Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

There's cheering in certain quarters.

There's rejoicing at the idea that sanity might (for once) have prevailed when it comes to air travel.

You see, on Friday the House of Representatives passed the FAA Reauthorization Bill.

But it's also the one that sets rules for the size of airline seats and the amount of legroom an airline can reduce you to.

This all sounds heartily healthy.

Can it be that Congress has stood up for the little (and big) person who has to fly in increasingly cramped conditions, with an increasingly reduced service?

At first glance, you might think so.

Drier minds, though, aren't convinced.

You see, the bill doesn't actually mention what the seat-size restrictions will actually be.

Could one believe that Congress will force the likes of American and United to increase the size of seats and the legroom they currently offer? 

Critics are chuckling to themselves. Mordantly, you understand.

View From the Wing's Gary Leff, for example, believes this is all being done to benefit the big airlines.

They, after all, have the most powerful lobbyists.

So they wouldn't let House members do too many things that don't favor them.

Leff is convinced that the idea of regulating seat size is aimed entirely at budget airlines, whose heart lies in lowering costs and squeezing passengers in.

"If any airlines have to change their seat sizes, it would be Spirit and Allegiant," he said.

The idea, he's convinced, is to make things more difficult for the budget airlines, so that the legacy carriers can have even more of the market for themselves.

You'd think that 81 percent of all U.S. seats held by the big four airlines would be enough.

Oh, but big companies don't comprehend enoughness. 

"Today the big airlines match the prices of the ultra low-cost carriers, while giving you more room. The goal here is to let them charge more for their current seats, by taking out their competitors that drive down fares," says Leff.

Some might say that there's no so much difference these days between, say, an American Airlines 737 MAX with a 30-inch seat pitch and a budget carrier that might have the same.

Could it be, though, that the legacy airlines really want to choke the budget carriers?

Oh, it could. It really could.

Published on: Apr 29, 2018