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Bill would require seat, legroom standards on airplanes

Sen. Chuck Schumer in Washington on Aug. 21.

Sen. Chuck Schumer in Washington on Aug. 21. Credit: Getty Images / Zach Gibson

A bill expected to pass Congress this week would require the Federal Aviation Administration to establish minimum standards for seat sizes and legroom on airplanes, according to the office of Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Schumer added the flyer-friendly amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act, which the Senate will introduce Monday night and likely vote to approve by Wednesday or Thursday, Schumer spokesman Angelo Roefaro said.

The pending legislation comes after the FAA said over the summer that it would not regulate the dimensions of airline seats, a decision that Schumer has rallied against.

“When talking to travelers, the number one complaint I hear is shrinking legroom and cramped seats on planes,” Schumer wrote in a statement. “Consumers are tired of being packed into airplanes like sardines, and that’s why we must get a handle on this deep-seated problem before it goes any further." 

The House of Representatives has already passed the reauthorization bill, Roefaro said.

An FAA official said of the legislation Sunday: "Since we are currently reviewing the legislation, we will not comment on how we plan to implement any particular provision at this time."

Schumer wrote in the release that the FAA should seek input from experts and consumers in establishing the minimum sizes for airplane seats and legroom, both of which have shrunk in recent decades.

The bill will also prohibit airlines from bumping passengers involuntarily off flights that they have already boarded and require them to provide faster refunds for services that customers purchased but did not receive, according to the release.

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