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Monday 27 November 2023

Top 10 Economy Class Flight Experience for 2023

 Welcome to my Top 10 Economy Class Review (2023)!

This is a mock-up model of a 747, showing how 1970's Economy Class is like. (Photo: Soren Dragsbaek Holm)

This is Economy Class in the late 1990s. I was on board Altalia MD-82 which flew me from LHR to FCO. 

This is Economy Class of today! Notice the difference? (My recent trip with Emirates A380 - June 2023)


Transport has evolved throughout the years and as technology improves, the in-flight products of all classes become better and today, the existence of Low Cost Carriers gives travellers another option, these LCCs offer lower airfares for no-frills service. This means that these airlines offer the basic level of service and add-ons if you want more comfort or convenience. Some of these airlines offer eye-catching airfares that force the premium airline to strategise and counter against them. This is great for us because the more competition they are among these airlines, more good deals for us and if you are fortunate, you can fly or upgrade yourself to premium class at a lower cost. 

Today's Economy Class ranges from 28 inches to 34 inches and the Premium Economy Class was introduced to bridge the gap between the Business and Economy Class, making it more affordable. Thanks to the invention of In-Flight Entertainment System, now every passenger gets to enjoy whatever the airline offers compared to the past when only a projector was used to project the movie on the screen and passengers had no choice but to watch whatever the airline selected. I have been experienced that and all I can tell you is during that era, airfare was expensive as flying was considered to be a luxury way of travelling. It was quite boring but the seat legroom was better than today, that's for sure. Today a lot of airlines especially the low cost carriers squeezed as many seats as they can but the good thing about it is airfare is less expensive and if you are lucky, you might find a good deal on the Premium Economy and Business Class even. 

This is for those who are not familar with air travel. Airlines these days offer different types of classes on their flights, usually long haul flights offering more price tiers on each class. Here are the list of tiers for Economy Class that you should take note and consider when doing your booking. Sometimes you come across very low airfares on the airline's Economy Basic Class, there is usually a catch and it is important to read the terms and condition before purchasing the ticket. 

Types of Economy Class airfare: Basic Economy, Economy Saver, Economy Standard, Economy Flex (For example) 

The price will range from the lowest to the most expensive. The higher the airfare type, the more perks you get such as 100 or even 120% mileage points plus complimentary seat selection. Different airlines have different perks so you should compare and see which one suits you the best. 

Do note: This is based on my experience. I am 6 foot 4 (192 cm tall) and sitting in Economy Class can be challenging for me especially flying on carriers that configured economy class with a miserable seat pitch of 28-30 inches. 

How did I choose my top 10 airlines? 

I choose based on the airlines I flown so far and below contains a list of airlines and aircraft types that I have flown from 2013 onwards. What makes it challenging for me is choosing the top 10 as I had many wonderful experience with airlines so after much thoughts, I have come out with this list. Do you agree with some of my choices? 

Another thing to note is that my top 10 Economy Class list is likely to be different from other bloggers as the list of airlines we flown are different. I wonder which vblogger has flown the most number of airlines. Sam Chui, Josh Cahill or Noel Philips? 

It's great to read or watch videos from different bloggers to get a better prospective, right? Anyway I hope you enjoy this blog post. 

Here are the list of airlines (Full Service and Economy Class only) and aircraft types I flown from 2013 onwards.

Egypt Air Boeing 777-300ER

Kenya Airways Boeing 777-200ER and 787-8 Dreamliner

Vietnam Airlines Airbus A321

Uni Air MD-90 

Royal Jordanian A330-200 787-8 Dreamliner

Turkish Airlines A330-300 and B777-300ER

All Nippon Airways Boeing 787-8 and 787-10 Dreamliner

Transasia A330-300 and ATR-72-600

Malaysia Boeing 737-800

Royal Brunei Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner 

Singapore Airlines Airbus A330-300, A350-900, Boeing 737-800, Boeing 737 MAX 8, Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner

Silkair A320 

Kuwait Airways A340-300 

Garuda A330-200 and B737-800

Cathay Pacific A330-300, B777-300 and A350-1000

Air India Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner

Finnair A340-300

EVA Air A321 and B777-300ER 

Far Eastern Air Transport MD-82/MD-83

Mandarin ERJ-190 

Ethiopian Airlines B767-300ER, B787-8 Dreamliner and Airbus A350-900

Uzbekistan B767-300ER 

Asiana Airlines A380 and Boeing 747-400M 

Korean Airlines Boeing 737-900ER, Boeing 747-400 and Boeing 777-200ER

KLM Boeing 777-200ER 

Air France Boeing 777-300ER

Xiamen Airlines Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner

China Airlines Airbus A330-300, Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 747-400 

Jet Airways Boeing 737-900ER

Lot Polish Boeing 737-800, Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner and ERJ-190

United Airlines A320, Boeing 757-300 and Boeing 777-300ER 

Delta Airlines A220-100, A321CEO, A321NEO, A330-300, Boeing 757-200, Boeing 757-300, Boeing 767-400ER 

Swiss Airlines A220-300, A320NEO, A340-300 and Boeing 777-300ER

Virgin Atlantic A330-300, A330-900 and A350-1000

Jetblue ERJ-190 and A321NEO

Batik Air Malaysia/Indonesia Boeing 737-900ER

Alaska Airlines A320CEO, A321NEO and Boeing 737-900ER

Emirates A380

Azul Brazilian ERJ-195E2 

Aerolineas Argentinas Boeing 737-800

Avianca A320 

BOA Boeing 737-800

Starlux A350-900 

My top 10 Economy Class Experience (4th to the 10th place)!

 Initially I wanted to list down the airlines based on ranking but because I find it challenging to do, so I decided not to rank these airlines, so what you see here below are airlines that in my top 10 places excluding my top 3 airlines. 

My 4th to 10th airlines (Not in order)

4th: Delta Airlines Airbus A321NEO 

N501DA (Photo: Bill Shemley)

Economy Class photos 

One of the few A321NEO operators selected the manufacturer's Airspace interior.

Window shades are kept close during departure is to keep the cabin as cool as possible. 

Even though the cabin of Delta is basic, I find the seat to be comfortable and adequate on this domestic trip from Boston to Atlanta. With the airline offering complimentary wifi and a decent IFE system, time flew quickly for me on this relatively short flight on the airline’s sparkling new A321NEO. My rating: 7/10

174 Economy Class Seats 
Seat legroom space: 31 Inches 
Seat Width: 18 inches 
Recline: 3 degrees
Wifi is available
 Seat back Screen, USB and AC power socket are available 

5th: Cathay Pacific A350-1000 

B-LXB (Photo: K.L. Yim)


Economy Class Photos 

The 3-3-3 layout on the A350 is comfortable. 

I like the colours and design of the seat. 

Cathay Pacific was one of the top airlines in the world before the Covid pandemic took over. Currently, the airline is taking quite a while to finding its feet back but it is currently heading in a right direction. I was fortunate to fly this airline before the pandemic and the service was what you expect from this airline. For the in-flight seats, I find them to be quite comfortable, with a reasonable legroom space of 32 inches and is definitely suitable for long haul flights. My rating: 7.5/10

256 Economy Class Seats 
Seat legroom space: 32 inches 
Seat width: 18 inches 
Recline: 6 inches
Wifi is available 
Seat back Screen, USB and AC power socket are available 

6th: Asiana Airlines A380

HL7625 (Photo: My photo) 

Economy Class Photos (Upper Deck)

I was fortunate to experience this on a relatively empty flight. 

The window seat offers extra storage space compartment. 

Scoring an Economy Class seat on an A380 upper deck is harder these days as lesser A380 operators have this configuration and if the airline has this option,  you have to pay more these seats unless you have a status with the airline's mileage program. The current A380 operators with Y class on the upper deck are Lufthansa, Emirates (2-Class configured A380), Asiana, British Airways and Qatar Airways.

What I like about the upper deck Economy Class cabin is every passenger at the window seat has an extra storage space and is configured in a comfortable 2-4-2 layout. I find the seats to be comfortable with a healthy legroom space of 33 inches and so this deservingly gets a spot in my top 10 list. My rating: 7/10

417 Economy Class Seats
Seat legoom space: 33 inches 
Seat width: 18.9 inches 
Recline: 3 inches 
No Wifi 
Seat back Screen, USB and AC power socket are available 

7th: Singapore Airlines A350-900

9V-SMS (Photo: Rainer Bexten)

Economy Class photos 

The IFE system is top notch, that's for sure. 

Singapore Airlines offers competitive products on all the cabins and this economy class is quite popular among travellers. I find the seats to be quite comfortable, suitable for long haul flights, however I don't like the dark colours as it makes the cabin dull. Other than that, I am quite satisfied with the comfort level of SQ's long haul Economy Class product. My rating: 7/10

187 Economy Class Seats 
Seat legroom space: 32 inches
Seat width: 18 inches 
Recline: 6 inches
Wifi available
Seat back Screen, USB and AC power socket are available 

8th: Azul Brazilian Airlines ERJ-195-E2 

PS-AEC (Photo: Angelo Melo)

Economy Class photos 

The upgraded interior of the ERJ 190/195 E2 version is certainly an upgrade over the E1. The 2-2 seating configuration is more comfortable than the 3-3 seating configuration, that's for sure. 

This was my first time flying with Azul Brazilian Airlines, an airline far away from home. The interior of the cabin reminds me very much of Jetblue and this gets my vote as I find the seats to be top quality together with the good IFE screen, it certainly enhance the comfort of flying on Economy Class. Among the ERJ flights I flown so far, this has to be best. My rating: 7.5/10

116 Economy Class seats 
Seat legroom space: 30-31 inches
Seat width: 18 inches 
Recline: 3 inches 
Seat-back screen and USB charging port are available 

9th: Oman Airlines Airbus A330-200/-300

A4O-DG (Photo: Cheme Gomez)

Economy Class photos 

This A330 cabin offers a nice ambiance. 

I always have a soft spot for orange colour and the interior certainly caught my attention. What's the best thing about these seats? It has a generous seat pitch of 34 inches and the seat itself is quite comfortable. Even though my flight with this airline was short, I know I can definitely fly long haul on Oman's A330. My rating: 7.5/10 

196 Economy Class seats
Seat legroom space: 34 inches
Seat width: 18 inches
Recline: 5 inches 
Seat back Screen, USB and AC Power Socket are available 

10th: EVA Air Boeing 777-300ER (3-3-3 configuration)

(B-16703 to B-16728) are configured in 3-3-3 in Economy Class. 

(Do note: the airline skip the number 4 in the ones place so these numbers , 16714, 16724 and 16734 are not used.)

B-16729 to B-16740 are configured in 3-4-3 in Economy Class.

 B-16722 (Hello Kitty special livery) Photo: Dong An

Economy Class Seats 

The Hello Kitty interior is the highlight of this flight. Many kids love them!

Before EVA Air introduced the 3-4-3 configured 777 into the fleet, this has to be one of the best Economy Class seats installed on the 777 and fortunately for us, the Taiwanese airline didn't re-configured the 3-3-3 configured aircraft to the 3-4-3 as there is a nightmare for both the cabin crew and the passengers especially on long haul flights. The seats are comfortable and has a good seat pitch of 32-33 inches, flying long haul on this airline's aircraft will not be a problem for me. If I have to rank the 4th best economy class experience, this airline gets the position. My rating: 7.5/10

238 Economy Class Seats 
Seat legroom space: 32-33 inches 
Seat width: 18 inches 
Recline: 3 inches 
Seat back screen, USB and AC power port are available 
Wifi is available 

My TOP 3 Best Economy Class Experience 

3rd place: Jetblue Airbus A321NEO configured with Mint Studio (Business Class) 

N2142J (Photo: Will Callaert)

Economy Class photos 

Travelling in comfort on a narrow-body aircraft. These aircraft are also used on transatlantic flights and that is how versatile the A321NEO is. 

I was surprised how good these Collin Meridian seats are after settling down. It looks like any other standard Economy Class seat except this standard seat is comfortable with the headrest, 32 inches of legroom space and the great IFE system including Live TV and complimentary WiFi, I can imagine the seats 'Even More Space' is even better with 34 inches of legroom space.

 Anyway, my 4 hours flight went passed so quickly that I didn't realise the time until the Captain announced the arrival to JFK Airport. Best narrow-body flight experience so far without a doubt. My rating: 8/10

90 Economy Class Seats 
Seat pitch: 32 inches 
Seat width: 18 inches 
Recline: 3 inches 
Seat back Screen, USB and AC power ports are available 
Complimentary WiFi 

2nd Place: Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330-900NEO 

G-VJAZ (Photo: Julian Rodriguez)

Economy Class Photos

I am definitely a fan of Virgin Altantic's cabin. 

The mood lighting certainly enhance my experience, making it a very comfortable ride across the atlantic. 

The reason why this end up as my 2nd best Economy Class Experience is down to the legroom space which is about 32 inches, 2 inches lesser than my number 1. These Recaro CL3710 seats are my absolute favourite. I like the seat fabric as I find the seat comfort one of the best in all the Economy Class cabins I experienced so far and on both flights, LHR-ATL (Around 9 hours) and BOS-LHR (Around 6 and a half hours), I managed to stay at my seat without moving out of the seat. Usually I need to excuse myself and walk around a bit to stretch my legs. My rating: 8.5/10

184 Economy Class Seats
Seat pitch: 31 to 34 inches
Seat width: 17.9 inches 
Recline: 3 inches 
Seat Back Screen, USB and AC Power ports are available 
Wifi is available 
(Complimentary Wifi for 20 minutes)

1st Place: All Nippon Airways Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner

JA900A (Photo: Bastian Ding)

Economy Class Photos

In my opinion, the comfort level of this economy class seat is unmatched. If only the cabin configuration is still in the 2-4-2, that would be the best. Currently, only Japan Airlines offers this comfortable layout on the Boeing 787 and I hope to try it one day. 

The first time I flew on ANA's 787-8, the seat layout was a comfortable 2-4-2 configuration which has since been re-configured to 3-3-3. However the seat was hard and was uncomfortable so when I board this aircraft, I was pleasantly surprised with the new seats. Not only was the seat comfortable, the seat legroom space was at a generous 34 inches and this is a clear winner for me. I hope the airline retain these seats and configuration for the future delivery of the new batch of 787-10 which they ordered a couple of years ago. My rating: 9/10

235 Economy Class Seats 
Seat Pitch: 34 inches 
Seat width: 17 inches 
Recline: 5 inches 
Seat back Screen, USB and AC Power ports are available  
Wifi is available 

In the nutshell 

My top 10 Economy Class cabin 

1. All Nippon Airways  B787-10
2. Virgin Atlantic A330-900NEO
3. Jetblue A321NEO (With Mint seats)
(4th to 10th place - not in order) 
- Singapore Airlines A350-900 
- Oman Airbus A330 
- Azul Brazilian Airlines ERJ-195E2 
- EVA Air Boeing 777-300ER (3-3-3 Y Class) 
- Cathay Pacific A350-1000 
- Asiana A380 
- Delta A321NEO 


With the seat manufacturers constantly designing new Economy Class products enhancing the comfort of the passengers, it isn't that bad flying at the back of the aircraft these days. All these factors depend on whether the airline are willing to put in the effort and investment to make Economy Class more pleasant and affordable for travellers especially for the budget conscious ones. Personally I find Recaro CL3710 seats with the seat back screens offer the best in-flight experience. Thanks to today's technology and the airlines opened to passengers' feedback, we are getting better in-flight products. 

Unlike flying in the 1990s and 2000s, when airfares were expensive especially without the existence of the low cost carriers, it is more competitive today and thanks to the lower airfares, passengers like us havc choices and for me, if I am not in a hunt to fly on new airlines or collecting miles, I would stick to one or two airlines with the best product and earn mileage points. The advantage of doing that is you are able to earn status with the airline and from time to time, you get rewarded with bonuses such as operation upgrade and complimentary lounge access if you earn enough points to reach at least gold tier. As an Economy Class regular, for long haul flights I would be picky, I am more likely to choose the airline that offers the aircraft type that I want to fly on then selecting the best deal (airfare) before choosing the desired seat depends on the price, if its expensive, I would wait to select my seat during check-in. For long haul flights, I won't mind the aisle seat so that I can stretch my legs during the flight. 

Thanks for reading and I hope you find this post useful. 

Coming up next: Aircraft Recognition Guide 6 (Chinese Aircraft: Comac, Xi'an and Harbin) 

Have a good one! 


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