Could legislation give air travellers more legroom?
Some Canadians are hoping the federal government will follow the lead of U.S. lawmakers who want to require a minimum amount of legroom on airplanes.
A bill currently working its way through Congress would give the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration one year to set minimum seat pitches – a measure a legroom – in addition to minimum widths for aisles.
Canadian airline passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs says he is encouraged by the U.S. proposal, although it will only help passengers if the FAA settles on reasonable numbers.
“Is it going to be 20 inches, 25 inches or something more reasonable like 29 or 30 inches?” he said.
In Canada, seat pitches are typically 29 inches (74 cm) or higher but some U.S. airlines like Frontier and Spirit, and European airlines like British Airways and Iberia, now have pitches as low as 28 inches (71 cm).
“The issue of seat sizes has been a serious problem for passengers and is also a problem from a safety perspective,” Lukacs says. The more people squeezed onto a place, the more difficult it is to evacuate.
Lukacs wants to see minimum seat sizes form part of a “passenger bill of rights” that the Liberal government has promised but has not yet delivered.
“The government has to stop harming passengers and actually start acting in the passengers’ best interest,” Lukacs says.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Monday that a passenger bill of rights is still in the works, and he will offer more details “as soon as it’s ready.”
In May, the government passed Bill C-49, which authorizes the Canadian Transportation Agency to create a passenger bill of rights, but the full rules have yet to be written. The CTA held several public sessions across the country this summer to gather input from Canadians on the matter.
With a report from CTV’s Jill Macyshon