We have been discussing the rising outcry about passengers at the continually shrinking legroom and comfort on airplanes, including storing passengers in what was previously luggage space. Those complaints led to a federal amendment seeking to establish minimum standards for passenger comfort. The airline lobby put on a full-court press to stop the measure and it failed 42-54. Notably, no one actually spoke against the proposal before it was voted down.
The amendment by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., would have blocked airlines from further reducing the “size, width, padding, and pitch” of seats, passengers’ legroom and the width of aisles. It also would have required the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to set standards for the minimum amount of space airlines must provide passengers for their “safety, health and comfort.” Airlines would further have had to post the size of their seats on their websites so that consumers could take the information into consideration when buying tickets. That last requirement would seem quite minimal even if you are opposed to added regulations for the airlines. Disclosure rules tend to advance the market system in giving consumers needed information to make a knowledgable choice.
All but three Democrats in favor and all but one Republican against.
In recent years, airlines have on average shaved off roughly two more inches to 16.5 inches while the average pitch — the space between a point on one seat and the same on the seat in front of it — has gone from 35 inches to about 31 inches.
By making economy seats incredibly uncomfortable, airlines now sell back the legroom that they took away at premium prices.