Pitching For Best Seats

Features AirlinesWho doesn’t like more legroom in airplanes? Selection of your flight seats doesn’t have to be limited to just the spot and number. Here’s your chance to opt for comfortable and convenient spaces in air travel.

It’s not necessarily always an enjoyable experience. In fact, it can become a total nightmare if one gets bad seats on a long flight. Seat selection and adequate leg space is an integral part of air travel. This is where Seat Pitch comes in – an important but relatively unknown concept.

Seat Pitch is the distance from any point on one seat to the exact same point on the seat in front or behind it. While it is not the exact equivalent of “legroom”, it does give a very good approximation of how much seat room you should expect. Bottom line: the more Seat Pitch the better.

Seat pitch usually varies in different airlines and, to state the obvious, considerably so across economy and business class.

Approximately 30 to 32 inches is used on low cost carriers like Indigo and Spice jet.

For long-haul flights on full-service airlines, it is as following:


Jet Airways

Economy class: 32 inches

Business class: 49 inches

First class: 90 inches


Air India

Economy: 31-34 inches

Business: 47-76 inches (varies from aircraft and seat type)

First – 70-80

These numbers are often used as a substitute for legroom. However, this cannot be taken as something completely accurate since you need to take into account the depth of the seatback too. A thicker seat – especially in Economy, where space is limited altogether, means that you get less legroom. You’ll usually find these aboard older aircrafts. But it’s not just that newer seats are thinner. Most airlines now are starting to use specially designed slim-line seats that move the seatback pocket up to eye level and have a different support structure.

It’s a similar situation in domestic business class or premium economy, where the seats are recliners rather than the type that turn flat. Measure seatback to seatback and that’s your Pitch. Since your feet may tuck under the seat in front of you when the seat is in its sleeping position, you’ll want to check out the bed length in addition to Seat Pitch. As any geometry student could tell you, the length of the bed when sloped at an angle can be greater than the pitch of the seat horizontally.

Pitch is still important at the pointy end of the plane, though. The more space there is in front of you, the easier it is for window passengers to nip out over a sleeping aisle passenger.

Some airlines sell seats with more legroom for an extra fee. On planes like Boeings or Airbus jets, these might be the front row, a bulkhead or an emergency exit row.

“Earlier the leg room (seat pitch) didn’t matter too much because most planes had standardised seating, in that the insides came with a factory setting. But now with this whole trend of no frill airlines, it seems the seats are getting more and more cramped. On long haul flights, if I’m not flying business class then I literally sit like a hawk online waiting for the web-check in to open. I hate it when the person in front on me is pretty much sitting in my lap because of the reduced space. I feel equally guilty when I want to nap but the person behind is trying to eat. Seat pitch is high on my priority when I have no time constraints that force me to fly a particular airline. And if an airline has significantly more space then I’d certainly pick that one over another, even if there’s a cost difference.” – Aditi Devi (Frequent flier on both international and domestic sectors)

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