Social Question

pezz's avatar

Should there be wider seats in planes?

Asked by pezz (1291 points ) August 12th, 2011

Should airlines and other forms of publc transport put wider seats in for obese people.

If so, should the obese people pay extra to use them?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

32 Answers

tom_g's avatar

Good question, and I’m not sure I have much to add other than to anticipate that some people might try to elaborate on some of the terms you have used.

“Should”: Some people might approach this as “c’mon, wouldn’t it be the right thing to do”. Others might discuss the legal matters.

Also, airlines are private companies, so this may be somewhat different than public transportation which might have to deal with laws surrounding disabled access, etc.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Keep an eye on this Q, @pezz , it could too easily turn into a “fat-bashing” thread. I like the Q, and I think there should be a small number of seats available for larger persons that do not cost extra, but how one would prove that they need such a seat if making reservations over the phone or the Internet I have no idea.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

If you take up more space shouldn’t you pay a little extra?

thebluewaffle's avatar

@JilltheTooth Quite true what you say about reserving these larger seats over the phone.

What’s to stop a normal sized lad like me booking these seats just for abit more ‘personal space’!?

ucme's avatar

Speaking for myself, i’d need a wider seat to afford me the convenience of lying down, right after take off when I faint like a girl…..me afwaid of big metal shiny bird ;¬(

anothermember's avatar

@thebluewaffle Maybe just have bigger more expensive seats for everybody…
or just make all the arm rests removable so if a passenger wants to book a big seat they just make one ( although that is probably the most expensive way )

Bill_Lumbergh's avatar

I agree with @JilltheTooth; this can be a very slippery slope when addressing the larger issue within this question. (no pun intended) Overall, I do not agree with making larger seats for obese people. I cannot tell you how many times I have been to an amusement park, and seen obese people not fit in their seat for a roller-coaster, and told by staff that they will be unable to ride – as the obese person walks away in tears. These “seat standards” are in place for a reason! It has to do with the safety of the other passengers, and the design of the roller-coaster. As a society, if we give in to wanting to adapt seats for our heavier passengers, are we not in fact all giving in to our laziness and failure of losing weight? (yes, I know not everyone is heavy because of bad eating habits) I honestly would be disappointed in us, as Americans, if we decided to make larger seats for obese passengers, because it would confirm our suspicions that we are succumbing to our indulgences of eating unhealthy and not staying active.

“Everything is bigger in America!” Do we really want to have this slogan hung over our fat asses by other countries? (this is not meant to be offensive, just stating facts)

thebluewaffle's avatar

@anothermember removable arm rests?

I take it you’ve been in the ever too familiar arm-rest-battle?
Where you and your seated neighbour fight it out for arm-rest control!

tom_g's avatar

Maybe we should just have a “pay what you weigh” system. I’m joking (I think). But there are associated costs associated with transporting weight, like decreased fuel efficiency and decrease in maximum # of seats.

jca's avatar

Some smaller people might like the option of paying for a bigger seat for the comfort.

I think bigger seats should be offered, at an increased price. I suggested this in another thread, about a year ago. I suggested planes have some larger seats in the back rows, where, maybe for larger passengers (not just overweight, but some large men I could imagine might appreciate a little extra shoulder room, or a mom with a baby or dad with a baby for that matter). There may be larger passengers out there – or should I say potential passengers – who don’t fly because they are afraid they won’t fit into the seat. Why not accomodate them? If they are willing to pay extra, why not? People pay extra for other services on planes, why not extra for a larger seat?

I am a person who once would have had trouble fitting into the standard plane seat, as I was large, too. I would have gladly paid more for a comfortable seat.

JilltheTooth's avatar

So I should pay less because I’m little? Children don’t get a break on price because they’re little. I don’t suggest having entire sections available for larger persons, just a few seats. No moral judgements, but it is what it is, and not at all the same, @Bill_Lumbergh , as the ride at an amusement park. Flying is, in many situations, necessary for business people, not all of whom are little.

Or maybe business Class does this, I don’t know.

rebbel's avatar

Please not.
If they make the chairs wider it would probably mean that the corridors get even smaller
And already now, when the stewardesses come with their trolley to sell their luxury items, magazines ánd headphones they occupy the corridor for an hour.
Of course I only feel that I must pee the minute they started that hour…

Bill_Lumbergh's avatar

Americans are getting heavier – it’s a fact! Some people may not like this fact, but it is a harsh reality. More than 64% of the population is classified as overweight, according to the National Institutes of Health. Sadly, as accommodating as most airlines want to be, it is not their fault if someone does not comfortably fit into their coach seats. These airlines have flight and weight regulations that must be upheld for the safety of the rest of the passengers. Making larger seats would violate these standards. (I often see heavier passengers in Business or 1st Class; because these passengers already know they have to pay more for comfort when traveling, they are already paying more for their seats)

JilltheTooth's avatar

Well, @rebbel , as I recall, you’re a tall guy, that’s a pain on the plane. My Dad was a very tall guy and he was miserable while flying!

Yes, @Bill_Lumbergh , many many threads on Fluther cover the fat-itude of Americans. The safety of other passengers would not be compromised if 4 seats were larger. Really. Or am I mistaken in that this is supposed to be a “judgement of size” Q and not a specific “reasonable accommodation of larger persons on aircraft” Q? In that case, my bad and I’m out.

Facade's avatar

I don’t think it’s a good idea at all.

rebbel's avatar

I am indeed tall, @JilltheTooth , but I always ask if I can co-pilot the thing…., the pilots have very wide seats :-)
If they say no to that request I opt for an emergency-exit seat, and I am usually rewarded one of those.
If there are none left I really have a hellish flight, true that.

Bill_Lumbergh's avatar

@JilltheTooth – I am not attacking obese Americans. (seeing how I am one of them) I am trying to defend our standards and practices of safety when choosing to travel on a commercial airline. Perhaps, we should institute a large scale at the airline ticket counter for the passenger, with their luggage, to stand on – and then charge by total weight! This way, it doesn’t matter where the weight is; thin people with their over packed suitcases will pay just as much, so it can’t be said to be discriminatory. It directly addresses the fact that weight, in whatever form, whether it’s packed into your luggage or onto your behind, is a significant issue for safe air travel. (just for the record, I am not employed by the FAA)

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I don’t feel they should be seriously altering the seating in the rest of the plane, they have 1st class for those who want larger seating or more space. Reconfiguring all those seats would cost, and everyone else will pay for it.

ragingloli's avatar

Why? Just put them in the cargo bay.

Seelix's avatar

People of any size do have the option of paying extra for larger seats – first class.

Like @JilltheTooth, I’m not opposed to the idea of a few larger seats available at no extra cost to larger people, but I have no idea how that would be monitored, considering how many people book flights online or over the phone.

jca's avatar

@Bill_Lumbergh: the total weight of the flight would not be compromised because a few seats that are wider would mean a few seats less, per flight.

People who are suggesting that first class provide a larger seat -yes it does, in addition to more service and a huge increase in cost. The suggestion of a wider seat to accomodate large passengers would not come with a huge cost increase, just maybe $100 extra (for a few inches wider seat). @Seelix: it would not have to be monitored when the passenger booked the flight, because it would be optional on the passenger’s part. If they don’t fit into the regular sized seat, they would need to book the larger seat and thus, pay the price. Optional.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I have traveled a couple of times where a couple ( husband and wife ) bought tickets for THREE seats. Their two seats and a center seat for the comfort factor.
The last time, the couple together probably weighted over six hundred pounds combined. They had to ask for extenders for the seat belts.

Oh by the way, a lot of aircraft seats have an arm rest that lifts up and out of the way.

Your_Majesty's avatar

Airplane seats are mass-produced and designed to fit in their respective available kalpa, so it seems impossible to produce or add another special seat to what have been the standard of the operation. If they allow it soon other people will ask for a specific seat for women, certain ethnic, or even pets! Not to offense obese people, but over-weight people have actually taken 2 tickets as the price of 1 ticket due to weight limitation for each airplane. Although different airplane corporations offer different size of seats of their airplanes.

tom_g's avatar

Relevant – Southwest’s ‘Customer of Size’ policy.

MilkyWay's avatar

I’m curious @pezz, where did the inspiration for this Q come from?

pezz's avatar

@MilkyWay I like my space….

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Should there be wider seats available for people who need them? In my opinion, yes. The airlines have made adaptations based upon all sorts of special needs. Why not this? And, no, I don’t think that they should pay more for a wider seat.

Of course, that opens up a need for funding to do the research, design, and development to accomplish it, but that isn’t the question, is it?

jca's avatar

@Your_Majesty: I don’t see why it would be impossible to manufacture a different airplane seat. We manufacture cars, we send people to the moon, we make all kinds of stuff, we could not manufacture a different (wider) airplane seat?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@jca How many per plane, where on the plane, Twice the price?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

That’s where the research comes into play. Let’s say that a company is hired to survey customers. They are going to start with members of frequent flyer programs. Once they find out the needs, if there is a reason to create special seating, it is a matter of working with a brain-storming group on how to effectively and efficiently resolve the problem. Then, of course, there is how to manage controlling the seats for those that need them, but that can also be resolved with strategic planning and processes.

jca's avatar

@Tropical_Willie: Maybe 3 rows. Instead of 3 seats per row, there would be two. So that would be 12 seats per plane (two per side = 4 per row, x 3 rows). The difference between that and First Class is that First Class has wider seats and better service. I am talking the 12 seats in Economy Class, so the cost is a bit more (20%?) but it’s not First Class.

When I was a size where I would have had trouble fitting in an airplane seat, I would have gladly had that option. The alternative is the overweight person does not travel by plane, which severely limits their traveling, since most long distance travels are done by plane. Some people might like the option of the larger seat even if they don’t need it, just for the comfort of it, and they would not mind paying for that comfort.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@jca Another option may be to create a row(s) where there is a ‘papa bear seat’, a ‘moma bear seat’ and a baby bear seat’. The smallest could be quickly equipped with a child seat and taking up smaller row space, and then two seats that were adjustable for two other people; one who might need more space.

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