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1/12/2009 – FAA Clarifies Confusing Rules For Seat-Back Pocket Use
What is allowed in the seat back pocket in front of you? This simple question has been hotly debated over the past year. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cleared up the answer to this seemingly trivial question…although they provided an answer that is more common sense than policy.
Like most travellers I have settled into my seat, placed my bag under the seat in front of me, then stowed the ‘flight basics’ in the seat-back pocket in front of me. My ‘flight basics’ have generally included a candy bar and/or sandwich, magazine and a 20oz bottle of soda. This all seems quite reasonable, except when you factor in a number of airlines having taken up what they believed to be a strict regulation that banned any and all personal items from being stowed in the seat-back pocket.
SkyWest is one airline that followed these guidelines very strictly, restricting the seat-back pocket to the in-flight magazine, SkyMall catalog and emergency evacuation instructions. All other materials were banned. SkyWest received these regulations from their regional FAA field office.
While many airlines had not received this regulation from the FAA, or chose to not enforce this regulation, that the seat-back pocket may only contain ‘company materials,’ the FAA has now issued a clarification to this confusing restrictive use of the seat-back pocket.
Currently the FAA states “It’s OK to put small items in there [the seat-back pocket], as long as it’s not posing any problem with the weight limitation of the seat-back pocket.”
Hopefully all the airlines that were enforcing the seat-back pocket restrictions will update their manuals and inform their flight crews that passengers may place the bottle of Ginger Ale & overpriced egg salad sandwich they purchased in the terminal in the seat-back pocket.