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I'd like to know the space allocated to a typical first class passenger compared to that allocated to a typical economy class passenger.

For example, from SeatGuru, I can get the pitch and width of the seats on a British Airways Boeing 747 (economy is "World Traveller"). But can that give me the actual space allocated? Also, the first class seat is an "open suite" - does that mean there's space beyond pitch and width? Anyone ever done this calculation (in square feet or square meters)?

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    $\begingroup$ This will be tough to answer. First, what exactly does "space" mean? Second, there will be big differences between airlines and aircraft: a Singapore Airlines A380 suite will be huge compared to 'first class' on a US domestic B737 flight. It's also debatable if this question is even on topic or if it would fit travel.stackexchange.com better, but that's a separate issue. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Dec 7 '14 at 0:59
  • $\begingroup$ kind-a related: economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2014/12/inequality-planes $\endgroup$ – Federico Dec 7 '14 at 8:14
  • $\begingroup$ There is no "typical". First class is one of the big ways that airlines differentiate from their competitors. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Dec 7 '14 at 13:25
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Width and pitch give you the space that is allocated to you and your seat. First Class seats are more bulky than Economy seats, so the actually usable space is a smaller fraction than in Economy. I wonder how the square meters would convey more information; generally, in Economy you are boxed in by your neighbors, while in First you can outstretch without reaching the limits of the cabin space allocated to you.

The aisles are wider in First, but it will be hard to make a concrete claim on "your" part of the aisle. Cabin crew in First will be more tolerant of eccentric behavior, so your mileage varies. Also note that in First on wide-bodied Aircraft every seat will have direct access to the aisle, so you will not need to step over the feet of your neighbor.

You also get more space for your baggage (luggage). On narrow-bodied aircraft two people sit in First Class where six would sit in Economy, so you get three times more space in the overhead bins. On wide-bodied aircraft this difference is even more pronounced, count on having in First the space of 5 ore more Economy seats. The bins are smaller, though.

Also, the steward will take care of your coat in First, so your space requirement is reduced as compared to Economy.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks. Maybe then the calculation I'm looking for is: the total space of a first class compartment (floor space, coat space, overhead space) divided by number of passengers, and the same for the economy compartment. So your answer helped me reframe the question. $\endgroup$ – jus'curious Dec 7 '14 at 15:54

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