Airlines

Seat Pitch on WOW vs Spirit

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There are currently sales going on for WOW Airlines (a budget carrier out of Iceland) from the U.S. to Europe which made us ask the question, how do their seats compare to Spirit? And how to their seats compare to other budget carriers out of Europe?

Previously I compared Spirit Airlines seat pitch to other U.S. carriers.

WOW Air (A320):
Economy: Seat pitch: 30-31” Width: 17” Seats recline: Yes

You have a little more room if you have an exit row seat (but it doesn’t say how much). It costs £5 (approximately $8 USD) to pick your seat on WOW Air otherwise you’ll be randomly assigned a seat.

Their seat pitch is described as “a little more than usual for a budget carrier”.

Let’s see how that compares to Spirit.

Spirit Airlines (A320):
Big Front Seat: Seat Pitch: 36″ Width: 20″ Seats recline: no
Row behind “Big Front Seat”: Seat Pitch: 37″ Width: 17.75″ Seats recline: no
Exit Row Seats: Seat Pitch: 38″ Width: 17.75″ Seats recline: no
Everywhere Else: Seat Pitch: 28″ Width: 17.75″ Seats recline: no

Yup, definitely bigger than Spirit’s. Comparing them to other “budget carriers” in the U.S. they seem to run about the same as Frontier Airlines.

Frontier (A320):
Economy: Seat pitch: 30-31″ Width: 18″ Seats recline: Some do, some don’t

I have yet to figure out the method-to-the-madness on which seats recline and which don’t on Frontier. If I were to guess, I’d say the exit row, the row in front of the exit row and probably the back row don’t recline (same as Germanwings, see below).

Then I Compared WOW to some other popular budget carriers in Europe.

Ryan Air (Boeing 737-800):
Economy: Seat pitch: 29.9” Width: 16” Seats recline: No

So with Ryan Air compared to Spirit, they have a larger seat pitch, but less seat width.

easyJet (A319 and A320):
Economy: Seat pitch: 29” Width: 17.5” Seats recline: 4”

Vueling (A319 and A320):
Economy: Seat pitch: 30” Width: 17” Seats recline: 2”

Note: Everything I can find on Vueling says it’s only a 2” recline. But based on our previous experience I would beg to differ.

Air Berlin (A319 and A320):
Economy: Seat pitch: 29-30” Width: 17-18” Seats recline: 3°

Air Berlin (Boeing 737-700 and 737-800):
Economy: Seat pitch: 30” Width: 17” Seats recline: 3°

Germanwings (A319 and A320):
Economy: Seat pitch: 29” Width: 18” Seats recline: Yes, except for the exit row, the row in front of the exit row, and the last row
Economy Best Seats: Seat pitch: 32” Width: 18” Seats recline: Yes

Like I said before, I can take a slightly smaller seat pitch if the seats don’t recline (but, I’m short). Based on my husband’s previous experience, he agrees with me. Another factor for me is the length of the flight. We have no problem flying three hours or less on a budget carrier, but I’m not sure about flights longer than that.

The WOW Air deals are amazing and I hope it’ll help many people be able to take their first trip to Europe. Quick word of warning, if you plan on flying to other places in Europe, make sure you check the prices of all the airlines, not just the budget carriers. Due to the amount of competition, sometimes it’s cheaper to fly one of the major airlines than a budget carrier (especially when you include the price of checking bags). Half the flights we took within Europe were on budget carriers (Ryanair, Vueling Airlines and easyJet) and the other half were on major carriers (SAS, British Airways, and Air France).

What do you think? Is the seat pitch and ability to recline a deal-breaker? Are you willing to put up with being uncomfortable if the price is right? Do you have a limit for how long or far you’re willing to fly on a budget carrier?

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Tiff's first big vacation was a Caribbean cruise when she was six. She first started getting interested in deals when her husband showed her the tricks to getting bought off your flights back in the late 90s. She started flying nonrev when they got married; the first unusual nonrev she did was in '05 when her family flew through San Juan to get to Dallas from Philly. They have two boys, ages 11 and 7, who she usually drags along on their travels and hopes they will grow up to love traveling as much as she does.

10 Comments

  1. John Maly

    October 23, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Thanks!

  2. Andrew (Shrewd Travel)

    October 23, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    I fear this statistic may be quite misleading because based on the pictures it doesn’t look like WOW uses the same slimline seats as Spirit uses. These slimline seats are what allows Spirit to reduce the seat pitch to 28″…while WOW’s numbers show two additional inches of seat pitch the actual comfort level may be worse since they have the older style seats which take up considerably more space.

    • Tiff

      October 23, 2014 at 7:32 pm

      That could be. If I get a chance to fly on WOW I’ll let y’all know. 😉

  3. DaninMCI

    October 23, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    I was on a recent Spirit flight where the big front seats recline. I just thought it was normal.

    Also I think for an extra fee (go figure) on WOW you can get a bigger front seat as well or one with more legroom.

    • Tiff

      October 23, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      It looks like extra legroom seats go for $24 (each way), but I haven’t found anything that says exactly how much extra space that is. I’m sure we can assume (like most airlines) it’s somewhere between 34-38″.

  4. Max J

    October 23, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    WOW is buying new A321s for this route, and according to the seat map they will have 35 rows. Air France’s A321s also have 35 rows and 32 inches of pitch, so I think legroom will marginally improve on the US routes.

    • Tiff

      October 23, 2014 at 7:33 pm

      I hope so! That would be nice for such a long flight. 🙂

  5. Joey

    October 23, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    If the price is right, I’ll certainly fly this airline! I’ve flown both Spirit and Vueling and can’t believe the seat pitch on Vueling is 30″! Vueling definitely felt more claustrophobic and tight compared to Spirit. Perhaps it’s Spirit’s slimline seats that made the difference?

    • Tiff

      October 24, 2014 at 2:33 am

      I assumed it was because of the reclining seats on Vueling, but you may be right.

  6. Jon

    October 24, 2014 at 1:27 am

    I’ve flown WOW 4x and each time they’ve used different wet-leased planes. Last year CDG-KEF was a Jetstar A320 on the way over and an ancient Spanish charter MD on the way back. Have also used them to and from LGW. They do have one or two of their own planes, but these are generally only used on their non-seasonal routes. In peak season they basically fly with whatever they can find.

    Basically means the pitch is all over the place, but it is no worse than any other airline in my recollection, and better than many. On-board food is decent for a LCC – Icelanic style lamb flatbreads, skyr etc.

    I must admit I have a soft spot for WOW. After an overnight Berlin-Paris train arrived *10 hours* late and we arrived in Gare d’Est when our plane was supposed to board my wife insisted we go to the airport just in case. As it turned out all flights were delayed, even though it was 1hr past original departure and they were boarding as we arrived, WOW staff got us on the plane, made sure our bags got on too, and we made it to Iceland. It’s definitely a low-cost carrier (added fees etc), but still has a human touch without the ‘computer says no’ approach of most other LCCs.

    TBH though, I’d consider using them to fly to Iceland only, not to Europe via Iceland, or if you plan on an Iceland stopover (the extra layover can be a hassle, and KEF is *miles* and a lot of money from anything worth seeing on a log layover. I would put them at the same peg as Jetstar, or closer to Easyjet than Ryanair.

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