Archive | 9:31 am

Why Larger People Need To Buy That Extra Airline Seat

3 Mar

Now before you start flaming me with comments about my discrimination against large people, I am a woman of size myself. You don’t need to know exactly what size, but I am a regular shopper at Lane Bryant (which has really upgraded their styles).  But I digress.

I am a woman of size who happens to still fit into a seat, and without a seat belt extender.  But there are plenty of folks out there who just don’t fit into one airline seat, a seat that has gotten narrower and tighter in the past 10 years.  Lord knows, I feel your pain and sympathize.

British Airways Boeing 767 Club World seat Photo by Benet J. Wilson

Back in the day, before airlines cut seat capacity, most would just let a person of size on a flight and try to block a seat so that person and their seatmate would be comfortable.  But those days, kids, are long gone.

Southwest Airlines can be ruthless when it comes to dealing with people of size — just ask film director Kevin Smith.  But it’s a ruthlessness that’s needed to make sure that everyone is a comfortable as one can be crammed into a packed Boeing 737.  So if you don’t fit, airlines are much more likely to make you pay for an extra seat.

One of my worst flights ever was on Southwest  going from San Antonio to Baltimore. It was 3.5 hours of pure hell.  Why? My daughter was cozy and comfy sitting next to the window in her La-Z-Boy-like SkyMall stroller that turns into a car/airplane seat (every flying mother should have one of these bad boys).  I was sitting in the middle, and a gentleman who clearly should have been in 2 seats came and sat next to me.

I really don’t know how Southwest missed this guy. He even had to ask for a seat belt extender.  I should have called over a flight attendant to say this was just NOT going to work.  But I didn’t want to be rude, and I paid the price.

He tried to lift the arm rest between us, but I refused. I was crammed on both sides, and at one point, I had to ask him to move his leg out of my foot space area.  And he seemed to have a bit of an attitude with me.  This was clearly a person who needed an extra seat.

I haven’t encountered that again, but if I find myself in a similar situation, I will not *hesitate* to speak up.  And please — I don’t need to hear about how some people of size can’t help it.  Again, I sympathize. I can play the “Guess Which Diets I’ve Done” with the best of them. I can go on for hours about the number of pounds I’ve lost — and gained. 

But in the end, the thin person in seat 17 B who is unfortunate enough to be sitting next to one of you, my Rubenesque compadres, on a packed flight in seat 17 A or C does not care about your weight trouble or the fact that you can’t help your size.  They just want to get through the flight with a modicum of comfort.

In the 1982 movie “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (yes, I’m a Trekkie),” Spock said: “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. And Capt. Kirk responds: Or the one.  There you have it.

So will you “weigh” in? Am I being to harsh on my fellow large passengers, or am I on target?


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