The FAA Wants Your Feedback on the Size of Airplane Seats — Here’s How to Be Heard

The FAA will seek public comment for 90 days on the pitch, width, and length of passenger seats on aircraft in the United States.

Seats on a Southwest Airlines airplane Photo: Courtesy of Southwest Airlines

The Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing airplane seat sizes in an effort to determine if a minimum standard should be established.

The agency, which will publish a notice in the Federal Register on Wednesday, will seek public comment for 90 days on the pitch, width, and length of passenger seats on aircraft in the United States, according to an unpublished notice from the FAA. The review is being done to determine if a minimum seat size is necessary for passenger safety.

The effort comes after Congress directed the FAA to examine seat dimensions in 2018, according to the group. In 2019, the FAA launched an investigation to test whether smaller seat sizes were dangerous.

"The FAA invites comments on minimum seat dimensions necessary for passenger safety, especially during airplane evacuation, as the FAA examines whether new regulatory standards are necessary," the agency wrote in the notice, which was signed by Jodi L. Baker, the deputy associate administrator for aviation safety. "Comments should address whether, considering the existing regulatory requirements, one or more of the following seat dimensions have or demonstrably could adversely affect the safety of air passengers by delaying the group egress time of an emergency evacuation."

The FAA said comments should also address how seat sizes affect potential evacuations of a variety of groups, including children, people over 60 years old, and passengers with disabilities.

Seat sizes vary widely depending on the carrier and what part of the airplane passengers are sitting in. JetBlue famously boasts “the most legroom in coach” with 32 to 41 inches of legroom available, according to SeatGuru. For its part, Delta Air Lines offers 30 to 33 inches of legroom in economy, and United Airlines offers 30 to 31 inches of pitch.

Low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines offers two seat sizes: standard (where the pitch ranges from 28 to 31 inches) and stretch (where the seat pitch ranges from 36 to 38 inches).

Even the amount of under-seat storage varies by airline with carriers restricting the size of personal items to match.


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