Let's get this out of the way up front: I'm short. 5'-4" to be precise. So it should be no surprise that I write a lot about tiny houses and living in small spaces, or that I believe that short people get the short end of the stick — and I am not being paranoid.

For my entire life I have complained that I have to pay the same for things like airplane rides as people who are tall and take up more space and weigh so much more, when the economics of the airline industry are based on the number of people you can squeeze in and the weight you can carry. That's why airlines should charge by the pound, not the person. It's just not fair; being small means that you have a far smaller environmental impact. I wrote in Short is the New Green:

Short people simply take up less space. They fly economy and don't feel squished. They eat happy meals and don't feel hungry. And as Randy Newman correctly points out, "They got little cars that go beep, beep, beep."

DC6 card gameWhat? There's no room for a card game? (Photo: Old postcard)

So I object when New York Sen. Charles Schumer demands that the Federal Aviation Administration regulate seating, complaining:

“They’re like sardines,” Schumer said of airplane passengers. “It’s no secret that airlines are looking for more ways to cut costs, but they shouldn’t be cutting inches of legroom and seat width in the process … It’s time for the FAA to step up and stop this deep-seated problem from continuing.”

He goes on, claiming that "it's just unfair that a person gets charged for extra inches that were once standard." I don't see a concern about injustice, I see Heightism. He is a tall politician. (They are all tall; in fact, it is statistically proven that tall men are trusted more and get the big jobs and the votes at election time. Why do think Marco Rubio wears those silly shoes?) Schumer is defending the rights of his own particular group of big and tall American men, where most women, Asians, and short men fit into those seats quite comfortably, thank you very much.

dinner on planeWhat? I don't get table service in Economy? (Photo: Old postcard)

The airplane is one of the few places in this world where the short person has an advantage. If Chuck Schumer wants more room, he is welcome to pay for it; there are bulkhead and emergency exit rows that offer lots of extra room for not much money. For the rest of us who are not Chuck Schumer, we will take the lower prices that come from efficient packing of more people into a plane.

On Bloomberg, Adam Minter (known to MNN readers for his expertise on recycling) comes to much the same conclusion about the economics of flying:

Over the past decade, airlines have become profitable partly by packing more fliers onto each plane. Although that hasn’t always been comfortable for the passengers, it works in their interest by enabling carriers to offer more affordable flights than ever. Reconfiguring cabins will threaten that model and impose new costs that will be passed onto customers, who might soon be wishing for less legroom.

From an environmental point of view, we shouldn't be flying at all, but if we have to, the best thing we can do is get the largest number of people into the plane so that the carbon footprint per person is reduced. More people per plane means fewer planes flying and greater efficiency.

BOAC serviceWhat? No table service? No roast beef? (Photo: Old postcard)

It would be wonderful if we all had the money to fly the way people used to fly when an economy seat from New York to Rome cost the equivalent of $4,000 and as Fast Company notes, only rich white people did it. But it costs a fifth of that now and everybody can fly.

So Chuck: suck it up. Pay your way instead of making everyone else subsidize your airfare with this definitely heightist but perhaps even sexist proposal. Because small is the new big.

Lloyd Alter ( @lloydalter ) writes about smart (and dumb) tech with a side of design and a dash of boomer angst.