Over the next few months I'm going to be flying backwards and forwards between London and Seattle.

It has to be Economy class (corporate policy). I might be able to negotiate premium economy (not sure). I can choose the airline.

I have some miles with Emirates which I'm prepared to transfer, if that's possible and if it helps my chances of an upgrade (14,650 miles of which 12,150 are 'tier miles' - status Blue which is the nothing-at-all status on Emirates, but which has actually got me upgraded to Business class a couple of times).

The things that matter to me are:
- amount of seat recline,
- amount of seat recline, and
- amount of seat recline.

(I can't sleep sitting-up at all).

Decent food is a nice-to-have, a socket to plug in my iPad is a nice-to-have, it would be nice to get off the flight quickly if that means I spend less time queuing for security and passport control (I'm a UK citizen). If I can plug in my iPad then I don't care at all about on-board entertainment, otherwise I'd be looking for seatback video with a decent range of movies. But I'd trade all of that for a flat-bed seat! (I realise I'm unlikely to get one).

My non-stop flight options appear to be limited to either Delta (direct or resold by Virgin) or BA (direct or resold by lots of other airlines). Are there any other options that I'm missing? Does it make any difference whether I buy direct or through another airline? I wouldn't mind a flight with a change if it doesn't make the flight time significantly longer and it gets me a much better seat. I can depart from any London airport, I can arrive at any Seattle or nearby airport (although it looks like the only real option is SeaTac, but I don't know Seattle at all so would welcome other suggestions). Favourite London airport is City (because it's small therefore fast to get through), then LHR/LGW, then the others.

On that basis which option (BA/Delta/Other) gives me the best chance of getting a seat with as much recline as possible?

  • 2
    BA has premium economy. Delta only has an extra legroom version of economy which they call Comfort+ now. delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/…
    – Berwyn
    Jun 5, 2016 at 16:32
  • 1
    AE, FWIW I was thinking of BA.
    – Fattie
    Jun 5, 2016 at 17:10
  • 1
    @AE Delta website says "extra recline will be available on most long-haul international flights"
    – Berwyn
    Jun 5, 2016 at 17:20
  • 1
    @AE take a look at routehappy (edited it into answer)
    – Berwyn
    Jun 5, 2016 at 17:26
  • 1
    Just one unrelated thought, AE. Don't forget that in life when you recline ........... there's someone behind you. When you fly, yourself, (in economy I mean) the single most infuriating thing about flight is when the person in front of you reclines; you want them to burst in to flames, heh! Don't forget the person behind "could be you" :O Just a thought!
    – Fattie
    Jun 5, 2016 at 18:11

1 Answer 1


I've done a lot of flying back and forth to Seattle from the UK for the last few years. My corporate policy is also economy. I've flown on Delta, BA and AA for all or parts of LON-SEA and back.

Since you're going to be doing this a fair amount, my recommendation is to get status in one alliance and stick to it. The good thing about DL is that with status you can get free extra legroom seats, also the long haul aircraft I've been on have been pretty nice with seat power and decent IFE.

I chose to get status in oneworld so fly BA and AA mostly. With BA, the most important thing is to get into premium economy (WT+) somehow. From that cabin you can upgrade with avios when available to lie-flat seats in business, upgrade for cash at the airport when offered (AUP), and sometimes online (POUG). For various reasons I often change in JFK especially when I'm hunting for Tier Points. It breaks up the journey, I have lounge access and it's good to be able to walk around and sit in a comfy chair.

Since my company allows me to buy my own tickets and expense them, I most often don't travel in economy anyway. I usually expense the cost of a direct flight from London to Seattle (or wherever) and then pay the additional cost to get me into WT+ and upgrade to business, or buy business class directly. Usually I do this by buying a so-called ex-EU ticket, and flying from another European country. This can sometimes even be cheaper than buying economy from London.

The only option from London City airport is LCY-JFK on BA but it's an all business class aircraft. It does a short stop in SNN for customs and immigration pre-clearance into the USA and refueling. On the way back it's non-stop. You'd then connect to a JFK-SEA flight on AA. It's a great flight if you can do it.

I'm with you about sleeping sitting up, I can't do it either. If it's a daytime flight then I can just about live with it, but flying to the US west coast is a long way and takes a long time and it's bad enough even for a daytime flight.

Edit: A website worth looking at that claims to give you a "happiness score" comparison between airlines is routehappy.

  • This is very helpful, thank you. Does AA operate their own flight London to Seatac or is that a rebrand of one of the others? How does one buy 'ex-EU' tickets and do they have to be non-London departure point?
    – A E
    Jun 5, 2016 at 14:00
  • 2
    AA don't fly LON-SEA, they codeshare with BA. Or you can do LHR-JFK-SEA all on AA if you wish. AA business class seats are pretty nice to JFK, but they don't have the lie-flat seats for the transcon to SEA, just the fairly decent "F" seats.
    – Berwyn
    Jun 5, 2016 at 14:03

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