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How should airlines handle obese passengers?

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By George Hobica

Now that the federally-mandated three-hour tarmac delay rule is in place in the U.S., and hasn't brought down the airline industry, maybe Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood needs to have his Department of Transportation address a far more common aviation crisis: the growing number of people who are too fat to fit into tiny airplane seats and the discomfort they cause their seat mates.

Without a doubt, Marsha St Clair, a Los Angeles-based retiree, would agree. St Clair flew recently with her husband and sat next to a woman who was so obese that she "spilled over" into a third of St Clair's middle seat on a Boeing 757, forcing her to remain in full body contact for the duration of the five-hour flight. "I paid for an entire seat, but only got less than two thirds of it," she says. "Please tell me that there is an FAA regulation regarding this situation."

Well, Marsha, there isn't. But there should be.

Although some airlines have rules addressing such situations, including Southwest, which requires "passengers of size" to purchase a second seat, there's no standardized regulation.

But with figures from the National Center for Health Statistics stating that more than one-third of adults are obese, and that another third are merely "overweight," something needs to be done.

Now I realize that some people will say that obesity is a genetic condition or a handicap, and it may well be, although the fact that the ranks of the obese in the U.S. grow year after year suggests that it's not (DNA doesn't mutate quite that quickly).

But let's for the sake of argument say that obesity is a handicap, something beyond the individual's control.

In that case, it should be treated just like any other physical challenge. What can be done? Well, one solution would be for the transportation authorities to mandate that all airlines install extra wide "obesity" seats in their economy class sections. Each plane could have, say, one or two rows with two by two seating instead of the usual three by three configuration. Obese passengers could be pre-assigned these seats, either for the usual economy fare, or perhaps by paying a small premium. These seats wouldn't enjoy any other special services or extra legroom, just extra width.

If no obese passengers are flying on a particular flight, normally sized passengers could upgrade at the last minute to these more comfortable seats, by paying a premium, or get them by luck of the draw if there are no takers. Airlines such as jetBlue already charge more for extra leg room, but I'll bet what a lot of passengers really want is more room for their posteriors.

Barring that solution, or in addition to it, the government should require all airlines to publish clear policies stating how they will protect squished and uncomfortable passengers such as St Clair, who find themselves getting less than what they paid for. It's only fair.

Travelers, how do you think airlines and regulators should account for obese passengers? Leave your comment below, and please keep it civil.

© Airfarewatchdog.com

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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I think this article brings up a constructive and practical solution. It would be embarassing, but it would do the trick. When these seats aren't given to the obese, people will gladly pay for them as an upgrade.

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Let them travel, just cut the subsidies from the rest of us.

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I say weigh them, like everything else that goes on the plane.

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Whether the people are obese becaue of genetics or because of lack of self-control is irrelevant. They should pay for as much as they are using. That's a fair underlying principle.

Quite. When people shop for insurance, I'm quite sure they pay according to their risk. When people shop for groceries, I'm sure the grocer does not adjust the bill to a weight handicap. They charge by the quantity of goods. In aircraft the "goods" is space. Paying for space usage in aircraft would be more equitable. Moreover, fuel usage -a significant portion of the cost of running an airline, is affected by mass.

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Whether the people are obese becaue of genetics or because of lack of self-control is irrelevant. They should pay for as much as they are using. That's a fair underlying principle.

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I have this dream where all the seats on all aircraft are actually wide enough to be comfortable, with armrests for each seat and enough space between each row so that the person sitting by the window or in the middle can get up to go to the toilet or stretch without making the person in the aisle seat get up, and, of course so that no one's knees are crushed. All this technology and most people who fly are not comfortable.

It's called first class, Sarge.

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Why is this fair? Because it cost more to transport a heavier person, so they should pay more.

@ Tokyokawasaki - so should heavier people also be paid more at work, as their living cost is higher? Is it fair? ??

Not a good analogy at all.

Charging by weight is fair in the way that it is directly proportional to fuel used. However, it is a lot more complicated than that. Having a half empty plane is also wasteful. Hence the airlines have a very complicated set of incentives to optimize occupancy etc.

Also, I don't think the airlines want to make the publicity gaff of weighing people.

My idea would be to have several 'wide seats' installed. Obese people could book these seats beforehand or take their luck at the check-in. Once they are gone, then the passenger can't fly that flight (which would be an incentive to book the seat beforehand).

Ha ha, they could have the equivalent of the hand luggage measure in the airport. If you can sit in this 'sample' seat without flab hanging over, then you are eligible for a regular seat. Otherwise you have to have a wide seat. ;-)

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The only way to grantee the best time flying is going business class, no fat stinky bung holes in here : )

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Why is this fair? Because it cost more to transport a heavier person, so they should pay more.

@ Tokyokawasaki - so should heavier people also be paid more at work, as their living cost is higher? Is it fair? ??

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force all the fatties to sit beside each other so they will be squished together

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Patrick Smash:"Hold on though. If one in three Americans is fat and one in three is obese, then only one in three is not fat or obese. So airlines need to change the seat sizes anyway to suit the majority."

That would seem so if American were the majority of the people in the world!

Such reasoning could be used to change the seat size on domestic flights but would make American carrier all the more less competitive internationally versus carriers from countries that don't have whales as 1/3 of their population and Herefords for another third.

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I've laughed so hard at reading this thread I have tears!

Good stuff!

My advice though would be 2 charge for two seats / twice the fare, and give a percentage of that to the person they are sat next to.

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Columhcille made a very good point. There are some who might fall under the "overweight" category yet have very healthy bodies. Fair enough though, if weight is a safety issue for aircraft. Just to remind the folks out there who are touting "charge by weight" as the only solution, it is definitely an option. But don't forget, in that case, an extremely obese person could still be sitting next to you, spilling into your seat, but no more worries, as they paid more to do so! lol!

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limboinjapan - I have a better idea, seeing so many obese people have no problem with their being that way and often react like it is the person siting next to them's fault for complaining.

Here is what to do don't change the seats but put all the extra wide passengers in the same area right next to each other and watch how they all manage to fit in with each ones blubber mashing with the blubber of their neighbor, perhaps after a few flights like that, they will start thinking about losing some of that blubber.

Great idea!!! I think it will make them think that we are being unfair which of course is true to make a point because it's unfair to have to be forced to give up your space because some fatty can't control their urges.

The way I deal with people of fatness sitting next to me and spilling over the armrest is to pull the arm rest up until it's at a 45 degree angle. This pisses them off and they complain to the flight attendant which will see 'your' problem and move you to a less cramped seat. If fatty complains that it bothers them then you state that having your body pressing into you feels just as uncomfortable. Deal with the armrest in your side as it divides the seating area fairly and helps you stay on your side.

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I agree with those who say charge by weight. Make it a maximum passenger and luggage combined weight. Let's see I weigh about 170lbs and my 2 suitcases at 40lbs each that comes out to 250lbs. I'll let the airline decide what the upcharge over that weight is.

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Charging for extra weight is what insurance companies do. My husband is very athletic and muscular [muscle weighs more than fat and he has 16% body fat] and he was 1 [one] lb over their weight limit for being a special extra healthy customer, they told him he was unhealthy and overweight and couldn't get lower premiums. So now he pays more for insurance bc he was one lb overweight.. and he is actually very healthy!!... lol. So in that light, charging for weight, shouldn't be an issue ;P

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I have a better idea, seeing so many obese people have no problem with their being that way and often react like it is the person siting next to them's fault for complaining.

Here is what to do don't change the seats but put all the extra wide passengers in the same area right next to each other and watch how they all manage to fit in with each ones blubber mashing with the blubber of their neighbor, perhaps after a few flights like that, they will start thinking about losing some of that blubber.

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The human cargo planes is a 'grand' idea. It would be a niche market in the industry, with wider seats, spacious aisles and larger lavatories all designed to accommodate their land whale size. Minimum weight should be 100 kg. In-flight meals would be an all-you-can-eat buffet.

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But with figures from the National Center for Health Statistics stating that more than one-third of adults are obese, and that another third are merely “overweight,” something needs to be done.

it would seem then that the problem is not well understood by the thread responders. Planes are running out of the "extra seats" that airlines can part with, while the Orca Americano becomes more the norm rather than the exception and over time are becoming the general population. 1/3 are obese now? Holy Smokes. There's really no place to move to, so a new seat design would be even useful.

@Klein2:

easy on the renumeration! I'm half joking but I'll consider it in my design notes. We are all in effect contributing here as well but I don't expect renumeration either. Such is the world. Most of what I noted was what I wrote down here as my own posts with some examples thrown in here from brainstorming. Since it's in an engineering logbook signed and dated that helps any issues later.

Going to the moon is an idea too but making it happen took a lot of people a lot of time and money. I don't think all those people got paid either.

So I suspect someone will take the ideas here and consider them in their design plans as I would. But that's just the initial Situation of Concern, or problem statement. The math and testing and assessments are not on this thread so are not being paid for, which someone like myself would be billing someone for ;)

Also check the patent office, or google patents, I bet someone already made the seat system.

Just so I'm not disappointing anyone, I should note I'm a student and not a practicing Systems Design engineer (yet) and went back to school as an adult to deal with various issues of society. I can see this as a Co-op term project though with an airline and will propose it next round given the business possibilities. If I can get experience in developing the seat system (along with some more pressing issues) that would be grand.

Who knows, then it might actually happen or help push that project along.

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Charge by weight. Have a maximum allowable weight per seat, and anything over you either have to pay for another seat, or upgrade to business class with wider seats.

Totally agree. This is the only fair method.

I hate it when I get charged for a couple of extra kilos in baggage, especially when the person in front or behind is 'lets say a very heavy person' and their combined baggage and body weight is much, much heavier than mine, yet they get charged nothing because all their bulk is in the form of their body. This is totally unfair and unnecessary. Treat everyone like FedEx, you pay by your total weight i.e. baggage and body.

Why is this fair? Because it cost more to transport a heavier person, so they should pay more.

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"chicken, beef, or liposuction, sir?"

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Airlines should be responsible that all passengers for equal comfort. In a regular coach seating section, they should make modification to place 10 seats that are fifty percent larger than regular size seats. Just like carry on baggage, if your width exceeds the requirements, you will have to pay additional 25 percent for these seats. If seats are available during boarding, anybody an upgrade at this additional cost.

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"sure thing peachy871! It's definitely in my logbook now, so might as well go with it. Not until the new year though ;)"

OK Sf2k. Now make sure that you find some way to reward everyone on the thread for brainstorming for your new jillion dollar project. We are all warming up our lawsuit factories. You go ahead and develop it, and I will take my cut in about five years. That's how to make millions without really doing anything. hee hee

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Moondog. You are right. The benches with movable armrests is something I already thought of. I did not mention it because some numbskull will say that they cannot be made safely or give some other excuse why it is "impossible."

There is no barrier to having the technology to have various seat configurations. It would require some refitting, but once an airline gets a pretty good idea of what it needs, the seating arrangements would be easy to plan and change. What other posters also do not understand is that smaller people can fit in larger seats, and that people can bid for extra legroom, etc. There are all kinds of ways that the problem could be solved.

Anyway, the problem is not technology. The problem is idiots, naysayers, and airlines too stingy to make it work.

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obesity is a handicap

give me a break

Moderator: Stay on topic please.

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Charge by weight. Above a certain weight, you get 2 seats, OR, nobody sitting next to you. Below a certain weight, you get a partial refund.

Fedex, etc. all charge by weight (and package size), so charge passengers by weight, and give discounts to children, thin people, etc...

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2020hindsight at 10:54 AM JST - 16th November I'm pretty sure that some European airlines already require obese passengers to buy a second seat, although I think they may only charge 1.5 times the single seat price. Sounds sensible to me.

Not unless I can also buy two seats for 1.5 the price of one. I'm not obese, I just want two seats (one for me, one for a friend) at the same price an obese person would pay. If it works both ways, then okay.

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"Charge by weight. Have a maximum allowable weight per seat, and anything over you either have to pay for another seat, or upgrade to business class with wider seats." Agreed Shinohara. We pay for excess baggage why not body weight, same difference. They could frame it as a matter of safety

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whatever the outcome of the seat issue do not feed them on the plane. It will just make them fatter.

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Charge by weight. Have a maximum allowable weight per seat, and anything over you either have to pay for another seat, or upgrade to business class with wider seats.

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Here's the elephant in the room: obesity is a handicap. No one is arguing that blind people should be allowed to drive. It sucks, but certain handicaps exclude you from participating in some aspects of "normal" society.

There is such a thing as "genetic" obesity, but it is a very rare condition in which your brain can't release the necessary hormones to tell you to stop eating. Outside of that condition, this simple formula works for all mammals: if the calories you intake exceed the calories you expend, you gain weight. If the opposite is true, you lose weight. With very rare exception, a normal, adult male requires between 1500-1700 calories per day to maintain body weight, without ANY physical activity whatsoever. If you look at that realistically, that amounts to about 2 square meals a day plus a snack. You're not exactly starving yourself.

If you are obese, you are placing great strain on society in a number of ways, and the responsible thing to do is to lose the weight. Give up one meal a day and hire a personal trainer with the money you save. Otherwise, there are passenger ferries that can get you from Japan to America in a little less than a month. In light of that, buying an extra seat on an airline might be the better trade-off.

Also, for those commenting with, "how do you know you don't qualify for a single seat?", believe me, if you are obese, you are aware of your obesity. I would speculate that there are relatively few people straddling that "just barely too obese to fit into one seat" line. And even if you do suspect you may fit into that category, you have a responsibility to report it.

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Some 10 + years ago airlines in Europe were struggling in getting their seat configuration (ratio eco/biz class) sorted out. Short haul flights, depending on the destination, had to have seat configuration altered (some times several times in a single day) so the seat manufacturers came up with a solution where the entire aircraft was configured with 3 seat eco for each row. The trick to have some biz class seats was solved by "squeezing" the middle seat together hence widen the 2 seats each at the window and aisle. I've seen cabin attendants doing this on several occasions and was always impressed how efficient this works. Now if we all would be booking according to the preferred width of our seat (the wider the more expensive obviously), then airlines would be able to have their aircraft flexible enough to accommodate all our needs.

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unless they can provide a doctor's note proving that their obesity is genetic or due to a valid medical condition like a hormone imbalance and not simply overeating and/or a failure to exercise, they should pay for 2 seats.

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I'm pretty sure that some European airlines already require obese passengers to buy a second seat, although I think they may only charge 1.5 times the single seat price. Sounds sensible to me.

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em, well not only is the discomfort caused by sitting beside a person who is clearly to big for his or her seat but I was wondering about the actual safety flying weight when it comes to passengers. According to the FAA - Including clothing - Males (12yrs&up) (summer)182 lbs (winter)188 lbs is the maximum amount allowed for passengers of course not accounting for bulk and payload overall weight - any thought on this?

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HermioneGranger wrote: "... changing the seat configuration on planes is kind of ridiculous." because, he reasons, there might not be enough children for the small seats but, he adds, "if an obese person takes up half of my seat and I only get half of my seat, then he should pay for it, simple as that."

Simple? You say don't change anything but charge extra for spilling over into the next seat. Is that your plan? That's not simple, that's silly.

I think you underestimate the ability of engineers to come up with a solution. Just off the top of my head ... some seats could be split so two 1.5 seats are side by side. Or, some or all the seats could be benches with moveable armrests. Here's another--have a 'capsule' section for those who want to sleep the whole way.

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lol, why do these people run to FAA for more regulations? airlines are private industries. They should decide what to do and the market will tell them whether their decision was right or not.

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Bigger planes.

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peachy871

you'd have to make it at least 3 sizes so that the loss of one is gained by the other thus there is no net loss of space for the plane or row.

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Airlines don't have to go overboard with resizing seats. There should only be two sizes: standard and (as someone put it), comfort sizing. But there should be standards in place that stipulate the range of sizes passengers would fall in, which means most people would qualify for standard seating and those who fall in the larger range qualify for comfort seats, which would be priced a little higher.

To me, the idea of comfort seating is not primarily about pandering to the obese, rather it is about pandering to the needs, safety and comfort of the passengers they would otherwise be compromising in standard sized seating because they just don't fit in there.

Of course people come in all shapes and sizes and we could talk about all the different types of seat sizes but just two sizes would probably be sufficient to ease the burden of almost everyone. And once the larger seats are all booked up, that should be it, done. If an extremely obese person can't get a comfort seat, they should have two more options: either book on another flight that still has availability in the comfort seating section, or if really desperate, book 2 standard seats at full price for each seat. Just as we now have the option that if economy or business class is full on a flight, we have the option to either upgrade, downgrade or try to book on another flight.

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Have to agree with the NFOMS crowd (No Fat On My Seat). Here's why;

I paid my hard earned money for that little bit of space that the airline calls a seat. Very small, not comfortable at all, no pitch to speak of, but I fit in it. And maybe a few inches of space on either side (5'9", 195 lbs). I am not fat, but have an athletic build and do not come close to spilling over.

So when I sit down, the last thing I want is some big guy who over indulged at the Narita McDonald's and sits next to me for 12 hours to DC. When his body does not fit and starts to take up my space, I have an issue with that. If you don't fit, pay more. All this pandering to the obese is just not right.

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"pamelot at 08:53 AM JST - 14th November Can you smell the hate? First smokers, now fat people..."

No, not at all. No hate. I am totally tolerant of weighty people. However, when their fat overlaps into my space, that's where my tolerance ends. Why should I have to put up with someone's disgusting fat laying on my hands, legs, torso? Yeow, yuck!

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Also, changing the seat configuration on planes is kind of ridiculous. Say that you have a plane that has 3 rows of "family" seating with 1 "adult" seat and three "child seats. But there are no little kids on this flight. The flight, which is otherwise full and has a waiting list (I've never been on an international flight that wasn't oversold), loses money because there are no children to fill up those seats.

The same problem will occur when there are some families with one child and one parent, or two children/one parent, or heaven forbid, two or more parents with one or two children, or four or five children! In all of the scenarios, the airline can't fill the seats and therefore loses a lot of money. They'll raise their prices.

Then what happens when there are 10 "wide" seats on a flight, but 11 or more obese passengers? What if those wide seats are the same price as regular seats, and so thin people book them first. I would. I want a wide seat too, if they are going to cost the same (actually I might even pay more, and I am very thin). I might even consider taking it to court if I was moved out of my wide seat but still had to pay the same. There's nothing selfish about it-- if I pay the same as someone else, then I want the same accommodations as them. Let's face it, this whole thing is about money in the end. If everyone could afford first class, we would buy it. But we can't, so we sit in economy. I personally find it extremely hard to even afford economy, and I imagine that a lot of others do as well. So, we are all stuck paying for these economy seats and if an obese person takes up half of my seat and I only get half of my seat, then he should pay for it, simple as that. If it's all dealt with monetarily, with regulations that you can buy wide seats if you want, and you must buy wide seats if you are wider than a certain size, then that's that. Nobody can claim discrimination, right?

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They should make Economy-Cargo class. It's just great to be sitting in a centre row with obese guys on both sides.

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The wide-seat option sounds interesting, but ONLY if there is an extra charge! (equivalent to buying 1 1/2 seats, assuming a 2-instead-of-3 ratio of seats) Because if they are free, it would not be fair that an obese person gets a bigger seat than a non-obese one.

I prefer the two-seat thing. If you are that fat, it's not genetics. It's your lack of control (or education), plain and simple. Assuming that your genetics DO predispose you to gain weight, then you need to eat less calories to maintain a healthy weight, plain and simple. That's definitely not genetic. Hey, I am more than 6 feet tall, THAT is something genetic that cannot be changed by anything other than intense surgery. So where is my handicap compensation? I would like more legroom because, hey, following the same vein of thought as some of the obese, I have a genetic handicap and am being discriminated against.

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Charge "per-kilo excess" over a certain amount. We already do for luggage, why not cattle?

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To those who have stated they believe obese people should buy 2 seats: Do you really want that? I don't know about you, but if I were trying to get home for the holidays to see family and friends and every flight was jam-packed, and if I was told: "Yes, well there are open seats, but they have been purchased by obese people", I would be PISSED. I don't like being trapped beside someone who takes up 1 and a half seats for hours either, but if the alternative is not to make it to my destination, then I'd be willing to sacrifice comfort for... getting to my destination.

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It is not well known, but there was a reference to this in the Hebrew Bible: Thou preparest a seat before me in the presence of fellow passengers: thou anointest my head with pillow; my cellulose runneth over.

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Fat people ruin seats too. They make big dents in them, and that is annoying to sit on.

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There are plenty of other folks who would need larger seats as well and would be happy to pay for them in order to actually experience a comfortable flight.

It seems that the C-Class and F-Class seats (or even ANA premium class seats) could accomodate those folks.

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just make the fatties buy a second seat

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Just one small question.

Booking seats online is normally a lot cheaper than any other method, but I've never noticed a box to tick for "book me an extra seat to accommodate my fat butt". How do people do it? When you book online you need to enter the details of everyone traveling, so short of paying extra per seat to book over the phone or even more extra to book through a travel agent, how can it be done?

Just wondering, that's all. Seems a valid point considering the topic, because if they don't make it easy for people to ask for an extra seat then how can they efficiently plan seating?

Still I think a few comfort width seats on each plane wouldn't go amiss, at a small extra charge. Say 5 or 10% more than the normal economy seats.

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Although some airlines have rules addressing such situations, including Southwest, which requires “passengers of size” to purchase a second seat, there’s no standardized regulation.

So make this a standardized regulation, but also allow flight attendants to make a few choices to fit the situation, like the power to move other passengers when necessary. It's an unpleasant situation to deal with for everyone, but weight and size do matter on a flight, and all equipment has to be used within its limits. Figure out what the limits are and require an extra seat, or more, for those who go beyond it. No matter what size oversize seats are, there will always be someone who is larger, so this is going to have to be done.

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Having seats with varying sizes wastes space and is inefficient. You inevitably end up with a number of people who are not "matched" correctly to their seat size. Airlines would never go for it, and why should they?

There's no standard number of XXLs or XXSs or what have you on a given flight. Just make larger people pay for a second seat and be done with it.

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As cargo.

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sure thing peachy871! It's definitely in my logbook now, so might as well go with it. Not until the new year though ;)

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Sorry, I am just not on a huge hate rant with regard to people who are different sizes. Yes, I see some folks that are so huge that I just cannot understand how they let it get that far. Yes, I think people should take care of themselves and watch their weight and size. But for now, the reality is, there are a huge percentage of folks who are very obese and although it is not fair for me to suffer because the person next to me spills over into my seat, I know that problem is not going to disappear overnight and something has to be done to address it. Various seat sizes and corresponding fares seem like a good idea to me.

Seats of larger sizes need not only be aimed at the obese. There are plenty of other folks who would need larger seats as well and would be happy to pay for them in order to actually experience a comfortable flight. Sure, if they were marketed as "jumbo seats" or some such thing, folks could cry discrimination, but surely the airlines are not that daft. Obese people don't cry discrimination because they have plus-size clothing stores available to them. Present things in the proper manner and they will be seen as an advantage to all who are within the demographic for such a product.

Wait a minute...sf2k if you are going to do the designing, would you like a partner to help out with promoting them? lol

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I'm sure there would be calls for regulation but the industry so far hasn't needed it.

outside of Canada

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I would leave the door-jams up at the counter so that the industry gets a continuous update on the waistlines of their passengers so they can change their seat configurations in advance. Without any useful feedback they are now in crisis mode or whistling in the dark.

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this will not satisfy the fat people because they will need to always purchase a larger seat and will claim discrimination

if the seats are based on girth and priced accordingly well in advance of buying a ticket, a fat person can't claim discrimination. Reality is reality.

Thus kids and small adults like my friend's Japanese wife can benefit from the cheaper small to medium seats. I suspect that more seats can be filled satisfying the medium size than dealing with the extra large size. Research with the door-jams at the counter and the statistics they generate will tell the tale.

If the prices offset the costs and are distributed over the standard deviation of height confirmed through the research then it's a win win. I don't think that's ever been done.

After this, if the airline and tourist business communities values their prices and their investments they'll invest in helping reduce obesity. They have a vested interest, otherwise their costs will never go down while people of expanded waistlines demand more free and special services. A recipe for industry fail.

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@limboinjapan,

no the seats would vary in price. That was a main concern already noted in the thread. So there would be a base price for the current size but more for a large and less for a smaller. If it got out of hand I'm sure there would be calls for regulation but the industry so far hasn't needed it. With 4 classes of seat size (or whatnot) the price variability would help belay those concerns and help the company PR.

The extra-large seat would be more but not twice the price. Only if you have Konishiki on a flight would he then need the extra kids seat too.

Since the seats are measured the ratio can be that way or however whatever standard is provided. Some may then get exempted from the extra fee based on a doctor's note as some have a condition as mentioned in your posts.

The objective would be that no one is being crushed in their seats regardless of their size. Given the situation now at least making an effort would be useful.

Also since the seats would be distributed all over, people would not feel like they are in a special class of cargo

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Sorry its late a lot of type-o's "No if their are " should be "No if there are" and "due remember " should be "do remember", and "BVT" should be "DVT"

Sorry bedtime I think!

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I've logged this in my engineering logbook, so I'll make up some distribution code for it. ;)

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@sf2k

Your idea has merit but you fail to see that this will not satisfy the fat people because they will need to always purchase a larger seat and will claim discrimination and if what you are saying is that all the seats would be the same price then sooner or later someone will finally get fed up with always getting the small seat at the same price as the jumbo seat and file a law suit.

No if their are going to be different seat sizes and pricing it will have to be mandated in a way to protect from legal action and be fair to all by stating you pay for what you use and get and that it is very clearly stated as a safety issue, due remember that if fatty takes up part of the already little space you have that makes it more difficult for you to move and thus increasing your risk of BVT.

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as well if the seat is STILL not enough then the person can buy the small kid's seat next to him/her and thus not have to shell out too much.

I think that does it.

Anything in the above that would be questionable?

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peachy871:"limbo...your argument regarding obese passengers opting for seats that are too small because they are cheaper may hold water in a few rare cases. For the most part, those who take up more room...not just the obese...would be relieved to have the option to have the space they need...and would pay more for it."

I can shoot that comment down so fast it isn't even funny.

When air safety regulations stated that a person must fit securely into his or her seat or purchase a second seat (at a set percentage of a regular seat) and in Canada that included an exception for those recognized as having a true disability due to illness or genetic conditions (free second seat for them), the bubbler groups and their bleeding heart social equality defenders took the airlines to court and won and now in Canada the airlines must give Fat people even those without any medical reason for being fat a FREE seat and that is one reason Air Canada that is in the red must charge even more for all the seats.

You now see what I mean normal people are now second class citizens of this world because the fringe groups make demands and get them because if we the normal people say anything we will be labeled haters and discriminators.

No the rules need to be changed so that you pay for what you use and the only exception should be if you are genuinely disabled.

A set total weight limits and a set size limit so if I have respect for my body and stay in shape I get the reward of heavier luggage and the right to use the cheaper standard seats, if the other guy cannot control his weight and waist size then he has to carry lighter luggage and purchase a larger seat (or a second seat at a percentage).

Do note that I am a small man but my father is nearly 2 meters tall he understands that he is not average so on long hauls he has little choice but to purchase a first class ticket for his own comfort and safety as well as that of other passenger his size is not of his own making but as any doctor or researcher will tell you 80% of obesity is due solely to the persons own habit and has nothing to do with illness or genetics.

Make them start taking responsibility for their own actions and force them to purchase a larger seat or seats for the safety and comfort of others.

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If a passenger is taking up one and a half seats, maybe that half remainder would have been fine for a kid, so the spacing issue could be solved with different seat sizes without undue loss of space for the airline. Mix up the rows a bit so not all the plus sized seats are just beside the aisle, and restrict them to window or aisle, with a small seat beside and a regular seat filling the remainder. With 5 seat blocks could be more family friendly with small-medium-large and small-large and medium-large. Since a plane has so many rows, so lots of variety possible, including rows with no extra large seats at all.

Couples too tend to be medium-large for seats so that might also add to space savings.

It just becomes a distribution and math problem at this point, to maximize the available space based on 4 seat sizes and also with smalls being beside larger seats and mediums being beside larger seats. Algebra baby.

Some testing would be required, but I could see myself offering a contract to the airlines for such a scenario (wink)

how about during my next Co-op term? (Systems Design Engineering)

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The issue is more how size affects the passenger next to you. So it just comes down to width.

How about four cutouts? Like a door jam but the width is the width of a seat. At the counter you then walk through with shoulders parallel to the door and the one that you can fit through becomes the seat you get. If there is a S M L XL coffee size then these walk-throughs would confirm your comfort before boarding.

So, smaller seats can be beside larger seats to accommodate families with children, then the kids don't have to take up an entire seat.

Larger people can then pick up the space saved and choose which is most suitable to them and should be able to select their size online as well.

Thus we all get the right price befitting our size based on not bothering the passenger next to you, which is the point. Since the larger seats cost more there is already a consideration of weight so a per-kilo charge is thus not necessary in this scenario.

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peachy: those who take up more room...not just the obese...would be relieved to have the option to have the space they need...and would pay more for it...just like they have to pay more for clothes in their own size.

Then why the heck don't they buy the extra seat in advance saving us all the trouble if they know they will spill over a standard seat? They have failed to pay more for their comfort and imposed their body on us already. Thinking about seat size after the fact of purchasing a ticket is irresponsible then isn't it?

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limbo...your argument regarding obese passengers opting for seats that are too small because they are cheaper may hold water in a few rare cases. For the most part, those who take up more room...not just the obese...would be relieved to have the option to have the space they need...and would pay more for it...just like they have to pay more for clothes in their own size. You don't see really obese people walking around wearing jeans that cannot be pulled up past their thighs just because the smaller size was cheaper. Same goes for taller people or folks who are larger yet not overweight (i.e. athletic builds). People are generally happy to buy what fits them.

I am not by any means overweight, but have felt horribly self-concious on commuter flights because my hips were touching the person next to me...or were their hips touching mine? Neither one of us were overweight, yet we were uncomfortable and kept trying to squirm away from each other to keep from touching. I would imagine, for all the space and discomfort an obese person causes the person next to them, they feel just as uncomfortable because obviously they don't fit, plus they have the added stress of folks' hostility toward them.

And how does one gauge when a person is fat out of their own fault? There are probably some obese people out there with valid medical disorders, just as pointed out by limbo. But what about those who are never diagnosed by their doctors and despite proper eating and exercise, are still overweight? Does everyone have to supply their life story to prove whether their size is excusable or not?

Oh and by the way, there are already larger seats available on many flights. It is called business class. Of course, those are far more expensive because it is a higher class. Yet I have observed obese people getting on my flight, wondered how they are going to cope then saw them in the business class seats on my way by to economy. So, yeah, some obese folks are willing to pay top dollar for the comfort of themselves and those around them. If economy class had optional sized seating, I am sure it would work. Be more expensive than a standard seat but less expensive than business class because there are no other perks other than the perk of not being an inconvenience to others.

Yes, I agree folks have to take responsibility for their weight and cannot blame society or genetics for their condition in most cases. However, there are many other people who are in great health but who also have trouble in the standard seats. Some might even weigh more than average but are of average size and would have to pay as much as someone who is considered overweight, if airlines were to impose total weight charges. Perhaps that is fair in light of safety and fuel charges, etc. but again, does not really address the space issue. Simply have two types of seats recommended for folks of one size range and seats for others above that size range. Not that complicated.

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Lets face reality. Many an idea came out in this discussion. But really for the airlines to have to get newer seats would cost us in the long run as well. Lets just have the test seat and those that can't fit have to buy an extra seat if available. If not too bad you don't fly and that's your fault for not considering your own size. Then all fatties would buy the extra seat so they can be comfortable or miss their flight. After all safety is an issue. If you can't fit the vessel then you are a danger to others. Or you can go in the cargo hold.

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Limbo - I thought you really meant lager . I was just complimenting you on a marvellous idea.

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@BurakuminDes; You must really have nothing much to say on this if all you can comment on is a type-o.

For all those who have said that the airlines should have different size seat available and that the rates for each seat size should vary as well as those that say a total weight charge will not work because that still doesn't address the problem of obese people taking up the space of their neighbor.

Well both points are good but without it being mandatory to purchase a larger seat at a higher price obese people will still take the cheaper smaller seat and infringe on their neighbor's space.

The only solution is to have regular seats and large seats available and waist and hip size like baggage size clearly available upon booking and if you don't check your size and arrive at the check in and cannot pass through the size frame with ease that would be like and entrance gate just before the check in counter well to bad you will have to upgrade or miss your flight.

But again the surcharge should have a medical exemption for the few large people that actually have a real medical condition for their size generally the acceptable number is about 10% for Genetic disorders and 10% for illness of all obese people.

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The airlines should have some non-first class lager seats for these people

A lager seat? I like your thinking, limbo...might just ask if I can get one of those on my Xmas trip home. Free-flowing, icy-cold lager on tap - just the thing for the stress of air travel!

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All those claiming not all fat people are lazy or its societies fault are just making up excuses for these whales.

I have worked in the health care field and in that time I only saw 3 obese people that actually had a medical reason they were mother, daughter and granddaughter with an hereditary condition which due to her age and modern medicine was kept under control in the granddaughter.

The airlines should have some non-first class lager seats for these people at regular fare if they have an approved disability paper from a doctor just as other disabled people do to get special services and not be discriminated against.

But that will not work because the rest of the lazy fat people will still complain by refusing to accept any personal responsibility and say what has been already posted by some here that it is societies fault and this is typical of today's society in the total lack of personal responsibility.

If you are driving on a road and people are walking in the middle of that road most will move to the side except the fats ones they have no respect for their own body and thus no respect for others and that is why when you complain about their blubber flowing over on to your seat they don't care instead they act like YOU are the one at fault or that it is the airlines fault but no way will they ever admit that they have any responsibility.

Airlines are trying to survive these days most are in the red so we will soon all be paying more but unlike most surface travel, weight is a big thing when flying so why should those who take care of their bodies and weight have to pay for those without self respect or self control.

As I mentioned above their should be seat for people with legitimate medical disabilities but for those who are Fat out of just plain laziness and lack of self control those lager seat should be mandatory and at a premium (if it is only an option and not mandatory then these selfish people will not want to pay and will take regular seats without giving a damn they are infringing on others space).

And for those asking how would this work well that is simple like baggage has a weight and dimension regulations available on the websites of travel agencies and airlines there could be waist and hip size measurements also included and like baggage if when you get to the check in you cannot pass through the size check (something like the metal frame for checking the carry on bags) then it will be your fault for not checking and you will need to purchase a larger seat and if none are available well that would be to bad and your own fault for not checking just like it is when your luggage is to heavy or to large.

Yes the airlines need to provide some choice but people have to return to taking some responsibility in their lives and stop blaming others or expecting other to pay for their irresponsibility.

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I have another idea...airline companies should take the biometrics of every passenger upon booking their flights. then they can decide where to put fat people, thin people, hobbits, etc. and again, pay per kilo upon check-in. charge double if anybody lie in giving their biometrics. how does that sound Sarge?

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If they keep shrinking economy class then they probably won't have any other choice but to get into the cargo freight business for obese passengers. Perhaps a new airline company is needed, something like QOA (Quite Obese Airlines), and there could be a minimum weight (let's say around 100kg) requirement for boarding.

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"Pay per kilo upon check-in"

That does nothing to address the problem of overweight people trying to squeeze into economy class seats which are really designed for children under 12.

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I don't have problem with obese nor blame it. Additionally, I am a short asian guy in which the neck support on the seat never fit in me. Believe me, that neck support is bothering rather than helping. It just right in my head instead in my neck. However, I never complaint about it. What I want to say is very simple, I think that we should pay fuel surcharge in fair manner.

However, I agree with peachy871 that the main problem is the seating space. And, it is not possible provide seating that fit with each passengers.

But, I still believe my statement above had some point that the surcharge should be calculate fairly. The airlines can add surcharge for the people whose weight exceed certain limit, just like luggage weight. Hence, the other passenger can pay lower fuel surcharge.

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Pay per kilo upon check-in!

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A lot of you seem to feel that having folks pay according to total weight might have been a good point had you not lost sight of what the real problem is here. The problem with obese passengers, according to the gripes written about in the wrtie-up above, is that they take up more space; two people could weigh a lot but one could be muscular and one could be obese. Or the obese person has really light luggage and a lighter person has heavy luggage. In the end they would each pay the same amount but the obese person is still not going to fit properly in the standard seats...so, the "skinny" person is still paying the same as someone weighing twice as much AND you still have to sit next to someone taking up a portion of your space. So basically, that argument is all about hating folks who are obese, wanting them to pay for their "crime" of weighing more; that argument does nothing to solve the issue of having enough space in the seat you paid for. Not a lot of problem solving going on here.

People are going to come in all shapes and sizes. Airlines should look at seating of different dimensions and rates for said dimensions. As someone else pointed out, we buy clothing, shoes, etc. in different sizes, so why not airplane seats? You could argue that airlines can't always be revamping their planes, but if different sized seating were implemented as the norm, they wouldn't have to revamp all the time, would they? If airlines can install things like beds, showers, bars, etc., surely seats of various sizes with economy class service is not that big of a stretch. If someone needs an extra large seat (and cannot fit into anything smaller) and those seats are all booked up, they would have to look at booking another flight, just as now, when all the "standard" economy seats are full, we have to search for other flights. Not really a difficult issue. Of course, as for really small commuter planes, perhaps various sizes of seats is not realistic, however, a passenger who would normally get an extra large seat on a larger aircraft, could still have the option of paying the rates for an extra large seat and have the two seat in his/her row.

Sure, folks should look at getting healthy but while on the road back to healthiness, there will still be reasons for obese folks to have to travel. It is a reality.

Obesity aside, there are still lots of reason for folks to need different sizes of seats as well. The tall, the well-built (seat me next to him, please!! ha ha!), the short, the "standard", and so on.

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I weigh less than 60kg and never check-in more than 20. I deserve to get a discount fare.

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Moondog: "Airfares based on the total weight of passenger + luggage." I totally agree with this statement. My weight only 55kg. If I pay same amount with those who weight can be twice as me, then its mean I am paying some part of their fuel surcharge. If it so, where is the fairness in the point of view skinny people like me? Plus its discomfort, when the people like them sitting next to me.

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If you are fat you should be forced to buy two seats, it is your own fault you are fat.

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FentonFalsitt at 08:04 PM JST - 13th November Surcharge for weight. Anyone over 50kg pays extra for the fuel costs, same as for extra baggage. (Sorry, Mr Swimmer! Your extra muscle is probably pretty heavy even though you're slim. :-D)

Over 50kgs? 160 pounds is a healthy BMI for anyone over 5'8" (almost every man). So according to your logic FentonFalsitt almost every healthy man would be paying 22kgs of excess baggage.

Basically this is the direction airlines are headed, where you have to be anorexic or a midgit (sorry, "vertically challenged") to fit into the seats comfortably.

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They should welcome them warmly and give them complimentary chocolate bars and ice cream.

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i think they should have weight limit such as weight of passenger plus luggage altogether 120kg,,,if over then have to pay per kg that way, the smaller passengers get to take more luggage and the bigger passengers can take less luggage and their other 'luggage'

I like the idea of having different size seats on the plane, I think also they should have padded cots for up to 4 babies long leg seats for us long leg types and at the back XL seats for the XL people so each flight has a select number of seats also should have dark or light section so those annoying types who like to read while the rest sleep can do so but then of course we would have to have a room for hanky panky for those types too I personally want a personal massueuse and yummy chocolates and facial spa,,,but then that would be asking too much I believe there is a option for bigger people right now, it is called cruise ship

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Well, that's why they have the "Preview" button, isn't it. :-/ Please add close quotes after the word "exchangeable" in my posting just above.

Moondog

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I wrote: "Airfares based on the total weight of passenger + luggage." Klein2 replied: "That would only work in terms of allocation if cargo space and passenger space were exchangeable. No. The problem here is the allocating the passenger space."

They are interrelated issues. Suitable sized seats for all and a fair fare for the seat size and total weight being carried. Knowing the actual total weight of cargo also enhances both safety and fuel economy.

Klein2 also wrote: "...weighing people and reporting their weight to a bunch of strangers..."

No need for anyone (even the check-in counter staff) to see the weight, which is combined with all the bags anyway. The total weight and the size of seat that was reserved go into a algorithm that determines any fare adjustments (up for large folks and down for the smaller ones such as children, for example).

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This can't go both ways. One the one hand we can't blame a fat person for being fat because it's society's fault. On the other we can't help society be aware of why they are fat and help change that through awareness, incentives or (gasp) education.

Pick one.

It is directly in the financial interest of insurance companies, security companies, support companies (food, car rental, hotels, blah blah blah) all leading up to the airline companies themselves to support education and get people to be thinner through a marketing campaign, incentives and local edible food sources. It's a win win. Doing nothing just ensures everyone is miserable, complaining or broke.

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Triumvere

I'm talking about pro-active responsible business and being a part of the solution, not victimization. Airlines can't be remodeling airplanes all the time. ^^$^^

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Klein2 and Cos have some good ideas there! Perhaps the airlines should actually look at having varied options for seating within economy class...with different pricing for the different options, perhaps?

There are a lot of ignorant comments being posted. Ok, yes, it is not a good thing to have someone else taking up one's seat space but that does not mean all overweight folk are lazy or slobs...perhaps many are, but that is not always so; everybody has a story. Also, how much one weighs does not always make them obese, so having folks pay for total weight is not the best solution when it comes to "handling" obese passengers. There are many large athletes out there who actually work hard at weighing more...and are by no means fat but will definitely weigh in at the higher end of the scale. Plus, you could have shorter folks who are obese but don't weigh as much as someone of "standard" (or taller) height, yet take up lots of space. No, total weight is not a good way to gauge having enough space or allocating seats, etc.

No doubt extremely obese people cannot fit into a standard seat and it causes discomfort to the folks around them, that is true. But some "standard" seats are too small for even the "standard" sized person. My husband is slim but because of being a former rugby player, his shoulders are on the wide side and thus he takes up a bit of my space on flights. No big deal to me, he is my husband so it doesn't bother me too much to be in constant contact like that, but what about when he is seated next to other people? The seats are just too small.

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How should airlines handle obese passengers?

Put 'em out the back with the livestock. I'm going straight to hell...

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Pretty simple - either demand a refund for receiving the product (in this case the seat) you paid for, or fly Southwest (who seems to have a low tolerance for obese passengers).

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Pay according to weight. Sit according to size.

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The fact the question is asked shows airline companies are really retards in customer service. Look at clothing industry, they provide pants in many sizes, don't they ? And restaurants propose larger or smaller servings. You can also have cosmetics for your type of skin. It's not because of a law. It's plain common sense. Why can't we have plane seats that fit us ?

Planes are not designed for humans. Who doesn't fit in their space now ? Even among young and fit people, 1/3 have too long limbs. For elderly, it's 80% of our grand-parents that can't use the cattle class seats, either they are too voluminous or they lack the flexibility to fold themselves like origami. Then obesity, no matter what you think about personal life style and consequences, is a private matter, not something airline staff have the right to judge. They have to manage it when they dispatch the seats, that's their job. And they are incompetent at it.

Planes should be made with a variety seats for big, for thin, for short, for tall, for children, for elderly... Maybe modular space seats. It's possible they would have to charge certain seats 20% more, but there is already a much larger variation in price. Maybe they should also have "familial cabins" designed for travel with little kids. I don't get the lack of choice with so many companies that say they want more customers.

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sf2k,

If the flying public has gotten fatter, so be it. Airlines exist to supply a service to their customers, as as such should accomodate those customers within reason. In this case, expanding seats sizes slightly (and adjusting ticket costs for fewer passangers at max capacity, if need be) seems entirely reasonable to me. It is not the Airlines place to shame fat passangers, and Economy Class seating is already on the small side, anyway.

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You know. There are all kinds of pricing disparities that hinge upon discrete sizes that someone else arbitarily chooses and changes.

Toddlers pay too much. Carry-on, in-the-lap infants pay too little. Children, at some arbitrary age, go from half fare to full fare on their birthday. And then you have Wally Cox paying the same fare as Junior Sample or Hulk Hogan.

I say solve all of those problems at once. Short of weighing people and reporting their weight to a bunch of strangers, charging by seat real estate is the best way.

Coming soon, charging by variable leg room. You could do it. A toddler needs zero, Kareem Abdul Jabbar needs lots.

It is not an insurmountable problem. You might even be able to charge people more or less for window or aisle seats.

It might lead to a new era in air travel. You could use stand up harness like arrangements for commuters with very little luggage and run very profitable flights between major cities in Japan. Triple the number of passengers and halve the ticket price and you rake in the cash.

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"Airfares based on the total weight of passenger + luggage."

That would only work in terms of allocation if cargo space and passenger space were exchangeable. No. The problem here is the allocating the passenger space.

Moondog has a good idea that should be taken further. You will find a lot of people complaining about paying full fare for 8 year olds, or whatever, and half fare for a 10 kg infant, and human hippos paying one fare for what amounts to two seats. And airlines keep shrinking seat size? Here is the answer: different sized seats.

Extra small to extra large. That way, Shamu mommy can sit with her child and infant in one row. Directly behind her, there might be three mediums, etc. It isn't perfect, but all the incentives and indicators of fairness seem to be aligned. What we are looking for is a better system that allows people to retain their dignity while paying something like their fair share.

And this is it! It would also let airlines actually advertise their seat size and prevent pricing hanky panky from shrinking the seats.

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How would it work? If your butt doesn't fit on a standard chair, you need to buy two seats. Show up at the airport without two seats being bought and you are off the flight unless there is an available seat to purchase. This would actually get people thinking about their size and have them buy two seats instead of messing up their holiday plan. Like I said earlier, if you need an extension on a freaken airline seat belt, you need to seats! That or either pay for a first class seat and be done with it. I have no issues with huge 200cm guys whose legs are squished up. They don't bother me. It is the fat seeping into my space that gets me.

Honestly, really unfair that prices are going up, we are being taxed for fuel... and I can't even put down my food tray because some fatty's leg is in my space and huge! The guy should never been allowed to board at the size he was.

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Can you smell the hate? First smokers, now fat people...

Air travel is all about the complying... They treat you like cattle, and you are to assume that stance.

Comply with body scanners, pat downs, Woolworth girdle seats.

Airlines try to cram as many bodies as possible, in tiny spaces.

Redesign and accommodate all sizes, or go the hell out of business.

Airline travel has got all this technology for safety, but not comfort.

It has to change.

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Just as they have a carry-on measuring box at the check-in counter to help determine whether your carry-on is to big or not, they should have a sample seat to determine whether or not your rear is in arrears. Can't fit? Must upgrade to a larger seat--a lard lounger.

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For all of you saying that overweight people should have to pay for an extra seat, how would that work? Most passengers book their seats online or through travel agencies well in advance of departure day. So by the time they show up at the airport, there wouldn't be any vacant seats anyway.

And who is to decide? Will there be an economy-size seat the baggage check-in counter? What if there are no empty seats on the plane?

I think the best solution is for airlines to make bigger seats for everyone and have more space between rows, but, of course, they will never do this.

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In 2005 there was a story on NHK TV about how Japan Rail has redesigned its rail car seats to fit the new, wider dimensions of the average posterior. Of course, the seats were wider so the result was more people were left standing. Since a person cannot stand during a take-off, there are only two options: 1. less seats which means higher ticket costs for all, or, 2. charge the person who cannot fit in the average sit for two seats. Life is not fair, but to punish everyone (higher ticket price because of fewer seats) for the physical difference of a few is not correct.

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Triumvere

The extra seats have been common on all airlines but it's not solving the problem. Too many people are now too huge and they can't place them all. So an extra seat was only a temporary solution, but people have reached a next stage of hugeness.

The problem is that buying an extra seat only makes sense if the original seat is an aisle. But the airlines can't then push their carts around if the spillage is now into the aisle too. However this is the only reasonable place to put people since they could get up and move with less disruption to others. Then on we go to the issue of a washroom. How do they fit into the doors let alone use the service?

By not condemning the plus sizes in general and making a concerted effort to improve food quality consumed in the USA, airlines are accepting and otherwise resigned to it and thus the entire plane must be redesigned from scratch at some point because it's a faux pas to tell someone their fat!

Now, what happens when they reach the next stage of hugeness? When will the social responsibility to oneself kick in, if ever?

I feel airlines should be proactive in promoting a healthy lifestyle, maybe a gym at the airport or bonuses for those who are fit and want to stay that way. Thus it promotes fitness and airlines in the same way. Second, local quality real food. Organic not GMO not high fructose Corn Syrup HFCS nonsense. Food. Let's eat real food again. Have you looked at a single portion of pasta? Who eats that anymore?

This can then address the real problem of obesity in America, get corporate sponsors to help bring awareness to the real social and in particular the business costs of dealing with this epidemic, and then, only then, will an impact be made.

Something has to happen

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mikehuntez at 02:31 AM JST - 14th November How did Konishiki used to fly? Buy more than one seat?

I had thought so too. But remember, this was at a time when being a land whale was relatively new, so anyone displaced could easier be moved elsewhere. With so many in the land whale class now, airlines can't move them around nor find requisite space for anyone else.

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"Monkeyz at 09:28 PM JST - 13th November Now, let's be fair: Just because someone's fat does not make them a slob."

I respectfully disagree. No where is the epidemic of land whaleage more prevalent than in the USA. Why should the rest of the world and their airlines suffer?

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How did Konishiki used to fly? Buy more than one seat? If he has to then that is the norm for people of that size. Luck of the draw I'd say. If your huge you pay huge.

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This seems increadibly simple to me: if you cannot fit into a seat in a reasonable manner, then you must pay for a second seat.

The critical caveat to this, however, is that there must be a good faith effort on the part of airlines to provide seats which will comfortably fit the vast majority of the flying populace.

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Why should someone have to pay for two seats when they only need one and a half seats? And as for all you thin folks above moaning about large people spilling over into your seat, why aren't you complaining about having to pay for a full seat when you only need two-thirds of a seat? Could it be that you are tools?

I pay for my space and they pay probably about the same for the same amount of space. If they spill into my seat the airline should either compensate me some refund money or the fatty should pay me some compensation money for the %age of my space they are taking up. It's their responsibility to notify the carrier so that they can be accommodated in a proper position due to their "special needs".

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Send them to a fat camp for 3 months before flying

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"it's all a matter of cost, profit and cutthroat competition"

Ok, then if more and more passengers start refusing to sit in the current cramped economy class seats, the airlines will be forced to provide more space to attract passengers.

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"Monkeyz at 09:28 PM JST - 13th November Now, let's be fair: Just because someone's fat does not make them a slob."

No, I don't care about them at all. BUT, when they are laying their fat on me - it's frankly disgusting. Why should anyone be allowed to lay their fat on me? They can tuck it in their own seat. Roll it over piggy.

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And what about the weight problem.

Fuel is worked out at an average weight per passenger.

so if half of the passengers are carrying 50 % extra as fat, an aircraft carrying 100 would in fact be carrying the weight of 125 average persons.

50 at average and 50 at 1.5 times average.

That means the aircraft owners have to buy more fuel and they then pass the cost onto ALL of the passengers.

Why should a passenger of normal weight pay for the extra fuel need for obese passengers.

So someone weighing 1.5 or more than the average for their height should pay for a 2nd seat, or so much per pound (kg) above average.

Just like the luggage overweight charge.

The charge should be advertised so there can be no "i did not know" from ones turning up for flights.

If an obese couple are traveling together, they should buy 3 seats together and share the middle one.

I am 16.5 stone (105 kg) about 4.5 stone (28 kg) 37.5 % over the average for my 6 ft (1.829 m) height.

I found the JAL flight between London and Tokyo a bit tight in my seat beside the isle.

I made sure i did not intrude on the space of the passenger to my side, as i was brought up to consider others, unlike some obese passengers i have noticed on flights.

.

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It would be nice if there were some steps taken to prevent obese people from spilling into someone else's seat. I've had that experience where the lady next to me was uncomfortably trying to keep herself in her own seat as much as possible and I was trying hard to scrunch to one side so that we didn't touch for the whole flight. I'm a very small person, so it wasn't a giant problem, but I couldn't help but think how difficult it would be if I were equally as large. In that case ... special seats would be a good idea.

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seats are 20% smaller now than in 1990. Airlines continually shrink seat size, configuration, and pack as many as possible. Even business seats have been becoming smaller and smaller. Don't always blame the fat guys and gals, blame the airlines who are trying to fit in another row to make additional profit. Current seats range from 16 inches to 19 inches. That's a huge difference.

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Just to add, if the fat passengers can afford to pay for all the food they consume, they can pay extra for two seats! Heck, we have to cover their butts with healthcare and whatnot. Fair is fair!!

Ditto. I have sat next to two fat blonde women, one in a plane and another in a testing situation. It seems that they have no idea that they are overweight or could care less. I also remember walking into a Cuban restaurant in Florida recently, and seeing two HUGELY obese women with two very small babies. These women were hours from a heart attack and were gorging on this very fattening Cuban food. So...if they don't care about themselves, why should anyone else!!

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How should airlines handle obese passengers?

With cattle-prods.

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Just to add, if the fat passengers can afford to pay for all the food they consume, they can pay extra for two seats! Heck, we have to cover their butts with healthcare and whatnot. Fair is fair!!

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I recently had a flight where I could not put my food tray down because the guy sitting next to me was too fat. If you have to have a seat belt extension, you need to buy another seat. 7 hour flight and he bubbled into my seat while I was slammed up against the window. I was NOT happy to say the least and will write a letter of complaint. Not fair. I won't even start in about the luggage allowance and how it is unfair that someone who weights twice as much as me, gets the same luggage allowance as I do. They cost more so should be charged more.

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Surcharge for weight. Anyone over 50kg pays extra for the fuel costs, same as for extra baggage. (Sorry, Mr Swimmer! Your extra muscle is probably pretty heavy even though you're slim. :-D)

Is this only an American problem? It's never happened to me on London-Tokyo flights, direct or via Asia.

As for Martha, I don't know why she didn't just tell the cabin staff "Look! This lady is sitting in my seat. Either move her or me."

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Why should someone have to pay for two seats when they only need one and a half seats? And as for all you thin folks above moaning about large people spilling over into your seat, why aren't you complaining about having to pay for a full seat when you only need two-thirds of a seat? Could it be that you are tools?

The mere fact that we've having this discussion proves that having all the seats the same size is a bad idea. The seats should come in various sizes. Also, the passenger should be weighed at check-in together (on a large scale) with all their bags and carry-on items and the fare then adjusted up or down based on the total weight.

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how comfortable will the extra width seats will be, if they are i will pretend i am preggers with a cushion

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charge them, like excess baggage.

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....with care.

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I did have a spill over situation with the guy next to me on a flight recently. The seats were quite wide in my view and I'm not thin and yet this guy was beyond even that. However there happened to be extra seats and we spaced out. Given the issue and the growing trend to not eat food but "food-like products" then the airlines should either leave extra space on the plane or have larger seats. It amounts to the same difference and the same losses however mitigated.

Airlines thus have a vested interest in thinner Americans. Maybe they should start investing and promoting healthy real food choices? Not just on their planes, but to the public at large. Support a local farmer's market in each city or something.

The only American epidemic is non-real food. That's why Japanese are so thin, the food is more real and less GMO and less HFCS based, thanks to all those spirited farmer's unions and cheaper Asian imports. I have only ever felt full on the small portions in Japan, no where else. It has been to Japan's benefit in this issue.

American Airlines should re-jig their planes to a rational design to handle anyone of large girth or shoulder or whatever. Not everyone needs every feature. Headrests in my case always suck. Their "stewardesses" are also land whale huge and fit the width of the isle. So again it's not the occupation or the country, but the food and snacking. No one feels full so they keep eating.

I should point out that taking the bus from Nagoya to Tokyo for a man of my height 185cm I was not looking forward to. Except the seat was probably the most comfortable and versitle in terms of leg spacing, judicious use of height and amazing amazing (amazing) head-rest. That experience has NEVER been equaled for me, not on a bus or a car or any other transport and Japan doesn't even have regular 185cm people. So yes, REAL DESIGN can happen and it can work, if companies bother to care about it. Gold Star.

Compare the chairs on the airlines themselves. I bet they are terrible.

At some point though safety has to chime in. The planes are designed for a specific capacity. There's wiggle room but I imagine companies will press hard to the limits. You don't wait for market forces to change that. This is where regulation is a good thing and simply must be respected for all concerned.

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I have this dream where all the seats on all aircraft are actually wide enough to be comfortable, with armrests for each seat and enough space between each row so that the person sitting by the window or in the middle can get up to go to the toilet or stretch without making the person in the aisle seat get up, and, of course so that no one's knees are crushed. All this technology and most people who fly are not comfortable.

Someone already commented on this. It's true that it's all a matter of cost, profit and cut throat competition. I have been flying for more than 4 decades and I remember that in the seventies airfares were more than twice as high as now. Even higher probably due to devaluation of currencies. As an example: Japan - Europe cost 200 to 300 thousand yen round trip. Now it's less than half. If we were willing to pay those old fares we could all travel in super comfort.

Still I feel there should be clear international regulations put in place that guarantee both the safety AND the comfort for ALL passengers on board. Large people take up two seats on buses, trains, ferries and in automobiles. They need the same space on airplanes. The airlines need to provide that space and think of a pricing strategy fair to all passengers.

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So what should the airline do for ME when some wisp of a human in front wants to stretch out as if on a living room couch and lean their seat right back into my knees? (although my knees were ALREADY pushing into the back of his seat when it was UPRIGHT!)

There are a number of options: a) Fly an airline with more legroom (there are online lists) b) ask for the seat next to emergency exit on wings c) fly premium economy or higher.

If one is outside the human standard she will always have problems. If you are too long, you will not fit into a small car, beds come seldom longer than 2 meters, suits are too short, shoes to small.

Bottom-line: you are always charged more if you fall outside the norm; why should air travel be different?

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For the US, I recommend to add similar to the premium economy class for people who wish more leg room, an oversized economy class with wider seats, extra large meals and extra early "pre-boarding".

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now I realize that some people will say that obesity is a genetic condition or a handicap, and it may well be,

Well, it isn't. The genes of US citizens haven't changed in one generation, but still obesity has become an epidemic and its growing.

It's the amount of food one puts in his mouth, plus the high level of processed food, plus the lack of exercise. In other words "the American way of getting fat".

Hence, obese and grossly fat people need to pay two seats or fly business / first class unless they have a doctors certificate that their condition is genetic (yes, these people also exist).

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Mark_McCracken at 08:08 AM JST - 13th November

“Please tell me that there is an FAA regulation regarding this situation.” Well, Marsha, there isn’t. But there should be.

No, there shouldn't be. The primary purpose of the FAA is to insure safety, security and efficiency of airline travel.

I'd argue, and others have posted similar comments, that this IS a safety issue. If a large person is in the aisle seat (normally the case) then the two people on the insode maybe disadvantaged in an emergency escape, as would otehrs behind that person if they were to try to deplane down ailes too narrow for them. Maybe this needs to be reviewed when they do their 90 second evacuation tests for FAA certification? Either way, I think there is a regulatory responsibility to SOME degree here, as the human body IS changing.

Sarge at 08:21 AM JST - 13th November

I have this dream where all the seats on all aircraft are actually wide enough to be comfortable, with armrests for each seat and enough space between each row so that the person sitting by the window or in the middle can get up to go to the toilet or stretch without making the person in the aisle seat get up, and, of course so that no one's knees are crushed. All this technology and most people who fly are not comfortable.

Know exactly where you are coming from, the only issue is cost. I'm torn with the maths of how much extra does all that cost, and how much would it raise airfares (or how good an excuse to raise airfares?)?

"Americans are big people. Airlines should realize this and build seating accordingly." - Maybe American airlines should - the evidence displayed shows that 33% are obese, that should be a good starting point. The UK is close behind I guess too, or at least starting on that journey. But lets leave that with the countrues that have the issue, and then the increased costs can be absorbed there. No need to affect the rest of the world just yet, although that will probably change!

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Why should I have to suffer someone else's overbesity? If airlines are gonna accept and seat wide rides as though they were normal passengers they should underbook the flight and leave room for people like me who will complain and demand to be re-seated if someone else 'spills over' into my seat.

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Would you make sumo wrestlers pay more? Sure! They can probably afford it.

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Body nazis are a joke. You guys poke fun at overweight people then want take up all the seats with leg room even though your legs dangle as they are too short to reach the floor. I am not overweight, but at 190.5cm with a swimmers build, my backside doesnt take up the whole of the seat, but my shoulders do spill over the width at the top. I DONT fit in airline seats.

So what should the airline do for ME when some wisp of a human in front wants to stretch out as if on a living room couch and lean their seat right back into my knees? (although my knees were ALREADY pushing into the back of his seat when it was UPRIGHT!)

How about all the big people on the plane stick the small people into the overhead bins and then use what space were able to reclaim as a result.

Does that sound pretty freaking unfair??? It SHOULD. But its no LESS fair than the crap you whiners propose. Americans are big people. Airlines should realize this and build seating accordingly.

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And fat passengers who buy a ticket should notify the seller to let the airline know in advance so they can be assigned a bigger seat or purchase another seat at a reduced rate. They shouldn't expect others to put up with anything over an hour flight beside them and their smelly lard. This makes those passengers extremely selfish buying a ticket knowing the size of the seats (unless their first ever flying experience).

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How should they handle fat passengers? As cargo that's how!!

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The government should enforce airlines to have seats that hold people who are obese like the wheelchair accessible (ADA), the seats designated for the wheelchair, or like the Handicapped Act. The airline can charge more or not.

Inside a movie theater there are seats on the aisle for wheelchair. People in wheelchair aren't paying more a movie ticket. The same thing at a MLB game.

The airlines have lost their way. They only care about making money and packing the planes up like sardines.

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Not only do the fat bastards spill over, they SMELL too.

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well for this purpose scandinavia offers economy extra seats. costs 50 percent more, and more space. And still a lot cheaper than business.

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lol@ Shinjukuboy's comments. But don't worry, the increasing obesity rates in other parts of the world will balance it out all right! Not to mention the increase in Chinese people, who may not be fat but are just many.

@Tangoll, sorry but they can't slant the rows of seats no matter how much more comfy it might make it. The trouble is that seat rows have to be in a certain configuration so that emergency service personnel can get to them easily, and know which seat is where. They could theoretically have to go into a smoke-filled cabin packed with semi-concious tourists. They need easy access, although it still won't be easy with the economy class travelers.

I've always dreaded having to sit next to a whale, but luckily I've so far managed to avoid it. This year and next year it's just three of us traveling, so it's logical for them to put us in the three seats by the window (although they don't, I have to go to online check-in the second it's open and choose our seats as quickly as possible.)

I approve of a size surcharge, rather than a weight surcharge. After all, some people have a huge lump bulging out in front of them but don't need a larger seat - not to mention pregnant women. I also like the idea of a couple of rows of wide seats designed for obese people, but I thought they already had that and called it first class. ;)

Itsmeagain, Thanks for the tip! If we ever find ourselves in that situation at least we can have the assistance of the armrest to keep the obese person in the next seat off us, then we can perhaps borrow a tray from the service trolley to wedge between the seats to keep the obese person in the next seat off our arms too.

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pack them into the cargo containers. They can't fit into the airplane washrooms anyway, kill two birds with one stone.

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remove seats and raise prices per seat. You can't ensure safety otherwise. Physics doesn't care. Physics wins! Yay

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i heard there was a new airline starting up service called fatAIR. apparently it caters to overweight people and offers twice wider seats and more legroom.

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Although some airlines have rules addressing such situations, including Southwest, which requires “passengers of size” to purchase a second seat, there’s no standardized regulation.

Southwest has the right idea. "Overbesity" is a problem and one that affects business. Make them pay extra.

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My BMI is apparently normal (I'm 6'2" and about 84/85kgs)... despite this I can often barely fit into the seats on some airlines. There may well be a problem with obese people, but one also needs to acknowledge that the seats keep getting smaller every year, and the airlines are charging more for tickets. That's just insanity.

I wouldn't have a big problem with paying by total weight, except that I know that airlines would just continue to increase the prices, and decrease the seat sizes, so I'd still be uncomfortable but the airlines would just turn around and say, "Lose weight."

... I have enough abuse in my average travel experience that I don't want to give airlines an excuse to add more thank you.

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They get that big?

Still good question and it still stands. What do you do then? Do you make them pay more? Would you also make Sumo wrestlers pay more?

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Peace, 100kg would be a wide receiver. We're talking about refrigerator-sized hulks here, easily over 130kg, with shoulders so wide they partially block the aisle.

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Good Question Beelzebub,

think 100kg with a 18% BMI... What do you do then?

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Always insist that the arm rest is placed down, this way one at least has some protection. I was on a flight and the first thing the obese person sitting next to me did was to raise the arm rest, I grabbed it and said "THIS STAYS DOWN", The flight attendant was passing by and nodded approval of my action.

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Sorry, the typed version of the seating arrangement did not come out correctly when the comment got posted. Basically, seats A B C is in a slant, as is D E F.

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What to do about people who are just huge, but not obese -- like NFL linebackers?

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On the frequent flyer site flyertalk.com, there's a lot of discussion about this issue. My own suggestion is to reconfigure the seating arrangement so that seats in economy are not in straight rows, but slanted a bit so that my shoulder is not against the adjacent pax's shoulder, but next to that pax's thighs, for example. Thus, and this is exagerated because of the line spacing, the seats would not be [A B C D E F] but more like

[A D ] B E C F

A comment was that the plane might lose a row of seats, but my response is that this matters only if the flight were 100% full. Plus, only a section of the plane need to be configured with this arrangement, with a slight pricing premium charged to sit in this section.

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Do like the carry-on baggage size check and verify whether the passenger can fit in the seat without spillover. If not, then they need to buy a second seat.

Also, I like Mojibake's system too, but perhaps with a twist. Like the checked baggage weight system, charge a passenger a premium over a certain weight.

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A lot of great info here. People have to be responsible for their weight. Airlines always gauge the passengers and never truly think of customer satisfaction or comfort. This is case in point. We are all luggage to them and they simply stow us away.

Charge the obese customers more, or make them buy 2 seats. It is very unfair for those of us that get "stuck" in that situation in economy seating. Airlines have to discriminate in this case for safety, comfort, and fairness to all. (I know it's a dream when talking about airlines)

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A few point to make:

1-) the FAA has a regulation that says if an individual cannot tie the seatbelt they must either purchase a second ticket and some sort of extension belt or upgrade to larger seats because they are a danger to other passengers and crew if they are not restrained during takeoff, landing and turbulence.

2-) Unfortunately Canada also has the same regulation but some fat slob took the airlines to court and the stupid supreme court ruled that it was discrimination to charge so now airlines must give these fat slobs a second free seat and that means that passengers that have self respect not to eat themselves into blimp proportions have to subsidize the lack of self control and responsibility of these blimps.

3-) Why should I or any other healthy standard size passenger not receive a total weight charge including luggage?

For example:

Passenger A weighs 80 Kl and has 2 bags at 40 Kl each for a total of 160 Kl

Passenger B weighs 150 Kl and has 2 bags at 30 Kl each for a total of 210 Kl

Under the present system Passenger A would have to pay a surcharge for overweight luggage but not Passenger B

A total weight Charge with a total for example being for example 200 Kl and anything above being a surcharge would be a more equitable system.

But this would not help in the seat department.

I have had the fight about this on 2 occasions and on the last one I was threatened at being remove from the flight this person was well into my seat and I complained that I could not fly for 13 hours with just 2/3 of a seat they asked if someone would change seat with me and everyone refused the greatest irony of all is that her husband was sitting in the next row and even he wouldn't move to sit next to her it was only at this point that the airline staff realized that this was not fair for me and finally move me to first class.

This type of situation should not have been and it is not up to the airlines or other passenger to have to pay or endure discomfort because someone have no self respect or discipline to control their weight.

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I think that there should be some kind of a "XYZ-kilo Maximun Limit". Everyone would understand that. And if one can't fly because he/she is way too wide and heavy, then travel by train, by bus, which offer more room for all that fat.

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I hate the double standards, where airlines are extremely stringent with baggage allowances, but not with body weight. You get the occasional passengers who have the equivalent of a couple of extra suitcases in subcutaneous fat around their body.

The best set-up would be to weigh everyone during the security check ; it's less of an invasion of privacy than full body scans, and the machines could probably be re-calibrated to also measure body fat. Overweight passengers would be made to pay an excess fee, and then be herded into a special "economy plus" section.

Another alternative would be to check a passenger's width, similar to the way they check the minimum height for rides at amusement parks. All passengers would have to crawl through a tube of some sort. An added bonus is that they might lose a bit of weight during the process.

The flight attendants should also have to go through this as some of them are jumbo-size, and you often get hit with their large behinds if you are sitting in the aisle seat on flights on US airlines ..

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Airfares based on the total weight of passenger + luggage.

That would align the interests of the passenger with the airline's actual fuel costs and the environment. Then we can get rid of the byzantine array of baggage surcharges -- just put everything on the scale, pay the fare, and call it done.

Ah, for the day when roundtrip airfares would be quoted in a simple cost per kilogram...

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Last time I heard, Canada has required accomodation for all travelers, regardless of physical conditions. This covered flights, but to what extent I do not know.

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How should airlines handle obese passengers? With a forklift? Bend at the knees?

If passengers can prove that being obese and sitting in only one seat is a safety issue, the FAA will consider it. For example, if an obese person is sitting in the aisle seat there could be two problems:

Cabin attendants (and others) can't get by because Mrs Obese is blocking the aisle

Passengers in the middle and window seats can't get out quickly enough in case of an emergency.

Airlines already limit the seat next to the emergency exits to those who are willing and able to assist (no children, for example). But a class action lawsuit works wonders in the US. If I'm skinny and pay for a ticket and get a standard seat but Mr Obese pays the same and gets a bigger seat Because he's a fat slob, that's discriminatory. If he sits in a standard seat but flops over into my space, that's a ripoff.

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"extra wide obesity seat"..the shame of sitting in the fugly seat in the fugly corner- that should work.

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I have this dream where all the seats on all aircraft are actually wide enough to be comfortable, with armrests for each seat and enough space between each row so that the person sitting by the window or in the middle can get up to go to the toilet or stretch without making the person in the aisle seat get up, and, of course so that no one's knees are crushed. All this technology and most people who fly are not comfortable.

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“Please tell me that there is an FAA regulation regarding this situation.” Well, Marsha, there isn’t. But there should be.

No, there shouldn't be. The primary purpose of the FAA is to insure safety, security and efficiency of airline travel. Marsh St. Clair's problem should be handled by the courts. She, and other consumers should complain to the airline, ask for a refund for failure to provide the seat space that was specified in the contract. If they refuse, sue. The FAA has more important things to worry about.

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Disgusting, to have someone's fat laying on me throughout a flight. Absolutely disgusting. I work hard to keep fat off my body, by diet and exercise, and to have some lazy, fat slob laying their fat on me is a violation of my human rights.

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