One of the greatest luxuries in the aviation industry is the space in front of the seats, allowing for stretching, working, and even sleeping at an altitude of around 11,000 kilometers above the ground.
These days, international business class offers fully flat and long beds, but some are more spacious than others.
So, which airline will provide you with the largest space?
To be clear, we’re not talking about first-class suites here, which can offer separate beds and reclining chairs. We’re talking about long-haul business class, where the space can vary significantly.
We asked Jason Rabinowitz, Head of Airline Research at ATPCO, a company owned by an airline that maintains a database for every aircraft seat and cabin, to gather information on the widest seats. He said, “A whole host of factors can contribute to making an airline’s premium seat appear larger or smaller. Due to the different aircraft structures, an airline may need to slightly shrink a seat from what the passenger is used to… Many airlines have shrunk the size of the originally installed seats on Boeing 777 and Airbus A350.”
In economy class, the space is typically determined by both the width of your seat and the amount of space between any point on your seat and the same point on the seat in front of you.
This method is known as seat pitch.
In business class, where the seats usually overlap, this method is not a great measure.
ATPCO data measures the length of the bed but not the width of the seat, which can be complicated for various reasons. Unlike in economy class, there is no standard “armrest-to-armrest” measurement as a starting point.
However, there are a few dozen airline and aircraft combinations where you’ll find over 80 inches in bed length, which is 6 feet 8 inches or 203 centimeters.
The largest seats extend to 87 inches in bed length, which is 7 feet 3 inches or 221 centimeters, providing enough space for almost everyone.
These 87-inch seats can be found on three aircraft: Air France’s Boeing 777s, Garuda Indonesia, and Thai Airways.
This doesn’t mean every Boeing 777 from these airlines has this seat size, so be sure to check when making a reservation.
Moving down the list, there are 84-inch seats on LATAM’s Boeing 777s.
You’ll find 82-inch seats on Garuda Indonesia, specifically on their modern A330-300 and -900neo aircraft. Not only that, but also on Oman Air’s A330 aircraft.
So, how do you find the most spacious seats when booking?
Look for seats that have no neighbor, also known as “all-aisle access” or “direct aisle access” seats, or “suite” seats.
The widest sizes for these seats are found on larger aircraft like the Boeing 777 and Airbus A350, rather than the smaller Boeing 787 and Airbus A330.
Don’t hesitate to take a close look at cabin photos.
Rabinowitz from ATPCO says, “Some airlines have removed overhead bins from the center seating section in business class, giving these seats a more open feeling.”
He adds, “Better lighting, sidewalls, and cabin finishes also work to give a cabin a more open and spacious appearance.”