Senate Dems demand update on FAA's seat-size rule

Senate Dems demand update on FAA's seat-size rule
© Getty

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: Democrats ask if EPA chief misled on vehicle emissions | Dem senators want NBC debate focused on climate change | 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan Democratic senators want NBC primary debate to focus on climate change Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs MORE (R.I.) and Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senate passes anti-robocall bill The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi fires back in feud with Trump 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.