Airplane seats have been shrinking for decades, with airlines and plane manufacturers plotting new and improved ways to reduce passenger comfort in favor of making a little extra money. Now, though, the Federal Aviation Administration is seeking public comment on the passenger experience in these ever-shrinking seats with the intention of perhaps mandating a certain minimum size limit, Yahoo reports.
At the time of writing, the FAA has already received over 9,000 comments on the debacle (and you can learn more about how to submit your own comment, either via mail or online, here).
Cramped airline seats have been the subject of several studies over the past few years. Smaller seats have been linked to health concerns like deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, along with the legitimate concern that tight seat layouts negatively impact quick egress in the event of an emergency. Those close quarters, too, have been linked to negative passenger emotions, with the shrinking seat size possibly being linked to a growth in passenger fights. And even if you’re not facing longterm ill effects, flying in those mediocre seats just kind of sucks.
Right now, the U.S. Department of Transportation doesn’t mandate seat size. Instead, it only mandates the maximum number of seats that can be included in a certain aircraft. As humans under capitalism have learned time and again, though, those standards will be quickly manipulated by big corporations to prioritize the amount of money they can make — which generally means creating the smallest seat possible.
In the past 15 years, legroom has grown smaller, and some airlines are finding countless miserable ways to stack more people in planes. And this has all come as the average American has grown a little larger. Something has to give, and along with the hard data it’s going to gather, the FAA is seeking the personal experiences of passengers.
“I feel like I’m not all that large. I wear a size 8 jeans, size 10 dress and I feel like if I got the littlest bit bigger I wouldn’t fit,” one commenter wrote. “And I hate how my bigger friends are treated when they try to fly. If left to the airlines they would have us standing up in order to park more people onto the plane.”
“I’m a medium sized person who travels several times a year and I’m amazed that tall people have to stuff themselves into an ever smaller space for their legs,” another wrote. “It is dangerous to them and in case of an emergency could be dangerous to others. Please do something about the airline drive for profit at the safety and health of their customers.”
Will anything change as a result of these comments? I’m pretty sure every single person who has ever flown or has even considered it is hoping that we’ll get some relief.