A Judge Tells The FAA To Investigate "The Case Of The Incredible Shrinking Airline Seat"
The FAA is being told to investigate whether smaller seats with less room on airplanes are a safety hazard.
A federal judge in Washington, D.C. Friday ordered the agency to look into the matter and consider setting a minimum seat standard. Advocacy group Flyers Rights had taken the FAA to court after the agency initially denied the request for a probe.
Flyers Rights presented data showing that some seats and the distance between them have gotten smaller in the past decade. The group argues the problem is being compounded because Americans are getting larger.
Judge Patricia Ann Millett wrote in the ruling that the three judge panel agreed with the assessment. “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.”
- The court ripped the FAA for using "off-point" studies and "undisclosed tests using unknown parameters" to justify its initial refusal to review the rules. "That type of vaporous record will not do."
- The issue comes up as plane manufacturers were about to once again reduce seat space. American Airlines in May announced it would shrink the seat pitch to 30 inches on its newest Boeing Co. 737 Max jetliners, while later dropping a move to cut the seat pitch in some rows to 29 inches in the face of criticism from employees and customers.
- Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers have grilled members of the administration and airline executives on the issue at several hearings this year, and some have drafted legislation to address the issue.
Seat pitch is the distance between the back of your seat and the back of the seat in front of you. The width of the seat has also shrunk by one to two inches in the past decade.