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Has the ever-shrinking airline seat met its match?

With the swipe of a pen a federal judge has mandated that the Federal Aviation Administration look into the ever-shrinking world of your average airline seat.

The ruling was the result of work from several passenger advocacy groups who would like to see airlines be taken to task for the size and spacing of their seats. The FAA refused and the groups sued.

And here we are.

For the uninitiated, pitch is the distance between two seats at the exact same spot. Seat width is how wide the seat itself is.

The good news is it's a start. The bad news is the airline industry has an army of well-paid lobbyists that would make Jon Snow scamper back over the wall, so it's unlikely Congress or the FAA, would ever force airlines to change directions when it comes to the size of their seats and their pitch. At least not immediately.

Here's a look at some economy seat specs courtesy of Seat Guru:

American

Pitch: 30-36 inches

Seat width: 17 to 18.5 inches

Allegiant

Pitch: 30 to 34 inches

Seat width: 17 to 18 inches

Delta

Pitch: 31 to 34 inches

Seat width: 17.2 to 18 inches

United

Pitch: 30 to 35 inches

Seat width: 16 inches to 18.2 inches

Southwest

Pitch: 31 to 33 inches

Seat width: 17 inches

JetBlue

Pitch: 32 to 39 inches (best among all US carriers)

Seat width: 17. 8 to 18.2 inches

Frontier

Pitch: 28 to 31 inches

Seat width: 17 to 18.2 inches

Spirit

Pitch: 28 to 36 inches

Seat width: 17.5 to 20 inches

Some may include premium economy products. For US carriers, those typically don't involve wider seats, but rather more pitch between rows. Premium economy on international carriers like British Airways or Lufthansa generally includes a wider seat and more legroom but also costs significantly more than the domestic premium economy offerings.

For posterity, the average seat width of a plane in 1999 was 18.5 inches with an average pitch of 34 inches. Times have changed.

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Matt Patterson

Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun.... Read more ›

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