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Which airlines offer the best economy classes from New Zealand?

It's no secret that long-haul flights can be expensive which is why so many of us look for a good deal. Sadly, it's only when you're stuck in halfway there and stuck in cramped conditions that you realise the difference between 'cheap' and 'good value'. To help you book the best flights for your next holiday, Skyscanner New Zealand has compared the five most popular airlines operating international flights from Auckland: Air New Zealand, Emirates, Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia to see how their economy class seats weigh up against each other.

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Which airline has the most legroom?

Legroom, which is also known as ‘seat pitch’, is generally 32 inches on most international flights. Emirates flights have the most legroom, with average seat pitches of 34 inches on their A380 aircraft.

Air New Zealand has the second most roomy seats with a seat pitch of 33 inches, followed by Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia with 32 inches. Qantas follows the rest with only 31 inches across all of their aircraft.

Read more: In flight etiquette: the right to recline

Which airline has the widest seats?

As well as space to stretch your legs, you also want a wide seat for your buns, especially if you’re going to be flying next to a drooling stranger on a long flight. Among the top airlines, Singapore Airlines offers the widest seat, with 19 inches as standard in economy class on their new Boeing 777s.

Virgin Australia comes next with seats from 17 inches up to 18.5 inches, while Air New Zealand, Emirates and Qantas have seats varying between 17 and 18 inches.

Air New Zealand’s extra special seats

Air New Zealand has rolled out the ‘Skycouch’ on new Boeing 777 aircraft. A Skycouch is a row of seats, with the option for an armrest, meaning you have your very own sofa for stretching out in-flight. Although this is in economy class, there is a fee for upgrading to the Skycouch.

Which airline gives the biggest luggage allowance?

Checked baggage allowances vary more by route than airline. Typically, flights towards America or Europe have a 30kg baggage allowance, but flights to Australia and Asia only offer 20kg-23kg in checked baggage. As of 2016, Singapore Airlines is moving towards the ‘two piece concept’ – you are permitted to take 2 x 23kg bags instead of 1 piece weighing 30kg. Check with your airline prior to travelling this year, as this is a growing trend among international carriers.

All airlines offer a uniform maximum carry on baggage weight of 7kg as well as a small personal item (laptop, handbag etc). Linear dimensions must not exceed 46 inches, and bags should be able to fit under the seat in front of you or in the overhead locker.

Qantas are flexible when it comes to musical instruments on board – they’re happy for you to carry them, so long as they fit into the overhead locker and don’t exceed 7kg.

Read more: 10 weirdest items not allowed in hand luggage

Which airline has the best on-board entertainment?

All airlines mentioned above offer some form of in-flight entertainment, whether it’s games, movies or TV shows. If you’re flying with Qantas, make sure you’re on a B747 instead of the B737 to get the widest choice of channels – it offers 1500 television channels on the former, instead of 300 on the latter. Emirates now offers live news and updates on board their flights, and on Virgin Australia you can install their wireless entertainment system app on your device so you can access their content from your mobile or tablet.

Singapore Airlines makes sure their entertainment systems match their roomy seats by offering 10.6-inch screens in economy class. They also offer a choice of films and TV shows from Asia, as well as New Zealand. On board Air New Zealand, you are offered 1,800 hours of entertainment on board the 777-300 flights, whereas there’s 580 hours on the 777-200 flights. Air New Zealand’s flights to LA also offer a feed of YouTube videos to fill your journey too.

Want to update everyone of your location? Emirates is one of the first airlines to offer free in flight Wi-fi, and the other airlines are sure to follow suit.

Which airline serves the best food?

With dietary intolerances and choices being more widely recognised nowadays, airlines are growing to accommodate for them more frequently. Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia, Qantas, Emirates, and Singapore Airlines offer diabetic, gluten-free, raw food, Muslim, Kosher and vegetarian meal options.

You need to put in your special requests 48 hours prior to the flight on Virgin Australia, but on Air New Zealand, Emirates and Singapore Airlines you only need to give them 24 hours’ notice. Qantas only requires 12 hours’ notice.

Which airline gets the best customer feedback?

Air New Zealand isn’t just a favourite airline in New Zealand – it’s pretty popular worldwide. Air New Zealand has won the Best Airline Award from for the last three years for their value, safety and service on board (not to mention the brilliant in-flight videos). Aussie rival, Qantas, has previously won the Best Economy Class Award (2014).

Qantas, Emirates and Singapore Airlines all made the Skytrax Top 10 Airline list in 2015 too. Skytrax is the world’s largest international passenger satisfaction survey, so you can definitely trust these results. Whilst Virgin Australia didn’t place in either of these surveys, they have previously won several awards for ‘Best Cabin Crew‘ – top marks for customer service, then.

Now you know how to get the best seat in economy, check out the best time to book flights. Find the best deals on cheap flights today with Skyscanner.