U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s aviation subcommittee, introduced the Seat Egress in Air Travel (SEAT) Act on Monday. He wants the Federal Aviation Administration to set in stone how far airlines can shrink down seats, citing the “health and safety” of passengers.
“Consumers are tired of being squeezed both physically and fiscally by airlines,” said Cohen. “Shrinking seat sizes isn’t just a matter of comfort but safety and health as well. The Federal Aviation Administration requires that planes be capable of rapid evacuation in case of emergency, yet they haven’t conducted emergency evacuation tests on all of today’s smaller seats. Doctors have also warned that deep vein thrombosis can afflict passengers who can’t move their legs during longer flights.”
Though seat size may vary from airline to airline, Cohen notes that the average distance between rows of seats has dropped from 35 inches before airline deregulation in the 1970s, to around 31 inches today. Your backside is getting the squeeze, as well, as the average width of an airline seat has also shrunk from 18 inches to about 16.5 inches.