General chatter - Paying Extra for Being Fat

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Hat Trick
07-02-2008, 11:30 AM
Did anyone else read this article in this weeks Parade magazine? Southwest Airlines is apparently pulling overweight passengers aside (don't know what their definition of 'overweight is') who will then be asked to purchase a second airline ticket because of their weight. The article says 'For Southwest, a plane ticket is like real estate: You get only the space you pay for. Passengers must buy an extra ticket if their girth prevents them from lowering the armrest that divides the seats. If the flight is not full, they qualify for a refund.'

As someone who doesn't exceed an airplane seat I would be very uncomfortable sitting next to someone who could not lower the armrest, therefore having them invade 'my space'. I kind of get paying for more than one seat if another person cannot sit in the seat because someone bigger is taking up some of that space. On the other hand -- how freakin' embarrassing for the passenger who is pulled aside!! What, does the airline do a 'fit' test (as in 'does the passenger 'fit' into the seat) then decide if they are to pay extra? If this is the policy they are going to be enforcing, I really think there is a better way to determine if the heavier passenger needs to pay extra other than mordifying them on the spot. I mean -- really, WTH?

There is also mention of 'anti-discrimination laws' that may apply to the overweight passenger. Um, what about the 'discrimination' to the 'non-overweight passenger' if they are forced to sit next to someone taking up part of their seat?

Should obese fliers buy two seats? You can vote online at The count at the moment is: 61% yes; 39% no.

07-02-2008, 12:04 PM
I didn't seen this article, but having recently flown on a fully booked flight, (in the center seat, sandwiched between 2 larger people)...I can understand why Southwest would do was a tighter fit with people who weren't morbidly obese.

they probably are using a percentage guideline to single out their passengers? they had to have run it through their legal department before putting it into practice.

07-02-2008, 12:19 PM
I've been one of those people, however, at my higher weights I've always been traveling with someone else, so we would put the arm rest up between us. If I'm paying for an extra seat, do I actually get it? Or is this just a way to embarrass / punish / discourage the overweight from flying? The last time I flew on my own I was about the weight I am now and had no issues with the armrest, but I know people who carry their weight differently might.

Interesting point though. My mother traveled more than 7 hours on a flight sitting beside a guy who was probably 6'6". She came home complaining that his legs/knees pretty much bumped her the whole way. I wonder if tall people are next? :) She's just under 5' and under 120lbs. The seats are often pretty close for her tastes (front to back). Maybe it's time the airlines made things a little more reasonable for travelers in general.

07-02-2008, 02:04 PM
This has been going on for quite some time! There is a blog called "Big Fat Blog" and the controversy over Southwest's policies is discussed from time to time. Interesting stuff.

07-02-2008, 02:09 PM
I can understand (and even support) why airlines are doing this. My only problem is that airlines justifiably want to make as much money as possible and so have determined the size of the seats on that concept and not what the average American looks like. I find it hard to believe that the personal space allotted to you in an airline is comfortable for most people, overweight or not.

Apple Cheeks
07-02-2008, 02:26 PM
When I was reading this, my first thought was that maybe they're going to have sample seats near the boarding gate.

Sort of like those bins where people are supposed to see if their carry-on luggage fits into the FAA required dimensions....

So, I'm picturing them asking people to sit in the sample seats to see if they can lower the arm rest and not spill over into the other seat.

Sounds crazy, but I don't know how else they could do it if this is really going to happen.

07-02-2008, 02:42 PM
but say you buy one seat in advance, the flight is booked can they charge you for 2 seats? will they evict you from the plane?

07-02-2008, 02:52 PM
I can understand (and even support) why airlines are doing this. My only problem is that airlines justifiably want to make as much money as possible and so have determined the size of the seats on that concept and not what the average American looks like. I find it hard to believe that the personal space allotted to you in an airline is comfortable for most people, overweight or not.

I have to be bluntly honest. I would pay for an extra seat to be comfortable. However, I have noticed quite a change in the seats' size over the years as my families travels abroad for holidays a lot. When I was in my 140 kg (308 lbs) Cyprus Airways' old Boeing used to fit me, with the armrest downs and without an extended seatbelt. Now, I am 110 kg (242 lbs) and I was traveling with the new Boeing in April and I felt that the armrest would not go down if I was a tidbit heavier. Also, I felt my seatbelt was not going to buckle (which it did). So, the question is, how smaller are the seats becoming? Also another question. If I am going to pay extra due to my weight, does this mean I will get the extra seat or just pay more? Because if I am paying and not getting that second seat, then nope I don't want to pay. :p

07-02-2008, 02:54 PM
I have been on Southwest when a person thought to be unable to fit into one seat was pulled aside as we were loading told she would need to purchase a second seat. I do not think this was handled appropriately as we were walking to the plane. I also think that the seats not only on planes, but buses and subways are not built with the consumers comfort in mind. They only think about jamming as many people in as possible to make a trip as profitable as possible. With the cost of a plane ticket they should give the consumers whatever they need. We use to be a country that was consumer friendly, What happened? We do not need to charge extra.

07-02-2008, 03:41 PM
Yeah, I thought they had been doing it for a while now too. And no offense, but how are they supposed to handle it? If someone doesn't mention when they make reservations that they are big how are the airlines supposed to know if they need two seats. It doesn't matter where, on a plane, in the movies etc... but if I pay for a seat somewhere I want my space and don't like others crowding me.

07-02-2008, 04:20 PM
if i was forced to pay for an extra seat, I better GET that seat....

07-02-2008, 04:23 PM
Whether or not there should be a charge aside, I do think prior arrangements should be made for those unable to fit in one seat. It's not a matter of discrimination but of physics.

I was once seated next to a very obese man on a long flight and I suffered shoulder and back pain through my entire trip due to sitting scrunched up for hours on end. He was clearly as displeased as I was with the situation. I'm not judging or blaming anyone - I just think if he had been better accommodated no one involved would have had to endure such discomfort.

07-02-2008, 04:31 PM
We recently flew on an ecomony airline and the rule for them was if your lap was bigger than the seat ( it gave the measurement online) then you had to buy 2 tickets, but you did get both seats.
someone mentioned having a trial seat at the check in counter and i pictured busch gardens. when we went there at the entry of the lines for the roller coasters they had seats complete with the safety harnesses so that you could make sure you would fit in the ride before you got all the way to the front of the line. life is crazy!