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Published on Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Airlines could face minimum legroom legislation

Airlines may have dodged a bullet when lawmakers dropped plans to cap spiralling bag fees, but they could still face legislation limiting how many seats they can cram into a plane.

The FAA reauthorization bill requires the FAA to draw up rules defining minimum seat width and pitch.

For years it has been a major issue with passenger rights groups, yet the FAA has refused to do so, as it claims its mandate is to oversee safety and not passenger comfort.

 It has steadfastly maintained that decreasing pitch sizes do not pose a safety issue based on the time it takes to evacuate an aircraft.

Consumer group Flyers Rights is not expecting much progress.

"The problem I see is that it could give the FAA the ability to simply reiterate their current position, which is that seats are safe and [the FAA] has nothing to do with comfort," said Paul Hudson, president of Flyers Rights.

"I can see us going around the block on this for a year and then coming back to exactly where they are now."

The 1,200 page FAA reauthorization bill details a slew of passenger issues and rights, which include the banning of cellphone voice calls and vaping on flights.

The bill would also make it illegal for carriers to bump passengers off flights once they have boarded, and no animals are permitted in overhead bins, following two high-profile incidents on United Airlines flights.

The bill also orders the FAA to make a full appraisal of current cockpit safety and plans to further tighten up rules over drone flights.

With the deadline approaching to reauthorize FAA funding, Congress will meet this week to vote on the bill.

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  • About time

    Tall people problems indeed! Passing the FAA reauthorization bill would make one of the most unenjoyable parts of vacationing more enjoyable.

    By Yemi Charm, Monday, October 22, 2018

  • Seat pitch is NOT

    A measure of legroom. You can reduce seat pitch & at same time increase legroom by using different seats. Until people understand this very basic premise nothing can change

    By Michael Anderson, Wednesday, September 26, 2018

  • Missing something

    Evac times are based on a full aircraft with all economy seating. One problem is that once the aircraft has been certificated some of those tests can be done using computer simulations as the aircraft stretches (like the 737 has since it first appeared). What none of that seems to take into account is the shorter legroom makes it more difficult to get into the aisle and, in some cases like the 10 abreast 777 the aisle is narrower than when certification first occurred with 9 abreast. Then there's the health issue. Being squished in a narrow seat with minimal legroom causes big (and I mean tall as well as wide) people problems.

    By Graham Harrison, Tuesday, September 25, 2018

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