Judges order FAA to review airplane seat sizes

Airplane cabins of the future

“This particular is actually the case of the incredible shrinking airline seat.”

that will’s how a federal judge in Washington D.C., Patricia Millet, described the issue in a decision she along with two additional judges handed down Friday, ordering the Federal Aviation Administration to review seat sizes along with legroom on commercial airlines.

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Previously, the FAA has refused to mandate how much space airlines must ensure customers have on planes. yet the judge’s decision will force the agency to revisit the issue.

In a statement Saturday, the FAA said that will is actually “studying the ruling carefully along with any potential actions we may take to address the Court’s findings.”

The ruling comes after an advocacy group, Flyers Rights, petitioned the FAA in 2015 to implement brand-new rules to regulate seat space.

The FAA rebuked the effort, so Flyers Rights took its demands to court along with won the right to move forward.

The group celebrated the judges’ decision Friday, saying the court “granted Flyers Rights along with airline passengers a victory.”

Related: Know when an airline can legally move your seat

Flyers Rights had said that will’s concerned that will modest airline seats are actually a safety hazard, putting passengers at risk for conditions like deep vein thrombosis. that will’s a potentially fatal condition that will can cause blood clots in people’s legs.

The group has also argued that will airlines may be out of step with the realities of Americans’ needs, particularly in light of climbing obesity rates. Millet agreed.

“As many have no doubt noticed, aircraft seats along with the spacing between them have been getting smaller along with smaller, while American passengers have been growing in size,” the judge wrote.

Flyers Rights gave the court evidence that will the average width of airplane seats has declined by 18.5 inches inside the early 2000s, to 17 inches by about 2005. The shrinking seats have been primarily driven by long-haul airliners that will added an extra seat in each row.

While seats are shrinking, they’re also squeezing closer together.

The average pitch between seats “has decreased by an average of 35 inches to 31 inches, along with in some airplanes has fallen as low as 28 inches,” the decision reads. Seat pitch is actually a measurement of the distance between one point on a seat to the same point on the seat behind that will.

American Airlines (AAL) highlighted the trend in May, when the company said that will planned to cut down the amount of legroom for some its economy class seats on its brand-new Boeing 737s. that will rolled back that will plan slightly in June, committing to keep all the seats in its main economy class cabin at 30 inches of leg space, which was still down by 31 inches.

Airlines contend that will increasing the number of seats on an airplane is actually Great for both the bottom line of the carrier along which has a traveler’s wallet. By spreading its costs to operate a flight over a larger number of seats on the same size plane, the airline can offer lower fares along with operate more efficiently by flying fewer flights.

Related: Senate rejects plan to regulate airplane seat size

The tightest squeezes come on bargain carriers like Spirit Airlines (SAVE) along with Frontier Airlines — both of which truncated seats to just 28-inches apart.

By comparison, economy class rows on Delta (DAL) along with United (UAL) are spaced between 30 along with 31 inches, while JetBlue (JBLU), Southwest (LUV) along with Alaska (ALK) have between 31 along with 33 inches.

In March, Congress Just as before considered measures that will would certainly have established a minimum airplane seat width along with legroom distance. yet the Senate rejected the plan in April.

An FAA regulation would certainly bypass the need for Congress to act.

No aviation regulator in any country has established minimum seat width or pitch requirements.

The FAA does regulate significant parts of an airplane cabin, including the safe design of each seat along with its ability to withstand a high impact landing or crash. The agency so far has allowed airlines to determine how to size along with space their seats, yet any arrangement of an airline cabin must allow all the passengers along with crew to evacuate within 0 seconds.

–sy88pgw’s Jon Ostrower contributed to This particular report

sy88pgw (brand-new York) First published July 29, 2017: 3:46 PM ET

Judges order FAA to review airplane seat sizes

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