I probably wouldn’t believe this story if I hadn’t actually read the FAA briefing memo about it myself. It seems that there is a growing problem with uncertified seatbelt extenders being used by passengers on commercial flights in the United States. Apparently people are taking the BYOB mantra to mean bring your own belt.
Here’s part of what the FAA has to say on the matter:
Operators should be aware that seat belt extenders are being marketed to the public for their personal use while traveling. These extenders are marketed as "FAA PMA approved." Some are categorized as specific to each airline and others are sold under the heading "Universal, adjustable & FAA-safe" and are sold "for use on all airlines." While these extenders may have a label that indicates they are FAA-approved and conform to TSO-C22g, they are not inspected and maintained under each airline’s FAA-accepted CAMP and should not be used.
For around $40 you, too, can purchase your very own extension.
And the vendors will claim that they are FAA certified, even though that’s not at all true. Even if it were certified upon leaving the factory it wouldn’t be once you bought it unless you institute an FAA-certified maintenance and inspection process.
The most interesting part of this is that there is apparently a market for these. I know that, in general, our society is getting larger and fitting in to the seats is harder for many. But the airlines are still stocking these on their planes, aren’t they? Has there been a rash of stories I missed recently regarding passengers who were offloaded because the airline was unable to provide them with an extender? Or are these passengers trying to avoid drawing attention to themselves for some other reason, like the fact that many airlines don’t allow exit row passengers to use one?
I really don’t understand why folks think they need to be buying their own extenders to fly. And the FAA seems pretty keen on not letting them. I wonder if there will be crack-downs on false advertising claims, too.
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