Sep 13, 2022 - Economy & Business

U.S. appeals court hears argument on airline seat size rules

Illustration of a pattern of airplanes.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A U.S. appeals court on Monday heard arguments on minimum airplane seat size rules that a flyer advocacy group says is necessary for passenger safety, per Reuters.

Driving the news: The Justice Department said the Federal Aviation Administration's "examination of existing evidence has not yet demonstrated a safety need for minimum seat dimensions" but that the agency is continuing to examine the issue, Reuters reported.

  • But FlyersRights.org, an advocacy group, argued that without the court's intervention, the FAA will "continue to treat the statutory requirement as a low priority that it can ignore indefinitely, despite Congress’s express direction to the contrary."

What they're saying: "Currently there are no minimum seat dimensions," Michael Kirkpatrick, a lawyer for FlyersRights.org, said according to Reuters.

  • "Maybe they're going to codify the current seat dimensions and status quo for all conditions required for safety, then maybe there'll be a challenge on the merits," he said. "But the point here is that there is no regulation now on seat pitch, width or length."

Background: In 2018, Congress directed the FAA to issue new rules on minimum dimensions for passenger seats after a notice and comment period.

  • Although passed the deadline, the FAA asked for public comment last month and has already received nearly 12,000 comments. The comment period closes Nov. 1.

FlyersRights.org did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

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