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Narrow Escape

March 2, 2016

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.
They warn that having rows of seats jammed closer together makes it harder for passengers to evacuate after a crash. Flight attendants say the lack of space leads to more cases of air rage.
Doctors also warn that deep vein thrombosis can afflict passengers who can’t move their legs during longer flights.
How you can participate
Millions of miserable airline passengers are counting on our efforts. Everyone, please contact your Congressional representative to urge their support. 

A vote on the bill is expected in March.

Imagine what would happen if all shoe stores w ere own by airlines?  
You would not find a ny shoes larger than size 7, unless you paid  a big extra fee for larger sizes. If you wanted laces o r insoles or maybe even heels that would b e 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 a bout comfort so why shouldn’t consumers p ay more to get more? 
Sounds ridiculous?  But t hat 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 e xtra while death rates from blood clots and crash landings soar.
Paul Hudson, President
Member, FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory  Committee

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