Your tiny airline seat may stop shrinking thanks to a federal ruling

Greg Evans
Monday 31 July 2017 12:00
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Picture:(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Unless you are lucky enough to be flying first class, a long plane journey can be one of the most uncomfortable experiences of your life.

Tiny seats, less than generous cushions, kids kicking the back of your chair and virtually no leg room - these problems all dovetail to make your flight as miserable as possible.

Thankfully there might just be a solution to this problem due to a ruling that has recently been passed in America.

Dubbed by a federal appeals judge 'The Case of the Incredible Shrinking Airline Seat,' the Flyers Rights passenger group successfully challenged the Federal Aviation Administration in court.

They claim that smaller seats are a safety hazard that slow down evacuations and can cause deep vein clots.

According to Reuters the FAA had previously linked the reasoning behind smaller seats to passenger safety but was quashed by three judges at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Colombia Circuit, who determined that seat size was irrelevant to exiting a plane in an emergency.

The Guardian adds that the agency had become reliant on outdated studies when prioritising safety over comfort.

The decision means that the FAA must now respond to the passengers rights group with a better reasoning for the shrinkage of seats.

This was welcome news for Kendall Creighton, a spokeswoman for the group.

We applaud the court’s decision, and the path to larger seats has suddenly become a bit wider.

Greg Martin of the FAA wrote in a statement:

The agency does consider seat pitch in testing and assessing the safe evacuation of commercial, passenger aircraft.

We are studying the ruling carefully and any potential actions we may take to address the court’s findings.

Airlines have long been accused of showing more interest in profit than health and safety.

Earlier this year it was discovered that American Airlines were planning to have just 29 inches of pitch (the distance from one seat to the same area on the one in front) in the last three rows of their new Boeing 737 jets, in order to accommodate an extra row of premium seats.

Since the 1970s, economy class seats have shrunk from an average of 35 inches to 31 inches, with some planes found to have tiny 28 inch chairs.

Although it is unclear whether this will effect just American airlines, the Guardian does state that the subject could be taken to Congress where a legislation of seat size could be proposed.

HT Guardian, Reuters

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