October 12, 2018
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security, spoke on the Senate floor to highlight customer service and passenger safety and comfort provisions in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, which was signed into law last week. Blunt noted that the bill directs the FAA to set minimum seat size standards, bans in-flight cell phone calls, and addresses issues for passengers traveling with a disability. The bill also has several provisions to improve safety at airports, including increasing canine teams.
Following are Excerpts from Blunt’s Remarks:
“[I] want to talk a little bit today about the Federal Aviation Administration extension, that just last week, the Senate passed, and the President signed. It's, I believe, the longest reauthorization, the five-year reauthorization is the longest reauthorization since the 1980's. So the traveling public, the FAA itself, the Department of Transportation and the airlines, of carriers of both people and freight have an understanding of what the next five years should look like. Now, one of the things that will happen during the time that begins right now is that the Senate and the House listened, the President listened to the traveling public about their concerns about what happens on airplanes and in airports. …
“In the wake of consumer complaints about shrinking seat size on airplanes, the law directs the FAA to set minimum leg room standards and width and length requirements for airline seat size to ensure passenger comfort and safety. I think all of us had some experience with seeing those seats get smaller all the time, like every other member of the Senate, when I'm flying back and forth every week… but you can sense those seats getting a little smaller and the leg room getting a little tighter, and we've given new responsibility for the FAA to set those standards so the traveling public knows somebody is paying attention to them and how long they’re going to be in that seat and what it’s going to be like when they are there.
“We also have a provision that you can't take somebody off an airplane once they've been allowed to board because you somehow oversold. If somebody is on that plane, they can't be taken off that plane unless they agree to be taken off that plane, or the passenger acts in a way that safety and security and the health of other passengers could be a problem. So there's no more involuntarily bumping of passengers who are on a plane.
“The law prohibits placing live animals in overhead compartments. More and more people seem to travel with pets and we had some bad experiences, people had bad experiences, with that in the last few years so that overhead storage, not an appropriate storage any longer for your pet if you're traveling with a pet, and also sets a minimum standards for service animals that are allowed on flights. We all see that more all the time too, a pet not in a cage but important to the individual that has it as a service animal. Many veterans now have a service animal, but some standards on what that animal can be and how they have to be behaved on a plane.
“We’re going to ban in-flight cell calls. Now, if you’ve ever sat by somebody before the plane takes off and learn way more about them than you want to know, you can imagine what it would be like if you had to learn way more about them based on every call they could make all the time you were flying. So that's not going to happen.”