Airline News: Top Air Travel Stories From July

Feedback on Airline Seat Size Coming into FAA

The Federal Aviation Administration wanted travelers’ feedback on flying, specifically the size of the seats on airplanes.

Boy, did they give it to them.


And the consensus was about what you might expect – the seats are too small, travelers said, according to the results received thus far.

The FAA began soliciting opinions about the size of airline seats in August, and the public comment period was flooded with thousands of thoughts on the subject. The public comment period ended on November 1; now the FAA says it is sifting through the responses.

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“We will review all applicable comments,” the government agency said. “Our review has no set time frame.”

That’s not surprising that it will take time, not when you consider the FAA said it received more than 21,000 replies. The comments were ostensibly to help improve safety measures on airlines, and the ability to get in and out of seats and aisles, in the event of an emergency on a flight. But commenters made it a referendum on seat size.

“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. “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.”

As Americans get bigger – some experts have said by almost 30 percent in the last 30 years – the size of airline seats has become an issue for the flying public and for the carriers. United Airlines, in fact, said earlier this month that it is purposely not selling some seats on its flights to ensure better weight distribution on the aircraft.

“Only about 50 percent of the population can fit in the seats and for men, only about 13 percent have shoulders that are narrower than the seats,” Paul Hudson, president of and a member of the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, told Good Morning America in August.

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