Not a fan of cramped seating on planes? You'll probably like what Congress just did

Posted at 8:44 PM, Sep 26, 2018

The House of Representatives has approved a five-year reauthorization of the FAA. 

According to Congressman Brian Higgins (D, Buffalo), the reauthorization preserves key measures gained through the advocacy of Flight 3407 families, such as requiring greater transparency for travelers and additional rest time and training requirements for pilots.

"After several years of temporary extensions, this long-term reauthorization of the FAA provides considerable peace-of-mind in knowing the hard-fought achievements delivering one level of safety to the flying public, although never assured, are better protected for years to come," said Congressman Higgins.

But the bill also contains another big win for all fliers: it mandates the FAA set minimum dimensions for passenger seat width and legroom. That provision, included as lawmakers respond to increased complaints about cramped seating.

Other highlights of the bill include:

  • Prohibiting the involuntary bumping of passengers from flights after their boarding passes have been collected or scanned
  • Establishing a new "Aviation Consumer Advocate" position at the Department of Transportation (DOT) to help resolve consumer complaints
  • Mandating flight attendants receive a minimum of 10 hours of rest between duty periods
  • Addressing issues faced by passengers with disabilities, including by requiring DOT to develop an "Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights" and creates a civil penalty for damage to passengers' wheelchairs and mobility aids
  • Requiring all medium and large U.S. airports to have private rooms for nursing mothers and baby changing tables in at least one restroom in each passenger terminal
  • Reauthorizing the National Transpiration Safety Board (NTSB) for 4-years

The Senate needs to pass the bill before it can be signed into law. The deadline for reauthorizing the FAA is September 30. So, the House is also expected to pass a one-week extension of the FAA's authority, through October 7. This way, the Senate has more time to consider the bill.

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