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Trump signs law that will regulate airline seat sizes

October 8, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

President Trump on Friday signed into law the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018, which includes several new measures to improve airline safety and regulate a minimum safe size for airline seats.

The FAA will also:

  • Review the size and number of toilets on a plane.
  • Prohibit airlines from removing passengers once they’ve passed the gate (medical and other emergencies excepted). The provision should help prevent outrages like the notorious removal of a doctor from a United Airlines flight in Chicago in April last year. He was dragged bleeding and screaming down the aisle.
  • Compel airlines to advertise the entire, true price of fares, including taxes and charges. An initial proposal to limit baggage and reservation change fees was dropped after intense lobbying by airlines.

The new Act, which funds the FAA till the end of 2023, gives the FAA a year to develop regulations on minimum standards for economy seating, including seat pitch, width and length.

However the legislation appears vague, saying only that the minimum dimensions should be “necessary for the safety and health of passengers”.

It’s still unclear how the rules would apply to cramped seating already in place.

Large passenger

Australia’s AirlineRatings.com has referred to speculation the FAA could establish a minimum seat pitch “as low as 28 inches [71cm] and a minimum width of 16.5 inches [42cm], dimensions that would still be cramped for most people”.

The FAA was forced to look at the issue after a US federal court judge addressed concerns over “the incredible shrinking airline seat’” during a case brought by consumer group Flyers Rights.

Flyers Rights argues that narrower seats and closer seat spacing are “endangering the safety, health and comfort of airline passengers”.

Written by Peter Needham

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