Interiors of an airplane, Shimla Airport, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India. (Photo by: via Getty Images)
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By Aric Jenkins
March 11, 2017

Lawmakers are attempting to make flights safer and more comfortable for passengers.

A new bipartisan bill introduced in the House and Senate calls for a minimum airplane seat width as well as a minimum distance between rows.

If passed, the SEAT Act of 2017 would assign the Federal Aviation Administration with the responsibility of setting these limits. Airlines would be required to prominently display planes’ seat size and legroom on their websites.

“Airline passengers are tired of being squeezed,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Ten.), who introduced the bill, in a press release on Thursday. “Shrinking seat sizes in airplanes isn’t just a matter of comfort but the safety and health of passengers as well. Planes need to be capable of rapid evacuation in case of emergency.”

The average distance between seat rows has dropped about four inches since airline deregulation took place in the 1970s, according to Cohen’s statement. Average width also shrank about an inch and a half. Diminished space between aisles allows airlines to install more seats, thus increasing ticket sales.


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