Fair Is Fair: The Fat Will Have to Pay Extra

Some years ago, on a flight from Honolulu to the U.S. mainland, I was seated next to a woman who was – I can’t make my point and still describe her with any sensitivity – fat. Very fat. I was in Seat A, the window seat, and she was in Seat B on my right. The woman spilled so far over into my space that I had to eat my meal left-handed.

On another flight, a huge male passenger literally had to shuffle sideways down the aisle of the plane. Fortunately for the person seated next to him, the airline had put him in an aisle seat with a removable armrest. But that meant he bulged out so far into the aisle that passengers on the way to the lavetory had to do the sideways shuffle to get by him. And watching the crew maneuvering the beverage and food carts past his seat was more entertaining than the movie.

But this is a real problem and it’s getting worse, not better. More Americans are getting fat, the already-fat Americans are getting fatter, and airline seats are sure as hell not getting any wider!

Well, finally it appears that the airlines are going to do something about this. Apparently Southwest has been requiring obese passengers to purchase an additional seat for some time, although they provide a refund for the second seat if the plane is not full. (But why? After all, it take twice as much fuel to get a 300 pounder aloft as it does someone weighing half as much. Isn’t that the very same logic they use to charge us for extra baggage?)

And now United Airlines is following suit. A representative for that airline says they received more than 700 complaints about overweight passengers last year. Just imagine how many passengers suffered through a fat-seatmate experience and didn’t go to the trouble of complaining.

Come to think of it – and I’m sure you saw this coming – this is just one more reason to take the train, isn’t it! Big, wide seats, plenty of room for everyone. Oh … with one possible exception. I once had a car attendant describe in hilarious detail the time it took three of them to pull a seriously overweight woman out of one of the Amtrak lavatories. I’d love to believe it was the lady from Seat B!