The FAA asked the traveling public what they thought about airplane seating and the answers confirm what you've been thinking all along

Airplane cabin with a passenger adjusting the cabin air setting above him
Airplane cabinShutterstock
  • In August, the FAA opened its site to public comments regarding the safety of airplane seats.

  • Thousands of travelers voiced their discomfort with current seat dimensions on planes.

  • The FAA's review has "no set time frame," a spokesperson told Insider.

Travelers came out en masse to voice disapproval over "too small" airplane seats after the Federal Aviation Administration opened its site to public comments on seat dimensions.

The FAA invited passengers to share their thoughts and concerns on the matter to help the agency decide whether to implement a rule on minimum seat dimensions. The FAA told Insider it is currently reviewing thousands of comments, which were posted on the organization's website during a 90-day period from August 3 to November 1, before making a decision.

"We will review all applicable comments. Our review has no set time frame," an FAA spokesperson told Insider.

Although the three-month period for public comments is intended to help improve safety for air passengers —particularly in emergency evacuations — more than 21,000 commenters spoke of their discomfort in seats on a variety of airlines.

"Airplane seats are FAR too small. There needs to be a minimum size established, and it needs to be larger than the current sizing," commenter Epiphany Pizor wrote.

Pizor continued: "Estimates say that fewer than TWENTY PERCENT of Americans can fit in current airplane seats, and whether or not you feel that fat people deserve to be treated with dignity, that number is totally unacceptable."

Paul Hudson, president of and a member of the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, told Good Morning America in August the statistics are even more grim for men.

"Only about 50% of the population can fit in the seats and for men, only about 13% have shoulders that are narrower than the seats," Hudson said.

According to a report from The Points Guy, 390 people wrote about concerns over "circulation" while 2,900 commenters referenced "knees" in their entry.

"Our airplane's seats do need to be updated; we are packed so tightly that there is no way one can get out of the plane's seats safely if there is an emergency," commenter Joellen Reichenbach wrote. "The space between each seat already causes knees to be against the pockets of the next seat in front of you."

In 2018, Congress passed the FAA Reauthorization Act, directing the agency to issue seat dimension rules regarding passenger safety. While the policy called on the FAA to settle on standards within the year, the organization has yet to do so — instead it has conducted simulated emergency evacuations that did not find a need to increase the size of seats, The Washington Post reported.

Airlines for America and the International Air Transport Association issued a public statement on the FAA's efforts.

"The FAA has done and continues to conduct extensive review and research on evacuation standards, and there is no factual or data predicate that supports promulgating additional rules concerning aircraft seat dimensions," it read.



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