Federal bill would regulate U.S. airline seat size

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A federal judge responded to an advocacy group's flyers' rights request by calling on the FAA to take a closer look at the amount of space passengers have on commercial planes.

The Federal Aviation Administration would be required to set minimum seat sizes on airlines if a bill passed by the U.S. House becomes law.

Legislation called the SEAT Act, introduced by U.S. Rep Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), was included in a broader FAA reauthorization bill passed by the U.S. House last month. It is awaiting action by the Senate.

The bill would also require the FAA to set minimum distances between airline seat rows.

“House passage of the SEAT Act is a huge win for airline passengers and a huge win for safety,” Cohen said in a written statement. “Passengers need to be able to evacuate quickly and safely in the event of an emergency, and the FAA needs to make sure they can.”

“The sardine-ification of economy class seems to have reached a tipping point,” according to consumer advocacy group FlyersRights.org, which had filed a petition to the FAA to regulate seat sizes.