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
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.