Should the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) establish standards for seat dimensions and legroom on U.S. airlines? Their answer, for now, is no.
According the NBC News, a consumer rights group called FlyersRights has been working to push the FAA to put a limit on the industry trend of shrinking seats. While the FAA DOES require proof that a plane can be evacuated quickly even with several emergency exits blocked, NBC reports that the video proof submitted by aircraft manufacturers is outdated and may have been shot back before the obesity rate in the United States began rising.
Who do you think is right here?
The FAA wants to stay hands-off because they believe it does NOT take any longer for passengers to get out of their seats and evacuate aircraft, even with shrinking seat size and legroom.
On the other end, FlyersRights believes that because Americans are physically bigger on-average than ever before, it IS unsafe to keep shrinking the space given to each passenger. They also claim that some of the airplane manufacturers were dishonest because they used test-evacuation passengers who were smaller and more slender than the average American passenger. To them, the declinging amount of seat space not only severely limits comfort, it also adds to the time and stress it would take to evacuate in an emergency.
Scott's take: I've got to side with FlyersRights here. While deregulation helped drive ticket prices down, I don't think that's an excuse to NEVER adapt. It's true, many Americans have larger waistlines compared to past passengers. There's just no way anyone is convincing me that it takes the SAME amount of time to evacuate a plane with LESS space between seats. You ever been in the last row of a plane waiting to get off? It isn't just the overhead bins that slow things down, other passengers truly do take awhile to get up and out of their rows. See my tweet below quoting an FAA official who completely denies it takes longer to get up when you're a bigger person.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! I'm not a particularly big person, but I still think at some point we need to draw a line and say enough is enough. I've almost tripped getting in and out of cramped economy class rows, so any study that says 'less room = same time to get out' needs to be scrutinized.
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