Anyone who's been on a plane lately can attest to the slow and steady demise of amenities. First, baggage fees. Then, no more snacks. Finally, the seats seem to get smaller and closer together. Well, there is some good news on the horizon for travellers.
According to The Guardian, a court ruled that the Federal Aviation Administration needs to look into shrinking seats as a safety issue.
"This is the case of the incredible shrinking airline seat," Judge Patricia Millett wrote in the ruling. "As many have no doubt noticed, aircraft seats and the spacing between them have been getting smaller and smaller, while American passengers have been growing in size."
Flyers Rights, a passenger group, challenged the FAA after the government agency shot down a request to have rules and regulations surrounding the size of airline seats and the distance between them. After the group presented findings to the court, three judges decided that the FAA was still using outdated and unreliable tests and reports for seating and that the layout of an airplane should put safety first, not comfort (or lack thereof).
The group showed that cramming seats close together proved to be a safety issue when it came to emergency evacuations and also raises the possibility of passengers developing blood clots.
"We applaud the court's decision, and the path to larger seats has suddenly become a bit wider," Kendall Creighton, a spokesperson for Flyers Rights, told The Guardian.
The ruling is only a small step towards any real regulation. While the judges' ruling is certainly important, Congress needs to make propose clear regulation for any change to occur. In the meantime, The Guardian adds that airlines are listening, if only slightly: After passengers caught wind of American Airlines squeezing economy seats closer together to make room for more premium options, the airline decided to relent and remove that additional row of seats for the sake of extra legroom.
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