WITH RECORD-BREAKING THANKSGIVING TRAVEL UNDERWAY IN NEW YORK & THE CAPITAL REGION & AIRPLANE SEATS GETTING SMALLER & SMALLER, SCHUMER DEMANDS FEDS BEGIN PROCESS TO TACKLE SHRINKING SEAT SIZE; BI-PARTISAN LAW SENATOR CHAMPIONED HAS BEEN ON-THE-BOOKS BUT FAA HASN’T STARTED THE WORK TO STOP THE SHRINK
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Schumer: Plan To Stop Airlines From Shrinking Seats Needs To Get Off The Ground Already
With Thanksgiving travelers ready to slam the Capital Region’s airports, including Albany International Airport, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer is demanding that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) begin the process to tackle shrinking seats on airplanes. Schumer fought for the language requiring the FAA to address the issue earlier this fall, but is revealing today that the agency has yet to begin the work now required by law to rein in shrinking airplane seats for millions of travelers.
“The #1 travel complaint I get from airline customers in the Capital Region, including Albany, is shrinking seats and—like the seats themselves—the FAA’s timeline to tackle this issue is getting smaller and smaller with each passing day,” said Senator Schumer. “If the predictions hold true, this Thanksgiving will be amongst the busiest we have ever seen in our Upstate and Capital Region airports. That means tens-of-thousands of air travelers being forced to sit in a seat that—not too long ago—was many inches larger. That’s why I championed the law to combat the sardine-like packing of people and why I am demanding the FAA get to work on the plan to rein in the shrinking once and for all.”
Schumer’s seat-size provision was part of the larger FAA reauthorization that became law this October. The law Schumer championed gives the FAA a year to tackle shrinking seats and provide notice and opportunity for the public to chime in. Schumer, today, is demanding the FAA get going already because now there is less than a year to get all of this work done—and in the meantime, airline seats continue to be a bane for travelers.
According to a report published by Fortune, the average seat pitch has decreased from 35 inches in the 1970s to approximately 31 inches today. Schumer has long worried that without action, more inches would be cut and more passengers crammed like sardines.
Schumer also said that the airline revenue-generating tactic of charging for ‘extra’ legroom represents a clear sign that the inch-cutting has gone on far too long. With inches now equating to big dollars that have helped deliver even bigger profits for airlines, Schumer says a minimum standard is both fair and timely. A minimum seat and pitch size standard should be made with the input of experts and consumers and based on science, passenger health, and safety, not only the maximum number of people that can be crammed into one plane, Schumer added. That is what this new provision in the FAA Reauthorization Bill will accomplish once the work actually begins.
Currently, there are no federal limits on how close together an airline’s row of seats can be or how wide an airline’s seat must be; there are federal requirements for exit rows, but not for other parts of the aircraft. Each airline’s measurements can be different.
Schumer also wants air travelers this holiday season to know the new consumer protections that are now officially law. These include:
- Prohibiting involuntary bumping of passengers who have already boarded, and requiring clarification of regulations regarding compensation for bumped passengers.
- Setting new requirements for airlines to promptly return fees for services, such as seat assignments or early boarding, purchased but not received.
- Requiring airlines, in the event of a widespread disruption of their computer systems, to prominently post online what services they will provide to impacted passengers.
According to the TSA, the Friday prior to this upcoming Thanksgiving is one of the three busiest travel days of the entire holiday, which extends November 16th through November 25th. According to Albany International Airport, over 5,000 travelers per day are expected to fly out of the airport during this period, a significant increase over non-holiday periods.
Schumer was joined by Will Brown, Head Coach of the University at Albany men’s basketball team; Dave Gallati, an Albany firefighter/paramedic; and Bill McGee, Aviation and Travel Consultant, Consumer Reports.