The Airlines With The Worst Coach Seats — From Best To Worst

·4 min read
EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER / Getty Images/iStockphoto
EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Travelers tend to assume that coach class seating is the same among all airlines, aka, not great. But that just isn't the case; indeed some airlines are worse than others, offering even less legroom than competitors. And as we all know (especially tall folks!), a few extra inches of legroom can go a long way on a long flight.

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But it gets worse: some of these airlines tout higher fees, less amenities, and sorrier airline quality ratings than competitors.

Here's a ranking of the airlines with the best and worst coach class seats. If you plan on flying coach on your next trip, avoid the duds on this list.

Last updated: Sep. 22, 2021

Lerner Vadim / Shutterstock.com
Lerner Vadim / Shutterstock.com

10. 1. Delta

If you're going to fly economy, Delta is the way to go. Ranked no. 1 in The Points Guy's 2021 analysis of best airlines, which factored in reliability, experience, costs and reach, and loyalty, Delta scores strong across the board. Its only downfall is in the affordability category. According to Seat Guru, Delta's seat pitch starts at 31 to 32 for economy — which is on the more generous end.

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BanksPhotos / Getty Images
BanksPhotos / Getty Images

9. 2. Southwest

Stealing second place in The Points Guy's 2021 analysis of best airlines, Southwest is probably the best budget airline out there. With a seat pitch starting at 31 inches, Southwest economy travelers can expect top-notch customer service, reasonable baggage and change fees alongside solid awards availability.

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WayneSlezak 1.847.758.0202 / United Airlines
WayneSlezak 1.847.758.0202 / United Airlines

8. 3. United

Seat pitch starts at 30 inches in economy class on some jets in United’s fleet and rises to 31 inches in the economy cabin of some of its other jets.

The airline fared well in The Points Guy's annual roundup, weighing in at no. 3 based on a good performance in route network and frequent flyer perks .

But on the airline review site SKYTRAX, United has a pitiful rating 3 out or 10 rating based on over 3,700 reviews‚ and that's for the whole airline, which leads one to imagine just how poorly basic economy fares.

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Vacclav / Shutterstock.com
Vacclav / Shutterstock.com

7. 4. Alaska

Alaska’s economy class has seat pitch starts at 31 inches, although they are slightly slimmer -- starting at 17 inches -- than the airlines with the widest seats.

In The Point Guy's 2021 analysis of best airlines, Alaska took fourth place. That isn't too bad — but it fared poorly in the area of bag and change fees.

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American Airlines
American Airlines

6. 5. American

Seat pitch starts at 30 inches in economy class on the narrow-body jets in this carrier’s fleet, and built-in video options depend on the jet. On wide-body jets, pitch starts at 31 inches in economy class.

Your little economy seat comes with restrictions (and fees) on baggage, seating, boarding order and your eligibility to make changes. As of Jan. 1, 2021, American Airlines AAdvantage members are no longer eligible for elite status earnings on basic economy fares.

If you want to bring a carry-on or change your seat, that'll cost you.

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Joe Raedle / Getty Images
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

5. 6. JetBlue

Touting a semi-generous seat pitch starting at 32 to 33 inches, JetBlue is the best economy choice for passengers who want to (slightly) stretch their legs out. But the airline falters when it comes to baggage fees.

Osugi / Shutterstock.com
Osugi / Shutterstock.com

4. 7. Hawaiian

Ranking at no. 7 of 10 in The Point Guy's 2021 analysis of best airlines, Hawaiian isn't exactly well known for its amenities.

Seat pitch starts at 30 inches in economy class on the narrow-body jets in Hawaiian’s fleet and 31 inches in the economy cabin of its wide-body jets, according to SeatGuru, which is part of TripAdvisor.

On SKYTRAX, travelers have a lot of bad things to say about the airline's customer service.

Spirit Airlines
Spirit Airlines

3. 8. Spirit

Like Frontier, Spirit has the skinniest rows of any American airline, with a seat pitch of 28 inches — and they don't recline. Spirit lagged at 8 out of 10 American airlines studied in the in The Points Guys' 2021 report.

Spirit’s basic fare is really as basic as it gets. Travelers get no refreshments, no seat recline, no Wi-Fi, and certainly no frills. It's true that your seat will be cheap — but it comes at the cost of comfort. No wonder this airline gets such a bad rap.

EQRoy / Shutterstock.com
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

2. 9. Frontier

Frontier is one of two American airlines that squeezes passengers on planes with a seat pitch of 28 inches, according to a Wall Street Journal report, which cited some of its data from SeatGuru. This makes it one of the worst airlines in terms of legroom offered.

The company also charges passengers a fee to select their seat, and its stretch seating option, starts at $16 per leg. Buyers can pay north of $50 for the feature.

Though Frontier fulfills its mission as an ultra low-cost airline, the carrier charges add-on fees for perks, including beverages, snacks and carry-on luggage.

Chris Parypa Photography / Shutterstock.com
Chris Parypa Photography / Shutterstock.com

1. 10. Allegiant

Slumping in at no. 10 (out of 10) on The Points Guys' annual rankings (second only to the egregious Frontier),, Allegiant's seat pitch starts at 30". The airline is most sufferable in the areas of timeliness, cancellations, family accommodations, and frequent flyer perks — so basically everything. The airline holds a sour rating of 3 out of 10 on SKYTRAX.

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Nicole Spector contributed to the reporting for this article.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: The Airlines With The Worst Coach Seats — From Best To Worst

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