The Reason Why Airplane Seats Are So Small

One of the most common questions that people have, when they are sitting down in an airplane seat, is regarding the seat size. Why are the seats so small?

Airplane seats are so small because airlines have been shrinking the size of their seats for a number of years to make more money from each flight. It is not only seen in the width of the seat, but it is also in the legroom. Fitting a few more seats on the plane makes the customers less comfortable but it makes the airline more money.

This may not be a big problem for somebody who is slim, but if we are carrying around any extra girth, we may struggle to get in the seat.

There are even other problems, such as not being able to fit in the seatbelt or for some, not fitting in the seat in the first place.

On my most recent flight to Orlando, I sat next to a passenger who sat with one leg folded underneath the other and her toes kept wiggling against my thigh! On top of that she kept putting her arm on top of mine, it was uncomfortable, to say the least!

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the different options available for seating. It’s a good idea to know the roomiest seats on the plane, as well as those that are comfortable for every type of person.

Onboard My Virgin Atlantic Flight To Orlando International Airport in 2022

Are First And Business-Class Seats Bigger Than Economy?

The first place that we tend to look for extra room is either in business class or first class. Are those seats actually bigger than what you would find in economy class?

First-class seats are a few inches larger than economy-class seats. The same is also true in business class, although they tend to be lagging slightly behind what is found in first-class seats on most planes.

This brings up an interesting point. First class is not always first when it comes to luxury on every flight. Some airlines actually put more focus on business class with nicer cabins and larger seats in comparison with those available for first class.

It’s always a good idea to check with your airline and see which seats are roomiest. If money is not an object, opting for either first-class or business-class is going to get you more room for your derrière.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class August 2022

What Are The Roomiest Seats On A Plane?

Although it is nice to consider first-class or business-class, most of us are stuck with economy. Are we still limited with seat size?

If you want a little extra legroom on your flight in economy class, choose an exit or a bulkhead row. In either case, you will have that little bit of extra room so you can stretch your legs and be a little more comfortable.

If you would like to take a nap on the flight, try choosing the seat next to the window. You may not have any extra headroom but you can lean in the direction of the window and not worry about slobbering on the person next to you.

Pro Tip – Here’s a little trick that my wife and I have used a number of times to get an entire row for the two of us. We wait until close to the end of the time when you pick your seats and we choose a window seat and an aisle seat, leaving the seat empty between us.

Unless it is a full flight, it is a good possibility that somebody is not going to choose the seat between two other people. If they do, you could just give them a choice of window or aisle when they get to the row.

Enjoying a complimentary ice lolly onboard my Virgin Atlantic flight

How Big Can You Be To Fit In An Airplane Seat?

If you are carrying around some extra weight, you may wonder if you can get on an airplane in the first place. How big can you be to still fit in an airline seat?

There are not any restrictions on size but if you can’t fit into the seat comfortably with both armrests down, you will have to purchase an extra seat when you book your flight.

That is bad news because you will be paying for the extra seat but there is at least a little silver lining to that dark cloud. The airline will assign you seats side-by-side and they will not charge you extra for doing it.

Something else to consider when thinking about the size of the seat is the size of the seatbelt. The seatbelts on airlines are notoriously small so anyone who is considered plus-sized will likely need to use a seatbelt extender.

This can be embarrassing, but you may be able to bring your own seatbelt extender with you rather than asking for one. You can also try choosing from one of the airlines with larger seatbelts, such as Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, or American Airlines.

Can You Be Too Big To Go On A Plane?

For those who are overweight, perhaps 300 pounds or more, is it even possible to go on a plane if you were to buy two seats? You might be worried about being trapped on the plane or being kicked off because of federal regulations.

Regardless of your size, you can legally fly on an airplane. Federal regulations do not dictate how large you can be before you are not able to fly. If you are too large to fit in a single seat, you will have to buy two seats for the flight.

There are also some things to consider as far as convenience is concerned.

For example, arriving early so you can get in the row to the window first without climbing over people is usually a good idea. Otherwise, choose an aisle seat and get on last.

Me onboard my Virgin Atlantic flight to Orlando 2022

What Airline Is Best For Overweight Passengers?

If you are overweight and need to fly, what are the best airlines to choose from? There are a few to consider.

  1. JetBlue – With the largest seats in economy, both in the width and the legroom, you are likely to be most comfortable on JetBlue. They also offer some bargains, so you can try finding a cheap flight on this accommodating airline.
  2. Delta – This airline also has larger seats in economy class, with some of the seats being up to 19 inches wide. If you are able to upgrade to premium economy class, you can choose from some larger seats.
  3. Spirit – There are a limited number of seats, known as the ‘Big Front’ that are up to 20 inches wide. You will have to book early or you may get stuck back in one of the smaller economy seats.