Airline Seat Size Regulation Bill Being Backed by the Senate

  • 16 October 2018
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In the wake of the approval of the bill for extending funding for FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) for another five years by voting 93-6, the US Senate has also addressed some of the issues concerning the well-being of all flight passengers. The legislation stands passed and is awaiting Presidential nod to become a law.


One of the main issues affecting the passenger comfort is the size of airline seats. The Bill orders the FAA to regulate the passenger seats standards, which is also known as SEAT Act (Seat Egress in Air Travel Act). According to the bill the FAA has been given a year to set minimum standards for passenger seat width and space between the two rows of seats which is also known as seat pitch.


Now it is up to the FAA to come up with the minimum requirements for seat sizes and seat pitch. The passenger rights groups are fighting for the cause of passenger comfort and expect the FAA to do justice for the same. But it is also a possibility that the FAA may finally come up with the standards that are only as good as the existing tight seating provisions prevalent in most of the airlines in the U.S.


Interestingly the FAA bill does not include the controversial privatization of airport’s ATC (Air Traffic Control). Though the airlines had pushed for the privatization of the nation’s ATC, the Senate did not take it up.


FAA has also dropped a proposal to check the rising unreasonable airlines fees, thereby missing a golden opportunity to make bigger airlines refrain from fleecing air passengers with heavy fees on air travel. This was echoed by Senator Edward Markey, a member of Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee who advocated including this provision in draft senate bill only to be dropped in the final version.


The FAA bill also prohibits airlines from involuntarily evicting passengers who have already boarded a plane. This became a burning issue after a passenger who had already boarded the United flight in April 2017 was dragged out of the aircraft. The Chairman of Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee, Republican Senator Mr John Thune of South Dakota said “I think we can all agree that once you have boarded a plane, you shouldn’t be kicked off until you arrive at your destination”.


Airlines in the U.S have also been instructed by the legislation to develop competitive communication protocols with passengers as far as flight delays are concerned. At present no airline in the US allows any passenger to make voice calls while on board. This legislation also bars passengers from making voice calls during flights, thus excluding the possibility of any airlines doing it in the future.


The bill also directs Department of Transportation to make rules for service and emotional-support to animals on board. It also calls for reasonable measures to ensure pets are not claimed as service animals and that live animals are not kept in overhead compartments.

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