Last year, after Federal Judge Patricia Millett ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to airlines/us-court-rules-on-shrinking-airline-seats.html” target=”_self” rel=”nofollow”>review seat size and legroom on aircraft from the perspective of passenger safety, the traveling public held their collective breath in the hopes that the ruling might be the first step back in the favor of passenger rights.
In what Judge Millet dubbed “the case of the incredible shrinking airline seat,” the suit was filed by the organization Flyers Rights, which argued that smaller seat sizes could affect the ability of passengers to evacuate an aircraft safely in case of an emergency. The organization also said smaller seat size could lead to increased risk of blood clots in air travelers.
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A three-judge federal panel, led by Millett, ordered the FAA to undergo a “properly reasoned disposition” of safety issues related to seating configurations.
This week, the hopes of the flying public have been dashed, after the FAA announced it would not impose new restrictions on the airline industry.
The agency said it “has no evidence that there is an immediate safety issue necessitating rule-making at this time,” in a letter sent Monday. It also cited “research” indicates emergency evacuations aren’t slowed down by tighter seating. Instead, the choke points created by the emergency exits is what slows evacuations.
Because it takes time for flight attendants to get the emergency exits ready for evacuation, “The FAA has no evidence that a typical passenger, even a larger one, will take more than a couple of seconds to get out of his or her seat, or that such time will approach the time necessary to get the emergency exits functional.”
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Travel Industry Lauds Passage of Paycheck Protection Program Reform Bill
The U.S. Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act on Wednesday, sending it to President Donald Trump’s desk for final approval.
The reform bill provides business owners with additional flexibility and more time to utilize loan money and still be forgiven under the PPP established to provide economic relief in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The travel industry has been quick to commend lawmakers. The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is in full support having advocated for the improvements behind the scenes.
“We commend the Senate for passing the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (H.R. 7010), which would change PPP loan terms—in some cases retroactively—in a number of ways ASTA has advocated for, including five-year loan terms, reducing the requirement that 75 percent of the loan must go to payroll to get forgiveness, allowing forgivable expense over 24 weeks (as opposed to the current eight) and allowing companies to restore headcount without jeopardizing forgiveness by the end of the year (versus the current June 30),” Eben Peck, EVP Advocacy, ASTA, said in a statement.
“While the PPP will remain complex, this bill gives more flexibility to PPP recipients and increases the chances that loans can be fully forgiven,” Peck concluded.
The U.S. Travel Association also wasted no time praising the decision, calling it an “important step.”
“The PPP changes passed by both chambers are another important step in providing relief to small businesses that otherwise will not survive until the economic recovery phase,” added U.S. Travel’s Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes. “The modification to the portion of funds that can be used for non-payroll expenses is especially crucial to travel-related small businesses, which have comparatively high capital overhead but virtually zero incoming revenue because of the necessary measures in place to stem the spread of the pandemic.”
U.S. Travel still believes that there’s more work to be done to ensure a successful recovery. The organization is encouraging officials to extend PPP eligibility to non-profit and quasi-governmental entities responsible for driving local and regional economic development.
“Like the businesses they serve, the finances of these non-profits have been devastated by the standstill in travel and tourism, and the moment of recovery will be moot unless they can keep their lights on to take advantage of the return in travel demand,” Barnes stated. “We urge leaders to move urgently to enact the next phase of coronavirus response legislation, which is absolutely vital to the future of the travel and tourism industry, and to prioritize expanding eligibility to those most hard hit by this pandemic such as destination marketing organizations.”
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