Don’t like your airplane seat size or leg room? Here’s your chance to complain

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Think back to the last time you were on a plane in coach. How comfortable was that seat? If you didn’t like the size or the leg room, now is your chance to complain directly to the FAA.

Click here to get to the FAA’s survey.

Congress is making the FAA ask the public what the minimum size an airplane seat should be.

“Seats should be a little bit larger,” Mary Lou Kernahan said as she headed to her flight from Rochester to North Carolina. “It can be mighty cozy.”

I investigated airplane seat size and leg room five years ago. In the 1970s the distance between airplane seats was 35 inches. Today it’s down to 31 inches. And the seats are even smaller, from 18 inches wide to 16 and a half.

At the ribbon cutting at the Rochester airport today, Spirit Airlines told News10NBC investigative reporter Jenn Lewke they are always looking for the next generation of airplane seats. 

“The way that our aircraft is designed we actually have quite a good amount of seat pitch (leg room) so it’s something that we’re looking at continuously,” said Jason Fogelman, Senior Director of Airport innovations at Spirit Airlines. “But the reality is our seats don’t recline and that’s actually a good thing because it protects the space that you have in front of you.”

Congress directed the FAA to set minimum seat standards because it was concerned smaller seats affect the ability of passengers to get out in an emergency. In March, the FAA sent letters to congressional leaders saying a review showed “seat size and spacing” did not affect evacuations. But, the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute told the FAA to keep monitoring “anthropometric issues” of airplane seats. In layman terms that means comfort.

“It would be nice not to have to always pull the center arm rest up and have to get cozy with your husband,” Rita Baker said laughing with her husband next to her. “I mean that’s fine but, yeah.”

With your input, the government will set minimum standards for a seat’s width, length and leg room.