactly how much legroom there will be, it does provide a good indication and a consistent way of comparing airlines and aircraft.

If you are tall and need more room, or simply place a high importance on comfort, why not check the seat pitch on an airline before you book? publishes seat pitch information by airline and aircraft along with other cabin comfort information such as cabin plans and seat width.

Visit to find out more before you book your next flight.

Where ever you choose to fly to and whoever you choose to fly with, don’t go away without travel insurance, including cover for any pre-existing medical conditions

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