MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A federal judge has ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to review seat sizes and legroom on commercial airlines.

It’s a victory for Flyers’ Rights, an advocacy group that has pushed for new rules regulating seat sizes.

Flyers’ Rights says small airlines seats can put people’s health at risk with conditions like blood clots in legs.

They also say the average size of the seat itself has shrunk, along with space between the one behind.

According to a report by Business Insider, the major airline that has the most space between seats is JetBlue, with 34 inches apart.

The airline that boasted the least room was Spirit, with 28 inches between seats.

Delta Air Lines and American Airlines were in the middle, with 31 inches between seats. Virgin America and Southwest had 32 inches, according to the report.

Comments (50)
  1. Doug Day says:

    It’s time for pay by weight.

      1. I fully expect this to go as far as the fed law requiring commercials on tv to be the same volumn of the show. Ya that bill passed two years ago and congress did a wink wink wink to cable and dish as in dont worry we have no intention of punishing anyone for not abiding. Oh, dont forget to send the money to our campaigns, wink wink wink

    1. Then assign seats based on travelers size.

      1. Robert Stout says:

        It used to be an option to buy two seats (My father was a rather large individual and would do that for comfort), but now they’re just as liable to overbook the seat and claim your extra seat for employee or standby travel.

    2. We’ve entered the age of a judicial dicatatorship, and the morons here can worry about is their leg room.

      we deserve what we get.

    3. Paul Roberts says:

      Its all about money and discrimination to find a reason to pack us all in like sardines. I am not a “Big Guy” but I think it is horrible where the airline industry has gone. Instead of customer service it is how many services can they either take away or make you pay for. If I chose to fly (Which is unlikely) There are two rights a passenger has. 1. to be safe and 2. To be comfortable. Put the seats back like they were 30 years ago and there will be no problems. It is just a way to justify segregating large people as a reason to try to justify their poor decisions.

  2. James Lawson says:

    Big or small its still very cramped to sit there for hours not able to stretch. Flying used to be fun now its torture. Its all greed by the airlines. Fuel prices have gone down fares have gone up and seats have got smaller.

  3. Robert Stout says:

    Southwest is the best by far. According to the article, the best seats and usually the lowest fare.

  4. I hate to say it but if customers tolerate it, then how is it the governments business. Long as they are traveling safely it’s up to the consumer to decide whether or not being crushed in like sardines is worth it. That being said, I don’t fly unless I have to and for me TSA is a bigger reason that the seats.

  5. I’m 5.3 and the last time I flew the seat in front of me was so close I could not bend far enough to retrieve my purse from the seat in front of me. I had to stand in the aisle and fish it out from there and I am not fat. There should be regulations on the size of the seat and the space between the row in front and back.. The govt. is already involved. They determine how many flight attendants an airplane must have for the number of passengers. I don’t see how people could possibly exit an aircraft quickly with the seats so tight..,

  6. George Henry says:

    This nation is spiraling down the statist toilet. Every friggin’ human freedom is usurped by power grabbing Federal judges. Time to revolt!!

  7. Competition would regulate seat size but there is no competition. Each airline controls a hub, it’s not like you can go to the same destination on a different airline. It is a health and safety issue. The airlines have proven they are unable to police themselves. There should be minimum legroom and seat widths. They should also be forced to require people over a certain size to buy another seat or offer larger seats. The person who fits in the seats gets 1/2 the space they paid for. Sorry if you’re big, you do not have dibbs on my space. You’ll pay more at the clothes shop too. Everyone isn’t the same. life isn’t fair, deal with it.

  8. IF the Airlines are forced to provide more leg room they will raise the cost of the tickets. You have a choice, fly the airline that offers more leg room, buy business class tickets, take shorter flights where you can walk around between flights. Don’t force business to do things because you think its good, let the public decide what airline to fly based on seat size and cost. Its a free market don’t mess with it. prices are low and have been low. Gov’t needs to keep out.

  9. It’s not just seat size. It’s outrageous ticket prices, overbooking, TSA abuse, filthy cabins, nasty flight attendants, and obnoxious prices for lousy food, unwashed blankets and pillows, & drinks.

  10. The airlines give us “contracts of convienance” because it would be insane to negotiate a separate contract with every flying party. So in order to really work to balance out the power, the master of the obvious solution is to have a single entity (or a small number of entities) to negotiate for us. Maybe the govt is the right organization to do it, maybe some sort of customer org with membership? It would have to have large membership to have any clout. Otherwise the govt is the only other solution. I am a capitalist/free market type so I am quest about relying on govt not to make things worse.

    1. Oops meant to say the govt is NOT The right organization.

  11. Yirmin Snipe says:

    They also need to look at the width of seats. Whether you are fat or skinny your shoulders are defined by your bones and most men cannot fit in the seats and keep their shoulders in their own space. You get a row of 3 men sitting in a row and they will be forcing the outside guys to fly leaning sideways because an adult male has shoulders wider than the plane’s seats.

    1. “most men cannot fit in the seats”. Lol somebody is in denial about their weight

  12. It’s time to alter or abolish the federal government, like the Declaration of Independence said we could.

  13. Lynn Wood says:

    Remember the supremacy of the market. The market is self regulating. If you made enough you could fly first class. The complaints are coming from those who don’t want to admit that they are flying steerage class because they cannot afford better.

    talking points …as heard on free speech radio…against the anti capitalists in league with the Russians to attack the credibility of the purported Russian supporters in the White House…

    Oh just read Ayn Rand all you complainers without vision.

  14. I don’t have a problem in general with a review, as this is a consumer protection issue. However, I am concerned that any directive to the airlines with respect to increasing seat size will result in huge increases in air fare because it means fewer seats and thus less revenue per flight for the airlines.

  15. Spirit airlines “boasted” about having the least legroom??? I believe the journalist who wrote this article should recheck their dictionary/thesaurus when considering using the use of this term. I hardly think Spirit or any other airline would pride themselves on seating passengers like a can of sardines.

  16. Ra Williams says:

    My United Air flight from the Middle East to NYC in 2009 was the worst ever legroom. Horror flight.

  17. stpaulchuck says:

    my 94 year old Mom said it succinctly – airlines are now the Greyhound buses.

    I started flying as a passenger in 1962. Up until just a decade or so ago, things were pretty much “nice”. Now I can’t stand it. We fly to Manila via Tokyo and the MSP to NRT leg is around 12 hours. If you don’t pop for the extra seat spacing in cattle car, it is a torture test on the 777’s (which I don’t like in any case). You are so tight front to back as well as side to side it is almost impossible to eat your dinner. The wife and I are always having an elbow fight.

    While I have zero love for government interference in the market place, the airlines are a monopoly server as an industry and are in competition and race to the bottom in cattle car service. Perhaps the pricing model is the correct way to do it, but I’d entertain alternatives for certain.

  18. Here’s the bottom line folks, nobody likes to be cramped in a tin can for 4 hrs. Isn’t it interesting that it’s only the American domestic carriers that are doing this and not foreign. Bring back the friggin leg room, allow people to stretch. Ever since post 9/11 these “Airlines” treat everyone like a terrorist or that we should be “Privileged” to fly with them. Get the #### outta here! How about common comfort and more respect!

  19. Seats should be sold by weight and volume. Both are directly related to the cost of flying cargo from place to place. Obviously it costs more in fuel to ship 600 pounds than 120 pounds. Ask any pilot.
    There is also only so much seating space on deck so there is a minimum cost no matter what the cargo weighs.

  20. David Doane says:

    I say we go back to the old style of seating, as well as the old style of pricing adjusted for inflation. That would encourage more people to driver or take a train. The old saying we get what we pay for is true, we pay less now for airline ticket and get less room. It is simple principle of cost must be less than income to make money and airlines are in it for the money, as they should be.

  21. I’ve just flipped through my copy of the Constitution looking for the enumerated power that grants to the feds any authority to get involved in airline seating. Can’t find it. Companies ought to just tell them “that’s nice, but we’re going to ignore you as you lack any authority here,” and let the market decide.

  22. I don’t see a problem with airline seats. I’ve never had a problem fitting in one, and always have room to spare. I do however see a problem with morbidly obese folks who are much larger than 32″ wide insisting on only buying one seat, as if it one seat were some sort of vanity size that everyone has a god-given right to.

    Every one who cannot pass through a 32″ wide entryway without turning sideways should be forced to buy a second ticket. Just like those boxes they use to evaluate carryon luggage.

  23. Jack Riley says:

    Those pesky passengers again. The airlines wish they would just act like the freight that they are.

  24. Ted Donahue says:


  25. The real solution is more competition in the airline industry. Remember the days of $29 airline tickets? The FCC never should have allowed the industry to become so concentrated.

  26. I am all for more room but it should be free enterprise that makes those decisions, not the courts. If I want to save money and sit in a sardine can, I should be able to. If I want to pay more money to get more room, I should be able to do that too.

  27. Don’t bother them for small seats.no legroom. Get them for the severe safety hazard cause by having restricted movement to exits in case of an emergency.

  28. Bobby Smith says:

    Once again it is possible to be morally and ethically correct, but have no legal basis for imposing one’s will…just because something is a good idea is no reason to make a law giving the government total authority about it, and even worse, it is bad to have the judiciary wade in. This is typical of what the founders prohibited as a role of government. Let the market decide!

  29. Where is the data to support the Fliers rights claims. Why don’t they start their own airline and do it the way they want it ? Fly Rights Airs?

  30. Shoulder to shoulder I measure 22 inches… not good when coach seats are less than 20 inches wide… only 15″ at the hips I fit fine there… they need to require seats fit a 6′ 200# athlete…

  31. Anti-racists say there is a RACE problem that can only be solved when the third world pours into EVERY White country and “assimilates.”

    What if I said there was a RACE problem that could only be solved if hundreds of millions of non-Blacks were brought into EVERY Black country? How long before people realize I’m not talking about a RACE problem, but the conclusion to the BLACK problem?

    They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-White.

    Anti-racist is a codeword for anti-White.

  32. Julie Dougan says:

    It looks like they want more room for all the people that were banned but the federal court has so nicely decided to let into our country.

  33. I’m 6’3″ tall and when I fly if I am in coach seats my knees are literally jammed into the seat in front of me and if the flight is more than two hours long my knees are black and blue from the pressure when I land. Even though the price of first class is way more costly I have been forced into buying first class tickets just to have comfortable leg room when I fly. As a result, I fly less than I used to.