We’re One Step Closer to Having Airline Seat Sizing Standards

Sep 27, 2018

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The September 30 deadline for Congress to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is upon us, and so far the United States House of Representatives is giving its seal of approval. Next up comes the Senate vote, but it’s widely believed that no meaningful opposition will be found there. Once the proper approvals are documented, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act will “extend funding for the FAA for another five years.” Crucially, this bill also contains quite a few elements that directly impact passengers.

As airline seat width and pitch have continued to shrink, Congress has begun to debate if seat sizing is less about product choice and more about human safety. Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee stated: “Safety should not take a back seat, especially a shrunken seat, to airline profits. Tightly cramped seating on aircraft is a safety issue and will now be taken seriously. The SEAT Act will ensure that shrinking seats on airplanes are evaluated in the interest of the safety of the flying public.”

The bill orders the FAA to take the lead in setting standards for the size of seats on commercial airlines, giving the agency a year to set minimums for seat width as well as the already diminutive pitch, or space between seats.

29.5 inches of seat pitch.
29.5 inches of seat pitch.

It’s also worth noting that the bill will formally ban passengers from making voice calls in flight. While no major airline expressly allows this currently, it’s a useful inclusion given that VoIP calls can indeed be completed over Gogo’s speedier 2Ku service.

As for what’s not covered in the bill? Language that would force airlines to curtail their wild and plentiful implementation of fees.

H/T: USA Today

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