Social Question

Likeradar's avatar

What's your feelings about seat policies regarding fat people on airplanes?

Asked by Likeradar (19575points) February 15th, 2010

It comes up in the news every once in a while about airlines harassing overweight passengers or requiring them to purchase multiple seats.
Recently director Kevin Smith was booted from a Southwest flight, and there have been many other people who have been booted or required to buy a second seat too.
What’s your feelings about this and all the issues pertaining to it? I have mixed feelings so I’m interested in hearing all sides.

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71 Answers

Judi's avatar

I think airlines should either start building bigger seats, or jut start charging by the pound (luggage and people.)

tragiclikebowie's avatar

You have to admit airplane seats are pretty crammed together in coach.

Bugabear's avatar

They should be required to buy a second seat unless they have some sort of medical condition that makes them fat.

MrBr00ks's avatar

Well, I certainly paid for my whole seat, and I expect to use the entire thing, not be forced to share it with the person seated next to me. However, they should have told him this before he bought his ticket, not when he went to sit down.

edit He did buy two seats, he was just flying on standby and only one was available. They really shouldn’t have tried to shoehorn him in then.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Like Kevin Smith?
That guy got huge.

You have to be pretty big not to fit into an airplane seat. I also think that airlines have a bad habit of packing people in like sardines.Taking a cross country flight in coach is a good demonstration of how highly major corporations think of their customers.

I think Americans need to live healthier lives while airlines need to take a few lessons on the topic of personal space.

That said, if I pay $500 for a plane ticket, I’m buying it assuming that there isn’t going to be a person physically pressed up against me for four hours.

I don’t think this expectation is unreasonable.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Its unfair that I can’t take an extra 20kg suitcase without paying for it while some people expect to carry on an extra 20kg (or more) of fat for free.

trailsillustrated's avatar

they should have to buy two seats if their fat overflows onto the arm rests or into the next seat. sorry, really fat people.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

And what about the skinny jerks who think they’re entitled to both arm rests and stick their elbow in your ribs the entire time?

trailsillustrated's avatar

@tragiclikebowie those types usually just need a gentle word

Likeradar's avatar

@trailsillustrated I think we can all agree that it would be nice if the airlines provided a little more personal space for everyone. But short of redoing airplanes completely, what do you think should be done?

Judi's avatar

people are pretty passionate about this subject aren’t they?

dpworkin's avatar

Among the many other things I love about Fluther is that it overflows with the milk of human kindness. I’m glad we all realize that obesity is an affliction, and that no one wants to be fat. It’s also nice that we seem reflexively to side with the individual against the corporation.

philosopher's avatar

I feel bad for heavy people. I think they are a product of poor eating habits.
I have sat next to them while commuting to Manhattan. I would not want to on a plane.
They should have to pay for an extra seat.
Why should typical people suffer?

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

As an addendum, Kevin Smith was issued a public apology and a $100 voucher.

gemiwing's avatar

I’m sure we’ll have plenty of fat hate going on in this thread. sigh So tiresome.

The seats need to be bigger and sharing armrests is a ludicrous idea. Redoing the planes would cost money- yet people would be happier travelers and customers would fly more often.

Pay for the extra seat sounds good until you realize there are people who are overweight from medical conditions and they are being fined for being ill. So we ‘excuse’ those who have a medical reason. Now who gets to decide that reason? Is thyroid disorder okay but a herniated disk that prevents exercise not? Where is that line?

If you really don’t want anyone touching you, accidentally hitting knees or taking up your precious space- then fly first class and let us begin to talk about safety on airplanes instead of who’s touching us. Can’t afford first class? Yes, that’s how fat people feel too.

Also- I think the discomfort is a bit over-hyped. Especially in American culture the worst thing that can happen, it seems, is for people to have to ‘share’ anything they have, be it space, accommodations, food or time.

When people stop paying to be squished like sardines, then the airlines will change. When people are tired of being charged by the pound for luggage- the airlines will change.

We have power in this situation- and it goes beyond shaming other people because of their size.

janbb's avatar

One of the international carriers has recently amended their policy so that heavier people can have an extra seat at no extra charge if the plane is not full. It is a recognition of reality. We are all so quick to judge problems that we consider not ours.

Judi's avatar

If I’m flying more than 2 hours I use my miles to upgrade at least to business or first class.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

To get over being afraid of being near and/or touching others, I recommend riding on a packed subway train. You’ll get over it real fast.

lilikoi's avatar

If you take up two seats, you should be required to pay for both.

casheroo's avatar

Are they going to start charging pregnant women if the belly sticks out too much? I’d love to see the pro-life/pro-choice people go at that. lol

plethora's avatar

@lilikoi Exactly. A child who takes up a fraction of a seat still has to have a paid seat. A person fat enough to overflow Southwest seats (the biggest in the industry) should pay for two.

Likeradar's avatar

@casheroo And I’m wondering about really tall people.
Should they be required to pay for 2 seats for their legs?

gemiwing's avatar

@Likeradar shouldn’t they have to ‘rent’ the overhead storage bins? We’ll cut a hole they can shove their head through.

Where would this end, I wonder? Would it start with charging double for size/weight then creep into people who spread out all the flotsam in their carry-on? I’d like them to have to pay double too- I mean they have a laptop, snacks, stack of papers, cell phone… then they get all pokey with their elbows because they have no room left.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

The problem with airlines is that they treat people like cattle. The whole flight experience would be better for everyone if the airlines factored in a little dignity with their policies and procedures.

Also, I want the airlines to stop serving booze on the planes.
Think of how many problems that would eliminate.

casheroo's avatar

People keep talking about how the seats need to be bigger, and better armrests…heck, I just want a safe plane. Too many crashes, and no enough safety regulation is my concern.
I guess because I’m not fat, but this really is the least of my concerns when it comes to traveling. Flying sucks, it sucks for fat people and for skinny people. I don’t know anyone that enjoys sitting in a cramped plane. But, safety is still my number one concern.

plethora's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy I would heartily agree with your estimate of how airlines treat people, with the exception of Southwest. I fly them all the time, and it’s always a pleasure, except when there is someone in the middle seat, of course. Or some hugely fat person who overflows the seat.

plethora's avatar

@casheroo Flying at it’s worst is still infinitely safer than any other form of transportation. We still kill 50,000+ on the highways every single year and have been doing so consistently for 30+ years. How many die in plane crashes in the US? A few hundred?

Likeradar's avatar

Can we all accept that airlines should treat passengers better- and that includes more space seats for everyone and talk about how airlines should handle passengers who take up more than the little seat they’re given?

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

What’s your take?

MrItty's avatar

Kevin Smith is a frequent Southwest Airlines passenger, and always took advantage of SW’s very generous “Customers of Size” policy – they have to buy two tickets, but if the flight isn’t oversold, the second one is refunded.

On this occasion, he again bought the two tickets for his flight, but then went on Standby for an earlier flight – for which only one seat was available.

Kevin Smith has pretty much disappeared from the public eye since his last couple movies tanked and his drugged out buddy stopped acting with him. Now he has a new movie coming out, and he magically found himself in a situation where he could draw a lot of attention to himself (and to his Twitter feed – the background of which is nothing but posters for his new movie). Color me un-shocked.

casheroo's avatar

@plethora I’m just traumatized from a news report the other day (I wish I could remember what show it was!) and how pilots really have no training, and neither do the guys fixing the planes. Totally freaked me out.

@Likeradar I completely agree with you. I just wonder how it should be dealt with though. How do you know a person will take up more than one seat until they get there? you as in the airline

Judi's avatar

@casheroo ; Do you have a link? The pilots I know have TON’s of training. It is a really competitive field and they fight for any advantage.

Likeradar's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy Well, on one hand I fucking hate having less than a whole seat because there is an overweight person is sitting next to me. I hate it. I paid for a whole seat and I want a whole seat. But on the other hand, the overweight person is even more uncomfortable than me. And like @casheroo said, how is this supposed to be handled? Do you have to report your ass diameter to the ticketing agent when buying a ticket? Is a large person who can’t afford to buy 2 seats just not supposed to fly to funerals and reunions?
It’s easy to say “well, fat people just have to know they’re causing addition expense for themselves by their lifestyle.” But that’s just too easy, and like @gemiwing pointed out, do we really want to allow airlines to decide who is fat because of medical issues and who is fat because of lifestyle choices?
So, I’m torn. Which is why I’m asking you guys. :)

casheroo's avatar

@Judi I’m trying to find it. I know it was on CBS here’s what it was based around but that doesn’t give all the facts that they were giving on the show.

chyna's avatar

@Likeradar I was on a flight with a guy who was a basketball player for a college team. I was on the aisle seat, he was in the middle. Poor guy’s knees were up around his ears. I offered to change him seats so he could unfold those long legs out in the aisle. He gratefully accepted.

philosopher's avatar

@Judi and @casheroo
Thanks for the information.
It makes me never want to fly.
Everything is about money. We are all just cattle.

SeventhSense's avatar

There should be a variety of size seats with different rates and placements. Who says there has to be one size seat? If I ship a 20 pound package or a 40 pound package across country it’s a different rate. Why should it be different with human cargo?

HungryGuy's avatar

I prefer to travel by train.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Getting back to you Likeradar, it’s absolutely a tender situation.
Perhaps this determination of size could be made discreetly as part of the security procedure until airlines decide to make the interior of planes a little more spread out. The latter is more of a long term goal since it is cost prohibitive given the economic state of the airline industry.

Likeradar's avatar

@chyna That was nice of you. My dad is 6’6” and loves~ to see a petite person in the bulkhead while he’s smushed in the middle seat somewhere.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Likeradar
I agree. It’s tough when you’re just a big guy. I just always ask for an aisle seat or the one up front.

lilikoi's avatar

@HungryGuy Me too! Of course, living on an island often makes it hard to do so. I like traveling by boat, too. Anything but airlines….

@Likeradar I think for flying, it doesn’t matter why you’re fat. If you take up two seats, you pay for them, just as a person who takes up one seat pays for one. It should just be by the honor system. Airlines should make the width of their seats public information, provide it to you when you purchase your ticket, ask you to verify that you fit in one seat and if not require that you purchase two adjacent seats. If you can’t afford to buy two seats, you don’t fly, just as if you can’t afford to buy one seat, you don’t fly.

trailsillustrated's avatar

if it’s really far, I upgrade. chinese airlines are configured to cram more seats in there—it’s really tight

gailcalled's avatar

For those of us with long legs, who do not enjoy having them pushed under our chin, I think we need an empty seat in front of us, thereby not having to worry about constant kicking.

ETpro's avatar

The most terrible flight I remember was a cross-country flight where I was seated next to a guy who really needed two seats. He folded up the armrests because he couldn’t possible have fit between them, and he took about half of my seat, leaving me crammed painfully against the window and wall of the airplane for 5 hours. After that experience, I say that if you can’t fit in the 17 inch seat, buy a second seat of don’t fly.

SeventhSense's avatar

Once on a flight, a guy insisted on sticking his arms on both armrests way over the line leaving me with none and completely in my space. I simply put my elbows closer to my chest behind his elbows and firmly pressed one to his chest while reading my book casually. It was about 10 minutes of extreme awkwardness but he got the message and gave up the left one on my right.

chyna's avatar

@SeventhSense What an inconsiderate jerk. He absolutely knew what he was doing.
Why can’t people just play nice?

gailcalled's avatar

I spent $100 to see a specially staged rare opera by Monteverdi (L’Orfeo (1607) at Tanglewood. Metal folding chairs were set up close together. The opera was five acts and felt like several weeks. Next to me, and spilling onto my lap, was a morbidly obese man, who also sweated profusely.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

@gailcalled I just got excited. I live nearby.

filmfann's avatar

I am looking forward to hearing him describe it on the next An Evening with Kevin Smith DVD.
I wonder if SW knew he was a celebrity when they did this.

cookieman's avatar

I’m six-feet tall, 280lbs. and I fit into an economy-class airline seat just fine. Hell, I sat in one all 22 hours to China.

So I gotta wonder, how big must you be to need to buy a second seat?

filmfann's avatar

Kevin Smith is 5’8 and goes about 300 lbs… of genius!

Judi's avatar

@cprevite; I’m 5’4” and 135lbs and couldn’t sit in coach all the way to China!

SeventhSense's avatar

@cprevite
Enjoying those cookies huh? :)

cookieman's avatar

@Judi: Is that because you couldn’t fit in the seat, or you were just uncomfortable? I don’t find airline seats particularly comfortable, but I can sit in them.

@filmfann: So he’s got 20lbs. on me but he’s four inches shorter…not a major difference. Wider hips I guess.

@SeventhSense: Despite my avatar, I eat mostly real food. And pretty healthy stuff (since I’ve been working at a farm) – just a lot of it.

Judi's avatar

@cprevite, just really uncomfortable, but people HAVE been known to die from blood clots being crammed into those tiny seats. Especially on long flights and if they don’t fit well.
I’ve flown coach on a couple of long flights and vowed to never do it again.

TheJoker's avatar

I’ve gotta say, given the weight sensitive nature of airplanes I feel people should be charged by the kg…. luggage & excess arse!

Honeypleez's avatar

It’s a sad situation but really, I wouldn’t want someone sitting on top of me! The seats we’re given are tiny and we ALL know and knew it before we purchased the ticket. So please let a person enjoy what little space they’re given the best they can without someone taking up their seat and half of theirs. As for the arm rest issues, make the person share it’s as easy as a couple of bumps and an evil look.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Charging a customer per pound would be incredibly demeaning to a lot of people and would cause a spike in eating disorders.

jca's avatar

why not have some bench-style seats in the back of the plane, where a parent (who may or may not be large) can sit with a child or a baby carrier, or just a large person who wants to sit solo, unsquished, kind of like the seats on buses or trains? that kind of seat could cost more, as it would be the same size as say, two or seats across, so it would be priced accordingly. that way, a mom would sit with her kid or kids, a large person would fit without humiliation or controversy, and all would be well. there would be about 3 oxygen masks, flotation devices and whatever available in case of emergency, like the regular seats.

i think the answers about weight and height are not really applicable because someone could be big-hipped, and no matter their height or weight the hips could spill over into next seat. or they could be broad-shouldered, and that could spill over, too.

jca's avatar

by the way, with my idea about large seats in back, the whole entire plane would not have to be retro-fitted, just a few rows in back of plane.

Judi's avatar

For weight and balance you want heavier people in the front.

ETpro's avatar

@jca I can hear the protests… “Move to the back of the plane, fatso.”

I do think @Judi is right, they would need to do the retrofitting over the wing area for best load distribution.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

I have a small butt and I have a very good toned physique, but I still find seats on most airplanes too cramped and uncomfortable. There’s very little leg room, and you’re usually squished next to the person sitting beside you. Last May, when I was going to California, I had to sit separate from my wife, beside a little brat. The boy was jumping up and down, yelling in my ears, elbowing me in the ribs, and hitting me in the legs for more than 2 hours. He was so close to me, he nearly slugged me in the face! By the time we landed, I was all dazed and sore. Lol.

I can see why fat people get upset when they’re charged for two seats, but what can you do if the seats are small and cramped to begin with? Perhaps they should have a special section on the plane devoted to big people, sort of like a VIP section.

dochollidaydds's avatar

Try sitting in your seat and have some fat man lift the arm rest so he can fit into your seat too.Much less ask. Now you pay for his sitting in your seat too.

ETpro's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES If you book early, request a set on the wing exit row. Lots and lots of legroom, which means even if you’re in the window seat, you can easily get up to visit the facilities or just stretch your legs.

janbb's avatar

@ETpro Unfortunately, they’ve lately been renaming those seats “Extra Legroom” seats and charging more for them! We used to try to get them since my husband is tall but now they are often 60—$75 more..

ETpro's avatar

@janbb Back when I was flying every week both domestically and internationally, I could lock them in because I had millions of Frequent Flier miles. I got out of that line of work before all the terrorism changes hit. I am so glad I did. Didn’t know they charged extra for the wing exit now.

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