What are the best airlines for tall people? Well, it all starts with the “pitch.”
The “pitch,” or industry word to describe the space between seats, continues to dwindle on virtually every major domestic and international carrier. Airlines feel pressure from shareholders and customers to drop their fare prices, but they have to recoup that money somehow. As a result, more airlines are reconfiguring their cabins to jam-pack as many seats on board as possible and maximize their profits. Luxurious—or at the very least, humane—legroom 30,000 feet in the air is still possible, albeit much harder to come by.
We’ve created a list of a few of the major domestic airlines that offer the best and worst legroom in coach, using data from SeatGuru and individual airline websites. Because airlines are constantly changing their cabins and fleets, the figures listed below are subject to change.
Without further ado, here are the best airlines for tall people.
BEST: 32–33 Inches of Legroom
No surprise here. JetBlue, the seventh-largest airline in the U.S., reports a better pitch than any of its domestic counterparts at 32-33 inches. While that figure paces the pack, it’s dropped from the industry-leading 34 inches of legroom the airline boasted just a few years ago. The updated version of JetBlue’s A320 planes features just 32 inches of pitch, but its A321 jets, used mostly for transcontinental flights, give you an extra inch to stretch your legs. If you’ve got a little extra dough to throw around, JetBlue’s “Even More Space” seats offer the most overall legroom on any domestic carrier ranging from 37–41 inches of pitch. That should be enough to sprawl out and slouch to your liking. Is JetBlue “Even More Space” worth it? We think so. Consider JetBlue one of the very best airlines for tall people.
Southwest Airlines might not be on your radar for airlines with the most legroom. After all, with no upgrade options on Southwest flights, virtually all economy seats on Southwest are nearly identical. The airline’s fleet of 737-800s touts 32 inches of pitch with 175 total seats, while the 737-700 offers 143 seats with a 31-inch seat pitch. Keep in mind: since Southwest Airlines has open seating, no specific seat is ever guaranteed—even if you have an A1 boarding position, so plan accordingly. Still, if you’re researching the best airline legroom, add Southwest to your shortlist.
Alaska Airlines may not have come to mind as one of the best airlines for tall people. But thanks to its merger with Virgin America, Alaska Airlines got a little bump in these rankings. The SeaTac, Washington-based carrier previously operated a fleet of Boeing 737 planes with 31-32 inch pitched seats. But after acquiring 67 Airbuses from Virgin that feature 32-inch pitch, they’ve increased their average just enough to make the cut for our top tier.
To be fair, Alaska may reconfigure these planes and tweak the legroom when all is said and done, so enjoy it while you can. Either way, you can always book a bulkhead or exit row seat for an upgraded fee. That’ll score you anywhere between 36 and 40 inches of legroom.
AVERAGE: 30–31 Inches of Legroom
American Airlines is a bit of a mixed bag, given that they fly with such a wide range of aircrafts, so make sure you know not just what airline you’re flying, but which specific aircraft. American—the world’s largest airline when measured by fleet size, scheduled passengers carried, and revenue passenger mile—will typically offer a 31-inch pitch, except aboard the Airbus A319, Boeing 757, or 737 MAX, in which case you’ll lose yet another inch of space and drop down to 30. American’s “Main Cabin Extra” fare, can however, get you up to 36 inches of legroom, depending on which aircraft you’re sitting in.
United, which operates a massive fleet out of Chicago, spans six continents with its busy schedule. Where you can expect consistency is with the airline’s 31-inch pitch, which comes standard across United’s Boeing planes. Its Airbuses and 737 Aircraft will be a little bit more snug at 30 inches, while its 787-8 Dreamliner offers a 32-inch pitch . United’s “Economy Plus” option ca get you anywhere from 34–37 inches of legroom. We wouldn’t say this is the best airline for tall passengers, but it’s not the worst either. You can learn more about United’s seating specifics here.
Delta Air Lines
Similar to American, Delta’s all over the map in terms of pitch. Most travelers should look for 31 inches of legroom, though, like United, the outliers in its fleet will either add or subtract an inch. If you need a little more space, Delta Comfort+ seats offer up to 34-35 inches pitches. The airline’s new Airbus A350 has a “Delta Premium Select” option that will give you a lavish 38 inches of legroom. Steer clear of Delta’s A319s, A320s, A321s, and Boeing 757s. All of them offer a paltry 30-inch pitch. Not exactly enough room for yoga. If you’re booking Delta, make sure you look at which specific aircraft you’ll be flying on. But note that no matter which aircraft you take, Delta is not the best airline for tall passengers, unless you’re looking to shell out extra dough.
The Honolulu-based carrier Hawaiian operates a fleet including Airbus A330, A321s and Boeing 717s that’ll range from 30-32 inches in pitch. It’s not the best airline for tall passengers. However, Hawaiian’s “Extra Comfort” seats, available on either of its Airbuses, offer an inviting 36-inch pitch.
Allegiant’s airfare is so dirt-cheap you might think they entered in a typo. The budget carrier offers a below-average 30-inch pitch, which comes standard on all of its aircrafts. The Legroom+ option, located in the first-row bulkhead section, will however bump you up to 34 inches. Also noteworthy: don’t get your hopes up about reclining once you get on the plane. None of Allegiant’s seats allow for slouching, so you’ll need to nap in the upright and locked position. Again, it’s not the best airline for tall passengers, but it’s also not the worst.
WORST: 28–29 Inches of Legroom
We know—it wasn’t your first choice, but you needed a flight out of town and Spirit had one available for a better-than-expected price. It’s a familiar story from passengers who’ve flown the low-cost carrier out of necessity. Spirit is notorious for nickel and diming its customers via its “A La Carte” options that essentially force you to pay for carry-on luggage. Spirit’s “Big Front Seat” option will get you a 36-inch pitch, but it’ll also offset any savings you thought you’d rack up from a “low-cost carrier. Overall, Spirit Airlines’ legroom leaves much to be desired.
To round out the lower tier, Frontier is like the Smart Car of airlines. Boasting just 28-31 inches of pitch on its Airbuses, Frontier takes the crown for worst in-flight experience for tall people. Worse yet: the airline’s gearing up to launch an additional 100-plus A320neo aircrafts from Airbus, all of which will top out at 29 inches of legroom. If you can’t sign on for that, Frontier’s “Stretch” option features a 36” pitch and its lucky Row 13 will give you 38 inches. Again, that upgrade might not be about luxury, but rather avoiding pain and hourslong cramps. If you’re looking for the best airlines for tall people, look elsewhere. Frontier Airlines’ legroom is the absolute worst in the business.