Airlines Could Be Required to Give Passengers More Seat Space Soon

The FAA is seeking suggestions from the public about the size of airplane seats.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will go further in establishing a minimum size for airplane seats, according to USA Today. Starting on August 3, the FAA opened a portal for public feedback about the size of airline seats. This forum follows a 2019 Congressional order for the FAA to set minimum dimensions for airline seating.

"There are very real injuries that occur from sitting in seats that are not designed for human bodies," Mica Endsley, the government relations chair at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, said in an interview with USA Today.

If you are a frequent flier, it's no secret that plane seats feel way too small. My legs and hips often throb from the limited amount of space for movement, and sometimes I'll even find bruises on my hips from where I was pressed against the narrow confines of the seat. I'm not alone. Passengers of varying sizes, heights, and abilities have all expressed discomfort and safety concerns regarding airlines' small seats. Some people have to purchase two tickets or spend more money than they planned for even a few more inches of extra space.

According to the FAA, "comments should address whether, considering the existing regulatory requirements, one or more of the following seat dimensions  have or demonstrably could adversely affect the safety of air passengers by delaying the group egress time of an emergency evacuation."

The factors to consider in comments include seat width, seat pitch, seat length, and other seat dimensions.

So, if you have thoughts or concerns about the size of airline seats, you can submit your comments to the FAA until November 1. There is an online submission form, but if you or someone in your life is more analog, you can also mail or fax your thoughts. The number to fax them to Docket Operations is (202) 493-2251.

The mailing address is:
Docket Operations, M-30
US Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor,
Washington, DC 20590-0001

As of this writing, the FAA has received 942 comments on the online forum. One of the comments posted publicly by an anonymous responder detailed familiar issues. You can browse other comments made available to the public on the forum website.

"Seat sizes must be increased to ensure our safety and comfort. I am a 5'8, 125 lb, 68 year old female and my knees hit the seat in front of me," the commenter wrote. "I can't stretch out my legs to improve circulation to avoid DVT. I suffer from sciatica and the people on either side of me are often taking up part of my seat so I can't even move. I can barely get out and pass someone to use the restroom, no less moving quickly in an emergency. It's time to stop the greedy airlines and put safety first!"

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.