The perfect flight takes place in the morning, with 40 inches of legroom and a punctuality score close to 100, a new study on air travel has revealed.
The research, by global travel search engine Skyscanner, used mathematics and surveyed over 2,000 international travellers on their flight preferences before enlisting the help of Dr Eugenia Cheng, Senior Lecturer of Pure Mathematics at the University of Sheffield, to analyse the findings and create a mathematical formula that could help travellers find the perfect flight.
The formula focuses on the factors that respondents cited as most important when booking a flight – time of day, punctuality and legroom – and when applied to flights, calculates a flight perfection scoring out of a possible 20 marks (15 in economy). The perfect flight is one in the morning, with legroom of 40" and a punctuality score close to 100.
T= Time of day
A massive 44 per cent of travellers said the time of their flight was the most important factor when booking a flight and when asked which time of day they would prefer to fly more than half (52 per cent) chose a morning flight, 27 per cent would fly at night, while just over a fifth would opt for an afternoon flight. A scoring of 10 points for a morning flight, 5 for an evening flight and 3 for an afternoon flight has been applied, aiming to reflect the weighting of these preferences.
Spacious seating was the feature that improved inflight happiness the most, with almost two thirds of participants (61 per cent). The formula therefore penalises any flight offering a seat pitch that is less than 30 inches (a standard pitch in economy) and increases the score by one point for every additional inch offered, up to a maximum of 40 inches.
The study revealed that an on time flight is the most important factor for 38 per cent of travellers. Flightstats produces a report every year that highlights the best performing airlines in terms of airline arrival performance.
While spacious seating is the most important factor influencing flight happiness, many other factors also scored highly, including good food and drinks (48 per cent), no turbulence (44 per cent), unoccupied seat next to you (33 per cent), getting a good price (30 per cent) and a great view (24 per cent).
Take a look at the infographic below to see if the formula works.
Best new flight routes launching in 2015
The formula for the perfect flight
British Airways will start direct flights to the historic Polish city from Heathrow in summer 2015. From 1 May, the service will operate four times a week on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays, with hand baggage only flights costing from £37 one-way and return checked-in luggage flights from £104 return. Krakow is famous for its historic city centre, which was the first in the world to be recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage centre, because of its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. As well as being a centre of Polish culture for tourists, many also make the journey to the nearby former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz to pay their respects.
WOW air will offer low-cost flights to historic American city Boston from Gatwick on 27 March 2015, with prices starting as little as £99 each way. The flights (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday) will make a short stop in Iceland's capital Reykjavik before continuing to Boston. As the largest city in New England, Boston is home to famous universities, one of America's most iconic baseball teams and the Freedom Trail.
easyJet will start three new flight routes to Porto from Manchester, Bristol and Luton Airports in summer 2015. The thrice weekly, year-round flights join London Gatwick in offering cheap flights to Portugal's second largest city, with fares starting from £30.99 each way. The ancient port city, built along the hills overlooking the Douro River, boasts a historic centre, meandering lanes and a diverse mix of architecture, as well as plenty of port-tasting opportunities.
Monarch adds Greek island Rhodes to its summer schedule for 2015. The flights will be from Gatwick and Manchester every Wednesday from May to September and fares start from £39.99 one-way. With stunning sunsets, traditional Greek food and 3,000 hours of sun a year, Rhodes is one of the most favourable summer destinations. Explore the ancient history of the island, see the stunning natural beauty and crystal waters, or just simply relax in the sun.
Canadian airline Air Transat is introducing its first ever UK to St John’s service in summer 2015 when the flights (from £448 return) from Gatwick to the pretty Newfoundland city commence. The twice-weekly service has one of the shortest routes across the Atlantic with a flying time of just over six hours and will operate from 18 June to 2 September. Flights depart from Gatwick every Tuesday and Thursday, and return from St John’s every Monday and Wednesday. Over 500 years old, St John’s is full of character with a bustling harbour and narrow, criss-crossing streets which take visitors on a historical journey. While exploring, stop at the many art galleries, heritage sites, museums and fine boutiques. Those feeling active can climb one of the steep hills which offer unrivalled views of the city.
easyJet will start flying from London Gatwick to the city of Stuttgart on 29 March 2015, with fares from £38.99 each way. Home to Mercedes Benz and Porsche, Stuttgart is leafy and boasts a village feel. It's best explored in the summer when you can enjoy the beer gardens of Schlossgarten Park and the mineral baths of Bad Canstatt.
Delta Air Lines is introducing a non-stop daily service from Heathrow to Philadelphia in April 2015, with flights costing from £620.16 return. Philadelphia is steeped in history and is the birthplace of America, home to the Liberty Bell, a resonant symbol of freedom around the world. The city, designed on an easy to explore, walkable grid system, boasts friendly neighbourhoods, cafes, restaurants and bars to relax in. With no sales tax on clothing and shoes, it is a bargain for shoppers and a great place to shop.
Next summer, easyjet will become the only UK airline to offer flights to Essaouira in Morocco, with two services a week from Luton. The flights will start on 1 May 2015 and cost as little as £40.99 one-way. The coastal city is famous for its Portuguese fortress and the old Medina. It is popular among surfers and tourists in search of a laidback atmosphere.
Following a 15 year hiatus, British Airways will be running a daily service from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur from 27 May 2015, with World Traveller economy fares starting at £708 return. The many cultures, unique blend of heritage, abundance of cuisines and arts have always put Malaysia on the map as a must-visit destination. From the buzzing city of Kuala Lumpur to the serene beaches of Langkawi and the vibrant forests of Malaysian Borneo, the country offers something for travellers of all ages and with all kinds of interests. In KL, you can enjoy the huge, air-conditioned shopping malls, wander around Chinatown and check out Little India.
Etihad Airways is bringing Abu Dhabi closer to Edinburgh with the launch of non-stop daily flights from the Scottish capital to the UAE's capital city on 8 June 2015. Flights will cost from £455 return and holidaymakers travelling to the city can enjoy year-round sunshine, pristine beaches, spectacular sand dunes and the cosmopolitan lifestyle, while discovering a different side to the UAE to Dubai.
We all want to feel refreshed after a long flight and Emirates has just the answer. If having your own personal Private Suite with siding doors wasn't enough, First Class passengers aboard the A380 can take a break and relax in a state-of-the-art Shower Spa at 43,000 feet. The luxury inflight shower, designed in classic walnut and marble, ensures travellers enjoy a complete spa experience, with signature Timeless Spa shower kits made from fine natural ingredients and green tea and fruit awaiting you in your cabin as a post-spa treat.
It really is the small things that count and who doesn't love receiving an amenity kit on a flight. First Class passengers flying with British Airways can pack their beauty products in their checked luggage as the airline has introduced cute wash bags with products from luxury British beauty brand Aromatherapy Associates. The kit includes a soft bag with the 'To fly. To Serve.' coat of arms and contains essentials tailored for men and women. The women's wash bag is filled with a Firming Eye Serum, Triple Rose Renewing Moisturiser, Orange Flower Hand Lotion, Hydrating Renewing Rose Cleanser, deodorant, lip balm, cotton wool, toothbrush, toothpaste and a combined hairbrush and mirror. The men's bag contains a Revitalising Moisturiser, Eye Gel, Shave Gel, lip balm, deodorant, razor, brush and comb, toothbrush, toothpaste and pen.
If you appreciate the wines of South America, you'll love the rich selection on-board LAN Airlines' flights. The wines, from Chile and Argentina, are handpicked by Master Sommelier Hector Vergara, who is one of just 158 people in the world with the title and the only person in Latin America. Both Economy and Business Class passengers can enjoy the award-winning tipple, which includes a Casa Marin Sauvignon Blanc from the San Antonio Valley in Chile and the Q Clay Crazy Rows blend from Chile's Colchagua Valley.
We love it when an airline goes all out to treat its Economy Class passengers too. Air New Zealand's Economy Skycouch is just what any traveller needs for a long-haul flight. Whether you're a couple who'd like the extra leg room or a family with restless young children, the innovative Skycouch is a row of three Economy seats that can be turned into your very own couch on a plane. With a touch of a button, a footrest comes out from under the seat to create a flat space for you to lie back, read and stretch your legs, while the armrests disappear into the back of the seats.
Planes can be pretty social spaces, with all that free time to catch up with friends and even meet new people. So what better place to have a chat over a drink than at an in-flight bar? Virgin Atlantic's futuristic on-board bar in the Upper Class Suite claims to be the longest in the sky, stretching eight feet with space for eight passengers. It is separate from the cabin, giving you somewhere different to sit and socialise with fellow passengers while sipping Champagne or a cocktail.
If the in-flight meal is something you look forward to, you'll love Qantas' Select on Q-Eat for Business and Premium Economy passengers. Select on Q-Eat allows you to pre-order your meal, designed by renowned Australian chef Neil Perry, with a wider range of dishes and the option of choosing at what stage during the flight you would like to eat. Dishes include Fish Cakes with Nuoc Cham, Pan Fried Blue Eye Fillet with Black Bean and Chilli, Fragrant Rice and Gai Lan and Lasagne of Roasted Pumpkin and Spinach with Tomato Sauce. In Business, you can also select the 'No Meal - maximise my rest option' via Select on Q-Eat and your bed will be made up directly after take-off instead.
Virgin Atlantic's innovative new mood lighting system, designed by architectural lighting experts DHA, changes the cabin's colour throughout the flight to help you relax and unwind, fall asleep and even adjust time zones. It's available in all cabins and creates up to eight separate atmospheres throughout the flight: the soft 'rose champagne' de-stresses passengers while encouraging relaxation, the 'purple haze' created a cosy, comfortable ambiance, and the 'amber warmth' is for a candlelight environment as you dine. There's also the 'silver moonlight' to help you drift into a deep sleep, while reflecting a starry night sky. Cool, huh?
Fancy a good night's sleep on your next flight? Singapore Airlines is the only carrier to offer the potential to create a double bed on a flight. The First Class Suites fit up to two double beds on each flight if you purchase four individual cabins. The comfortable beds are perfect for couples and have sliding doors with shades for added privacy - although getting too intimate during the flight is discouraged! The single beds in First Class Suites are also standalone beds and do not convert from the seat - another rare inflight treat.
British Airways's First Class passengers can enjoy the quintessential British ritual of afternoon tea but in five-star hotel style. The carrier's afternoon tea is inspired by the indulgent treats served at the iconic Palm Court at The Langham, London, which is the famed birthplace of afternoon tea over 140 years ago. Travellers can sample delicate sandwiches, artisan pastries and warm homemade scones - complete with tea and Champagne, of course!
Forget browsing the in-flight shopping brochure. Korean Air knows just how to treat its shopaholic passengers with its world-first on-board Duty Free Showcase on the A380. Located at the back of the first floor near the stairs to the second floor, the in-flight boutique is where you can browse and buy around 60 duty free items including cosmetics, perfume, alcohol and accessories. The cabin crew are also on hand to assist and advise you with your shopping.
It's won awards for its entertainment system and Emirates' ice Digital Widescreen offers over 1,400 channels of on-demand entertainment, over 300 movies from around the world, more than 150 TV channels, over 100 video games and around 800 music and podcast channels, so you'll never be board on a flight. Great for kids, the ice system has over 10 newly-releases children's films, 40 Disney classics, over 30 kids TV channels and games. Live BBC text news and sport headlines are updated via satellite, and there are in-seat laptop charging points, plus HD movies and TV programmes on selected planes.
Foodies taking to the skies with Qatar Airways can enjoy the finest dining imaginable, as four Michelin-starred chefs have overseen the airline's in-flight menu, creating signature dishes for discerning passengers. Tom Aikens, Nobu Matsuhisa, Vineet Bhatia and Ramzi Choueiri spent months adapting and testing their specialty dishes, taking into account the flavours and spices, as well as how taste buds are altered at 30,000 feet. Oven roasted mustard and dill salmon, Classic Arab mezze and Thyme roasted chicken breast with supreme sauce are some of the tempting dishes to try.
Wouldn't it be nice if you could find out who you'll be sat next to on a flight? Well now you can! KLM's Meet and Seat app allows you to find out who will be on your flight before you fly, so you can view their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles and even get to know them before you meet them on the plane. Ideal for making your journey more friendly and sociable, the app lets you choose a seat next to someone with similar interests (so you don't have to be stuck talking about the weather!). You can share as much or as little profile details and change your seat as often as you like.