What’s the deal with airline seats? It seems like every time you slither your way into one, you’re more cramped than the time before. Airlines continually cram more and more seats into their planes, trying to eke every last dollar out of their winged investments, but there’s now hope on the horizon — an FAA investigation into plane seat sizes, where you can tell the administration what you really think of Spirit’s economy chairs.
Back in 2018, Congress ruled that the FAA needed to determine if ever-shrinking seats were impairing airplane safety. The FAA proceeded to ask airlines, who said, “Haha what no of course not,” and declared the case closed. But the administration has looked back on its decision and decided to meet with someone other than airline industry groups: flyer advocates.
Today, one such advocacy group brought its concerns before a Court of Appeals. The group, FlyersRights.org, had previously claimed that airline evacuation simulations were biased and misrepresented actual evacuation scenarios — the simulations only account for able-bodied adults, rather than the diverse range of passengers that planes actually carry.
This hearing at the appeals court, however, didn’t focus on the safety dangers of tight seating. Instead, attorneys for FlyersRights.org focused on the law — specifically, the Congressional edict for the FAA to regulate seat size. The administration admits this edict exists, but seems comfortable ignoring it as long as those airline lobby dollars keep rolling in.
These sorts of cases often spend years in expensive litigation, so it’s unlikely any ruling on airline seats will come quickly. Still, it’s comforting to know that there are still groups out there looking to defend passenger comfort and safety against airline encroachment.