US set to impose minimum legroom on planes

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US set to impose minimum legroom on planes

August 27, 2017 - 17:54
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US Congress is considering new regulations that could impact the comfort and security of flights. Court rules FAA must review seat sizes & legroom on planes.

How tight may you cram travellers in before it is unsafe?

After airline seats have crept closer together and narrower in recent decades a US Congress panel has proposed legislation for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to determine the minimum size that airlines must provide.

Emergency evacuation is a serious issue, as is the potential for air rage as tensions mount inside more tightly packed cabins,

Representative Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.

Previously, the FAA has refused to mandate how much space airlines must ensure customers have on planes. But that might change after an appeals court declared the Federal Aviation Administration has to consider a petition for review on small seats.


A federal judge in Washington D.C., Patricia Millet, described the issue in a she and two other judges handed down on Friday 28 July, ordering the Federal Aviation Administration to review seat sizes and legroom on commercial airlines. “This is the case of the incredible shrinking airline seat. As the average American gets bigger, seats are getting much smaller," Judge Patricia Millett wrote in her opinion.

Shrinking constantly

The ruling comes after an advocacy group, Flyers Rights, petitioned the FAA in 2015 to implement new rules to regulate seat space. They found that between most economy seats the distance has gone from 35 inches down to 31 inches, with some airlines going down to as little as 28 inches. The width of seats has also gone down over an inch since the early 2000s.

Safety hazard

Flyers Rights had said it's concerned that small airline seats are actually a safety hazard, putting passengers at risk for conditions like deep vein thrombosis. That's a potentially fatal condition that can cause blood clots in people's legs.

"The Case of the Incredible Shrinking Airline Seat."

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