News Which airlines offer the best economy classes from Australia? (Part two)

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Which airlines offer the best economy classes from Australia? (Part two)

Recently Skyscanner Australia compared the economy seats of six of the most popular airlines that fly from Australia. We had an overwhelming number of positive responses, with some readers asking for more best economy airline comparisons. We hear you! This time round we've taken a look at British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Thai Airways and Virgin Australia.

We looked at a few criteria when comparing the best economy class airlines- legroom,seat width, entertainment, cabin luggage allowance and customer feedback.

Leg room

British Airways gives the least leg room, with a consistent 31 inches (just under 79 cm) in their economy seats flying from Australia. Delta, Thai and Virgin all have some planes with this length, but each offers roomier alternatives. To be assured of more space, fly Cathay as they have a uniform 32 inches (around 81cm).

Thai Airways offers the most room to stretch out, with 34 inches (86cm) on its Boeing 747-400s.

Compare flights on Thai Airways

A man struggles with a lack of legroom on an aeroplane

Seat width

For wider seats, your best choice is Cathay Pacific. Like Delta and Virgin Australia, it offers seats 19 inches wide (47cm) on its Airbus A330-300 (333) models, but with a minimum offering of 18.2 inches (46cm) it trumps its competitors at the lower end.

Virgin also happens to have the smallest economy seats departing Australia, with its Embraer ERJ-190 (E90) – often used for shorter legs of a journey – just 17 inches (44cm) wide.

British Airways offer seats at the tighter end of the scale (17.5 inches) and Thai Airways give a little more room at 17.7 – 18 inches.

Compare flights on BA

Empty plane seats


No matter who you fly with, you’ll have a wide range of entertainment options on board. Each airline provides hundreds of TV shows and films to watch, with the back-of-seat screens also holding music, games and trivia to enjoy. British Airways boasts a monthly changing schedule, Delta offers 18 channels of live satellite TV and Thai Airways provides small toys for younger children to play with.

Compare flights on Delta

Cabin luggage

As shown in our last cabin luggage comparison, 7 kg plus one small item (such as a hand bag) is the standard offering, and Cathay, Thai and Virgin Australia all keep in line with this.

Delta and British Airways are more generous. Both have size restrictions (56 x 35 x 23cm the smaller of the two) but their weight limits are much higher. BA lets you take on 23kg, so long as you can lift this into the overhead locker yourself. Delta has no weight restrictions at all on most of its routes. Exceptions are if you’re travelling to Singapore (7 kg), South Korea or China (both 10 kg) .

Compare flights on Virgin Australia

Lady putting her cabin luggage in the overhead locker of a plane

Customer Feedback

Sometimes stats and figures don’t tell the whole story which is why SKYTRAX conducts an annual Customer Satisfaction Survey. One of the key areas of this survey is related to best economy seats and of the five airlines compared here, only one — Cathay Pacific — was in the top ten. Top of the list was Japan Airlines.

Compare flights on Cathay Pacific

Read more: Who offers the best economy class from Australia (part one) out of Air New Zealand, Emirates, Etihad, Qantas, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines.

With each airline enjoying a positive reputation, who you fly with will come down to personal preference, flight deals and convenience of flight times. Looking at Cathay airlines and Thai airways comparison, check out the Skyscanner Australia website or download one of the free apps.