Although passenger space on commercial aircraft has shrunk dramatically over time, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has never established minimum passenger space regulations for commercial airlines. The shrinking seat-size and space poses health risks to passengers and raises concerns about effective evacuation in case of emergency. Accordingly, in 2018, following years of organizing and advocacy from consumer and safety advocates, Congress passed a law requiring the FAA to promulgate rules addressing minimum seat size and seat spacing on commercial airlines. The 2018 Act required the FAA to complete the rulemaking establishing minimum seat and passenger space requirements by October 5, 2019.
More than three years after passage of the law and more than two years after the statutory deadline, the FAA has not even begun the statutorily required rulemaking. Representing FlyersRights Education Fund, Public Citizen filed a petition in the D.C. Circuit asking the court to hold that the FAA is violating the law and to direct the FAA to issue the required regulations.