Senate Rejects Plan to Stop Airline Seats Shrinking

Amendment would have set seat size standards
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2016 5:00 AM CDT
Senate Rejects Plan to Stop Airline Seats Shrinking
Economy-class seating is shown on a new United Airlines Boeing 787-9.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Airline seats are getting smaller, Americans are getting bigger—and the Senate has decided the issue is none of its business. A proposal from Sen. Charles Schumer to do something about ever-shrinking airline seats and legroom was rejected Thursday by a 54-to-42 vote, with almost every Republican in the chamber voting against it, the BBC reports. The amendment from Schumer—who complains that "it costs you an arm and a leg just to have room for your arms and legs"—was attached to a broader aviation bill. It would have banned airlines from reducing seat size and the distance between rows for 30 days while the FAA worked on setting seat size and row spacing requirements for US airlines, reports CNNMoney. It would also have required airlines to post seat sizes on their websites.

The amendment "would ensure that airlines can't keep chopping down on seat size and legroom until consumers are packed in like sardines in a can on every flight," said Schumer, who blamed airline lobbyists for the defeat. "Flying is not pleasant anymore. You're crammed in." The Washington Post notes that the width of the average economy seat has shrunk to 17 inches from 18.5 inches since the '70s, rows are now more than 4 inches closer together, and the proportion of Americans considered obese has soared to 35% over the same period. A similar amendment introduced in the House earlier this year was also shot down. (More airline seats stories.)

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