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US Government Regulation of Seat Pitch?

US Government Regulation of Seat Pitch?

Old Oct 27, 18, 4:21 pm
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Originally Posted by HLCinCOU View Post
Well this kind of changes the whole question of the thread. Now it's really not so much "should the government step in and regulate pitch" but "what should the FAA do in its new rule?"

I like that they made it the broader "seat dimensions" than pitch specifically, for the reasons outlined above. As I think is clear from my posts, I don't have super strong opinions on what they should do. But I'll be interested to see.
With this Administrationís focus on deregulation, I would be very surprised if they put out anything that significantly changed the current seat sizes (at least based on the big 4 carriers). However, I do think this will open up opportunities for changes in the future, particularly as newer aircraft models come online.
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Old Oct 28, 18, 12:59 am
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The free market has been utter garbage in my lifetime, bring on the notice and comment. It's about time the Feds crashed this particular money train that the airlines use to milk more and more money for worse and worse seats.

With this Administration’s focus on deregulation, I would be very surprised if they put out anything that significantly changed the current seat sizes (at least based on the big 4 carriers). However, I do think this will open up opportunities for changes in the future, particularly as newer aircraft models come online.
With functionally every senior administration or agency official in this administration flying private, I think any kind of meaningful regulation is a pipe dream. If any semblance of order is restored and cabinet secretaries and their deputies take commercial flights again (perhaps even in coach like previous administrations), I will have relatively high hopes.
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Last edited by Beltway2A; Oct 28, 18 at 1:05 am
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Old Oct 28, 18, 12:34 pm
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Originally Posted by dulciusexasperis View Post
And don't forget the increasing percentage of those clueless idiots who insist on taking their roll aboard bag with them when they do evacuate.

Then there are the disabled, parents with small children etc. who simply are going to be slower during an evacuation. How many of them are included when they do a test?

The tests are a joke in my opinion. At best they test 'best possible time', not 'most likely time' to evacuate.
When I was in college the university and some media groups did a evacuation study that was more realistic than what the FAA requires and yes our times were much slower. We had students play the part of bad pax in an evacuation, ignored instructons, took bags, were under the influence. We had seniors (professors), children and a disabled person. The cabin was laid out by two students that were FAs to resemble what that cabin looks like when the plane actually lands, lots of junk on the floor. The thing that really screwed it up was that the student actors drastically changed things as people who did not know that these students were placed followed them in grabbing bags and such.
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Old Oct 28, 18, 1:06 pm
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Perhaps if planes had a wait of automatically locking the overhead bins?
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Old Oct 28, 18, 1:41 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyingHighlander View Post
Perhaps if planes had a wait of automatically locking the overhead bins?
Then you'd have passengers dying in the aisle hammering on locked bin doors.
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Old Oct 28, 18, 6:34 pm
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While I am generally not a fan of government over-regulations. I am not opposed to regulations in this regard. The airlines have no real incentive to do it on their own especially with the near monopoly so few airlines have now.
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Old Oct 30, 18, 12:01 am
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I don't care so much about a minimum seat pitch, but I think there should be a minimum seat width, as well as a requirement that seats be designed to prevent people from spilling over into their neighbor's seat.
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Old Oct 30, 18, 6:46 am
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I have a Masters of Laws in International Aviation and Outer Space law and considered this issue for my research project.

- Do you favor regulation of seat pitch on domestic airline routes?

I strongly favor it on both domestic and international airline routes for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, safety - as obesity continues to be an issue and the US domestic population ages wider seat widths and minimum pitches are necessary in order to maintain FAA and ICAO evacuation standards. Secondly, the average American waist for a man is 38-40. The average shoulder width is 18.25. Seats should be built to slightly larger than average for all passengers comfort. Ever sat three abreast with three large men?

- Any government regulation causes distortions; incentives to find work arounds. How might such a regulation be imposed to create the least amount of distortions?
Minimum seat width, pitch and aisle width should be considered not only by the FAA but in conjunction with manufacturers. Maybe the 737 replacement needs to be an extra 10-14 inches in diameter. That's something that both government and industry needs to work together to come to agreement on. Back when I worked for Congress a Member told me "Government is for setting a floor of minimum conditions." If manufacturers or airlines want to innovate they have to do so above the minimum thresholds set for safety AND comfort. We regulate trains, cars, buses, pipelines...there's no reason we shouldn't be regulating airline seats.

- If a "minimum" were legislated, what should it be?

At LEAST 19 width and 31 or 32 pitch. I haven't done the science analysis on height/leg length but in terms of safety of evacuation, pitch should be wide enough for an adult to stand, turn and walk safely into the aisle without the sideways shuffle of holding on to the seats in front.
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Old Oct 30, 18, 6:57 am
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There are several comments on here about consumers being able to choose ULCC and how consumers are the ones to blame for buying those tickets... but sometimes corporate travel policies specify "cheapest possible airfare", which sticks the traveler with no option. I'm not inclined to blame that traveler.
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Old Oct 30, 18, 7:21 am
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I don't think that the "free market" can influence seat pitch (nor a lot of other things either). There will always be more comfortable seats available at a premium price. There will always be some willing to pay more for a more comfortable seat, and the airlines can adjust how many more comfortable seats are available for sale. If you're a business traveler, you have to fly, and your job allows you to get a more comfortable seat, you're the part of the free market that the airlines love. There are some, however - the US Government for one - who have a policy that says that if you fly, you have to fly for the lowest price. And if you don't like the seats, you can get a job where you don't need to travel by air.

I'm not a large person, so I haven't yet had a knee room problem, but I do get uncomfortable when the person sitting in front of me leans his seat all the way back and it's practically in my face. Would that person not want to fly if he could only recline a few degrees? Has there been any real research in that area?

On the other hand, as an old retired guy who doesn't have someone else paying my air fares, I'm really happy that flying is cheaper for me than it ever has. Back in the 1970s, a round trip coach fare between IAD and LAX, when there was a good sale, was around $300. Just last week I booked that round trip for $300 (United one way and Alaska the other, chosen on the basis of departure time available at the lowest fare), and that included paying an extra $30 to be able to pre-select my seat on the United flight - Alaska still lets you choose your seat at no additional cost if you book far enough in advance.

So, I'll put up with the inconveniences and pack along a bagel. I only wish that $&*[email protected] in front of me didn't think he was in a La-Z-Boy.
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Old Oct 30, 18, 8:28 am
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I know I am just dreaming here, but it would be nice if seat width were addressed along with seat pitch.
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Old Oct 30, 18, 8:41 am
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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers View Post
...but I do get uncomfortable when the person sitting in front of me leans his seat all the way back and it's practically in my face...
To me, this is as great a concern in terms of timely evacuations as is seat pitch. If, as a safety matter, seat pitch is regulated to 31 inches (example only, I believe it needs to be based on evacuation times), but seats are allowed four to five inches of recline, you have effectively negated the seat pitch regulation by reducing available space. To me, the conservative safety regulation is to mandate an adequate pitch, but prohibit seats from reclining. THAT provision would be fought vociferously by passengers and airlines, which means we're willing to sacrifice some margin of safety for convenience and comfort. My question is: where is the line that demarcates absolute comfort and absolute safety?
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Old Oct 30, 18, 8:59 am
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I agree 100%. The seat pitch should be doubled. The flyers should give their input not the government.
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Old Oct 30, 18, 9:31 am
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Require the post recline pitch to be 31" ?
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Old Oct 30, 18, 10:09 am
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34" minimum in economy sounds about right to me
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