Airline Seats Size And Safety

It’s well known that airplane seats are getting smaller and are projected to get smaller still—that is if airlines have their way. But consumers are at last beginning to speak up. Earlier this year American airlines was planning to redesign its cabin where a few seats would have a 29 inch pitch.  After what a New York Times’ article called a “rash of complaints” they dropped their plans.  There are now several plans to shorten knee space and add seats. The airlines say it’s not only profits, but also to lighten the load carried by an aircraft. Seats are now thinner, materials are different, back pouches and arm rests are redesigned, all measures that benefit the airlines, not consumers.  A spokesman for Spirit airlines said that to think of comfort in terms of inches is inaccurate and old fashioned because seats today are re-engineered.  Of course anyone who has flown in one of those seats quickly realizes that the re-engineering for comfort is elusive at best and perhaps sheer fantasy.  Flyers Rights, a non-profit began in 2006 has been very active in pursuing what’s best for consumers. They think they now have found the issue that will resonate, that the need for seat regulation is a flight safety issue. People are according to Flyers Rights statistics getting taller and heavier. When people are cramped in a smaller space, it takes them longer to move out of their seats. Safety regulations demand that during an emergency an aircraft has to be evacuated in a minute and a half. The extra time it takes for people to move out of their seats makes that not possible. Flyers Rights has won the first round in their battle with the FAA and of course the airlines still contend there is no need for seat regulations. So there is now hope that success will come not around the issue of passenger comfort, but around that of passenger safety. Regardless of which, it means that consumers may have more power with the airlines than we may be willing to acknowledge, a power we all ought to use.

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