Consumer Group Petitions for Bigger Seats on Planes

A U.S. air travel consumer group called Flyers Rights is asking those interested to sign a petition for a Passenger Bill of Rights. The petition will then be sent on to Congress. Among other things it calls for wider seats and more legroom on planes.

LISTEN: Travel expert Rick Seaney is feeling a little cramped.

Petition for Bigger Seats on Planes

According to Flyers Rights, airlines have been “aggressively reducing seat and passenger space on both new and existing airliners to squeeze more revenue out by adding more seats” and the group’s petition calls for a regulation that would mandate all seats be at least 18 inches wide.

As the Los Angeles Times points out, the Department of Transportation “does not impose any standards for seat legroom, width or comfort.” All that’s required is there be enough room to allow passengers to escape a plane in 90 seconds should an emergency occur.

Which Airlines have Smaller Seats

The following seat-size information is provided by SeatGuru. Please note: Seat width is not the only indication of comfort. Seat pitch – the distance between seats – is what counts when it comes to legroom.

All of the widths mentioned here are for economy seats only.

  • American: Several of its planes have seats under 18 inches wide
  • JetBlue: Two of its aircraft feature 17.8 inch seat widths
  • Southwest: All seats are 17 inches wide
  • Spirit: Some of its planes have seats 17.75 inches wide
  • Frontier: Some of its smaller aircraft have 17 inch seat widths
  • United: Several aircraft feature seat widths under 18 inches

Would you sign this petition? More important, do you think it would do any good?


Updated: November 9, 2015