For a while it appeared the only winners in the FAA Reauthorization debate were going to be the airlines.
Last month Rep. Steve Cohen's (D-TN) 'Seat Egress in Air Travel (SEAT) Act' was shot down by the House Transportation Committee chaired by a congressman who just happens to be close buddies with airline lobbyists.
Now joining the battle with FlyersRights is Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who is adding an amendment to the FAA bill that would require seat-size guidelines.
Saddle up, partner! Ready for "horse saddle" seats?
Patented by Airbus, it shrinks seat pitch to 23 inches.
Flying the Cruel Skies
Flying coach on a long haul flight may be one of life's cruelest experiences.
Each year brings fresh horrors as more and more are sardined in ever receding seats, then being charged for legroom.
Meanwhile, airlines are enjoying record profits by mastering ways to nickel and dime every scrap of revenue from passengers while oil prices remain low.
Even frequent flyers are being robbed of benefits they were promised years ago.
This is simple corporate greed, that endangers the public. This is not a free market issue, it is a health issue.
And all signs point to further debasing the airline experience at the next economic downturn.
Pretty soon airlines may need to hire the Japanese people pushers that cram people onto trains.
Just last month, United Airlines reportedly was considering a higher density configuration that would squeeze about 100 more seats onto Boeing 777s by adding one extra seat per row in economy. It would also reduce its business class.
While last summer, the aircraft manufacturer disclosed they planned to shrink lavatories in order to get another 14 seats onto their jetliners.
Think of the 747 which started at 9-across, and after a few years was reconfigured to 10-across. What's to stop the continued erosion of size until we wind up with 10 across seating on a 737?
Surprisingly, you can squeeze as many as 853 seats on the Airbus 380. Would you be OK with that? Would you have any safety concerns? How do you evacuate aircraft where spacing is super tight?
Seat pitch is a safety issue. If there are no regulations in place and seat pitch continues to shrink, there may be a day when the airlines will be flying close to 1000 passengers in coach.
Isn't just a matter of comfort, but of safety and health too
The average legroom on airlines has shrunk four inches since the 1970s, from an ample 35 inches, down to just 31 inches - and widths of 18 inches down to 16.5 inches today.
The airlines say it's a job for market forces. But the "vote with your wallet" statements aren't realistic when there is no choice.
The airlines make that free market argument everytime you go to book premium economy. But look at the price difference - it's not proportional. And the longer the flight, the more disproportional it gets. Most fares seem to be about double for Economy Plus.
Emergency evacuation tests haven't been tested on tighter seats on airlines today
This has led some experts to raise concerns over the safety of passengers.
Imagine what would happen if all shoe stores w ere own by airlines?
You would not find any shoes larger than size 7, unless you paid a big extra fee for larger sizes. If you wanted laces or insoles or maybe even heels that would be additional.
Oh, and imagine if shoe stores w ere exempt from all consumer protection laws and most antitrust laws - so price fixing.
Supply restriction was legal, and foreign-made shoes o r foreign controlled stores were banned. After all it's only about comfort so why shouldn't consumers pay more to get more?
Sounds ridiculous? But that is the US airline industry business model and state of regulation.
Soon, unless the 2016 Congress or the soon-to-be ex-Transportation Secretary Foxx or ex-President Obama act - or passengers revolt - look for airlines to continue shrinking passenger space till anyone over 5' 10" or 180 pounds is forced to pay extra while death rates from blood clots and crash landings soar.
We are commited to solutions for promoting airline passenger policies that forward first and foremost the safety of all passengers while not imposing unrealistic economic burdens that adversely affect airline profitability or create exhorbitant ticket price increases.
All American air carriers shall abide by the following standards to ensure the safety, security and comfort of their passengers:
Establish procedures to respond to all passenger complaints within 24 hours and with appropriate resolution within 2 weeks.
Notify passengers within ten minutes of a delay of known diversions, delays and cancellations via airport overhead announcement, on aircraft announcement, and posting on airport television monitors.
Establish procedures for returning passengers to terminal gate when delays occur so that no plane sits on the tarmac for longer than three hours without connecting to a gate.
Provide for the essential needs of passengers during air- or ground-based delays of longer than 3 hours, including food, water, sanitary facilities, and access to medical attention.
Provide for the needs of disabled, elderly and special needs passengers by establishing procedures for assisting with the moving and retrieving of baggage, and the moving of passengers from one area of airport to another at all times by airline personnel.
Publish and update monthly on the company’s public web site a list of chronically delayed flights, meaning those flight delayed thirty minutes or more, at least forty percent of the time, during a single month.
Compensate “bumped” passengers or passengers delayed due to flight cancellations or postponements of over 12 hours by refund of 150% of ticket price.
The formal implementation of a Passenger Review Committee, made up of non-airline executives and employees but rather passengers and consumers – that would have the formal ability to review and investigate complaints.
Make lowest fare information, schedules and itineraries, cancellation policies and frequent flyer program requirements available in an easily accessed location and updated in real-time.
Ensure that baggage is handled without delay or injury; if baggage is lost or misplaced, the airline shall notify customer of baggage status within 12 hours and provide compensation equal to current market value of baggage and its contents.
Require that these rights apply equally to all airline code-share partners including international partners.