This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

We probably all know Ryanair as a fee-focused airline that sells you cheap tickets but then often looks for ways to nickel-and-dime you (i.e. through $96 boarding pass printing fees). That’s been true for most of the 30-plus year history of Europe’s largest low-fare airline, but over the last few years, Ryanair has been striving to be more customer friendly through its “Always Getting Better” program.

Most recently, it added a 60-day check-in window so you’ve got plenty of time to print your boarding pass and avoid the current €15 / £15 printing fee. The difference is so stark that The Points Guy himself has gone from calling Ryanair the “worst airline in the world” to raving about the reasons he loved his recent experience on it.

Still, we weren’t prepared for what we just learned. As part of Ryanair’s celebration for passing the 1-billion passenger mark, the airline announced that its forthcoming 110 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will be fitted with Zodiac slimline seats with 31 inches of seat pitch.

31 inches between seats is the current de facto standard for economy, with low-cost airlines like Spirit Airlines bottoming out at 28 inches and top-notch international airlines like Japan Airlines offering 34 inches. And now slimline seats, featuring thinner backs, are allowing legacy US-based airlines to flirt with Spirit-like seat pitches. Which is where the surprise is: American Airlines will soon offer less legroom than Ryanair.

Like Ryanair, American is installing slimline seats on its 737 MAX, the first of which just rolled off the assembly line. However, AA isn’t planning on being generous with legroom on these aircraft. The biggest airline in the world by passengers carried originally announced it would install seats with 29 inches of pitch in some rows of coach, but backtracked after public outcry, promising 30 inches of pitch throughout economy. Even after making this concession, American Airlines will still have less legroom on its 737 MAX aircraft than low-cost Ryanair.

American isn’t the only legacy airline that will be beat by Ryanair’s new and relatively generous pitch. Ever fond of comparative, and aggressive, advertising calling out competitors by name, it says it will have “more legroom than British Airways and Lufthansa economy seats.” Ryanair’s 31 inches also beat low-cost rival Norwegian’s 29-30 inches of pitch. Across the Atlantic, Southwest’s 32 inches of pitch will provide the most legroom of the bunch.

But low-cost European travelers will have to wait for the new seats: Ryanair will begin receiving the first of its 110 Boeing 737 MAX orders in 2019. Right now, they have to make do with 30 inches, the standard throughout Ryanair’s vast fleet of hundreds of 737-800s.

The best beginner points and miles card out there.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.