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house Bill H.R. 4490

Have Airplane Seats Gotten Too Small?

Argument in favor

Airlines have been squeezing passengers closer and closer together for years, causing discomfort and possible health and safety concerns.

Jake's Opinion
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02/19/2016
This is a safety hazard and the FAA should be dealing with this.
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GrumpyMSgt's Opinion
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02/17/2016
Strictly from a safety standpoint airline seating is horrendous. Just watching the chaos after a routine landing, imagine what it would be like with smoke and heat.
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Burnetta's Opinion
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02/18/2016
Omg. Yes! No need to say anything more do I. Just my opinion
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Argument opposed

Extra seats on planes is a cost-saving measure. Regulating seat size would end up costing the passenger more money.

BTSundra's Opinion
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02/18/2016
Airlines should be able to choose the size of their seats.
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Sabra18's Opinion
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02/24/2016
Not an issue for Congress- let the free market handle it- people will fly the most comfortable for them
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JonRunyan's Opinion
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02/21/2016
I you stop buying them they will have to change
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What is House Bill H.R. 4490?

The SEAT Act would require the federal government to set minimum dimensions for passenger seats on commercial airplanes — including the seats’ width and length, as well as seat pitch, a measurement of the distance between seats.

This legislation, which aims to protect “the safety and health of passengers,” would give the Secretary of Transportation one year to establish the new regulations.

Impact

Airline passengers, airlines, the Secretary of Transportation

More Information

In Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) said in a press release that the average distance between rows of seats has dropped from 35 inches in the 1970s to about 31 inches today, while the average seat width has decreased from 18 inches to about 16.5.

He also said the problem goes beyond comfort:

“The Federal Aviation Administration requires that planes be capable of rapid evacuation in case of emergency, yet they haven’t conducted emergency evacuation tests on all of today’s smaller seats. Doctors have also warned that deep vein thrombosis can afflict passengers who can’t move their legs during longer flights.”

However, a spokeswoman for an airline trade group told the Washington Post that “safety is always our highest priority.” She added that different airlines offer varying seat sizes, and that “customers vote every day with their wallet.”


Of Note: Rep. Cohen offered this legislation as an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, but it was rejected by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Aviation on February 11, 2016. In his attempt to convince the committee, Rep. Cohen played a clip of a Super Bowl commercial showing future aliens misinterpreting airplane seats as a “21st century torture device.” Despite Cohen’s setback, the legislation continues as a standalone bill.


Media:

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Kevin Dooley)

AKA

Safe Egress in Air Travel Act of 2016

Official Title

To direct the Secretary of Transportation to issue regulations that establish minimum dimensions for passenger seats on aircraft operated by any air carrier in the provision of interstate air transportation or intrastate air transportation, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Aviation
      Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
    IntroducedFebruary 8th, 2016
    This is a safety hazard and the FAA should be dealing with this.
    Like (16)
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    Airlines should be able to choose the size of their seats.
    Like (21)
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    Strictly from a safety standpoint airline seating is horrendous. Just watching the chaos after a routine landing, imagine what it would be like with smoke and heat.
    Like (9)
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    Not an issue for Congress- let the free market handle it- people will fly the most comfortable for them
    Like (9)
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    I've never heard of this causing a safety concern. The government shouldn't regulate it anyway because if consumers want a larger seat they'll fly with the airline that has the larger seats. The Feds are overstepping big time here... I can't believe that congress actually spends time on this kind of stuff.
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    I you stop buying them they will have to change
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    Omg. Yes! No need to say anything more do I. Just my opinion
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    The federal government has no business micromanaging business decisions by private industry.
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    Many people are starting to choose other forms of transportation purely for this reason. They will keep raising their prices regardless of having to follow some regulations. The last few decades has proved that as their price to consumers continued to climb even when gas prices were at historic lows. Time to regulate this before they start losing money and begging for a tax payer bailout.
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    Now, You can make a very sufficient argument that the seats in airplanes (especially the economy class is uncomfortable and too small) however as citizens we cannot necessarily influence the interior construction of aircrafts or the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety approval of commercial planes. Additionally, commercial airlines should simply have the freedoms in which its granted to construct anything they wish internally on their planes as long as it's feasible in the eyes of FAA and meeting consumer safety as well. Although, airlines would be steeping in the wise direction of they considered to get a taste of what the American public believes as well and not always the market. To reiterate, in some scenarios you can argue that seats are harshly miniature. Hate to say it but when you are purchasing the economy class these markets aren't always looking to prioritize your satisfaction with the seats but THEY ARE LOOKING FOWARD TO regulate consumers travel on their planes to result in a successful transportation for finical gain. You must understand, that this is the indeed the nature of the free-market NOT A MONOPOLY BUT A FREE-MARKET. Besides, if there were to be a fiasco of the American people frequently arguing to airlines that their seats are too small then we would be exemplifying ignorance! Why so? Because it would take years for all national commercial airlines to reconstruct the interior of their planes, ABOLISHING YOUR ABILITY TO MIGRATE/TRAVEL. The delays would be just unthinkable! In other words, the renovation of these seats would hinder your ability to travel and hinder the free-market to make a sufficient profit. To get more of a basis of FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) consider taking a swift glance at this http://www.faa.gov, thank you for your time
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    I always seem to sit next to heavyset people who squash me like a sardine in a can! I'd like to see larger seats, but then the fares would be even higher. And they're already too expensive! If gas prices are cheaper, then shouldn't it be cheaper to fly as it is to drive?
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    Putting so many people into a small cabin is absolutely idiotic. Greed is what caused these companies to stuff as many people on a plane really shouldn't hold as many.
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    This is the epitome of not being the government's business
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    Please focus on something of genuine importance. This is an over-reach.
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    Jaw-droppingly stupid. Shall we legislate against skinny jeans while we are at it?
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    I think this is the question the airlines should be involved in not the resources of the American people get real put a bill on the table that's worth the American people's time like prosecutors and the corruption by government officials and how to prosecute them
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    People have gotten too big. Side with the corporations because they love us. Their savings will trickle down to us
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    Absolutely! I was flown to my overseas duty stations while I was in the service. I'm 5'9" tall 200lbs give or take, nothing exceptionally above average in size. I felt like an adult trying to squeeze into a child's seat every time I boarded a plane. One to Korea, to Bahrain, to England and Japan. These were from 5-14 hour flights. To feel packed in like a sardine that long is ridiculous. All so airlines can cram in more seating and make more money.
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    I'm 6'2" and now feel like I'm being forced to pay a tall-person tax just to get adequate legroom on some airlines. I get cost saving measures, but what's next? Discount seats if you're willing to sit with the luggage?
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    I am 6'5" tall. Mostly leg but that's not a rare thing where I'm from. There are only a few seats on certain types of planes that I can fit in. I usually just drive to where I'm going if I can't get one of those few seats. It's ridiculous how small those seats are!!
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