US Democratic Leader Calls for Airline Legroom Regulations

A top American politician has called upon the country’s regulatory authorities to issue legroom regulation for airliners, saying that airlines are continuously shrinking the size of seats.

The unusual call was made by Senator Chuck Schumer, who represents the state of New York in the US Senate and serves as the Senate’s Minority Leader. Schumer, a Democrat, said that he receives regular complaints from his constituents about the sorry state of the airline industry.

Schumer told local media: “One of the biggest complaints I get overall, and the biggest complaint I get about flying, is that there is so little legroom and so little seat width.

“Airlines are shoving people into airplanes like a can of sardines.”

The top Democrat in the US Senate called upon the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to finish a study into the legroom inside planes of commercial airliners which has already been commissioned in 2018. According to media reports, US airlines shrunk their seats from an average width of 18.5 inches (47 centimetres) to 17 inches (43 centimetres) in the last ten years. Legroom reportedly shrank as well in the last decade, going down from 35 inches (89 centimetres) to 31 inches (79 centimetres).

chuck schumer
US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. ©Screenshot

Schumer said that he wants the issue to be tackled with priority and told local media that he has already sent a formal letter to FAA chief Steven Dickson. In this letter, he asked the FAA to “swiftly take steps to rectify the testing under way and to issue regulations as soon as possible.”

The Senate Minority Leader also called upon the FAA to hold tests for disabled and elderly travellers, as well children and people travelling with pets.

american airlines plane
An American Airlines aeroplane being de-iced at Paris Charles de Gaulle. ©Paliparan

An FAA spokesman said that “by the end of this year, the FAA plans to conclude [airplane] evacuation testing to determine what, if any, regulatory changes are necessary”.

Do you think that the US government should regulate legroom on airplanes? Or is it something that is better left for the free market to decide? Feel free to comment!

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Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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