Life is a game of inches and flying economy, the stakes of the game are growing… or shrinking. Losing the bad fight, one inch and one mile at a time, here are some of the statistically worst products out there measured by pitch, legroom and width. I’ve concentrated on longer haul aircraft because that’s when it really counts.

an airplane with rows of seats

As a note, it’s not necessarily always about airline but rather a specific airplane…

Thomas Cook Boeing 767

This is widely regarded as the worst form of cattle class on earth, bringing together the heavenly marriage of the narrowest seat offered in the sky and only 30 inches of pitch. If you happen to fly Thomas Cook, hope or search for a different aircraft.

a plane taking off from a runway

Delta Boeing 767/747

Leave it to the airline who doesn’t like competition to not even bother competing between their own planes. Though their pitch is mildly palatable at 31 inches, these Delta long haul birds, which you are virtually guaranteed to fly for any European or Asian flights, offer very narrow seat width leaving much to be desired. If you’re flying economy on one of these, you will definitely want to purchase Economy +.

an airplane flying over water

Air Transat Airbus A330

Air Transat is great at saving you a few bucks from Europe to North America or vice versa, but it may also break your knees in the process. Air Transat have managed to squeeze nine seats across on the A330, which was very clearly designed for eight. Avoid at all (reasonable) costs.

a large airplane on a runway

XL Airways A330

Some airlines just don’t take recommendations well. The Airbus A330 was designed for 8 seats across, but the geniuses at XL also have managed to squeeze an extra seat per row in. The good news is that you will get to know your neighbor even better than before and may even become literally joined at the hip. 

an airplane taking off from a runway

American Airlines 767-300 

This is literally the worst seat you can get on an American carrier’s wide body jet. Offering only 30 inches of pitch, the chances that you can stand up at the end of the flight are equal to the chances that you have a stellar meal. As always, check flight schedules, find a different aircraft.

an airplane on the runway

Air Berlin A330

With only 30 inches of pitch and a tie for the narrowest seat for European carriers, this is certainly one to avoid. You may begin to notice a theme here. The A330 though a fantastic innovation of its time in many ways, clearly was the first step towards Airbus’s dream of having everyone sit on a narrow bicycle seat virtually standing up. (Sadly not a joke, see link).

a red and white airplane on a runway

Virgin Atlantic A330 

Just picture Richard Branson laughing and everything will be ok. I have personally flown economy on Virgin’s A330 and was so happy that I purchased a bulkhead. Tied with AirBerlin with the narrowest seat and only 31 inches of pitch, it was noticeably tight. Rather than watch my in flight entertainment, I watched real live people whinge in pain. 

a group of airplanes on a wet runway

Hawaiian Airlines 767-300

Say mahalo to Hawaiian if and only if you can stand up at the end of your flight. This is literally tied for the least possible leg room and pitch on a 767, provided it’s not ThomasCook who have set the bar to an entirely different lower than purgatory level. Hope for a different aircraft or see what you can do about upgrading

a plane taking off from a runway

Travel is supposed to be fun. For taller folks like myself, every inch truly matters. If I have just that extra inch to tilt my legs to the side I can grab some well deserved rest. If I can’t, it’s game over for my knees, my rest and my attitude. Do your best to research who offers the most space for comparable money. You deserve it. 

As Always, Get in Touch:

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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