The Essentials

Why Legroom on Airplanes Will Get Worse


Many airlines have announced that they are buying new generation, larger airplanes to fly even more long-haul routes non-stop. To me, that’s good news.


Now there’s sobering news. Bigger planes are, more often than not, coming with even more seats and less legroom.


In fact, the average legroom in economy class has already fallen by five inches in the last 12 years, and the average seat width has narrowed — down to just 17 inches.


And it’s about to get worse.


For example, a new airbus A321 is 23 feet longer than the A320. And the airline simply adds more seats with less pitch.


And later generation Boeing 737s are 45 feet longer than the earlier models. But inside in the planes, the squeeze continues.


American is adding nine more seats to its A321s. JetBlue is adding 12 extra seats to its A320s.


Try to go to the bathroom before boarding the flight. On some of the newer planes — and I’m not kidding — it’s physically impossible to go to the lavatory, close the door and wash both hands in the sink.