06/17/2014 08:00 am ET

You'll Get The Most Space For Your Dollar On AirTran, But JetBlue Is The 'Best,' Study Says

While cabin space will be vast and peppered with putting greens on the flights of the future, right now we're obligated to work with what we've got.

...even if that means a mere 28 inches of legroom. Travel website Hopper recently analyzed big-name airlines -- on everything from seat width to bag-check prices to customer service scores -- to determine which airline is the "best" for each type of traveler ("budget" travelers, "comfort-focused" travelers, etc).

Part of the study broke down "seat area:" AirTran, researchers found, offers the most total seat area for your dollar. This means that on AirTran, passengers pay the least for the most seat width and seat pitch (a term that loosely translates to legroom).

And while budget airline Spirit has the cheapest tickets (no surprise there), the study found JetBlue to be the cheapest when all is said and done -- after picking your seat, bringing a carry-on and checking two bags.

Here's Hopper's breakdown of which airlines to fly (and which to avoid) based on your trip:

If you're on a budget...
Fly with: Spirit or Frontier
Avoid: Delta and Alaska

Based on just ticket price, Spirit is significantly cheaper than any other U.S. airline: average round-trip tickets cost between $200 and $300. Frontier comes in second, with average round-trips costing between $300 and $400, according to the study.

If you're bringing bags...
Fly with: JetBlue or Virgin America
Avoid: Delta and Alaska

Spirit loses its "best bargain" lead and falls to sixth place after you factor in checked bags, carry-ons and the fee for choosing your seat. When these common perks are considered, JetBlue becomes the cheapest airline, followed by Virgin America.

If you're into customer service...
Fly with: JetBlue or Virgin America
Avoid: United and Alaska

JetBlue consistently scores the highest in customer satisfaction "for each dollar spent on a ticket," the report states. Virgin is not far behind, and United falls dead last.

If you crave a comfy seat...
Fly with: JetBlue or AirTran
Avoid: Spirit and Alaska

JetBlue is well-known for having the roomiest seats in the industry, with 33 whopping inches of seat pitchon average (Spirit has a measly 28 inches in an average seat, according to the study). And as previously mentioned, AirTran offers the most "seat area" for your dollar. Extend away, little legs!



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