The difference between economy and business fares can be massive, but dollar-for-dollar you might be happier in economy, says this new study

Is there anything worse than the dreaded middle seat?

Worse still: the middle seat, way in the back row, beside the queue for the eternally busy plane toilets?

However, a recent survey has suggested that this is where you might be the happiest with your fare.


After analysing 1 million flights between June 2018 and June this year, the travel app TripIt has shown that when it comes to picking seats, there's very little difference in terms of satisfaction between the cheap seats and those up front.

With regards to speed, comfort and convenience there are few better ways to travel than on an economy ticket.

"At the end of the day… if they're going to be happy with their flight, they want to know they got what they paid for," says TripIt's Kelly Soderlund.

Beyond having a little more leg room, fancier food, and arriving a fraction of a second before the passengers in the back, it's hard for the average traveller to justify the difference of a business class fare.

"There are so many ticket types these days," she said. "What the data is really showing is travellers in basic economy know what to expect and they feel like they got their money's worth. Sometimes in economy you get lost in a no man's land, you're not really sure what you paid for", Soderland told Travel + Leisure.

Law of Diminishing Return fares

Looking at return fares between Auckland and London in the New Year, there are big differences in price.

Air Singapore, which offers four different cabin classes, has a $15,369 difference between entry and top-flight fares.

Starting from $5,029 for basic economy seats, all the way to a first return at $20,398, it's hard to see if there's a four-fold difference in seats to accompany the four-fold difference in fares.

Stepping up a class to Premium Economy, for a 38 per cent increase in price you gain half an inch in seat width and 6 degrees of recline.


Perhaps nothing illustrates this difference more clearly than the world's most expensive plane seat: for the cost of sitting in Etihad's $100000 'residence'– a three room flying suite – you could fly return to Auckland twenty times.