He's introducing an amendment called SEAT, the Safe Egress in Air Travel Act of 2016.

By Caroline Hallemann
February 10, 2016
© Oote Boe 1 / Alamy Stock Photo

This week in fantasy news, Tennessee lawmaker Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Memphis, is proposing that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) establish minimum seat dimensions for commercial airlines. He plans to introduce the Safe Egress in Air Travel Act (otherwise known as SEAT) as an amendment to the the pending FAA reauthorization bill.

"Consumers are tired of being squeezed, both physically and fiscally, by airlines," he said in a prepared statement on Tuesday.


But Representative Cohen isn't solely focused on the increased discomfort of flying, he also raised concerns over health and safety: "The FAA requires that planes be capable of rapid evacuation in case of emergency, yet they haven't conducted emergency evacuation tests on all of today's smaller seats."

The announcement stems from increasingly smaller seats industry-wide. In fact, Cohen cited that the average pitch (or distance between the rows of seats) has gone from 35 to 31 inches since the airlines were deregulated in the '70s. And as for seat width? That's shrunk from 18 inches to 16.5 in the same time period. All while the average weight of Americans has been increasing.

Unfortunately for consumers, Cohen will face an uphill battle in the transportation committee getting this legislation approved, but hey, a frequent flyer can dream.