Three Democratic senators wrote to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday seeking an update on a new airline seat size rule, warning of potential health and safety ramifications associated with shrinking seats.
In the letter, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Oath Keeper charges renew attention on Trump orbit Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE (R.I.) and Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyBiden comments add momentum to spending bill's climate measures Overnight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Overnight Health Care — White House boosts mask availability MORE (Mass.) demanded an update from acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell on the final rule, which must be finalized by October under the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.
Blumenthal lobbied heavily for a provision in the 2018 bill directing the FAA to issue a rule establishing minimum seat size and leg room standards for commercial flights and review any cabin evacuation procedures pertaining to seat size, according to the letter.
“Over seven months after enactment, we have yet to see FAA take any action. This is unacceptable. We write today to request an update on finalization of this critical rule and to inquire about steps being taken by the agency to meet the one-year deadline, as required by law,” the three senators wrote.
“We also request that FAA coordinate with the Office of Inspector General at U.S. Department of Transportation (IG) to ensure that the new seat size rule adheres to safety standards,” they added.
The letter also cites health and comfort issues relating to shrinking seats.
“Flyers Rights has cited the smaller seats combined with larger passengers could cause deep vein thrombosis, other muscle and joint problems, and stiffness. These health concerns should be considered as a component of passenger safety and considered as FAA develops this rule,” the letter states.
The senators requested that the FAA conduct testing on human volunteers while establishing the new standards, as well as conducting evacuation testing involving computer-simulated scenarios and current seat dimensions.