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Riding on Planes with Fat People

May 26, 2011

There has been plenty of controversy recently about fat people on planes and what they should pay and how it should work.

As a CEO, I can understand the airline’s point of view in this controversy — they are selling space — the amount of space is one seat. Space is at a premium on an aircraft and the carriers have created a price for that amount of space. If you take up more than that amount of space, you pay more.

It’s very much like the Postal Services flat fee priority mail. You can mail as much as you can fit in that container for a flat fee, but if your stuff doesn’t fit in that container, then you have to pay extra. You wouldn’t say that the postal service is discriminating against people who had larger objects to mail and that they should pay the same price to mail a larger item.

Thin people feel entitled to complain about overcrowding because they paid for one seat, just as the fat person beside them did, but they are not getting what they paid for because the person next to them is taking up more than that for which they paid. You are paying the airline not just for passage from one destination to another, but also for the amount of space on the plane (as evidenced by the price difference between first class and coach, as well as the optional upgrades to larger seats in coach that some airlines offer).

What I would like to see is the policy applied equally across the board — anyone who takes up more than one seat needs to pay more. I happen to fit easily in one airline seat (sheer luck, my fat goes out in front of me and not out to the sides). In a recent flight, I fit into the seat just fine, but the tall, thin gentleman beside me had very broad shoulders and he encroached upon my space. If the airline is charging people who take up more than their fair share, then this gentleman needed to pay up as well.

I also believe, from a pragmatic point of view, that if those who are against these policies pushed for them to be applied across the board in this way — rather than trying to make the argument that we deserve more space for the same amount of money (which inevitably finds us mired in pointless, useless arguments about whether or not we can/should “do something” about our size) — they would get much farther much faster.

Some solution ideas in the meantime:

Currently their seems to be an understanding that my midsection touching someone else is not OK, but their shoulder touching me is. I don’t agree with that, but if that’s what the policy is currently, then the solution that I would offer is to attach a plate to the armrest that divides the seat from the one next to it from the armrest down. That way you either fit in the seat or not, and if you buy two seats you can lift the armrest and be comfortable.

I also think that a lot of the stress comes from not knowing what will happen when you get to the flight since it’s at the discretion of the ground crew and flight attendants whether or not you are required to pay for two seats. I would personally be much more comfortable if there was a seat in a private area at the airport, just like they have the thing to check and see if your luggage will fit. Then, if ANY PART OF YOU doesn’t fit in the seat it’s time to make arrangements. At any rate, any decisions should happen BEFORE you get on the plane and you should never be embarrassed by being kicked off a flight.

Offer a discount to sit next to larger passengers. Currently most airlines offer a second seat at half price to passengers of size.  I’ll be that they could make more money if they just offered a small discount (20%?) to passengers willing to sit next to a passenger of size. This would require some work in redesigning the booking process, but could solve a lot of problems (and give me the opportunity to say “Hi, I’m Ragen and I’ll be your fat person discount for this flight”).

Buy your own seatbelt extender.  I can’t emphasize this one enough. You can find them on eBay really inexpensively and as I am getting ready to get on a plane having forgotten mine I am reminded of how much I prefer NOT having to ask for one.

No matter what you think on this issue, customers all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.  If we could look at this as the airline and passengers of all sizes vs. a problem, rather than the airline and thin passengers vs. fat passengers I’ll bet that we could really make some progress.

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53 Comments leave one →
  1. May 26, 2011 8:36 am

    Ordinarily, I would agree with this analysis, but it bothers me because we are basically asking people to pay for the fact that they exist as they are. People have some level of control over what they bring on a plane, how they pack it, how much, and so forth. However, people with broad shoulders, people who are tall, or anyone else who “encroaches” (whatever that means) on a person’s space has to pay more to do something that anyone with “ordinary” genes takes for granted. You just don’t fault people for having the wrong bodies or the wrong genes on principle.

    It’s not like they can simply take off their shoulders and put on their narrow pair. They cannot adjust the bolts on their legs and be shorter for a while. Fat people cannot be smaller than they are, at least not without causing serious damage to their bodies. Because certain groups of people-poorer people, nonwhite people, for example-tend to be fatter than those who are not, there is a racist/classist/insert -ism here aspect to it too.

    I would never ask a person in a wheelchair to pay more for the space that their wheelchair takes up, and I won’t ask a fat person to do it either.

    We also have to remember that for some people, just having to look at a fat person means that a fat person is “encroaching” on their space. Really, the encroachment argument that people like to use doesn’t deserve the time of day.

    • May 27, 2011 2:32 am

      Hi Joanna,

      I see what you are saying I do disagree with your comparison of airline travel with those idiots who think that having to look at a fat person is encroaching on their space. All space on a plane is at a premium. When I go to a dance competition often if HAVE to take two bags to fit everything that I need to compete. If I don’t have all of my stuff there is no point in traveling but I still have to pay.

      I am a firm Health at Every Size believer and I don’t think that there is any scientific proof that people can become smaller than they are. I’m also not saying that the system as it is not is fair. What I am suggesting is that if we insisted that airlines apply these policies across the board, they would be more likely to make changes that accommodate people of all sizes since instead of just the “fatties” complaining they would have to deal with complaints from broad shouldered passengers and long-legged passengers. The truth is that currently most people believe that being fat is a “curable” condition and although we’re busy educating people about this, fat people still have to fly right now in those conditions. I think that by focusing on applying the policy across the board we move the show away from whether or not our size is “our fault” and move it toward fixing a problem for a large group of customers.

      ~Ragen

      • May 27, 2011 7:38 am

        Thanks for the comment.:) And by the way, I don’t think you want to discriminate against anyone. I know that you don’t, but I do think requiring people to pay more for the space that their bodies take up has some problematic implications. I’m really sorry if that sounded unduly accusatory.

        As other commenters have said, maybe airlines will be forced to actually do what customers want? Even the fat ones? Teh horror!

  2. FabAt54 permalink
    May 26, 2011 8:42 am

    If the debate is going to be turned around to “paying for equal space” instead of Smaller vs Larger passengers (and I’m not saying that would be bad, per se), what about the passenger in front of you that prefers to keep his seat in a reclining position through out the entire time the wheels are not touching the ground?
    That person is also encroaching on my space; the space between my face and the back of his seat, the space between his seat and my food (on the tray behind him), and the space that I may need to get up and move out of my space into the aisle. As it is we already need to walk crab-like-sideways, with knees half bent, gripping onto the seats in front of us to negotiate our way out into the aisle.
    What about the tall person who (somehow) manages to stretch out his or her legs, right under MY seat, and has fidgeting issues; tapping and bumping the bottom of my seat- for the entire 5 hour flight? They are also encroaching on my space.
    I guess my point is, the Airline Industry is probably the only industry (at least the only one I can think of) that refuses to take a customer’s (ANY customer’s) COMFORT into account.
    It’s all about cramming them in as tightly as possible, and if they complain- too bad. Buy TWO seats or fly on another airlines…

    It is only the very smallest and lightest of people that can find any *real* comfort in a coach or business class airline seat for several hours at a time. Talk about keeping a very narrow target market…

    • FabAt54 permalink
      May 26, 2011 8:55 am

      By the way, I forgot to add:
      If the Airlines would have size appropriate seating areas with seats (and spaces) that are 50-75% larger than their now standard miniscule seats, I’d bet very few fat people would have an issue paying 50% more for one. And no, I’m not talking about “First Class” seat fares — I don’t care about getting “better, upgraded meals” or “free drinks” or anything else not worth it in first class. Just a larger, more comfortable seat, thank you.
      As it is, being forced to sit squarely on the uneven hump/ space between two seats and asking for a seatbelt extension as well, isn’t my idea of a happy flight. Making this about losing $$ for the airlines is bogus; give me a seat & space that’s 50% larger and I’ll pay 50% more. They won’t be losing a dime.

      • May 27, 2011 2:23 am

        I really like that idea. I hadn’t thought about how uncomfortable it must be to actually sit in the middle of two seats.

        ~Ragen

    • May 27, 2011 2:24 am

      Reclining seats are the devil and should not be allowed, but that’s just my opinion. Also, bonus points for the pun at the end!

      ~Ragen

  3. vesta44 permalink
    May 26, 2011 12:43 pm

    I refuse to fly anywhere. Airlines want my money, but they want to treat me like one of a herd of a cattle, cramming as many of us as possible into as little space as possible in order to maximize profits. My comfort, no matter what my size, doesn’t come into the equation at all. I’m not a person, a customer, to them, I’m a dollar amount, a statistic on a board that says how many other numbers flew today, this week, this month, this quarter, this year, and therefore shows how much money they made off that number. They aren’t concerned with making me want to fly with them again because if I want to fly anywhere, I have to fly with some airline or other, and they’re all just about the same, as far as having seats that everyone can fit in, that the person in front of you reclining doesn’t infringe on your space, that the person with long legs isn’t going to kick you, and that isn’t going to humiliate you in public for one reason or another. When it comes to airlines, customer service and comfort have gone the way of the dodo, and so has my patronage of them.

    • May 27, 2011 2:22 am

      Reclining is bullshit. Since they changed the pitch of seats to get more in they should definitely have gotten rid of the reclining option. I choose to continue to fly because of my dancing and speaking but I’m also getting very good at acquiring first class tickets, and I’ve become a great fan of first class.Of course I realize that this isn’t an option for everyone and I really do think that sooner rather than later airlines will return to a customer service model.

      ~Ragen

  4. Novathecat permalink
    May 26, 2011 4:58 pm

    The problem is that the airline industry is on a race to the bottom. Provide the least space, amenities, and service at the lowest price and any airline that does not do this loses too much market share to stay in business. Another problem is for those of us flying on someone else’s dime, e.g., an employer. What if your boss balks at paying for an extra seat? Fat folks may lose out on jobs and promotions due to this. As a CEO, how do you handle this when it comes up for an employee?

    • May 27, 2011 2:20 am

      This is a really interesting question that I hadn’t thought of. From the employer’s side, hiring someone who needs two airplane seats for a job requiring travel is a direct hit to their bottom line. If someone travels weekly and the average flight is $200 then that employee costs the company an extra $10,400 a year. Over a 10 year career that employee will cost the company $104,000 more than an employee who doesn’t require two seats. Of course they would also earn frequent flyer miles twice as fast which should partially off-set this cost but it’s still significant. I think that if it were one of my employees I would call the various airlines and see if I could work something out with them, some sort of discount because of the frequency of the flights or offer to pre-pay etc.Thanks for the comment, definitely thought-provoking.

      ~Ragen

      ~Ragen

  5. May 26, 2011 5:02 pm

    Airlines think that by making the seats small and cramming as many people into them as possible that they are making money that way. What they don’t realize is that they are most likely actually losing sales due to the amount of fat people who, like vesta, refuse to fly.

    Maybe people might not agree with me on this but I think one solution could be if every airplane had a few seats that were larger in size for the people who actually needed them and weren’t right next to another seat, offered at the same rate the the other seats, then that person who needs the extra space could be comfortable in their seat and they wouldn’t be invading anyone else’s seat space.

    • sweet Priscilla permalink
      May 26, 2011 7:45 pm

      I like this idea as well. It could also work with someone traveling with a small child.

    • Mulberry permalink
      May 26, 2011 9:01 pm

      I agree that a few seats could be made larger, but it would be a better idea to charge a little more for those seats. If they can’t charge more, airlines would not wish to install such seats since they would not be profitable. For another, people would scream bloody murder about how unfair it is that Fatty gets extra seat room for the same price and they’d ALL be trying to get those coveted comfortable seats. I could even imagine people padding themselves to look fatter (saves those dang luggage fees!) in order to score more room, and then what would we have gained?
      No, a reasonable surcharge would be the way to go. It sure beats hell out of paying for an entire extra seat.

    • May 27, 2011 2:14 am

      I think it’s a good idea but I do think that they would need to charge a bit more for the seats, and even then I think that it would still have to be first come, first served to avoid thin people saying that it was discrimination and also to avoid a discussion of how big is big enough for these seats. I think eventually the airlines are going to come back to customer service but until then I think we need to look at pragmatic solutions like this one.

      ~Ragen

    • May 27, 2011 2:59 pm

      I agree completely with this. They should be offering this not to appease the people who complain about fatties on a plane, but as a service to fat people, who want to be comfortable. And if no fat people needed that seat for the flight, then someone else could pay for it. I’m not sure if it should cost more or not. It’ sort of like how people complain that clothes for fat people cost more, but the rational response would be that there’s more fabric. But does the amount of extra fabric used justify the exorbitant discrepancy in prices that we commonly see?

      Maybe they should create that bigger seat and put a smaller seat next to it, and offer that to thinner folks for a discount. It’s not like you’d need another foot of room… just a few inches shaved each way, and the price would be in proportion to the amount of space used.

      And considering the population of fat people and skinny people, it seems the extremes are about the same and that on each flight you could expect at least one from each end to take advantage. Or, like sweet Priscilla suggested, a child seat.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  6. erylin permalink
    May 27, 2011 10:21 am

    personally i dont fly its too expensive and i hate feeling like cattle. however (and i realize i am lucky) do take megabus whenever possible (http://us.megabus.com/default.aspx) its awesome! gogo bus and train travel…see the country and get there cheaper…adn with wifi and good comfy seats

  7. May 27, 2011 3:12 pm

    Flying is the only way I travel. Bus takes too long, trains are always late and take too long, and for intercontinental travel I really can’t afford the Orient Express.

    I’m a little taller than average (5’7″) so national flights are always pretty cramped for me- I don’t make my employer pay business/first for me for flights that are less than three hours long. I don’t need any food or drinks on such a short leg, and I’m OK pulling up my knees a little.

    Disagree about removing the reclining option though- even though I always sit very much upright the headrest makes doing so in the seat’s upright position supremely uncomfortable (maybe because I always wear my hair up). I always ask the person behind me if it’s OK for me to recline my seat a little.

    I also much prefer sitting next to a soft-and-cuddly feeling fat person than hard and bony shoulders poking my face/neck.

    My brothers and dad are both very tall (6’3″+); they always book exit row if not first as they would literally have to fold in half to get into a regular seat.

    To me, airplane travel is fast, convenient and cost-efficient… but I do realize it’s not like that for everybody. Makes me bemoan that Lufthansa Private Air went out of business. Most comfortable airline EVER.

  8. P G permalink
    May 27, 2011 5:17 pm

    I’ve seen this mentioned before in these kinds of discussions, and I thought it was a really good point. Airline seating prices don’t make any sense. I’ve heard that if you book at 3AM on Monday or Tuesday (though someone told me it was 2AM on Thursday) you get the best deals. I mean, two people sitting next to each other may have paid drastically different prices for their seats. So, if the person taking up more space paid twice as much, does that mean that person is entitled to twice as much space? If there were some sort of flat rate for seats on planes (and then like an added fee for booking only a few days in advance or like a holiday fee or whatever) the pay-more-for-more concept would make more sense. But as it stands now, it’s only fair to be polite because all tickets were not created equally.

    • Alice permalink
      May 31, 2011 12:24 pm

      PG, I think this is a great point – when the prices are all obscured by the airlines’ pricing games, we all get on a plane with a certain amount of paranoia (could I have saved something ridiculous like $100 if I’d just been savvier?). I think that makes us all a bit grabbier about making sure we get all of ‘our’ space, and exacerbates the other stresses that go on.

      I really love the idea of having a couple of areas with larger coach seats with a corresponding price bump, paired with having transparent rates for other seats, since I think it’d really help keep things calmer. While I really dislike Southwest in general, I LOVE that their pricing model is so transparent. Book early -> this price. Book later -> this price. Jet Blue is pretty good about this (with a LOT fewer issues around being assholes), but all of the other airlines that I’ve seen seem to relish the shell game of ticket pricing, and it sucks.

  9. Dirk, Berlin/Germany permalink
    December 25, 2011 1:23 am

    It has been a while since somebody posted about this article. But anyway, I hope that still people read it and comment.
    I found this webpage because I wanted to see what people think about “passengers of size” (that’s how Southwest calls them).
    I fly very often and I love it. I am tall but normal weight and I am not bothered about a overweight person as long as they don’t “spill” over in my seat. armrest goes down? All good with me. But what got me thinking is the security point. What if i sit in my usual window seat, next to me a “passenger of size” and the need arises to evacuate the aircraft? The passenger next to me has to get out of his seat and onto the aisle rather quick, through the emergency exit (which is not the same size as a normal aircraft door), down the inflatable ramp and away from the plane. All this can cause major problems for my overweight buddy as much as for everybody else on the plane.
    Your thoughts?

  10. April 12, 2012 11:22 am

    something NEEDS to be done about over weight people on the plane, it is not fair if the person sat next to you is spilling fat over you!.

    I am sorry if i offend but i had the most awful trip back ( 12 hours) the lady i sat next to had to raise the arm rest between us because her fat could not stay in her seat, she also needed to lift the arm rest the other side so she could spill into the alise. She did not wear a seat belt .
    Not only was she touching me the whole way every time she moved i got bumped and bashed.
    she had about 6 inches of fat splodged onto my chair and her arms we tripple the size of mine these were also all over my space
    She never apologised and was placing things in my lap because she had no space. it was unbelievable!
    As the trip went on she started to smell really bad to the point i felt sick. Every time she got up ( 5 mins to squeeze her way out of the seat) she left a foul smell on her seat which lingered in the air, it was so gross.
    I am NEVER sitting next to a fat person on a plane ever again. It is totally unfair to have half a seat. I had to stand at the back of the plane for 1 hour and a half to get away from it all. I had pins and needles all down my arm because i had to lean for the whole flight and when she started smelling i had to turn the other way from her.
    This problem is going to get worse as more and more people are getting obese! Something has to be done about it. I would dream of leaning all over another person, if they don’t fit in a seat!! Then they should have to pay to have two (which is basically how much they take up!) or have to pay to go into first class.

    A great holiday spoilt by a great fat person on the plane. thanks a lot!

    • April 12, 2012 12:06 pm

      Maybe you ought to have spoken to the flight attendant? Maybe you ought to have told this person you were having an issue? If you never said a word how could she assume she was annoying you? No one is psychic. Bad hygiene, fine, but if you get offended by people touching you (as I do), then don’t fucking fly. Or ask to move. Do something instead of sitting there bitching and whining about the inconvenience of a fat person existing. Go screw yourself.

      • April 12, 2012 1:21 pm

        i did speak to the flight attendant and an official complaint is being made . There were no other seats to be moved to so i had to put up with having half a seat.
        I also asked the lady if she would kindly try her best not to bang into me when she was turning (not that she could turn she was slouched in and could hardly move anyway). A couple of times i had to ask her to take her belt off me ( because there was no where to put it, she would have had to have sat on in as it didn’t fit around her waste) she used me to put stuff on e,g, pillows as she had no room to put ANYTHING. I have no problem with people touching me but when you are a long flight and they are continually leaning and rubbing against you (especially when their hygiene is poor) is unbearable.
        She did know it was bothering me and she didn’t seem bothered at all that this was a problem . she just sat there like a lump. I am not bitching about a fat person exiting, it is up to individuals if they choose to live there life like that. I am complaining about how it is unfair, they should have two seats ( and pay for it) if they take up two seats.
        What i am saying is something needs to be done about this on flights as it is not fair. I am pretty sure she would have complained if i got out of my seat (well literally half) and sat on top of her for 12 hours.
        Also you are telling me not to f’ing fly, i don’t really think that i should miss out on world adventures because someone is so fat i a cant comfortable sit in my own seat!!!! Which may i add I have paid for.

      • April 12, 2012 2:40 pm

        Clear and present asshole. He went on a holiday by himself? The lady put things on his lap and he didn’t complain, but now he’s filing an “official complaint”? With who? The Fatty Airline Association? Everything about this post reeks of troll, so I’m taking it out.

        Peace,
        Shannon

  11. vesta44 permalink
    April 12, 2012 2:50 pm

    a – Did you ever stop to think that on a 12-hour flight (your words), there really wasn’t much this lady could have done to accommodate you to your satisfaction? You said yourself that there weren’t any other seats – maybe she tried to buy 2 seats: maybe she did buy 2 seats, but the airline over-booked the flight and took that second seat away from her and that’s why they allowed her to fly and infringe on your space. As for how she smelled, again, it was 12-hour flight, and I’m sure you smelled like a rose when you got off the plane, after being packed like a sardine in a can with all the other people on the plane. You’re blaming the woman for being fat, when you should actually blame the airlines who are making the seats smaller, placing them closer together, and generally doing everything they can to cram more people into less space while cutting back on customer service in order to make money. There are all kinds of annoyances with which we have to deal when we fly – screaming babies, kids kicking the backs of our seats, people wearing too much perfume/cologne, men who spread their legs into everyone’s space, people who recline their seats into your lap, and the list goes on and on and on and on. I’m sorry, fat people have a right to fly too, and sometimes they do buy 2 seats but the airlines overbook flights and take that second seat away from them (or they sell them 2 seats that aren’t adjacent – makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it). So you have no way of knowing all the circumstances surrounding that woman’s seating arrangements, and if you think the airline is going to admit any wrongdoing, you’re naive.

  12. Mulberry permalink
    April 12, 2012 3:15 pm

    A, I agree with you, something should be done about it – but what?
    There was a time decades ago, when airline seats were comfortable. I remember flying in some planes that boasted 20 or 21 inches of room to sit in. A few more inches than they offer today, and people were not fatter back then.
    Now, costs have gone way up and amenities have all but disappeared. Somewhere along the way, airlines have discovered that people would put up with discomfort before they would pay extra. They are milking that discovery for all it’s worth, and rest assured that even if fat people were forbidden to fly, the airlines would find more ways to squeeze more dimes out of your pocket and ensure you have a miserable trip. It so happens that fat people are out of favor in the public eye, so airlines can stick it to them more without worrying about repercussions.
    Isn’t that great for the airlines? Get people mad at other people and they won’t all band together to sue your ass off, or demand better treatment.
    I’m no economist, but I agree with you that there has to be a better way.

    • April 12, 2012 3:29 pm

      Do you think I deleted to soon? I have an itchy trigger finger after all that nonsense, so I’m sort of on the lookout for aliases. Should I undelete his comment?

      Peace,
      Shannon

    • Kala permalink
      April 12, 2012 5:31 pm

      You know, I think some of the bitterness I see here isn’t totally warranted. Absolutely, airline seats have become smaller and less comfortable. Absolutely, the service is no longer as good. Are they trying to squeeze out dimes? Sure. But I don’t think it’s nearly as much about greed as I see the average person espouse: the airline industry has completely tanked over the last decade. As the price of fossil fuel (the only way we currently have to lift the planes off the ground) increases, the price is only going to get worse.

      Look at AA, they filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2011, and the stock value of their holding company is at less than one dollar a share: http://www.google.com/finance?q=PINK:AAMRQ. Northwest filed for bankruptcy in 2005, which was bought by Delta in 2008. None of the other major American airlines are doing wonderfully. And no, the actual stock price doesn’t translate into whether or not the company is making money, but it shows that the market doesn’t have confidence that these companies are going to rebound and become more profitable anytime soon. But I’m sure if I went into some quarterly reports I’d find that most don’t make as much money as they used to.

      So, sure, a poor market for the airline industry has forced them to scrimp on important things, and that inadvertently hurts bigger people. But I’m pretty hard up to think of anything else such companies can do, and I’d guess that they spend a good amount of time looking for other solutions. Americans have shown that they will not or can not pay higher prices for plane tickets to pay for the comfort in previous settings. Perhaps the business models that these airlines are no longer valid and need to be changed or the companies need to go under. Perhaps America should look at other transportation solutions for travel within our country, and see airlines more for cross Continential or international transport. But unless the middle class seriously rebounds, I’m not sure that there’s much else national airlines are going to be able to do.

      • April 12, 2012 10:25 pm

        Kala,
        It’s not that they’re scrimping on things, it’s that they’re scapegoating fat people for the problem, rather than just saying, “Okay, we needed the space, so it’s our fault, don’t blame fat people.” And, you know, it’s not even really their fault. It’s deregulation. Once government let airlines really compete with each other, it became a race to profitability, rather than sustainability. But who knows with the price of gas whether the government could have done anything better.

        I think there could be a solution, such as instead of charging double for a fat person to buy two seats which, except in extraordinary circumstances, they wouldn’t entirely use, maybe do two seats, where three might be, and charge 1.5 times as much. Reserve those seats for larger passengers, have seatbelts that fit, and I guarantee the fat people wouldn’t complain. And if there were nobody who required the seats, then other people could buy them as a sort of mini-first class, ya know?

        I would love to see a real high-speed rail system take off, but Republicans strangled that one in the crib. I love our Metrolink. I think if the prices were right, high-speed rail would be a great alternative.

        Peace
        Shannon

        • Kala permalink
          April 13, 2012 8:57 am

          Why the customer service regarding the situations is tactless, I’m not sure. You’d think regardless of how disgusted they were by fat people, it’d be a losing battle in a country with a lot of fat people. It also seems trivial to have seatbelt extenders on hand.

          I think the American airline industry is much like the American car industry before it got bailed out. They’re doing a lot of proven-to-be-ineffective things, but aren’t changing them.

  13. Leila Haddad permalink
    April 13, 2012 5:05 am

    Hello all. I haven’t been commenting much lately but I have to chime in here as I travel often and endure all kinds of uncomfortable situations in many different modes of transport. To all the people complaining about fat smelly people cramming next to them in a postage stamp sized seat on an airplane. GET THE FUCK OVER IT!!! try riding on a bus with a stranger’s kid on your lap and a man with an armful of live chickens. No windows that can still open and certainly no AC. Where people actually initiate conversations with the one they are seated next to. Is your world going to end if you happen to be touching the limb or skin of a stranger? Granted I’ve had my share of uninvited groping, but that can happen just about anywhere. Please people.

  14. April 13, 2012 5:41 am

    i am a female, i did complain when she put stuff on my lap i asked her not too, but she had nowhere to put, i felt sorry for the women. i am letting the airlines know what happened. The more people who write their experiences the more will get done about it. Woudl you rather we just out up with this!? And i am sure not sitting next to a fatty on a plane ever again!i will speak up right from the start.I didn’t travel alone thankyou! My friends i went with swapped sits with me every so often so we both got a break from it. The fatty next to me did though….no surprise there! funny how you take things off here that you dont like to hear, like the truth and a experience that has happened and what happens to unfortunate people who get stuck next to these people.
    Im sure i didn’t smell of roses, but i certainly didn’t smell like she did, because of all the fat rolls they tend to smell more….FACT. i took wet wipes and freshened up every so often perhaps if she tried a little bit i might have left less bad towards her.

    Please get your facts right before you say thinks like i travelled on my own and why didn’t i say any thing to the lady. I did in a polite way e.g. asking her to take her belt off of me.

    • Kala permalink
      April 13, 2012 9:10 am

      Alright, one thing that really grates at me, is when people say some random piece of conjecture and say “this is a FACT”. Could it be a fact that in your personal life, the larger people you’ve encountered tended to smell worse than other people? Sure, that could be a fact, regarding solely your experience. But do I believe for a moment that there’s any non-anecdotal evidence that proves that the obese somehow have poorer hygiene than others? No, not at all. So please don’t pretend that this is some verifiable fact that everyone knows.

      I do believe that some people of size face challenges regarding hygiene, but a functional person facing such challenges is going to go out of their way to attempt to address them.

      I went to a tech university, poor hygiene is rampant there, and it was rampant among individuals of pretty much any weight. In my own life, I’ve seen that poor hygiene tends to go hand in hand with individuals with really poor life skills, and also the individuals that were severely depressed or otherwise had little self worth.

    • April 13, 2012 10:17 am

      FACT: Flight attendants won’t let you stand for 1.5 hours during a flight.
      FACT: Flight attendants won’t allow passengers to not use their seatbelts, no matter how fat they are. That’s what extenders are for.
      FACT: Airlines have shown absolutely no compunction in booting fat people from planes for taking up too much space. If this woman was taking up 1.5 seats, why wouldn’t they have stepped in?

      The only thing that stinks here is your story, which is bullshit, but I’ve restored your previous comments so others can see. I’ve also sent you an email to verify that this is an accurate account for your comments. We’ve recently had a rash of trolls (most likely a single person) and I have decided that I’m not going to let a few douchebags ruin this community for the rest of us.

      Your comments are nothing more than a compendium of stereotypes about flying fatties. A person with the body size you describe must have a BMI over 50, which includes just 0.42% of the population. The odds of sitting next to someone whose fat impinges on half the seat next to them is incredibly small. I have no doubt that it happens, but your story is so full of holes and nonsense that I have no doubt you’re just another troll looking for attention.

      Verify your email address or your future comments will be deleted.

      Peace,
      Shannon

      • vesta44 permalink
        April 13, 2012 10:52 am

        Depending on that mythical fat woman’s height, her BMI might have to be over 60 – my BMI is 57, and the last time I flew in 2000, when I went to NYC to visit friends for Christmas/New Year’s, my BMI was 53 (I weighed 350 lbs at the time). I fit just fine in the seat, didn’t spill over into the seats next to me, and didn’t have any problems with seatmates complaining about having to sit next to me (I’m 5′ 8″). So yeah, I think “a” could be (probably is) full of shit.

  15. April 13, 2012 12:06 pm

    very interesting story… Yawn, thanks for the read. i dont care what your BMI is. the fatty i sat next to was spilling into my seat. i would say about 10 inches and she smelt bad… fact! thanks for chatting. i now have a life to get on with.

    • April 13, 2012 12:13 pm

      a,
      Are you going to address the inconsistencies I pointed out? The flight attendants had no problem with you standing for 1.5 hours or your mythical fatty going seatbeltless?

      Peace,
      Shannon

      • April 13, 2012 12:14 pm

        Should have kept this asshole deleted. They’re a worthless troll.

        • April 13, 2012 12:34 pm

          I know, but I’m learning how to use this newfound power for good, and not simply to squash obnoxious buttholes. I think I’m still going to rely on the Asshole Rule more often than not (like this could have easily been flagged asshole if necessary), rather than making a snap judgement. I usually question myself afterward.

          Peace,
          Shannon

  16. April 13, 2012 2:33 pm

    oh and FACT i did stand for that amount of time. AND FACT SHE DID NOT HAVE HER SEAT BELT ON THE WHOLE WAY, SHE WAS COVERED IN A BLANCKET. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP> IM and nto so sad to come onto a chat site to make a load of bull shit up. i am telling the truth about an expereience i had on the plane. If people take up more than a seat they should be something done about it. that fact she smelt was just a added bonus.

    • vesta44 permalink
      April 13, 2012 3:16 pm

      I hate to inform you of this, a, but you don’t have to wear your seatbelt the whole time you’re on the airplane. You wear it during takeoff, and once the plane is in the air, you’re allowed to unbuckle the damned thing. You have to buckle up again when it’s time for the plane to land. Other than that, the only time they tell you to buckle up if there’s going to be an extended period of turbulence. So she didn’t have to wear her seatbelt the whole 12-hour flight (and I’m betting you didn’t wear yours the whole time you were seated either, so STFU already).

    • April 13, 2012 5:20 pm

      Are you saying they didn’t make sure she had her seatbelt on for take off? Because I’ve been on quite a few flights and they’re pretty insistent upon that point.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  17. April 15, 2012 6:52 am

    hah you are both so funny. I havnt figured out a IP i dont even kno what it is. You just think your so cool in comand of a website, it does make me laugh. i love how you both keep telling me what happened. When you wernt even there.
    I know that you have to have your seat belt of for take off and landing also during turbulence. Believe it or not im no dumb! i have been on flights many times too.
    THIS LADY DID NOT HAVE HER SEAT BELT ON FOR TAKE OFF OR LANDING> SHE HAD A BLANKET OVER HER BIG FAT BODY! get over your selfs.

  18. Melissa permalink
    April 26, 2012 9:47 pm

    Hi everyone,

    I understand what the blogger is saying in regards to space being a premium, but I disagree in the idea of a tall person paying more. You can not change your height, but weight is something you can change. If you are to the point where your extra weight is spilling over or is a hindrance to others traveling….. I think that is part of the persons consequences of lifestyle choices. I understand some people are genetically heavier, but most are not genetically programmed or obesity. This is just human biology. Other persons are having to accommodated for another’s poor choices in health and this is not fair. Being tall is not something one can just alter, however obesity is. I would be offended by someone who is obeses to have a disregard for the people’s comfort because of their condition. They know it is embarrassing and uncomfortable for others, but say it is unfair to be treated differently. They are different though and they made the choices for the physical handicap now. I’m sorry I may anger some people on here, but if you think most people in an airplane aren’t thinking this then you are in denial. When you are having to pay for extra room for your physical abundance this should be some motivation to make some choices for a healthier life. I think you would then feel differently being on the other side.

    • April 26, 2012 10:25 pm

      Welcome Melissa,
      I understand your concern, but one thing you must understand before commenting on size as a consequence of lifestyle choice is that it’s a little more difficult than that. You can check out this post for more information on where we stand on this issue.

      That being said, there are plenty of lifestyle issues that can affect a person’s comfort on a plane. Personally, I loathe sitting next to chatty people who can’t shut the hell up. I have a touch of social anxiety and find small talk extremely unpleasant. I’ve been stuck on a flight next to my worst nightmare and there was nothing I could do about, especially since I had to do work on the plane and couldn’t fake sleeping. Then there’s the lady with the screaming baby. Perhaps if her lifestyle choice had included a little more birth control, we could all enjoy a nice peaceful flight. Or how about the guy without any basic hygiene skills whose funk brings tears to my eyes.

      There are plenty of “lifestyle choices” that make flying one of the most miserable experiences I can think of. But size and space is the only one that has an actual solution, if airlines would be willing to invest in it. But they aren’t because they’re more worried about cramming as many sweaty, disgusting assholes into those flying meat-cans as possible.

      Fat people are human beings too and don’t deserve to be treated like crap by the airlines or by dickweed passengers, which they are on a regular basis. This is not about lifestyle choices, this is about basic human respect, and we must never forget that.

      Peace,
      Shannon

      • Melissa permalink
        April 27, 2012 10:24 am

        I believe it is different concerning obesity. I don’t believe anyone really “wants” to be obese… Do you? However people do which to have children and why is that bad? They do have to purchase a children’s seat on the plane. I thought this was about encroaching on others space which is what we pay for. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to sit next to a chatty person or a child. It’s the fact that an obese person takes up more space. I don’t think one person is ok with bing obese at all and I also believe that comes with feelings of well I’m different and things are so hard for me why treat me this way. Well because the extra room that transportation in airlines must provide for your comfort and everyone else’s I do believe is fair. You may not like the rules but they are there because majority of travelers feel this way. I’m sorry that it may hurt your feelings but it also hurts others when they can’t feel comfort in their seat. On another note concerning children…that is very different. The child must be of a certain age or size the. They can sit in the parents lap. It does annoy me that the child is restless and will cry but.. I don’t feel as if my space that I paid for is being used by someone else. As for a chatty person next to you … All you have to say is I have anxiety and how it bothers you. Pop your earphones in and ignore it. They aren’t causing you to out the armrest down so they can have more room. This is the basis of your reason that space is what we are paying for not social anxiety or dislike for children.
        -Melissa
        Ps my mother was overweight because of hormone supplements she had a really hard time with it and it was a severe medical condition. We
        all helped her lose weight, but mainly she did it for her health. She is a healthy balanced person now and often talks about how it was easy to blame a medical condition to stay overweight. I’m so proud of her because traveling to visit us isn’t a huge deal now and she is no longer embarrassed.

        • Melissa permalink
          April 27, 2012 10:32 am

          P.s.s just some food for thought. I don’t know if you knew this but it isn’t just airlines that do this. I ride horses and have a ranch. My ranch provides trail rides. However we do have weight restrictions as a precaution for obese people because the horse can only carry so much even with an experienced rider. The horses grow only so big and it is unfair for a horse to work with that kind of load. However with experienced riders that ride correctly the horse can carry more weight. Just some extra knowledge that other transportation does charge and restrict things for overweight people and it is justified.
          -Melissa

        • vesta44 permalink
          April 27, 2012 11:01 am

          Melissa – What works for one person to lose weight and keep it off forever will not necessarily work for every other fat person out there. For you to come here and say that your mother was overweight because of hormone supplements and you helped her lose weight doesn’t mean much to most fat people who aren’t fat for the same reason, and don’t have your mother’s exact same physiology. If you haven’t read and researched the causes and effects of obesity like most of us have, who have lived with it most of our lives, you need to take your bigotry somewhere else and STFU. You’re saying that we have no right to travel in an airplane because we take up more room than is allowed – well, those seats have gotten smaller over the years so that airlines can cram more people into the space they have, the seats have gotten closer together so airlines can cram more people into the space they have, and they don’t care about your comfort at all – why else do you have to pay for pillows, blankets, headphones, snacks, drinks, etc now? Why else were meals discontinued on long flights? It’s not about making more money – I would be willing to pay more for a ticket that gave me a bigger seat with all the amenities, and I imagine there are a lot of people who would also, but the airlines aren’t going to do that. And you know what? I’m not going to disappear just so I don’t offend your delicate sensibilities. If I want to go somewhere, I’m damned well going to go and if you don’t want to look at my fat ass, don’t want to sit next to my fat ass, YOU can stay home instead. I’m sick and tired of being told that I need to make myself less in order to be allowed to exist, in order to be afforded human dignity and respect. I’m a human being too, just like you, and I don’t deserve to be told that I can’t do the same things as my thinner peers just because they don’t want to look at my fat ass or sit next to it.

          • Melissa permalink
            April 27, 2012 5:37 pm

            I don’t understand why you areas upset. Iw as just offering a view from another side. Why are you attacking my mother’s struggle with weight. I understood her trouble with it and how it was a medical condition. If you can’t listen to another’s view point then I feel sorry for everyone else who converses with you. I simply challenged a thought and offered reasons why they CONTINUE to charge more or embarrass obese customers. If this is how you act with no tolerance for another’s feelings then….. I definitely have not had my mind changed for your plight! Well I suppose I won’t comment here anymore. If one cannot simply converse what’s the point. Only listen to those that agree with you?
            – Melissa

  19. Sylvia permalink
    August 10, 2013 5:06 pm

    I remember a gentler time when being considerate was apprciated and tolerence was a virtue. I am overweight and have been my entire life. My parents put me on every diet in the books and believe it or not, I jog 2.6 miles a day not to mention take many long bike rides weather permitting …….. still quite heavy although not obese. This has boiled down to profits, nothing more. It wasn’t that long ago I read an article about an airline in Ireland that was considering ‘perches’ vs. chairs to get even more people on a flight. I hate flying now. I come from a time when meals were served, you had room no matter your size and yes, even hot towels with which to freshen up. I have a business trip coming up and I took it upon myself to upgrade to economy plus not so much for my own comfort, but to be considerate of those who will sit next to me and may find my girth bothersome. I feel for all of us. The things that help make life more joyous have been whittled away and leave us bickering about what is and is not acceptable. We all have a right to some personal space and dignity. I wonder ………….. will we ever get back to the gentler times?

  20. vesta44 permalink
    April 13, 2012 11:08 pm

    Why thank you very much for saying I’m a real class act, I really appreciate that. As for you thinking it sucks that I speak for fat people – I don’t speak for all fat people, I only speak for myself and if you can’t handle that, well, all I have to say is too bad so sad sucks to be you.

  21. April 14, 2012 9:55 pm

    This is why I deleted a immediately… whoever this sad sack of cat crap is knows how to change IP addresses to get around our ban, so when someone’s comment just has to get in a dig about fatties, rather than just state their opinion, I’m suspicious. But this douche was an insta-ban. And clearly he’s a fan of your work, vesta. :)

    Peace,
    Shannon

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