Over the weekend, I finally returned from a long extended flight from Sydney. I looked at US news, and there's this piece from US Senator....Chuck Schumer....from New York.
The Senator wants the FAA to establish seat-size standards for commercial airlines. Chief reason? He says they (the airlines) have been cutting down on leg and seat width for years.....it's time to reverse the trend.
Back in the 1970s.....you had 35 inches of room....from the pitch to the next seat. Today? It's closer to 31 inches with most airlines. The seat width used to be 18.5 inches but with most airlines....it's 16.5 inches now. There's even some talk that they want to advertise certain seats as wider but charge more for the benefit.
From this trip, I was lucky.....I rode business class and for the first time in my life....had ample room.
Back around 2011....I had the privilege of riding US Air from the Philly to Frankfurt....and rode eight-plus hours in one of this 16.5 inch seats and 31 inches of leg room. It was without any doubt....one of the worst flights in my life and toward the sixth hour....I actually got up and stood near the bathroom for almost forty minutes before being chased off by the Stewardess.
The thing is....if these flights were all just 90 minutes in length, then we wouldn't be discussing this. The minute that you start talking about three hours of sitting and no real leg room....it's more of a torture to travel.
A couple of years ago, I was reading on a Japanese plan to make people stand for all flights of 90 minutes or less. You'd be leaning and buckled into some standing and leaning seat. The guy designing this figured that you could cram 400 people onto a plane that typically carried 180 passengers....if they were all standing. The swap here was that you'd pay probably half the amount of money for such a trip. I kinda questioned this but it is true....we'd all like a $45 one-way ticket from Atlanta to Orlando and be willing to stand as part of the deal.
Mandating this through Congress? It's hard to imagine how you'd sit and trust these guys to fix this problem and not screw it up. In the end.....they might mandate something enough.....to trigger prices going up by forty-percent and you just getting one inch more of legroom.
Do we really need the House and Senate working on things like this? This is one of the sad parts to our democracy.....where everything becomes political in the end. A Republican agenda against this? More than likely.
We probably will end up with another group working on Greyhound or Trailways seating arrangements, and then some fool jumping in to assess seating arrangements in mini-vans and SUVs.
The best seating arrangement in my life? I hate to admit it.....but when the Air Force tagged me to ride in the cargo planes and you rode in the web-seats.....you had tons of leg room and it was the best seat possible for eight hours of flight. Course, you had to accept the five-star box lunch from the Air Force as part of the deal.