Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fixing the overflow problem 

As my observant brother pointed out in an email, I've been calling for this for a long time.

From next month seriously overweight flyers will be asked to pay for two seats, or not be allowed on board for “safety reasons”, the airline announced yesterday.

“People who arrive at the check-in desk and are deemed too large to fit into a single seat will be asked to pay for and use a second seat,” said Monique Matze, an Air France spokesman.

Leave it to the French, who are both quite trim as a people and fairly disdainful of people who are not, presumably because looking good is important to them. For me, I'm just tired of fat people unapologetically "overflowing" in to the airspace above my seat as if they are entitled to it. I don't know how many times I've flown across the country or some ocean in coach (my company has an aggressively parsimonious travel policy) only to arrive with my spine feeling like a bent coat hanger because I had to lean away from the "large" dude with the seat-belt extender in the adjacent seat. His flab afflicts me and I'm frankly sick of it. He should fly up front, buy two coach seats, or take a freaking boat, but one way or another he should stay out of my little 17.2" column of air. Not "for his own safety and comfort" as British Airways pusillanimously advises, but because airlines have a duty to prevent the robbery of space purchased in good faith by non-huge passengers.


By Blogger jeff, at Thu Jan 21, 10:24:00 AM:

Perhaps the airlines can use one of the styrofoam shipping containers used to ship Bluefin tuna to japan. They are available in 300 500 and 700# sizes!
Flying in freight would be much more acceptable than coach on the airlines I fly ( continental and delta) Its a tough flight when you are 290 # of ripped muscle mass!  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Thu Jan 21, 10:31:00 AM:

It is also a little uncomfortable sitting next to the huge muscular guys, but since there are hundreds of obese people for every ripped muscular dude I don't think we need regulation. Also, while they crowd the shoulders they do not overflow the arm rest, which is a big difference.  

By Anonymous John, at Thu Jan 21, 10:39:00 AM:

Hell, I'm reasonably fit at 200# and suggest that two regular 5'10" guys like me cannot sit side/side in an 18 or even 20" seat. When the seat mate is obese, it's just plain dangerous.

The pig in the photo is an air safety problem, who impedes the free movement of the stewards/stewardesses cum flight safety attendants. And further, in the unlikely event of an unscheduled water landing, would be a mass of debris that would be difficult to navigate around. He would futher likely clog up the egresses.

But ... two or more seats, middle plus window (no aisle permitted) would be a fine place to start.

And put a device in pre jetway, like the one for measuring your carryon, so the staff outside checking the boarding passes isn't AS vulnerable to the rant from the pig you demand stand down for not buying a second seat.  

By Blogger Mrs. Davis, at Thu Jan 21, 10:42:00 AM:

The French quite trim? Not so much. Though I do agree with your point about flying. People, like overhead luggage, should have to fit through a jig. You make it, one seat. Can't get through? Buy two.  

By Blogger Ray, at Thu Jan 21, 11:15:00 AM:

This would work better if airline seats weren't designed for average height and weight circa the Great Depression.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 21, 11:32:00 AM:

Why don't you put wings and a propeller on that guy, feed him a pound of baked beans, get him FAA clearance and then see what happens?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 21, 12:10:00 PM:

I suspect this policy will violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was amended in 2008 to substantially expand the definition of disabled and to make it easier to bring claims under the ADA.

Sorry, TH, but it won't happen here.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Thu Jan 21, 04:36:00 PM:

Being a fatass now qualifies as being disabled?  

By Blogger Cosmo, at Thu Jan 21, 04:53:00 PM:

We should amend the ADA to only cover "non self-inflicted" "disabilities."

Obesity, although it can be genetic, is not uncontrollable. People who are obese are the ones who lack control.

FYI, my New Year's resolution is to trim down from my 245 frame--which fits fine into a Delta seat, a United Express teeny-tiny seat and a SWA seat.

As of today, I'm down to 225.

It is possible if you want it bad enough. Drop weight or get off my flight.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Thu Jan 21, 06:03:00 PM:

"Fat guy in a little seat..."  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 21, 08:42:00 PM:

That photo is awesome, where did you get it?
Who took it and what was the situation like during the flight?  

By Blogger Director Mitch, at Thu Jan 21, 09:12:00 PM:

United instituted this rule last April on full flights. Basically if the flight has an extra seat they will move people around to give the fat-ass people their room, otherwise, pay up:


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 21, 09:45:00 PM:

My personal definition of Hell is the American Airlines flight where I was seated between two grotesquely obese men for the leg between Boston and Denver. I never knew I was claustrophic until I got to spend 3 hours with my arms pinned to my sides. I've never flown AA since and avoid all airline travel (quit that consulting job right after that one!).  

By Blogger Donald Douglas, at Thu Jan 21, 09:49:00 PM:

Exellent commentary and that picture's worth a thousand on top of that!  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Thu Jan 21, 11:02:00 PM:

The photo came from the linked article -- wish I had taken it!  

By Anonymous Joe, at Fri Jan 22, 02:01:00 PM:

Unless the airlines use it to further shrink the seats, making ever more people pay double...  

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