East Hawaii News

Schatz Co-Sponsors Legislation Urging FAA to Mandate Airline Seat Sizes

April 7, 2016, 1:08 PM HST
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airplane seat pixabaySenator Brian Schatz cosponsored a bill on Thursday that would require the Federal Aviation Administration to collaborate in mandating a minimum standard seat size consistent with airline passengers’ health and safety needs.

The bill asks the FAA to create standards for minimum seat width, legroom, padding, and aisle width on all commercial planes.

Senator Schatz’s cosponsored bill follows the Hawai’i State Senate’s March 11 resolution that urges the federal Secretary of Transportation to set minimum sizes for airplane seats.

“In Hawai‘i, air travel is central to our visitor industry, and residents depend on it for work, health care, and to visit family,” said Senator Schatz. “Passengers in Hawai‘i and across the country are tired of getting less and less space for their hard-earned money. It is time to have the FAA step in to say enough is enough.”

Across the nation, there are no federal standards on the width of airline seats or legroom length.


According to a release from the Office of Senator Schatz, legroom on airplanes has decreased from 35 inches to about 31 inches since 1978. The average seat width on airplanes has gone from 18.5 inches to about 17 inches since the 1990’s.


Legislation opponents believe that airlines should be allowed to configure a plane’s cabin to their preference, however, the legislation would still allow the airlines to provide varying seat sizes, according to Senator Schatz.

The bill aims to establish a reasonable standard seat size, which allows for safety and minimum levels of comfort.

This legislation was introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and is cosponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). It is supported by Travelers United, Consumers Union, Business Travel Coalition, and FlyersRights.org.

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