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You’ve gotta fight for your right to recline, and soon, airlines may have to fight for their right to take it away from you. To protect the rights of your battered knees, broken backs and sore necks, a US Congressman is aiming to pass an act, cheekily titled the SEAT (Safe Egress In Air Travel) Act, aimed at setting minimum standards for airline seats…

If you have 40 rows and make an inch disappear from each, you’ll magically create 41 rows. Airlines have mastered the age old “less is more” trick, filling planes with swiss precision, one extra seat at a time, and it’s reaching a limit. Congressman Cohen, of Tennessee, thinks it’s actually gone too far. Before you get up out of your narrow economy seat and begin slowly clapping, applauding the notion of limiting the already limited seats, think about your wallet. Sure, the average economy seat pitch has gone from 35” to 31” across all airlines, eliminating that feel good factor, but travel is cheaper than ever and there’s only so much further seats can go anyway. Why hinder airlines which are bringing consumer friendly prices?

Ryanair 360 Sitting #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Budget, no frill airlines, have forced major carriers to either compete at the stripped down, perk free level in a never ending price drop war, or alternately, offer a more streamlined, luxurious experience to differentiate their products, justifying the added cost. It’s made travel better; choice makes travel better. Setting minimums, banning certain seats already in place, would not help, it would simply drive up prices, throwing favor back to legacy carriers. The current market of narrow seats and margins is forcing airlines to one up each other with amenities like free wifi, cabin baggage allowance and anything to break the price deadlock. 

Though the notion of government imposed minimums is a nice thought, further governance does absolutely no good for the consumer. Planes already have maximum weights, passengers and all the things that ensure the integrity of flight. Those who want extra space will pay for it, those who want savings will book the cheapest ticket; and natural competition will dictate which of the low frills, low cost carriers offers the best experience for the money. Having the least pitch and width is not a competitive advantage at a certain point. So anyway, thanks Congressman, Cohen, of Tennessee, for the thought, but it should probably stay as one. 

HT: ViewFromTheWing

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