Published on March 31, 2023
(c) Paul Gilligan Fotosearch_pgi0260
Many of my clients are business travelers and, of course, many travel for vacation once or more a year. That’s the case now, with people getting ready to travel for Passover, Easter, and spring break. So, the topic of air travel comes up in my office, especially as relates to how to plan ahead for meals and snacks while traveling. Many tell me of the dread they have of the whole airport and air travel experience, such as having to arrive so far in advance for security, waiting in line for luggage check-in, and then so often finding out your departure schedule has been delayed for hours. However, I also hear about the dread of having an uncomfortable ride, being seated next to someone who will spill over into their space; or the anxiety of being that someone.
So, the question:
Should obese people be forced to pay for an extra seat when flying?
. . . has come up more than once, and in my opinion: Yes, they should.
📌 There is a weight criterion for our checked luggage. If we are over, we are charged for it at check-in.
📌 There’s also size criteria for carry-on bags, and the airlines are very strict about that. If a carry-on is over an airline’s regulations size, it will not be allowed on the plane. We will be forced to check it, and gate-checking an over-sized bag can be subject to very unpleasant fees.
📌 If a very tall person wants more leg room, they must pay more for an economy seat that offers more leg room or pay to upgrade their class of service to another cabin.
Therefore, an obese individual who cannot fit their entire body widthwise within the two arm rests and without body parts overflowing into the seat next to them should purchase an extra seat.
Alternatively, an obese traveler can purchase a larger seat in a higher class of service or try to find flights that aren’t fully booked so as not to be crowded or to crowd another passenger.
📌 Airlines should not have to eat the costs of second seats.
📌 Other passengers should not be forced to sacrifice the comfort and space they pay for, including the use of the armrests.
📌 The overall safety of the general passenger population should never be compromised.
Travelers who are extremely large, who cannot fit into one seat comfortably, who will need some of the space of the passenger next to them . . . know who they are. They can elect to take appropriate measures in advance when planning their travel and purchasing airline seats. Or they can choose to walk into the situation eyes wide open, and an airline should have no qualms about enforcing a passenger comfort (and airline safety) policy at the airport.
The highest percent of complaints received by an airline — and their in-flight personnel are on the front lines of those complaints — come from travelers angry that their seat space was violated by fellow passengers. The Obesity Action Coalition and the “body positivity” movement would no doubt say that instead of complaining to the airlines about the encroachment on their personal space, those angry passengers should direct their complaints at the airlines for having small seats. 🤪