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The FAA Might Stop Airlines From Shrinking Their Seats

Does your seat feel too small? The FAA could decide to do something about that.
Posted at 12:14 AM, Feb 27, 2018

If flying for you involves hunched shoulders, damaged kneecaps and the crippling feeling that you're in a game of human "Tetris," the Federal Aviation Administration might be coming to your rescue.

The key word there is "might." The FAA is reportedly close to deciding whether it will regulate how much space passengers get on planes.

The group Flyers Rights says the average width of an airplane seat shrunk an inch and a half in the early 2000s. And a court found the distance between seats, your legroom, has gone from 35 inches to 31 inches. Some airlines like Spirit and Frontier only offer 28 inches.

Flyers Rights petitioned the FAA in 2015 to set parameters for seat size and legroom. The FAA said it regulated safety, not comfort, and wouldn't take up the issue. So Flyers Rights took the FAA to court, and last year a federal judge told the FAA to look at setting regulations. 

Now the FAA is set to take a stand, though it's not clear when or how it'll decide. In the meantime, the airlines argue thinner, narrower, closer seats are good for their bottom lines and for passengers' wallets. Others say they're uncomfortable and unhealthy.