Safety Hazards of Shrinking Space on Airliners

If you’ve flown coach lately you know that the space between your seat and the seat in front of you has shrunken over the years. Besides the fact that it makes the flight less comfortable, especially when the person in front of you decides to recline, new studies are looking at whether it might not also be unsafe.

The reason your space has shrunk is because airlines, in an effort to maximize profits, has moved the aisles closer together and added rows. Your space has shrunk from 35″ to as low as 28″. In addition, with airlines now charging for extra bags, passengers are now carrying on larger pieces of carry-on baggage making for even more reduced real estates on the plane, especially when they store them under the seat in front of them.

Questions are now being raised about how safe this reduced space actually is. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has run various evacuation drills but it is being pointed out that these scenarios are run with fit people who are prepared and trained and who are sitting in seats that are 31″ apart. That’s hardly a realistic evacuation. What exactly would happen with a real life evacuation where 1 in 3 passengers were obese (the national average right now) and where the seats were actually 28″ apart as they presently are?

In addition, there is the problem of deep vein thrombosis and air rage (the in-the-air version of road rage) both of which are associated with reduced personal space.

Ultimately, however, if the FAA and DOT determine that seating needs more space, it will result in a price hike which many passengers aren’t going to be okay with either. Caught between a seat and a small space!

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