Congressman Cohen Introduces Bill to Establish Minimum Seat Sizes for Safety and Health of U.S. Airline Passengers

February 8, 2016
Press Release

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Aviation, today introduced a the Seat Egress in Air Travel (SEAT) Act to direct the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to establish minimum seat size standards for the safety and health of airline passengers.

“Consumers are tired of being squeezed both physically and fiscally by airlines,” said Congressman Cohen. “Shrinking seat sizes isn’t just a matter of comfort but safety and health as well.  The Federal Aviation Administration requires that planes be capable of rapid evacuation in case of emergency, yet they haven’t conducted emergency evacuation tests on all of today’s smaller seats. Doctors have also warned that deep vein thrombosis can afflict passengers who can’t move their legs during longer flights.”

The average distance between rows of seats has dropped from 35 inches before airline deregulation in the 1970s to about 31 inches today. The average width of an airline seat has also shrunk from 18 inches to about 16 ½.