Government Affairs Senator wants federal size standards for airplane seats By Robert Silk / February 29, 2016 Share 1 -- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that FAA reauthorization legislation should require the agency to set standards on airplane seat widths as well as the distance between seating rows, known as pitch.The call came as a bill to fund the FAA for the next six years is stalled in the House ahead of a March 31 deadline. The Senate has yet to introduce companion legislation. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is now working on a short-term FAA funding extension.“It’s no secret that airlines are looking for more ways to cut costs but they shouldn’t be cutting inches of legroom and seat width in the process,” Schumer said. “It’s just plain unfair that a person gets charged for extra inches that were once standard,” he added, in reference to the relatively recent airline practice of charging extra for economy seats with additional legroom. His comments came just more than two weeks after a similar proposal, put forward by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), was voted down by the House transportation committee.Schumer said that legroom on planes has shrunk from 35 inches on average before airline deregulation in the 1970s to 31 inches today, and that seat width has shrunk from 18.5 inches in the 1990s to 17 inches.