Bad news for frequent fliers frustrated by increasingly smaller airline seat sizes: It doesn’t look like things are going to change any time soon.
The Senate blocked an amendment Thursday would have blocked airlines from further reducing the size and width of seats, passengers’ legroom and the width of aisle, the Associated Press reported. The legislation also would have required the Federal Aviation Administration to set standards for the minimum amount of space airlines must provide passengers for their safety and comfort. Airlines also would have had to post the size of their seats on their websites.
“It costs you an arm and a leg just to have room for your arms and legs,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who sponsored the amendment.
The proposal failed on a vote of 42-54, though no senators actually spoke out against the measure. Airlines opposed to the measure have complained that legislators are trying to “re-regulate” an industry that has been free of government regulation since 1978.
In recent years, economy-class airline seats have decreased from a width of 18 inches to 16.5 inches. The average pitch—the distance between a point on one seat and the same on the seat in front of it—has shrunk from 35 inches to about 31 inches. At the same time, many airlines have started to charge passengers for extra legroom.
The Senate is also considering a bill to renew FAA programs, which will expire July 15. The bill also contains aviation policy changes such as protections for airline passengers upset by fees for basic services like checking bags and ticket changes.
The vote was the last of the week for the Senate. Afterward, many senators boarded planes—potentially squeezing into small seats—to head home.