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Is Obesity a Disability?

>> Friday, February 01, 2008

Lately articles about charging obese people for an extra seat on flights have been popping up in the travel news that comes to me.

A woman sued Southwest for asking her to buy two seats. She cried race, Southwest said it was for safety and comfort. She weighed between 300 and 330 pounds. She lost her case.

An overweight man ponders- and agrees with- the armrest rule (if you can't put the arm rest down you should purchase another seat).

Canada Air is being sued for discrimination for charging a woman who refers to herself as "morbidly obese" for a second seat. And now Canada is trying to pass a law that would require airlines to give obese passengers free seats- one person- one fare.

And that is only a few articles.

Now I know that airline seats aren't that big. Nor are they comfortable, even for people who fit in them. And I cannot for the life of me imgine trying to fit into one if I were double my weight.

I really think the issue comes down to comfort and safety, especially since most flights fly at or near full capicity.

Let's imagine a row of three seats with an obese person in one seat. If that person cannot lower their armrest they are, obviously, spreading into the seat (or seats) beside them. Which leaves their seatmates with only part of their seat. And if that seatmate happens to be on an aisle they could cause the aisle to be blocked, which is unsafe. Not to mention more uncomfortable than usual.

If there is not an open seat for that passenger to move to and the flight cannot take off due to the aisles not being clear, who should leave the plane? The person who paid for one seat but needs two or the person who paid for one seat but only gets half?

If obesity is going to be classified as a disability it should be disclosed upon the ordering of the ticket. Most often it is not which then causes the problems of "embarassment and humiliation".

Of course there are the finanical ramifications. If airlines must give "free" seats to people who need two the cost will, of course, get doled out to other passengers. Also, if people who need two seats don't specify that when booking their seats and the flight is booked without an extra seat available... then what?

Honestly, this PC stuff is going too far. What do you think?


Iowa Bob 9:02 PM  

As someone who has sat in the middle seat of that three seat row - surrounded by "very large" individuals, I am fully for charging these people for an extra seat.

And while I am not obese at roughly 215 lbs., I have been up to 250 or so, so I know that I could have been approaching this group.

Look, if an "Obese" person's jeans use twice the fabric of a "normal" sized persons, why shouldn't that person pay more?

Unknown 7:22 PM  

(I am small (like Piglet) and tired of being scrunched by bigger people...personally I think, if you take up more than one seat then you need to pay for it...but damn, there's that common sense talking again...you didn't pay for the 1/4 of my seat you are taking up so ummm, don't mind me if I keep jabbing you in the leg with a toothpick, it's like my yard guard security system)

Sally 9:35 AM  

I agree...you should pay for how much space you need. I would LOVE to have 1 1/2 or 2 seats to myself. In fact, when flights are less than full, I'm the first one to look around for where I can move...and I'm far from obese.

If they require more than their seat, then they should pay for it.

How many times have you been sitting in your seat and you see a big person walking up the aisle toward you...do you cringe and pray that they pass you by?? I know I do!

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