The travel industry is constantly changing, that includes how planes are fitted and customized at each airline. Some optimized for passenger comfort, others to carry more passengers with less services to increase the companies bottom line.

A prominent example of this change is American Airlines. Nearly two decades ago the company announced that it would cut two rows of economy class seats to allow for more legroom on all its flights. At that time, over 7,000 seats were removed from its fleet, providing passengers a comfortable 86.3cm of space. Fast forward two decades and the same airline company is cutting space from roughly 78.7cm to 73.6cm.

If you are a frequent traveler or someone who has traveled a few times over the years and has noticed that the space for legroom on flights, especially in the economy have shrunk, then you are totally spot on. Logically, in order to increase the bottom line of a company (profit margin), squeezing in more passengers onto a plane for a fare that has remained fairly stagnant over the years is the most “reasonable” way for airlines to make a significant profit. But is installing more seats on a fleet really the service passengers want, or do we care less as long as we get a cheap flight around the globe?

In recent years, not only legroom space has been reduced, but also the width of seats and the distance between the rows. At one point the American based group FlyersRights.org filed a lawsuit against the American Federal Aviation Administration because they refused to review seat sizes and legroom for American based airlines. The group won their case and had the FAA forced to review several items on the agenda revolving around smaller space when it comes to airlines seats.

While it is great to travel, and airlines are no charity, do we as passengers really want to be boxed up like animals when traveling just to be able to squeeze out a few extra Euros for a vacation halfway around the globe? For some, cheaper tickets mean access to countries previously thought inaccessible, accepting less leg space as part of the deal. For others a complete nuisance. What side of the table are you on? We have compiled a list of the worst airlines in regards to leg room space. Some even as low as 71.1cm!

Short-Haul Economy Class

  • Austrian Airlines Embraer E195: Legroom – 73.6cm; seat width – 43.9cm
  • Frontier Airlines Airbus A319: Legroom – 71.1cm to 76.2cm; seat width – 45.7cm
  • Frontier Airlines Airbus A320: Legroom – 71.1cm to 73.6cm; seat width – 45.7cm
  • Iberia Airbus A319 and Airbus A320: Legroom – 71.1cm; seat width – 43.1cm
  • Iberia Airlines Airbus A321: Legroom – 71.1cm to 76.2cm; seat width – 43.1cm
  • LATAM Brazil Airbus A321: Legroom – 71.1cm; seat width – 45.7cm
  • Spirit Airlines Airbus A319, A320 & A321 V1: Legroom – 71.1cm; seat width – 45cm
  • Spring Airlines Airbus A320-200: Legroom – 71.1cm to 76.2cm; seat width – 43.1cm
  • Thomson Airlines Boeing 737-800 & Boeing 757-200: Legroom – 71.1cm ; seat width – 43.6cm
  • Thomas Cook Airlines Airbus A321-200: Legroom – 71.1cm to 76.2cm; seat width – 44.7cm
  • Thai Airways Airbus A320: Legroom – 71.1cm to 78.7cm; seat width – 45.7cm
  • Tap Portugal Airbus A319: Legroom – 71.1cm; seat width – 45.7cm

Long-Haul Economy Class

  • Thomas Cook Airlines Boeing 767-300: Legroom – 73.6.1cm to 76.2cm; seat width – 43.6cm
  • China Southern Airbus A330-200: Legroom – 73.6cm; seat width – 43.6cm
  • Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330-300: Legroom – 73.6.1cm to 76.2cm; seat width – 45.7cm
  • Nordwind Airlines Boeing 767-300 and 777-200ER: Legroom – 73.6cm; seat width – 43.1cm
  • China Southern Boeing 757-200: Legroom – 73.6cm; seat width – 49cm
  • Condor Airbus Boeing 757-300: Legroom – 73.6cm; seat width – 43.1cm
  • Wow Air Airbus A330-300: Legroom – 73.6.1cm to 78.7cm; seat width – 43.1cm
  • Fiji Airways Boeing 737-700: Legroom – 73.6.1cm to 81.2cm; seat width – 43.1cm
  • Lion Airlines Airbus A330-300: Legroom – 73.6.1cm to 81.2cm; seat width – 45.7cm
  • Vanilla Air Airbus A320: Legroom – 74.9cm; seat width – 43.6cm

The list above is split between short & long distance flights, logically looking at the economy class of the airlines. These numbers come from SeatGuru.com – a website we also recommend you check when booking your next flight.

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