Today I’d like to talk about failures.
- The failure of our elected representatives to vote in our interests.
- The failure of the local media to report on this.
- Our own failure for not even noticing.
In April 2016, the Senate voted on Amendment No. 3483.
The statement of purpose of this amendment was “to require the Federal Aviation Administration to establish minimum standards for space for passengers on passenger aircraft.”
Legroom and seat space.
So it’s a regulation bill, one designed to help common airline flyers have an easier flight.
And we want this. Remember, leg room on airlines is six times smaller than it was in the 1960s.
Consumer Reports tracked leg room and seat space on airlines from 1985 to 2002, and this is what they determined:
- Seat pitch went from 31-35 inches down to 30-33 inches.
- Seat width went from 19-20 inches down to 17-18.5 inches.
- Flights have gone from being 67% full in 1995 to 84% full in 2013, meaning there’s even less room.
New York’s Senator Chuck Schumer was the one to introduce this legislation, with nine co-sponsors. His aim was to “ensure that airlines can’t keep chopping down on seat size and legroom until consumers are packed in like sardines in a can on every flight.”
Sadly, the bill was voted down…with our own Senator Tester voting against it.
Yeah…you heard right – Tester voted to allow airlines to decreases airline legroom even further!
And here I thought our senior senator was supposed to help common people, not make their lives even more difficult.
Something that also makes Tester’s vote against this even more confusing is that he and Schumer are the best of buddies.
Also, each article that I’ve read on this vote has said that this vote “went down party lines.”
Some found this surprising, as both Democrats and Republicans “want more legroom.”
One Republican that regretted his vote was Jeff Flake, who tweeted out an image of a cramped coach cabin on one of his flights back to Arizona.
“Okay, so perhaps my vote against this bill was a tad impetuous,” he said in a Tweet.
Still, you have to realize that many of these senators probably don’t fly public airlines anymore, or if they do, it’s probably not the more confined coach class.
But I have to tell you – I’ve seen a few images on social media of Tester sitting on a public airline.
Tester’s a big guy. Doesn’t he want a bit more room for himself…and all the rest of us?
I guess not.
When it comes to the actual vote counts, we see that just the following Democrats voted against this bill, together with 51 Republicans:
- Tom Carper: Nay
- Dick Durbin: Abstained
- Clair McCaskill: Nay
- Jon Tester: Nay
Interestingly, Bernie Sanders abstained from voting for this as well.
Mostly, I find this confusing.
- Why’d Tester vote against this?
- Why didn’t the local media take note of it?
- Why aren’t Democrats in Montana bringing it up, and complaining, and doing their all to ensure Tester won’t vote this way again?
- Most of all, why do we put up with it?
Carney, Jordain. “GOP senator mocks his vote on shrinking airplane seats.” The Hill. 8 April 2016. http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/275661-flake-jokes-about-vote-against-airline-legroom-standards
Jansen, Bart. “Senate declines to delve into airline legroom.” USA Today. 7 April 2016. https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/flights/todayinthesky/2016/04/07/senate-declines-delve-into-airline-legroom/82752556/
“Jon Tester’s Voting Records.” Vote Smart. Retrieved 28 June 2018. https://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/20928/jon-tester/?p=2#.WzT2O9IzrIV
Lombardo, Mary. “The Evolution of Leg Room in the Airline Industry.” The Air Travel Group. 17 May 2017. https://theairtravelgroup.com/evolution-leg-room/
McGee, Bill. “Think airline seats have gotten smaller? They have.” USA Today. 27 September 2014. https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/columnist/mcgee/2014/09/24/airplane-reclining-seat-pitch-width/16105491/
Morran, Chris. “Senate Votes Against Minimum Legroom, Spacing Standards for Airline Seats.” Consumerist. 6 December 2016. https://consumerist.com/2016/04/08/senate-votes-against-minimum-legroom-spacing-standards-for-airline-seats/index.html
“Roll Call Vote 114th Congress – 2nd Session.” United States Senate. Retrieved 28 June 2018. https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=114&session=2&vote=00043
“S Amdt 3483 – Establishes Standards for Passenger Space on Airplanes – National Key Vote.” Vote Smart. Retrieved 28 June 2018. https://votesmart.org/bill/21436/56264/20928/establishes-standards-for-passenger-space-on-airplanes#.WzTu0NIzrIU
“Senate Votes Down Bill to Regulate Airplane Legroom.” One Mile At A Time. 8 April 2016. https://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2016/04/08/senate-airplane-legroom-bill/