US Sen. Chuck Schumer wants the friendly skies to be a little more leg-friendly.
New York’s senior senator is calling on the Federal Aviation Administration to wrap up its overdue airline-legroom study, saying commercial airlines are packing passengers into increasingly smaller seats in the meantime.
“One of the biggest complaints I get overall, and the biggest complaint I get about flying, is that there is so little legroom and so little seat width,” Schumer said Sunday at his Manhattan office. “Airlines are shoving people into airplanes like a can of sardines.”
The Democrat raised the issue last year, citing an industry trend that has seen airplane seats shrink, from 18.5 inches wide to 17 inches, in the past decade while reducing legroom from 35 inches to 31 inches.
Schumer oversaw the inclusion of a provision in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 that called for the agency to issue a report on the shrinking-seat dilemma by Oct. 9 of this year — a deadline that came and went without a report.
The senator said he recently sent a letter sent to FAA Administrator Steven Dickson asking the agency “swiftly take steps to rectify the testing under way and to issue regulations as soon as possible.”
Schumer added that from what he knows, the research that the federal agency has done so far on seat comfort has fallen short by failing to take into account room for pets, children, disabled and elderly travelers.
For example, he said, the tests done thus far have only used adults between 18 and 60 years old.
“I’m troubled because the focus seems far too narrow,” he said. “I think it’s almost a stacked deck against the flying consumer.
“Really, the only thing worse than the little-by-little shrinking of airplane seats is the apparent shrinking of the study to help combat them in the first place.”
FAA spokesman Jim Peters said in an e-mail to the Post on Sunday that the study is taking place at an agency facility in Oklahoma.
“More than 700 participants are being recruited from the Oklahoma City area and would represent men and women ages 18 to 60,” Peters said. “Each age grouping (by decade) will be equitably represented.”
He added that “by the end of this year, the FAA plans to conclude evacuation testing to determine what, if any, regulatory changes are necessary.”