Frequent travelers who, aside from the headache of flight delays, are unsatisfied with the size of their airplane seats: It's time to chime in. The Federal Aviation Administration is now asking for the public's thoughts on potentially creating a "minimum standard size for commercial airline seating," The Hill reports.
Passengers have until Nov. 1 to submit their comments to the FAA and "make their voices heard." While there are currently no minimum seat size requirements for airlines, Reuters notes that the "average pitch is somewhere between 30 and 31 inches."
The public conversation on seat size is not necessarily intended to improve passenger comfort, but primarily to "further examine" safety in the case of an evacuation. The FAA is looking into whether seat sizes should be standardized to ensure all passengers can quickly evacuate, though airline industry groups insist seats already meet safety standards.
"The FAA and [Department of Transportation] can no longer deny, delay, and delegate away its responsibility to ensure airline seat safety," Paul Hudson, FlyersRights.org president and member of the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee stated in a press release.
The Washington Post notes that the average American weighs about 30 pounds more than in the 1960s, but plane seat widths have shrunk since then, from about 18.5 inches to 17 inches.
In 2018, the FAA concluded there was "no evidence that a typical passenger, even a larger one, will take more than a couple of seconds to get out of his or her seat" in the event of an evacuation.