Last week, USA TODAY broke the news that the Federal Aviation Administration will take another step toward establishing minimum dimensions for airplane seats by soliciting public comments on the topic. The agency officially opened the portal for that feedback on Wednesday.
Congress ordered the FAA to study this issue and set a regulation by 2019. Needless to say, that hasn’t quite happened – but the FAA has conducted new evacuation tests, and this public comment period is part of the rulemaking process that could eventually result in minimum dimensions for airplane seats.
While evacuation safety is important, experts say, it’s not the only thing airplane impacted by seat design.
“I think a broader view of injury on flights is needed,” Mica Endsley, government relations chair at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, told USA TODAY. “There are very real injuries that occur from sitting in seats that are not designed for human bodies.”
There’s no guarantee that this process will end with any official minimum airplane seat size. The agency may even find that airplane seats can safely be smaller than they are already. But responses on social media to USA TODAY’s original story are clear that most travelers think seats ought to be a little more spacious.
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What people have to say about airplane seat sizes
Out of hundreds of comments on USA TODAY Facebook and Instagram posts on this topic, most responses seemed to support making airplane seats larger. Here’s just a sample:
“I think everyone knows the answer. You can hardly get in or out. Scary if you are disabled, tall, or a senior. I think it has also contributed to the horrifying violent behavior on flights.” –kaycorlis, Instagram
“6’7”, 255lbs. I love to travel but flying is brutal. Have almost died from blood clots that occurred on a 3 hour flight and passenger in front of me (petite person) insisted on reclining. I drive when at all possible and flying cross country or abroad doesn’t happen often. I can often pre board on SW and sit in front, but all too often others get there first so they can be comfy.” –Greg D. Vincent, Facebook
“I’m a small person. 5’5″ 135 lbs. If the seats are tight on my hips and the legroom is tight for my legs, I have no idea how other people do it for flights that are longer than 3 hours.” –Jolee Walker, Facebook
How to share your thoughts with the FAA
The main way to submit your input is online. The FAA will accept comments through Nov. 1.
According to the FAA, you can also comment using any of the following methods:
- Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M-30; U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
- Hand delivery or courier: Take comments to Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
- Fax: Fax comments to Docket Operations at (202) 493-2251.
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