DOT panel hears concerns about airline legroom

Packed cabins are the norm.

Combined ShapeCaption
Packed cabins are the norm.

The 6’6” founder of a Twitter account that advocates for airline exit row seats for tall people and the inventor of the Knee Defender, an anti-reclining device, were among those at a U.S. Department of Transportation hearing Tuesday who pushed airlines to allow more legroom for passengers.


At the DOT’s Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection hearing in Washington, consumer advocates asked questions about safety concerns including deep-vein thrombosis risk and the challenges of evacuating planes when more seats are squeezed onto planes with less space between rows.

Eric Schmidt, the man behind the Twitter account @exitrow4thetall, said he thinks airlines shouldn’t charge extra for exit row seats when tall people need extra space.

“Give tall people the space they need,” he said.

But airline and aircraft manufacturer representatives said the planes flying today meet federal safety requirements and they don’t think there is an increased safety risk from tighter seating layouts.

They said adding more seats on the plane allows carriers to charge lower fares.

“If airlines are forced to start reducing the number of seats…. fares are going to increase and I think we’re going to price out a lot of the traveling public,” said Allegiant Air’s director of government affairs, Keith Hansen.