Published: Tue, August 01, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Government ordered to solve 'Case of the Incredible Shrinking Airline Seat'

Government ordered to solve 'Case of the Incredible Shrinking Airline Seat'

Within the last decade, Flyers Rights argued, the distance between the backs of seats (seat pitch) has shrunk from 35 to 31 inches while the width of seats has gone from 18.5 to 17 inches.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in a unanimous decision has granted airline passengers a rare victory, ruling that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had shown no reasonable basis for denying a 2015 petition by the passenger organization to institute rulemaking over ever-shrinking seat sizes.

As per CNN report, "The FAA does regulate significant parts of an airplane cabin, including the safe design of each seat and its ability to withstand a high impact landing or crash".

The petition noted that between 1960 and 2002 the weight of the average American male increased 25 pounds, to 191 pounds, while the average American female's weight rose 24 pounds, to 164 pounds.

The organization first submitted their petition to the FAA in 2015, but the government agency rejected it previous year, saying that their studies proved passengers could still quickly escape with tight seating.

The court ruled that the F.A.A. had responded appropriately to health concerns by saying it would continue to monitor the effects of seat spacing and by citing evidence that deep vein thrombosis was a rare occurrence not linked to seat spacing. The group argued that smaller seats makes it more hard for passengers to exit the aircraft in an emergency situation.

And the spirit is catching.

American Airlines (AAL) highlighted the trend in May, when the company said it planned to cut down the amount of legroom for some its economy class seats on its new Boeing 737s.

Then there's Ann Coulter, who flew into a Twitter rage over United moving her from a pre-booked aisle seat with extra legroom to a window seat, purportedly without an explanation, a few weeks ago. They are now studying the ruling and any actions they make take to address the court's findings. It also rejected a challenge to the agency to. Nonetheless, the decision was described as "groundbreaking" by aviation attorney Arthur Alan Wolk.

Not only have carriers improved efficiency and profits by selling more tickets on each flight, they have added seating to accommodate more passengers, while reducing the space for that seating.

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