Senate passes bill regulating airline seat sizes, other issues

Forceful removal of passengers, emotional-support animals also dealt with

(Leon Neal/Getty Images)

New legislation affecting air travelers is muxh closer to reality after the Senate voted 93-6 to extend funding for the Federal Aviation Administration for five more years, U.S. Today reported.

At the top of the new bill would be minimum seat sizes on airplane flights. The "Seat Egress in Air Travel (SEAT) Act" in the new bill gives the FAA one year to set a standard for the size of airline seats with minimum requirements for seat width and the space between seats. 

Passengers' rights groups want the FAA to require at least 29 inches of space between rows on flights. It is possible the FAA will use the tightest seating arrangements already being used on U.S. airlines.  

The law was already passed in the House, and President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.

Lawmakers omitted plans to privatize the nation's air traffic control system. Congressional negotiators also decided not to request to crack down on "unreasonable" airline fees. 

"Congress has missed an historic, once in a generation opportunity to stop gargantuan airlines from gouging Americans with exorbitant fees every time they fly,” said Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. 

However, the new legislation addresses other issues. It will prohibit involuntarily removing passengers who have already boarded a flight. This follows incidents such as one in April 2017 during which a passenger was dragged off an United Airlines plane. 

"I think we can all agree that once you've boarded a plane, you shouldn't be kicked off until you arrive at your destination," said Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

The legislation includes requiring airlines to creatbetter communication protocols to inform passengers about flight delays.

Another detail in the new bill states the Department of Transportation would be instructed to create rules for service and emotional-support animals. This includes "reasonable measures to ensure pets are not claimed as service animals." Live animals would not be allowed to be transported in overhead compartments. 

Passengers would also not be able to make phone calls while in flight. Right now, no U.S. airline allows this, but the bill would make sure it doesn't happen.

Click here to read the bill in its entirety.