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Nov 23rd 2011 6:06PM Your headline is slightly misleading. It was not the obese passenger who forced the passenger in question to stand, but rather the airline was negligent in expecting a very large passenger to fit into a middle seat.
As a person of size I am very conscious of seating when I fly -- and I fly often. I am able to sit in a seat with the armrests down, but the seats on most plans are a tight fit for "average" sized folks. I have had men with "athletic" shoulders impinge on my space -- it isn't just fat folks who don't fit within the standard seats.
It is easy to blame fat people. After all, why don't they just lose weight? There is a reason the diet industry is one of the most lucrative: very few people successfully lose weight and keep it off. (Whether they are obese or just a few pounds overweight).
Rather than blame people who don't fit standard seats (be they obese, wide shouldered, or handicapped with conditions that cause them to need extra space), why doesn't the industry address the problem. Having one or two rows of seats that are larger, offered at an increased price, would be one way to go. A fat person can try to buy two seats, but sitting on a crack with the armrests in ones' back is hardly safe or comfortable. Airlines could maintain the revenue per flight, while providing seating that makes sense.
Apr 13th 2010 5:48PM I think the "free gate check" that airlines offer at the last minute to passengers who defer checking bags is the real culprit in all of this, and that the problem would be solved if penalty fees were added to gate checks -- say 50% more fee than if the bag had been checked at check-in.
Anyone who travels by air these days is familiar with the boarding scenario: passengers who want to save money defer checking their humongous bags, and bring them on board where, no surprise to anyone, they will not fit in the overhead bins. But, these bags are then checked free. It is a win for the passenger, who effectively by-passes the luggage fee, but the rest of us lose when boarding takes "forever" due to the last minute checking of bags.
I am not in favor of charging for carry on bags, but the situation as it stands is ridiculous. The airlines need to find a way to "encourage" passengers to check their bags at the appropriate time, and close the "free gate check" loophole. Some people suggest having TSA enforce size and weight limits. When I travel in Europe I am surprised by the ease with which passengers accept reasonable limits on carry on. We would do well to follow their example.