Judge orders FAA to consider whether seat size influences safety

  • Judge orders FAA to consider whether seat size influences safety

Judge orders FAA to consider whether seat size influences safety

A US appeals court has ordered the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to formally respond to a consumer petition aimed at limiting airlines' ability to reduce seat sizes on aircraft, the New York Times reported July 31.

The ruling found that the FAA had no "reasonable basis" for refusing to consider airline seat size and passenger space. But if it doesn't do so, the judges says, the FAA must provide evidence as to why the rules are not necessary.

A court last week ruled that the FAA needs to address the case of ever-shrinking airplane seats, brought into the spotlight by a petition that cites safety concerns, according to the New York Times.

"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", she said.

"We applaud the court's decision, and the path to larger seats has suddenly become a bit wider", said Kendall Creighton, a spokeswoman for Flyers Rights.

Strong language aside, the D.C. Circuit did not give the FAA any deadlines for their examination, or any real directives beyond looking at the problem again.

Airline seats have steadily decreased in size over the last several decades. "We are studying the ruling carefully and any potential actions we may take to address the court's findings". It asked the FAA to consider rulemaking to expand passenger seating areas as a health and safety issue.

In a suit that one judge called "the case of the incredible shrinking airline seat", a panel of appellate judges agreed with a consumers' advocacy group, Flyers' Rights, that the issue is not discomfort, but safety. However, the agency declined to release those studies to Flyers Rights or to the court, arguing they contained proprietary information from manufacturers.

The airline that boasted the least room was Spirit, with 28 inches between seats.

Unless you are of tiny proportions, sitting in most Economy Class seats is akin to placing yourself into one of those cardboard boxes in which Amazon delivers your groceries.

The court, however, rejected the FAA's arguments, telling the authority to reconsider its stance on seat width and pitch.