On Friday, the U.S. Appeals Court advocated for the Federal Aviation Administration to reevaluate the petition for the size of airline seats to be regulated. The court claimed that the “shrinking” airline seats are cause for safety concerns.
The F.A.A. had been hesitant in the past to regulate airline seat sizes, claiming that it was not their job to cater to anyone’s comfort. When the U.S. Appeals Court found a legitimate safety concern, however, they were able to convince the F.A.A. otherwise.
The court found a petition that had been filed in 2015 by a consumer advocacy group, the Flyer Rights. The group petitioned that the reduced space in seats and leg room for airline passengers would negatively affect their ability to evacuate the plane in the case of emergencies.
The court noted the inverse relationship between the decrease in seat sizes and the increase of the average size of American passengers. According to the petition, space in airline seats has been drastically “shrinking” since the early 2000s. The distance between seats from row to row has decreased from 35 inches to 31 inches, and the average seat width has decreased by an inch and a half. On the contrary, the average size of American men and women has increased by 25 pounds since the 1960s.
One of the judges on the case, Patricia A. Millett, claimed that when the F.A.A. refused to undergo regulations the first time, they had based their decision on “off-point studies” with “unknown parameters.”
She said, “This is the case of the incredible shrinking airline seat. As many have no doubt noticed, aircraft seats and the spacing between them have been getting smaller and smaller, while American passengers have been growing in size.”
Although the only commitment that the F.A.A. made was to reevaluate the petition, everyone involved in the case is considering it a victory.
Aviation law specialist Arthur Alan Work said, “This is the first case I have seen where an organization has successfully challenged the F.A.A.’s basically being asleep at the switch and not fulfilling its safety responsibilities adequately.”
If the F.A.A. determines that there is cause for safety concern of passengers, the case will go back to Congress.
What do you think about this? Do you wish there were more seat and leg room space on airlines? Let us know what you think on Facebook. There has been a lot of recent controversy concerning airlines. In fact, a famous conservative commentator just got in a major twitter battle with Delta Airlines after being removed from her seat.