The FAA May Put An End to Shrinking Airline Seats and Cramped Leg Room

It’s getting more and more crowded to fly in coach—but there’s a chance the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) could step in.

The FAA is set to announce the results of its review of seat sizes and leg room in the near future. That review could prevent airlines from further reducing the space available to passengers as carriers cram a few extra seats on board.

The review, which followed a judge’s order in July, is looking at the safety implications of tighter seats. Seat pitch, better known as leg room by most flyers, has dropped from an average of 35 inches to 31 inches, with some airlines only offering 28 inches. Seat widths have gone from 18 inches to 16.5 inches.

The issue has become contentious enough that legislators have introduced bills to stop airlines from further shrinking seat and leg room, but so far those have failed to make much headway.

Not that passengers have backed up their complaints with their wallets. In 2017, airline profits were up 7.4% to $14.7 billion.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with newer financial figures for the airline industry.

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