In a July 29th ruling, a panel of three judges has ordered the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to look into seat sizes on commercial airplanes. The ruling came in response to advocacy groups pressuring the government to explain why airline seats have been getting smaller and smaller over the years.
Currently, seat sizes and legroom are not consistent from one airline to another, with space between seats ranging from:
- 28-inch seats for Frontier and Spirit Airlines
- 30-31 inch for Delta and United
- 31-33 inch seats for Southwest
The airlines want to paint seat sizes as purely a comfort issue. Though the seat room is important to keep people from feeling packed in like sardines, potential impacts on health are more important than comfort. A variety of health conditions can be created by or exacerbated by limited ability to move.
Airlines also want to focus only on the space between seats, but legroom can have equally important health impacts. Sitting too long in the same space, particularly if space is confined, has been shown to increase the risk of blood clots and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). It is unclear whether insufficient legroom, which would prevent a person from stretching their limbs, would be more likely to increase health risks.
The health effects of Deep Vein Thrombosis and blood clots are significant. Dependent on where they develop, the person can lose proper blood flow and oxygenation in the area. If the clot becomes dislodged and travels to the brain, a stroke or other anoxic event can occur, resulting in long-term health problems.
Prompt diagnosis of DVT and blood clots is of particular importance, as they can often be treated before they pose a significant health risk. Let your doctor know if you have been on a long flight and were unable to move. If your doctor missed a DVT or blood clot diagnosis, despite the warning signs, please contact an experienced attorney to help you hold the physician accountable.