“Excuse me, sir. I’m in the window seat.”
We have all been there, having to awkwardly ask the man with a perfectly pressed suit and a fancy suitcase to get up so we can squish into the tiny seat we paid hundreds of dollars for. We have all had to wake up the sleeping old woman sitting in the aisle seat so we can go use the restroom and then uncomfortably make her get up again three minutes later when we come back. But most importantly, we have all developed leg cramps because of the practically non-existent legroom between airplane seats.
New York Sen. Charles Schumer is outraged by ridiculous airline ticket prices and the size of the seats that you pay hundreds of dollars for, according to ABC News.
“One of the most vexing things when you travel on an airplane is there’s almost no legroom on your standard flight,” Schumer told the Associated Press. “There’s been constant shrinkage by the airlines.”
The senator plans on announcing Sunday an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Bill that is awaiting congressional approval, according to ABC News. The amendment would require commercial airlines to set a standard seat size, which would eliminate the “sardine”-like conditions that have evolved over the last decades.”
According to Schumer, the length designated to legroom on commercial airline seats has decreased by an average of four inches, and seat width has gone down from 18.5 inches to 16.5 inches since the 1970s.
Today, the only way to get those extra inches is to pay for a premium seat. The already high prices of seats, baggage and even food only pays for the bare minimum, and that bare minimum seems to be decreasing with every passing day. Customers have come to expect this minimal comfort, and with the high demand for air travel worldwide, airlines are getting away with giving their customers less and less.
Although the senator’s proposal seems like a logical solution, the implications of the federal government imposing such prominent regulation on the free market would be much larger than more legroom and lowering airline ticket prices. Yes, it is the government’s job to ensure that commercial airline passengers are safe, but its interference should stop there. Any other decision regarding a private company’s products should and must be left up to the company itself, and if the customers want change, they should take that into consideration when they are buying their next ticket.
“We believe the government should not regulate, but instead market forces, which reflect consumer decisions and competition should determine what is offered,” Jean Medina, a spokesperson for Airlines for America, told ABC News. “As with any commercial product or service, customers vote every day with their wallet.”
Ideally, this amendment would be just that — a way to make travel more comfortable and affordable. Yet anytime the government steps into the free market sphere, the situation is bound to lead to more. A bill like this goes against American capitalist values, and even though I would love to stretch my legs during my eight-hour flight home, I think we should let this one go.