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Legislation Attempts to Give Back Personal Space On Planes

Photo by: Rene Ehrhardt
Photo by: Rene Ehrhardt
Photo by: Rene Ehrhardt, Source: Wikipedia

Legislation attempts to make air travel more comfortable.  Is it a good thing?

If you have long legs or a wide body, commercial air travel has become claustrophobic – even if you’re not claustrophobic. (If most of your flights are in first or business class, this story will not be of interest.)

Commercial airlines are all about making money. That means they’ll squeeze a quarter to make a dollar. And that means that short of stacking passengers like pallets of cordwood, they’ll do everything and anything to put as many butts in as many seats as possible.

Thursday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Aviation will vote on a bill sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Tennessee. The “Seat Egress in Air Travel Act” – or SEAT Act – is an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization.

Apparently, there’s little chance of Cohen’s bill passing. But God bless him for trying.

The airlines are installing smaller seats that add to a row of seating. The seats are also lighter, which reduces fuel. According to Cohen, since the 1970s the average distance between rows of seats has shrunk from 35 inches about 31 inches. The average width of an airline seat has dropped from 18 inches to about 16 ½.

“Shrinking seats raise safety and health concerns, and it’s time for the FAA to take action,” Cohen said in a statement released to the media. “The FAA 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. Consumers are tired of being squeezed both physically and fiscally by airlines.”

Wendell Barnhouse is a veteran journalist with over 40 years of experience as a writer and an editor. For the last 30 years, he wrote about college sports but he has had an interest and curiosity about aviation since he was in grade school.

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