Tired of cramped airlines seats? The FAA wants to hear from you.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is seeking comments from the public on whether it should set minimum standards for the width and pitch of airline seats. But there’s a caveat: the agency is concerned, not about passenger comfort, but about safety.

My position is that “safety” involves far more than the ability to empty an aircraft in 90 seconds in the case of an emergency. I contend that safety also includes reducing the tension that comes from cramming 200 people into a space that is too small. That increased tension results in incidents of air rage that should also be considered threats to passengers’ safety.

Photo courtesy Southwest Airlines

At the end of one recent flight, I saw two men nearly come to blows because one had accidentally grabbed the other's identical-looking carry-on. In most cases, such mistakes are easily corrected and forgiven but in this case, the stress of being so closely confined for several hours resulted in an honest mistake being blown out of proportion, possibly endangering other passengers had fists started flying (no pun intended). 

“Safety” should also include keeping people healthy. The ability to move about at least once an hour in flight to help prevent deep-vein thrombosis (DVTs) is part of that. In today’s cramped quarters, getting up is an ordeal unless you have an aisle seat, and even then it’s difficult to get into and out of a seat that is as little as 16.6 inches wide. And that 30-inch pitch, which is tough enough to move through, will be made worse if the passenger in front of you has reclined their seat.

The difficulty getting in and out will only be made worse if there’s a need to evacuate quickly, which directly speaks to the FAA’s concern about safety.

A new standard is sorely needed

I believe airlines should provide seats at least 18.5 inches wide, with pitch of at least 35 inches, which is what they were in the ‘60s, when the average man weighed 166 pounds. Today? 196 pounds with a 40-inch waist, according to CDC. How is it safe to wedge that into a 17-inch seat?

Submit your comments to the FAA by clicking this link: https://www.regulations.gov/commenton/FAA-2022-1001-0001 Comments must be submitted by October 31.

Whether it will make a difference remains to be seen. But we have to try.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.

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