Social Question

FrogOnFire's avatar

What has been your worst airplane experience?

Asked by FrogOnFire (719points) August 3rd, 2009

In light of the recent Brazilian flight that had to make an emergency landing in Miami because 26 people were injured due to turbulence (full story here), I’d like to ask Flutherites about your worst airplane experiences.

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54 Answers

Jude's avatar

Coming back from a fabulous time at gay Pride in New York and having the luxury (sarcasm) of sitting beside someone from the Christian right who incessantly spewed out hate (towards gays and lesbians) throughout our entire flight. That 45 minute flight felt like a good 8 hours.

MissAusten's avatar

My worst airplain experience didn’t have anything to do with the flight, but with the way our plans got mixed up. I was visiting relatives with my daughter, who was 7 at the time. Our return flight was delayed several hours, so we were put on another plane. That was fine, but when we got to our connecting flight (also had been changed), I was told that we wouldn’t be sitting together. It was late evening, my daughter was exhausted, and I was worn out from a long day of delays. The airline was unable to change our seats because it meant moving other people from window or aisle seats, which no one wants to give up. I was told we had to board the plane and then ask the other passengers if anyone would trade seats so I could sit with my child.

Well, of course no one wanted to change seats. My request to the passengers nearest us were ignored, and my daughter (who is normally very outgoing) was so tired she started to cry. The flight attendent asked what the problem was, but also said she couldn’t do anything. At this point, my kid was asking, “Mommy, do I have to sit with strangers?!” in the most pathetic, tear-filled voice you can imagine. Everyone avoided looking at us, and just as I was trying to talk my daughter into sitting in her seat so I could sit in mine (several rows back), a lady stood up and said she didn’t care where she sat and would give up her window seat so my daughter could sit there. The middle seat was empty. I was so grateful, and my daughter immediately calmed down. The woman didn’t look too happy about it, but later when my daughter passed her a note saying thank you with a drawing of unicorns and flowers, she seemed really pleased.

I wanted to say to the other passengers, “Look, I don’t mind not sitting with my daughter, but just so you know, she never shuts up and if I’m six rows away I can’t control her…” but I think that would have hurt my kid’s feelings.

Fred931's avatar

OK, out family was going on vacation to Washington, D.C., and we were flying NWA (I think). We were connecting at Memphis. After boarding the plane taking off at Memphis, storms and all that either slowed traffic at the destination or at that airport kept the plane AT THE GATE, not on the tarmac, without air conditioning. I know it’s not that horror story of 9 hours everyone has heard about, but its something.

cookieman's avatar

Best and worst experience.

My wife and I were flying to London on New Years Eve. We were on British Airways and the flight was practically empty. We had three rows (all the way across the plane) to ourselves. The flight attendants brought us complimentary champagne and the food was pretty darn good.

Then…we hit the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced. We were bouncing all over the place. The plane felt like it had dropped thousands of feet in an instant. My wife was a wreck.

On the outside, I was, “It’s OK. We’ll be fine. Pass the grapes.”

On the inside, I was, “Arrrrrrrrrrrrrggghhh. we’re gonna die, we’re gonna die, we’re gonna die, we’re gonna die, we’re gonna die, we’re gonna die, we’re gonna die, we’re gonna die, we’re gonna die, we’re gonna die, we’re gonna die, we’re gonna die

cookieman's avatar

@Fred931: Don’t I know it.

Recently, my wife was just stuck at the gate in Atlanta for two hours with no AC. It’s no picnic.

Zendo's avatar

I was over the Rockies, wishing I could look out the window because the mother and child had the window seat. He had to go, so I got my wish and snuck a peak out the window.

Another passenger jet going the opposite direction past us at the same altitude within 300 yards.

I sit in aisle seats for most of my flights ever since.

Fred931's avatar

@cprevite what if you have a tablecloth, wooden basket, and some sandwiches with you, um, somehow?

marinelife's avatar

I was once in a plane about to land at National Airport, when the plane suddenly went into an incredibly steep ascent at extremely fast speed.

We had experienced a near miss with another plane.

Fred931's avatar

@Marina, That’s the kind of thing you’d want to reenact on Flight Simulator. Or, at least I would.

marinelife's avatar

@Fred931 The captain took a wide turn and announced, “Sorry about that, ladies and gentlemen, we need to make another approach.” He never admitted what happened. Luckily, they have to file reports on those.

FrogOnFire's avatar

@Zendo Wow that’s dangerous, not only because you could have collided, but the wake from the other plane could have put you guys through some scary turbulence.

niigerian's avatar

As a child, during my Missionary family’s return from Liberia to America, New York being fogged in required our landing on Bermuda;. this was great fun for a 5 year old. The air time before we got there was horrible though as I have, to this day, a problem with my ears popping, or should I say not popping, while flying. We were in an old twin engine prop plane [remember the old movies where they show the path of the plane against the map…one of them] so you can imagine how long the flight was; a very very long one for an over active child. And not understanding why or how to pop them caused severe ear aches and when blood was seen trickling out of one ear a doctor was found; my hearing is fine today.

teh_kvlt_liberal's avatar

I guess the worst experience was when someone kept kicking my chair while I was trying to watch Detroit rock city (it was one of those planes where you can watch TV behind someone’s seat).

Darwin's avatar

It was probably the time we were flying back from Spain to New York and everyone started to feel unwell. All of a sudden the oxygen masks dropped down in front of us and the stewardi told us to put the mask over our nose and mouth and breathe normally.

The plane had lost pressure (fortunately not explosively) so we had to drop to a lower altitude and use the masks back to land. Then we had to land at Bangor, Maine, since it was an emergency. However, while they worked on the plane we were not allowed out of it because Bangor did not have a customs outpost. Thus, first we were deprived of oxygen for several hours, and then of freedom for an additional seven hours.

But then there was the time we were landing in Cuzco and the landing gear clipped the trees on the mountainside. That was followed by having the engines burst into flame upon landing in Lima. The ground crew ran out with fire extinguishers and put them out. BTW, the co-pilot was sitting in the row behind us praying the rosary the whole time.

And there was the time in southern Venezuela that they made sure to fly our DC-3 nice and low over the wreckage of last week’s DC-3 in which everyone aboard was killed. Just in case we missed anything, once we got off the plane at the air strip (after they shooed the goats off so we could land) they took us in ancient Land Rovers to get a close up look. American Tourister luggage is indeed tough. I now know that for a fact.

And then there was turbulence over Central Florida when I was in a Piper Cherokee, the time the prop plane from Key West suddenly filled with smoke, and the time the pilots in another Piper Cherokee admitted that the gas guage was broken but couldn’t remember if they had filled up in Ocala.

But the absolute worst flight of all time was when my bipolar, ODD, ADD son was three. First, we couldn’t sit together because the plane was full. Second, he got out of his seat and crawled the full length of the plane under everyone else’s seat, goosing folks as he went. Third, he screamed bloody murder because he couldn’t clear his ears. And fourth, he locked himself into the restroom and proceeded to pee on every surface. Technically, however, the flight was fine.

Zendo's avatar

@FrogOnFire Yeah…we coulda gone through his jetstream and got toasted!

hex's avatar

Had several bad experiences, but the worst had the following ingredients:

- small prop plane (commuter)
– ditzy airline attendant
– rapid depressurization

I was flying back from Louisiana to Florida several years ago and trying intently to finish the book I started. Halfway through the first leg and at about 30,000 feet, I began to get major tunnel vision. I reasoned at first that I was simply nauseated, when, as the oxygen masks dropped, the very real thought of crashing entered my head. The pilot put us in a steep dive to get below 8,000 ft. This took about 30 seconds, my ears popping painfully. I remember looking around the cabin at the other passengers and seeing some passed out and some fearful. I managed to get my mask on, not understanding why the others were not doing so. The attendant was still in her seat, panicked as we all were, but silent as to what we should do. I helped the elderly person next to me get the oxygen flowing as the attendant struggled to call the pilot and ask for direction. He shouted back, “get the masks on, get ‘em on!” She hung the phone up and said “Yes, yes, put them on!” I thought to myself, “Well yeah, duh.”

It was a small, probably 15–20 seat plane. We landed successfully, finding out later that the fuselage had been compromised. This experience probably took 5 years off my life expectancy.

tedibear's avatar

The worst flight was from Cleveland to Minnesota. I had a horrible cold and plugged up ears. The pain during takeoff and landing is something that I hope I never have in my head ever again. And it was stormy, so there was turbulence to add to the fun. Compared to some of these stories, though, my flight was almost a picnic. (No grapes, though.)

fireinthepriory's avatar

The worst I’ve ever had was just a cancellation, so it wasn’t all that bad, just slightly ridiculous. I was going from Brasilia, Brazil to Boston, MA. My flights were from Brasilia to Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo to JFK and then JFK to Boston. After twenty-something hours of travel, I finally got to JFK and my one-hour JFK to Boston was canceled. There were no more flights out of JFK that day so they gave me a taxi voucher and sent me to LaGuardia, where I somehow did make my flight. More annoying was that I had to go through security 4 times by the end of that journey due to switching airlines and airports. And I also had the flu…

Darwin's avatar

This isn’t a bad flight experience per se, but it was a bad experience involving a flight. I was to fly from Miami to Caracas, Venezuela, on Viasa. On top of that I was recovering from what was called the “London Flu.” I arrived at the airport in plenty of time and we all got checked in, but the plane was late. Then the plane was later, and then later, and then later…

The airline staff had checked us in so we really couldn’t leave, but no one knew when the plane would actually arrive. All of us ended up spending the night on the floor and the benches surrounding the ticket desk, Finally, 24 hours late, the plane arrived. However, instead of listing the flight as being late, they just changed the flight number to the new day’s number and stuffed all of us on board along with the folks with tickets to this day’s flight.

Then, once aloft, the crew took a vote from the passengers. The flight was originally to land in Maracaibo and then in Caracas. As a result of the vote, however, the flight landed in Caracas, where the Maracaibo passengers were put on a bus. Since I was going to Caracas, this didn’t cause me a problem, but it sure did for the few folks who had planned to go to Maracaibo.

The reason for the delay? Viasa was the national airline of Venezuela and recently salaries had been cut. The pilots couldn’t go on strike as they worked for the government, but they could work veeerrryyy, veerrryyyy slllooowwwlllyyy. So they did.

aprilsimnel's avatar

½ an hour’s worth of medium turbulence on a stormy night flight from JFK to O’Hare in 2003 on a business trip. I looked out my window and cringed when I spotted lightning and heard thunder. I never felt more of the sensation that, “Yes, I am in a rattling tin can 7 miles above the ground” as I did on that flight. Everyone else was silently freaking out while my boss, who was about 6’4” and burly, was sprawled in his aisle seat, asleep and snoring.

We weren’t allowed to land at O’Hare for a further 45 minutes once in Chicago. I was grateful that we had enough fuel to keep us aloft.

YARNLADY's avatar

The worst time was flying in the middle of the night from California to Norfolk VA, with a stop over in Atlanta. I got very sick on the first leg, and became soiled in need of a change of clothes. I managed to make it off the plane, and washed my clothes in the ladies room, then put them on wet. I then changed the next leg of my flight to the following morning, and fell asleep on a bench in an out of the way corner.

On the return trip, I was to fly to Chicago and meet Hubby who was returning from a conference in Toronto. I didn’t realize my plane was a little propeller one that landed about a mile from the connecting flight.

They made Hubby get on the flight, even though I wasn’t at the gate yet. I ran all the way through the terminal, which I had never been in before, up stairs and down stairs and down long halls, pausing every few minutes to check the map, dragging my luggage with me. I finally got there just in time to be allowed aboard. Some nice people changed seats to allow us to sit together, and the rest of the flight went fine.

AstroChuck's avatar

Airplane II was pretty awful.

cak's avatar

The worst was when I was on a little day flight with a friend of mine – in his little Cessna. You know, the kind that are just really small- seat 4, at the most. It had fixed landing gear; however, as we learned upon descent, the fixed landing gear failed. We slid in for a relatively safe landing on the nose of the plane. We were a bit bruised, but no major injuries. Memorable, to say the least.

The worst non-flight experience, sitting on the tarmac, on the plane while they were trying to account for all the passengers and luggage. We were missing a person, therefore all the luggage had to be removed, so the extra bag could be removed and examined. It was hot, miserable and long. Then, they had all of us get off the plane (after a few hours) due to mechanical difficulties. We sat at the gate for several more hours, waiting for another flight – then it was canceled, altogether. I took the money and ran. Drove home and went on my mini vacation another weekend.

filmfann's avatar

When I was in China, we were flying around a monsoon, and we hit turbulence.
I am not small. I was 6’2, 216lbs when I was on that flight, and I flew out of my seat and hit the top of the plane, before falling back down.
I now wear the belt the entire ride.

Judi's avatar

We were in a small plane and taking a short trip from Monterrey, CA to Bakersfield, CA. Just a few hills to go over. There were some clouds, over the hills but we figured we would just pop over them, into the valley and be fine. As we went, the clouds kept getting higher and higher. We kept going up and up.
At 18,000 feet my husband said, “That’s it, I’m going back. The next thing I knew, we were upside down in a flat spin.
We heard a clunk in the back and my husband said, “I’m sorry Judi, I’ve killed us.”
For a moment, I had a sort of calm. I prayed, but instead of begging, I was praising God. Suddenly My children’s faces flashed in my eyes and I said, “God, I don’t want to die like this. ” I screamed at my husband , “Fly the plane!”
It was like he came to and started trying again. Soon we were still upside down but not spinning anymore. He flipped us back over and we went from daylight a few seconds ago to a dark killer storm. My husband said, “This is good.”
I said, “Were not out of the woods yet!!”
We talked to the controller who kept trying to get us to move because we had gone into some sort of restricted airspace. My husband said, “I can see the ground here, I’m not going there!”
A soft spoken controller came on and talked us to an airport where we landed safely in a private airport in the middle of a muddy vineyard. (that’s another story.)
We went from 18,000 feet to less than 8,000 feet in about 30 seconds.
My husband thought he had ripped the tail off the plane. In an ordinary plane we would have but our plane is carbon fiber composite. We are very lucky to be alive.

Judi's avatar

Yes. True story.

mattbrowne's avatar

Small plane with 16 seats flying back from Bern to Munich over the Alps when a severe thunderstorm broke out. Oktoberfest roller coaster rides suddenly seemed like a piece of cake.

CMaz's avatar

My worst was also my best. Flying in from LAX to Kennedy Airport. Leaving California and Hollywood for that matter for the last time.
It would be many years till I would return again.
Flew into Kennedy in the middle of a snow storm. Stuck on the runway for 8 hours.
Being a flight from LAX especially going to New York. The plane happen to be filled with a whose who of celebrities and
known names. Had a great conversation with the husband and wife behind me. Him being an interior designer for celebrities private jets.

After a while the the crew was seeing our frustration, being crammed up in the plane for so long. So they decided to roll the food and all the drinks
into the isles.
The flight turned into one big cocktail party. Everyone was roaming about the cabin. We all made the best of it, it was like an episode from survivor.
For a short moment we were all one big family. It really was the best WORST time I ever had.

Val123's avatar

I think, if nothing else, I shall NEVER fly overseas!

@cprevite I had a similar experience once, and was called on to act way cool for a my seatmate, a stranger, who’d never flown before. We boarded. She sat next to me. It only took a few seconds for me to realize that she was scared to DEATH! I asked her if it was her first time flying, she said yes. I said, “Ah, it’ll be fine. Sometimes it’s a little nerve wracking when the plane hits turbulence, or the engine sounds change, but it’s normal.” As a teacher, I knew right then and there she was going to be watching my reactions the whole time, so I had to model total relaxation (except, I’m sorry. If you aren’t a bit nervous about hurtling along in a metal tub miles above the earth, then there’s something wrong with you!) So, I read my book. Every time we hit a pocket I could see her glance out of the corner of her eye at me, so I didn’t flinch during turbulence, showed no emotion during engine sound changes….then we were landing, and I was still reading. Suddenly, the plane tipped over HARD to the right for no reason, and I swear, that wing couldn’t have been more than 10 feet from hitting the runway! Just as quick, the plane straightened back up! Stuff went flying, my arm with the book in it flew up hard out of my control, and right about then we touched down. It all happened just that fast. I looked at my girl, her eyes were as big as saucers! (Mine too!) But I managed to clear my throat and say, without choking, “Well. That wasn’t good.”
She said, “So, that wasn’t normal?”
I said, “Uh. No. That was not normal.”
She goes, “I didn’t know! It didn’t SEEM normal, but I was screaming in my head, ‘I’M NOT GOING TO PANIC UNLESS VAL PANICS! I’M NOT GOING TO PANIC UNLESS VAL PANICS!!’” Hail, I didn’t have TIME to panic and at LEAST we were on the ground.
Yeah, when we filed out we all glanced in the cockpit, and the copilot was sitting in his seat refusing to make eye contact with us! The captain had this evil grin on his face that said his CP was NEVER going to live that down!!

trailsillustrated's avatar

my worst is when I was younger I had a pilots license- I was flying an old old cessna 150 that was in /knots instead of mph and the fuel gauge lied. So you had to time your airspeed groundspeed windspeed etc. I was trying to land at a small coastal airport that I coulnd’t find so I gained altutitude over the water to have a better look. It was getting dark and I was low on fuel. I was getting really really panicked. But then, suddenly I saw the blimp hangars of another coastal airport, huge and easy to see, and went there. I was so shakey and scared, I could hardly get out of the aircraft. I had a cola and refueled and tried not to cry cause I still had to fly home (real short flight) in the dark to a small grass strip. I gave up flying shortly after that.

MissAusten's avatar

Well, I just got back from a trip to visit my family with my four year old. On the way out, one of our flights was canceled and our luggage got lost. It took 2 days for the airline to deliver it to us. We couldn’t get out of Indianapolis because a fuel tanker had crashed and exploded, closing two major highways. It took forever to get through all the traffic. On the way home, the windshield wipers on one plane were broken. We sat on the plane for over and hour before being unloaded and herded to another gate where we waited another hour and a half for a different plane. We didn’t get back to CT until 1:00 a.m. We didn’t nearly die, but we were exhausted and I spent a lot of time being frustrated and worrying that my kid would have a meltdown and all the other passengers would hate us. By some miracle, my son held up like a trooper and didn’t even whine ONCE!

davidbetterman's avatar

I wanted the window seat, but the lovely mother and her child got those two seats, while I was relegated to the aisle seat on a flight from Ohio to Vegas.
Over the Rockies, the child had to go and so the mother excused herself and they both got up and went to the bathroom.
So I, naturally, got in the window seat for a peak at the mountains. As I was looking out, I saw this thing coming our way. It grew larger and larger and very quickly grew nearer and nearer.
Suddenly, there was another medium-size passenger jet speeding by my window going the opposite direction, at the same altitude as us, easily inside of a quarter mile of us!!!
Needless to say, when the mother and child returned, I was more than happy to relinquish their seats and return to mine, where I ordered a double (and I don’t drink!!!).

Coloma's avatar

The time I sprained my ankle badly while boarding…sitting for hours with a soggy bag of dripping ice, totally in pain, unable to elevate my foot for the next 13 hours. Getting off the plane and having to limp through the airport in my sock because my ankle was too swollen to fit back in my boot. That was a very f——ed up flight, but….I did have Xanax to take the edge off! lol

Val123's avatar

@Coloma Oh, ouch. That kind of thing sure lets us know what we’re capable of roughing out, huh.

Coloma's avatar


—Oh was a ‘trip’ to be sure, tripping on the boarding ramp and then tripping through asia in a crippled condition. Still a good ‘trip’ all in all. lol—

davidbetterman's avatar

@Coloma @Val123 You two be trippin’... :P

Coloma's avatar


Yes, it’s official at 50 now I can really say…’ What a long strange trip it’s been!’ lol

davidbetterman's avatar

…livin on reds, vitamin C and cocaine…LOL
Gotta a tip they’re gonna kick the door in… again

Coloma's avatar


I love it!

Yes, well, I am pretty well preserved from all those years of Vit. C lol

Not so much ‘red’ but a bit of green.

A touch of green, kinda suits me anyway…haha

davidbetterman's avatar

@Coloma I myself have a Touch of Grey going on!

Coloma's avatar


I’m a Sugar Magnolia.. still down by the river every chance I get!

davidbetterman's avatar

@Coloma Just give me my GA so I can get the award for answering a 2 month old question…and I might put out your Fire on the Mountain

davidbetterman's avatar

@Coloma LOL
Thanks for the Davey Jones’ Revenge Award!

Coloma's avatar

Fine…do you need a left hand monkey wrench too? lol

Oh yes…I live on a fire! No, no, no!

davidbetterman's avatar

LOL…I see you have been awarded the Davey Jones’ Revenge award 45 times!!!!!

P.S. You better watch your speed!!

Coloma's avatar

Really? And how will this change my life? hahahaha

davidbetterman's avatar

Look above and watch your speed… One reply up!

augustlan's avatar

[Mod says] Please take the personal chat to PMs. Thanks!

quiltingfool's avatar

Well, I didn’t fear dying or have a near death experience, or even spend 10 hrs on the tarmac, but my experience is very relevant to the world today.
Yesterday my husband and I flew back home from Maui on Alaska Airlines. The flights in both directions were very full and few options for seating were available. On the flight to Maui, we were lucky to have snagged two aisle seats across from each other in row 29. This plane had only 30 rows, so row 29 was right across from the lavatories. This was a new experience. I have a herniated disk and am going into surgery in a week. The trip to Maui was my last bit of fun before I can look forward to at least a month of pain. I needed to stand every 2 hours and stretch so that my back got a break. Let me tell you, being in the “bathroom row” was not a fun thing. But that’s another story.

This story is about our flight home, where we had a middle and an aisle seat together. As we waited to see who would be taking the window seat, we watched in horror as a young woman who must have weighed close to 400 lbs stopped at our row and said she had the window seat. We both got up, and once she was arranged in her seat, it was obvious to all of us that I no longer had a seat. A large portion of her had plopped over into my seat. I am not a tiny person, a bit wide in the beam myself, but I do fit easily in one airline seat. One whole airline seat.

I tried my best to arrange myself in the small amount of room that was left. My husband beside me, who is himself a 6’2″ man who weighs about 250, but can also contain himself in one seat without a seat belt extender, tried to give me a little room, but that put most of his right side out into the aisle. We could not lower any of the arm rests, so were just jammed in tightly, the three of us, like sardines in a can.

The young woman was very pleasant and we chatted a bit before the plane took off. She was a very enjoyable person, and had she not been sitting in my seat, I would have very much enjoyed having her as a seatmate. I imagine that the experience was as unpleasant for her as it was for me. She tried very hard to keep her arms glued to her sides like mine were, but her right arm kept shooting over, hitting my left arm. Neither of us could move, rearrange ourselves or do much of anything. When we were served our meals (purchased on the plane) I could not get my hand up to my mouth unless my husband moved his arm, so we had to take turns taking bites of our pathetic cheeseburgers. I had to slip my elbow under his in order to be able to move it enough to get my hand to my mouth. It was excruciating. And I am not exaggerating one bit.

After about 2 hours in the air, I noticed that my shoulders were starting to hurt from holding the position of my elbows against my sides for so long. To add insult to injury, the person in front of me reclined her seat slightly. Luckily not all the way. And the child sitting behind me started kicking my seat, and apparently his parents thought it was cute, because they did nothing to stop him.

Remember, I have severe back problems and am going into surgery in 6 days. All of this did not do my back any good at all. By the time I got off the plane, my entire body hurt. Today I feel like I was run over by a truck.

At one point we thought we had a reprieve. Our seatmate had friends on the plane, and one of them came over and told her that there were 2 seats available in the back near them, and did she want to come and join them. Here is where I fault her. She turned it down! I almost cried. She told her friend that she was making new friends and was enjoying sitting with us. She could have had two seats, and I could have had my own seat back, and she turned it down. And even though she was a delightful person, here is where I began to not like her so much. Apparently my agony wasn’t obvious to her. And I guess she wasn’t as uncomfortable as I thought she was. But I was!

So a 4 hour 45 minute, fairly easy flight turned into the flight from hell for me. And I don’t really fault the heavy lady. She had upgraded to first class on the flight out and had tried to do the same on this one, but there was nothing available. I fault the airlines. Obese people have a right to fly, and us smaller people have a right to our own seat. It’s up to the airlines to make that happen.

We all know that people in the United States are getting heavier. My seatmate wasn’t the only obese person on the flight. They were scattered throughout the plane. Alaska airlines has a policy regarding what they call “people of size”, but they apparently don’t adhere to it. I have an easy fix, and I think all the airlines should adopt it.

Most planes have 3 seats on each side. I suggest they set aside 4 rows in the back of the plane. Take out one seat on each side and make the two remaining seats larger. Then charge people 1 ½ times the airfare for these seats, and REQUIRE large people who need a seat belt extender to purchase these seats. Make it a written policy on their website, so that people booking could look at the size requirements, which would basically be that anyone who couldn’t keep their body entirely in one seat, and who required an extender, would need to sit in one of the larger seats. The airline wouldn’t lose a dime, since they would make up the cost of the removed seat through the extra amount charged for the larger seats. And if there weren’t enough large people on a particular flight to fill up those seats (which I can’t imagine), then they could offer them to people who would just like to have more room, and are willing to pay for it.

Flying is no longer an enjoyable experience. From start to finish, between the TSA and the airlines, they make it as miserable as possible. And as the flying public, they have us at their mercy. You can’t drive to Maui. Often you have no choice but to fly to get to your destination, and they know that and take advantage of it. While we can’t control the escalating prices, the charges they now add for every little thing, and the ridiculous rules the TSA keeps coming up with in the name of safety, we should at least be able to occupy the seat we paid for. We need to force the airlines to do something about this. In it’s own way, its as bad as the enforced 10 hour tarmac experiences that the public has been fighting against for so long.

How about it Kate Hanni, the one woman juggernaut who has campaigned for a passenger bill of rights? Can we get them to make sure we each get to sit in the seat we paid for, without having someone else take up half of it? Can this become a part of our rights as the flying and PAYING public? I can’t think of a single other instance where an entity can get away with treating people this shabbily and have them keep coming back for more. And we have absolutely no choice. We can boycott certain airlines, but in the end, we need to fly and they can pretty much treat us however they want to and we’ll keep coming back.

So now I know what it’s like to be the person stuck in the middle seat with an obese person. These people are human beings, and no matter what you think, it’s not really a choice to be fat. Losing weight and keeping it off is one of the hardest things for people to do in this life. Life is hard for them, and usually they have health problems brought on by their weight as well. They’d love to be slim, but it’s a whole lot easier said than done. I know, I’ve lost the same 50 lbs at least 10 times in my life, and I simply can’t keep it off. So flying belongs to everyone who can afford to pay for it, and the airlines need to adapt to changing times. Instead of cramming in more seats, they need to make the whole thing more comfortable for everyone. And give the larger people, the “people of size” an area where they can be accommodated and comfortable. And let the rest of us be able to sit in the seat that we purchased.

As Forrest Gump would say, “That’s all I have to say about that”.

Coloma's avatar


Well, inspite of your discomfort I am glad that you enjoyed the womans company. Who knows, your accepting and friendly attitude might have been just what SHE needed, I am sure people that big must be horribly self conscious.

You seem to be a thoughtful person, maybe put a ‘spiritual’ spin on the situation.

You ‘suffered’ for awhile, but in turn you gave happiness and acceptance to another, I say THAT is the biggest thing to take away from your experience

And I agree that airlines need to formulate a seating plan that allows for ‘people of size’, and other passengers to travel with comfortably with each other.

flutherother's avatar

I took a cat once from Scotland to Mobile Alabama. Quite traumatic for both of us.

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