Safety rule changes could mean more legroom on planes

FAA to establish the necessary minimum seat pitch, width and length based on safety checks.

Safety rule changes could mean more legroom on planes

Airplane legroom has diminished over the past decade, to the point where passenger comfort is hit or miss, depending on the airline and even the type of plane on which you fly.

But do airlines listen to passengers bemoaning lack of legroom? No. What they do listen to, however, is the world’s biggest airline watchdog, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has decided that seat sizes may have moved beyond passenger discomfort into the realm of passenger safety, The Sun reports.

The FAA is concerned that the airline space squeeze could be putting passengers in danger and, in order to set minimum seat size requirements, will now test how fast flyers are able to evacuate a plane.

The evacuation trials will run over 12 days in November.


“Americans are getting bigger and seat size is important, but it has to be looked at in the context of safety,” said FAA deputy administrator Dan Elwell.

“Later this year we’re going to establish the necessary seat pitch, width and length based on safety,” he added.

Current rules state that airlines must be able to evacuate passengers within 90 seconds, but do not set minimum requirements on seat size. However, seat sizes are getting smaller and passengers are getting bigger.

The standard economy seat pitch on Australian carriers varies depending on the aircraft. For example, Jetstar’s A321 aircraft’s seat pitch is 77.1cm, but on A330s it’s 78.7cm, the same as Qantas and Virgin Australia.

With any luck, we could be seeing economy seats with more legroom in the future. However, we may also have to pay for it, as airline margins may suffer should they have to reconfigure planes to create extra, safer space.

Would you be happy to pay a little extra for more legroom?

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    casper dude
    12th Oct 2019
    We recently flew to London to visit family in the U.K. from Brisbane and return on Singapore Airlines, and because we are getting older in our mid 70's and find the economy seating very uncomfortable, we treated ourselves to Premium seats on the long leg of the journey. One of us flew Premium a couple of years ago and it was much more comfortable with a wider seat and quite a bit more leg room and with a slightly varied menu from Economy with a larger tray. Quite noticeably nicer and more comfortable. Although still quite expensive, it was felt the extra money was worth it. However, on this recent trip, ie 3 weeks ago, the Premium on Singapore Airlines A380 was noticeably inferior and we were absolutely convinced the leg room had lessened and more seats in the Premium section installed. The meal was exactly the same as Economy and the service no different, despite their advertising the Premium benefits. We were very disappointed and felt it was not worth the quite large additional cost, especially as pensioners. We felt ripped off. We have always flown Singapore for many years for their service but are considering changing our route and airline doing our homework on the Premium options because Economy is far too uncomfortable as one gets older. The seating is now unsafe and unhealthy with coughing and sneezing in such close proximity being so close to each other and cramped up like those who can afford Business Class would never believe. Its time for change.
    On the Ball
    12th Oct 2019
    Could be good but I cant see the almighty dollar losing out just for the comfort of passengers.
    I haven't flown for years, since they re-seated the Jumbos and the seats became too small for me.
    No, I'm not the typical obese selfish type that frequents flights nowadays (although the passenger next to me always seems to be!)
    My hip to knee distance is more than the seat to seat back distance in any passenger plane.
    So, no more flying.
    12th Oct 2019
    It will never happen. The almighty dollar will determine the extra leg room or not. Alternatively the reduce number of passengers per flight due to the extra leg room will increase in price of a ticket.
    While they are going about the safety issue for leg room to egress in the case of an emergency, look at the obese people who pay for ONE ticket and take HALF of your seat at the same time. If they are on the aisle seat the other two passengers on the window side are at a greater risk as the obese person blocks off any chance of exit for those people.
    Yes, my wife and myself enjoyed a wonderful flight home from Melb via Qantas, with an morbid obese person on the aisle, having 1 1/2 seats and would not move to allow a toilet break. QANTAS could not give two stuffs on the problem as a reply from them.
    Dear o'dear went overseas 3 times this year, one to Europe and two to NZ-didn't fly with Qantas. Why would I if they don't care about their passengers then why should I care about Qantas and the little man who runs the show
    13th Oct 2019
    Totally agree . Recently paid extra to fly Qantas thinking it would be better than Jetstar. Wrong ! Even people who were not big felt they were packed in like sardines. It’s all about the mighty dollar
    pedro the swift
    12th Oct 2019
    Do away with seats and just have standing room only! More passengers, cheaper flights, quick exit if needed. Surely you can stand for a couple of hours. People do it on trains, just look at Indian Rail.
    14th Oct 2019
    Yes Pedro, on a flight from Aust to the UK, Europe or the Americas standing up would be just what the doctor ordered.

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