The Federal Aviation Administration does not currently regulate the size of or distance between airline seats. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ordered the FAA to revisit the possibility.
The petition, which was filed by Paul Hudson and the Flyers Rights Education Fund, suggests airlines have decreased seat size and the distance between seats to increase profits. However, the changes have reportedly caused passengers to suffer from undue discomfort. The Flyer Rights Education Fund also said the changes have threatened passengers’ health and safety.
In an effort to ensure passenger comfort and safety, the organization has requested that the FAA regulate airline seat size and the distance between seats.
Although the three-judge panel did not address passenger comfort, they were concerned about passenger safety in the event of an emergency evacuation.
The FAA and the airline industry, in general, have strongly opposed airline seat regulations. As reported by The Washington Post, the Federal Aviation Administration conducted a number of studies and tests — which ultimately proved the size and spacing of airline seating are “a matter of comfort, not safety.” However, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor confirmed emergency evacuation safety is considered when airlines adjust their seating plans.
On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals determined the studies and tests cited by the FAA were likely “outdated or irrelevant.” Judge Patricia Millett said it is clear that “aircraft seats and the spacing between them have been getting smaller and smaller, while American passengers have been growing in size.”
In the ‘incredible shrinking airline seat’ case the FAA is forced to review seat size https://t.co/g10ixsPLqg pic.twitter.com/SD8VBqEdjK
— Circa (@Circa) July 30, 2017
Therefore, the FAA was ordered to re-examine their data and provide further proof that airline seat size and distance do not affect passenger safety. As reported by Yahoo, the court determined that airline seat sizes and the distance between them could cause “a plausible life-and-death safety concern.” Therefore the FAA is tasked with proving that those risks have been accurately assessed.
Landmark Ruling on Airline Seat Size Finds FAA Should Consider New Regulations https://t.co/mtoiZO85x6 pic.twitter.com/otR862Fst1
— Skift (@skift) July 29, 2017
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