Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Should Overweight Fliers Pay More?

Should Overweight Fliers Pay More?

By Colleen Clark
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A photo of an obese airplane passenger has inspired a passionate debate as to whether or not overweight fliers should pay more. Writer Colleen Clark thinks they should—for safety reasons—and we agree. What do you think?

I am THAT girl. I could be lined up for a plane with the Argentian soccer team and an entire agency of male models, but without fail, I will end up by the bathroom wedged between an obese man with flatulence and a screaming infant with air sickness. So just looking at this picture, said to have been taken by an American Airlines flight attendant, gives me all sorts of cramped leg, contorted body flashbacks.

 Current airline policies vary in regards to overweight passengers—some suggest buying two seats, others don't say anything for fear of discrimination lawsuits. Coming from a larger-than-average family, I feel for the guy. The prospect of having to pay double every time you fly is a daunting one. And if my 130-pound frame feels cramped in coach, I can only imagine his discomfort. But for me, what it comes down to is safety. In the event of an emergency landing, this passenger would likely find it difficult to exit quickly, delaying the safe evacuation of everyone behind him. He can't be seated in the larger exit rows because federal law restricts them to able bodied passengers.

The second issue is one of convenience. The poor sap next to him paid for a full seat but likely ends up wedged into one-third of that space once the armrest is raised and his seatmate slaps on that seatbelt extender. So as much as I hate to place financial burdens on anyone in the current climate, it seems reasonable, as a commenter on this
aviation blog suggests, to expect larger passengers to pay for an additional seat with the option of getting a refund for that seat in the event that the plane is not full. As obesity continues to rise, however, airlines will have to take additional measures to address larger passengers, which may mean adding rows with special seating to accommodate them (with accompanying higher fares) and adjusting the size of the emergency exits to reflect the passengers who might be using them.

What do you think? Are you a larger person tired of being discriminated against for your weight? Or are you tired of obese passengers invading the space that you paid full price for? And, honestly, could airline travel possibly suck any more these days (the answer is yes. PLEASE don't legalize in-flight cell phone usage!)? Weigh in and tell us what you think:


  1. No they should not at all. simply because if there was a baby(infant) on the plane the mother would have to strap that kid in with her in her chair for security. Which is fine, but the airline will still charge the parents atleast half fare if not full fare for the baby. And the seat isnt even being used. Which is very very unfair. Its rude and nasty to do that to a person.