MYR passengers respond to judge ordering FAA to review airplane seat sizes

MYR passengers respond to judge ordering FAA to review airplane seat sizes

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - From security lines and extra fees, to tight leg room on the plane, everyone knows flying can be a hassle.

Now, there's an effort to make passengers more comfortable and improve their safety.

The U.S. Court of Appeals is putting the Federal Aviation Administration in the hot seat. The court wants the FAA to take another look at seat sizes on airplanes and back up its argument it shouldn't regulate seat size.

A nonprofit group called the Flyer Rights initiated this request to the FAA. It's concerned airlines are putting passengers' safety, health and comfort at risk, arguing narrower seats and cramped space could also hamper an evacuation.

The group wants the agency to set minimum requirements for seat size and spacing on commercial airplanes.

The FAA denied the request, saying its main concern is safety, not comfort. Officials said passengers must be able to get out of a plane within 90 seconds of an emergency and seat size has no effect on that.

To put things in perspective, the average seat pitch has dropped from 35 to 31 inches, with some airlines flying with as little as 28 inches between rows. Seat width has narrowed from about 18-and-a-half to 17 inches, according to the nonprofit group.

"I think that an airplane is just a fast way to get around the country, just like a Greyhound bus. Unfortunately people of size have a level of limitations; one of those is driving in a car. You often see people of size unable to use seat belts. I don't think it's going to affect an evacuation. If you're going to get out, you're going to get out," Lou Gordon said.

Now, travelers are responding.

Frequent flyers said they're too cramped and believe passengers have to be a certain size to be comfortable.

Some say when there are people who are overweight, or men over 6 feet tall sitting next to an average-sized person on a flight, the trip can be uncomfortable.

A family waiting to board their flight said the FAA should make seats bigger than the average person in economy. Others understand it's expensive to fly and airlines want to carry as many people as they can.

But say they wish there was more of an affordable option for families to have the room they need if they can't afford first class.

"After a long flight, my backside is a little sore sometimes and it's not fun. I'd prefer to drive, but if someone could do something about this, it will be really appreciated," Scott Doller said.

It's too soon to tell what the ruling will mean for future flights.

For now, the judge only wants the FAA to consider whether cramped airlines could affect passenger safety.

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