The formula for the perfect flight

Mixed race businesswoman looking out airplane window

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.

L= Legroom

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.

P= Punctuality

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
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The formula for the perfect flight
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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.

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