The Best Airlines for Economy Class Fliers

Gone are the days when only business class and first class passengers get perks in the air. "Economy" means "unexpected luxury" on these airlines.

Interior of commercial airplane with unrecognizable passengers on their seats during flight shot from the rear of airplane.Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock

Cramped leg room, stuffed seating arrangements, and nearly inedible plane food are just some of the reasons people dish out a little extra cash for an upgrade on their airplane seats. But unfortunately, sometimes the option isn’t available—so economy class it is. While some airlines are shrinking legroom and doing away with complimentary sodas, these six are improving the experience for economy fliers in the back of the plane.

JAL (Japan Airlines) 787-8

Expect some unexpected space in JAL economy seats. The seats are arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration with a roomy 18.9 inches of space in between armrests and 33 inches of pitch (the distance from the back of your seat to the back of the seat in front of you). You’ll also have your own 10.7-inch entertainment touch screen and USB ports to charge your devices. Another plus is the delicious in-flight dining menu, even in economy, as the airline partners with Japan’s famous restaurants and brands.

Singapore Airlines A380 and 787-10

Singapore Airlines’ new A380 and 787-10 aircraft feature 32 inches of pitch. Each seat has a six-way adjustable headrest, 11-inch HD video display, a USB port, power plug for laptops, and in-seat smartphone stowage. The airline’s food and wine variety and quality are top notch; the food served on board is never frozen and almost always made from scratch. Check out these 11 things you can still get for free on a plane.

Emirates 777 and A380

Flying first or business class on Emirates is a bucket-list-worthy experience, but economy on its 777 and A380 is nothing to scoff at. Every passenger is provided with an amenity kit upon boarding. You can expect 32 to 34 inches of pitch depending on your seat location, while the entirety of the aircraft has free Wi-Fi and up to 4,000 channels of TV shows, movies, music, and games. Award-winning cuisine is another big hit on Emirates economy. The food is prepared by internationally renowned chefs, featuring vivid flavors inspired by your destination. These are the 13 airlines with the best (and worst) food.

ANA All Nippon Airlines 777

Every seat on the ANA’s 777-300ER aircraft reclines without disturbing the passenger’s leg room behind you, while also allowing you ample space since the person in front of you won’t recline into yours either. The seats also have 34 inches of pitch, built-in footrests, USB ports, and A/C power.

Honorable mentions

Other noteworthy airlines for economy travelers include British Airways, with seats featuring a pitch of 31 inches and 17.5 inches of width, and JetBlue, which has free Wi-Fi and in-seat TVs with free live television. Next, find out the very best airplane seats for every type of need.

Alexa is an experienced lifestyle and news writer currently working with Reader's Digest, Shape Magazine, and various other publications. She loves writing about her travels, health, wellness, home decor, food and drink, fashion, beauty, and scientific news. Follow her travel adventures on Instagram: @living_by_lex, send her a message: [email protected], and check out her website: livingbylex.com