Friday, December 9, 2016

“Too Fat to Fly”

February 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Obesity

The Twittersphere and blogosphere have been abuzz with the news about writer/director Kevin Smith being removed from a recent Southwest flight for “being too fat.”

Per the L.A. Times piece, “The plus-sized writer-director behind such potty-mouthed comedies as “Clerks,” “Dogma” and 2008’s “Zack & Miri Make a Porno” was kicked off a plane at Oakland International Airport on Saturday, allegedly because the captain deemed Smith’s obesity a “safety risk” to other passengers.”

Southwest apologized to Smith via Twitter (because, you know, this is how customer service takes place nowadays … ) but stuck to its policy: if you can’t fit into the seat, you need to buy a second seat.

Apparently, Smith typically buys two seats when he flies … the problem arose because when he caught an earlier flight than planned, there was only one seat open … and given his size, he was kicked off the plane.

Needless to say, even with the apology (which was rather immediate), the damage was already done, and Smith took to the blogosphere and Twittersphere sharing his miserable seating experience.

I’m of mixed feelings with respect to this story.

On the one hand, I have no doubt that Smith’s weight was a form of blatant discrimination– and I feel terrible for him that he had to leave the plane; I imagine that must be so embarrassing and I can’t imagine what that must feel like …

But on the other side of the coin, I see Southwest’s point, too. I’ve flown next to some people on long, international flights who take up their own seat and then some.

And though I’ve never said anything about it to the flight crew or asked to switch seats or anything, (surely the seat-mate knows they’re squished in there; why draw extra attention or make someone feel bad?) it can make for a very uncomfortable in-flight experience … which is why airlines have had to create their seating policies in the first place.

I just wish there was a kinder way to go about these things … body weight is a sensitive enough topic as it is … and incidents like this just shed light on how difficult it can be to strike that delicate balance between being politically correct and pragmatic.

While I don’t think anyone should be discriminated against for their race, gender, size, sexual orientation, etc., I don’t think Southwest was necessarily in the wrong — it was following its own policy; it just makes me sad to think that people need two seats, period.

And the reality is, especially here in the U.S., many people do.

How about you? What do you think about this story?

Comments

52 Responses to ““Too Fat to Fly””
  1. Jacquie says:

    As horrible as it probably sounded on Twitter and blogs, but I have to say that I agree with Southwest. I’m an advocate for healthy body image, but the airline has a policy and I don’t believe that it’s because of discrimination, but comfort and safety. You were right that when a person can’t fit into the seat, it’s uncomfortable for everyone. I was on a flight that a man almost took up half of my seat too. Thankfully I was on the aisle. But it might actually be a safety hazard since they probably average a passengers weight and baggage weight per seat. If it’s more than it could hurt the flight. I’m not an engineer but that could be a concern.

  2. Gina says:

    It just makes me sad to think that people need two seats, period.

    This.

  3. Sara says:

    According to Kevin Smith, he did fit in the seat. He usually buys the second seat to not have to make chit chat with a stranger. He was able to put both arm rests down and buckle his seat belt without an extender (and was doing so when kicked off the flight). I think Southwest needs to develop a less arbitrary policy. (and some pr skills) According to Smith’s podcast, on the flight he was bumped on to, a larger woman sitting on the aisle next to empty seat was hassled for not buying a second seat when she too fit into the seat and the plane was half empty anyway. He usually buys the second seat to not have to make chit chat with a stranger.

  4. CL says:

    This problem will never be solved until the airlines adopt the policies of 1. Enough space for everyone. 2. One person, one fare.

    Whether “enough space” means making the seats bigger or allowing large passengers to have two seats is up to the airlines — but they need to provide more space to customers who need it. And, I believe they should be prohibited for charging fat people more.

    As long as airlines demand that fat people buy two seats (or buy two seats and wait for a reimbursement, which is just as difficult for people living paycheck to paycheck) — people who need more space will try to fly with just one seat. If they manage to get past the airline employees, they are horribly uncomfortable, and the people next to them are horribly uncomfortable too. Decisions to remove people who are too large are arbitrary, and depend on whether the employees working that day feel like having an awkward conversation. Every day, people fly who are squeezed into an uncomfortably small space, sometimes to the point of pain, because of these policies.

    Personally, I wish that one person, one fare were the law, like in Canada. Then when airlines got complaints about a fat person taking up part of their seat, they would have to give people more space instead of blaming fat people and demanding they buy two expensive tickets.

    • Beta says:

      It’s a complex problem and there’s no easy solution.

      1.- Enough space for everyone

      Ok, I agree. I wish plane seats had more room. However, I don’t think I want to pay extra for that (if there’s more room, there are less seats, and airlines will charge more). And anyway, there are areas with more space in the plane: first class (some airlines also have “premium economy” seats, where you get a little bit more space, the same service as coach, but you still have to pay more.)

      2.-One person, one fare

      The policy now is generally “One seat, one fare”, which makes sense. If a fat person is allowed to get two seats,we get the inverse problem than we have now: who’s to say who is fat enough to need two seats? What I mean is, how could you say no to a thin person requesting two seats?

      I don’t know, I hate thinking about fat people being uncomfortable and also about thin people seated next to them being uncomfortable. There *has* to be some solution, right?

      • CL says:

        You are right that if airlines are forced to accommodate large people at no extra charge, some extra charge may be passed on to all consumers. But in my opinion it’s still the right thing to do. Right now, some people are forced to pay twice as much for the same thing (flying on an airplane) while everyone else benefits from the cost savings that come with the very tiny seats. To me, that isn’t right.

        As for deciding who gets two seats, the airlines are already doing it — how do you decide who is too fat for one seat? Won’t some people get to squeeze on for one fare while a slightly thinner person gets identified as needing two seats? They have already come up with a standard, they just need to change the consequence from “you need to buy an extra seat” to “you get an extra seat.”

        I suspect that most people who don’t really need two seats would be far too embarrassed to claim they need two — but if some people try, the airline just has to employ the same test. “Sorry, but you can get the armrests down so you only need one seat.” (An experience that might make people grumble, but has to be a better feeling than “Sorry, I know you think you can fit but you’re actually too fat.”)

  5. This is quite touchy. I’m sure he must have felt terrible and I feel bad that he had to get embarrassed like that in front of the other passengers. However, I, too, have experienced sitting beside a big person and having trouble going to and from the bathroom. It’s not comfortable for both of us. I agree that if most fat people won’t fit in the airplane seats, then airlines should start making a bigger seating space for them. Is that discrimination in itself? Maybe. But there will always be bigger people who need to travel by air. Airlines can’t kick all of them out.

    I don’t recall being asked when I flew but do airlines ask for a person’s weight when he/she books a flight? If they do, then there’s no excuse kicking Kevin Smith off the plane since they would have seen how heavy he was beforehand. If they don’t, then maybe they should start asking so they can either 1. inform the person that he has to buy two seats eliminating the need to embarrass him in public. 2. now that that person was made aware of the policy, give him the choice of buying two tickets or not taking the flight at all.

    • living400lbs says:

      A friend of mine is a licensed pilot.

      On commercial airliners (737, etc) each individual’s weight is not a huge portion of the overall weight. This is why, on a not-too-full redeye flight, you’ll see people moving to empty rows to stretch out. I’ve never been asked my weight on a commercial flight.

      On a small plane, weights do matter and seating is assigned on that basis. I have inquired about flying on a float plane from Seattle to Victoria Harbor, and yes, I would absolutely need to purchase 2 tickets with them. My pilot friend has told me there are light planes that I wouldn’t want to fly in, and I accept that.

      • Beta says:

        That’s true, but I’ve also read (I forget where, maybe “Ask the pilot”?) that pilots have to factor in weight as part of their calculations before taking off, and a part of that *is* passenger weight. They just have an average passenger weight and multiply that by the number of people on board. I read that airlines changed their estimation of each passenger recently, as they assumed population weight has changed.

        What I mean to say is, if one person is of higher weight on a 737, it averages out. However, if the plane is on the way to a convention of “people of size”, maybe they would have to factor that in 🙂

        • living400lbs says:

          They do, but on a big plane, passenger weight is a small part of the total (fuel, cargo, furnishings, etc takes up the rest).

          If it was a small plane, then yes, passenger weight is more of a factor – both overall and as balance. In a very small plane (like, a 4 or 6-seater) you sit where the pilot tells you too and you don’t move unless you have permission!

      • lissa10279 says:

        Thanks for the insight, Living400lbs.

  6. Candice says:

    I think good customer service means everyone flies comfortably. If airline seats are too small to fit a significant number of people purchasing these tickets, then it’s the seats that have to change. People have gained an average of 25lbs in the past 50 years, but the seats haven’t changed. Plus, a lot of this depends on where you carry your weight. My husband carries his in his belly, but I carry mine in my hips (like many women). He has significantly less trouble fitting in his seat even though we are nearly the same height and weight.

    Yes, ideally, we wouldn’t have gained an average of 25lbs over the past 50 years, but we can’t charge a certain segment of the population for something occurring somewhat across the board.

    If I had to buy two tickets to go anywhere – well, I wouldn’t be able to afford going anywhere. So way to extend the reach of the isolation that fat people already experience in daily life. Are fat people not entitled to a vacation? Or to visit ill family members that live a plane ride away? Or to attend a business trip?

    It’s unfair to ask someone to be comfortable in half or 3/4 of an airline seat, but it’s also unfair to charge someone extra for a service you proclaim to provide. You’re an airline; you fly people places. If you can’t do that reasonably, you’re failing at your business.

    • lissa10279 says:

      I agree; it would be very expensive to have to buy 2 tickets everywhere …

    • Amy says:

      Actually, the seats have changed. They’re an average of 4 inches narrower than they were 30 years ago. Southwest has seats that are 17.25″ inches wide, which is 2-6 inches narrower than the seats on other airlines.

  7. Shoshie says:

    Lissa- Out of curiosity, what’s your opinion on tall people who bump their knees into the backs of other people’s seats? Or broad-shouldered people? Should they also buy two seats?

    • lissa10279 says:

      I don’t think I ever said I think anyone (be it “fat”, tall, broad-shouldered) should have to buy two seats, period — just that I understood both sides of the story. I’m still of mixed emotions about this. I don’t think it’s fair for anyone to be discriminated against … I made that clear. But SWA is a business that has a policy and their policy (however unfair it may be) was being followed.

  8. living400lbs says:

    Some notes….

    1) Per the common airline definition of “fit” (armrests down with seat belt on) I can “fit” in a single coach seat. This is partly because I’ve an “apple” body shape. (So does Kevin Smith, who is assuredly a smaller “apple” than I.)

    2) My shoulders are pretty wide, though. When I last flew in a single coach seat (seeing Springsteen in Oakland and LA in 1999) I’d get a window seat and lean on the bulkhead to keep my shoulders and elbows out of my neighbor’s way.

    3) The man of the house is slimmer in the hips and fits into a coach seat much easier than I…but his shoulders are wider than mine, and has much more difficulty not brushing his neighbors’ shoulders…

    4) Which makes me wonder why hips that don’t fit into 17″ are a huge problem, but broader than 17″ shoulders are fine. This couldn’t possibly have anything do with broad shoulders being a desirable trait among men, could it?

    5) I have been known to book 2 coach seats for a cross-country flight, primarily for my own comfort (ability to move around, primarily). Once was with United, in 1996, before United had its “passengers of size” policy. The more recent time was Alaska, last fall.

    6) I’ve never had a travel or airline website allow me to book 2 seats for 1 passenger. I’ve always had to call the airline directly. Each time I’ve ended up on hold while the agent looks up how to book 2 seats for 1 person.

    7) Each time I’ve bought multiple seats, I’ve been cautioned that they might not be together when I fly. (??) Yes, even when purchasing as a “passenger of size” policy — the policy which says big people must buy two seats? after telling the agent I weigh 400 freaking pounds? — I’ve been told this.

    8) A commenter on my blog relayed having purchased two seats and being told “Oh, we’re overbooked, so we’re reassigning one of your seats” at the gate.

    9) There are reports of people flying to one location in a single coach seat with no problems, but being told they have to buy a second seat to get home. Or to take their connecting flight. In other words, the policies are applied inconsistently.

    10) I also sometimes fly first class. The seats are still tight, but they are more comfortable, especially for my legs and shoulders. (I wear a 30″ inseam.)

    11) I don’t fly often. Yes, I can afford to buy an extra ticket or even fly first class (first class on Alaska is often not much more than 2 coach seats – unlike many other carriers). But it is an optional expense, and I usually opt not.

    12) My current job doesn’t require travel. I’ve traveled for business before, and it’s not bad, but that was before the “passengers of size” policies. I’d hate to be stuck in an airport explaining to my boss I’d been bumped from a plane as “too fat” and that I’d need an extra ticket to get home.

    Conclusions?

    Airlines really want the problem of people who don’t fit to a) go away or b) get monetized. If there’s a complaint, the fat person is kicked out and made to pay a penalty. If there’s no complaint, then they ignore it. This capricious and inconsistent application of the policies makes it just more of a pain.

    At the same time, airlines don’t see any reason to make it easier for people to book two seats. And remember, just because you paid for two seats doesn’t mean you’ll get them. (Again: capricious and inconsistent.)

    “Passenger of size” policies does make it possible to get a refund if there’s an empty unbooked seat on the flight. I did receive my refund from Alaska.

    Some airlines are also advertising “premium coach” or “business” seats that have extra legroom. They get more money and “Hey, we have an option for tall people!” If they’re sold out ahead of time? Oh well.

  9. Geri says:

    Is it just me, or does it make sense that seats are made for people, not people for seats? So if anything has to change, its the size of the seat. Unfortunately, if the seats are going to be resized, it’s probably to make them smaller, so they can fit more seats on the plane and make more money. I agree with CL: one person, one fare, but I would add that people are entitled to comfortable journeys regardless of size.

    • Meems says:

      I love the way you’ve put it here. Airlines provide a service, and if they fail to provide that service to a significant portion of the population (who would like to be able to use their service!) then there is a problem in their business model.

  10. Meems says:

    I think one of the biggest problems is that people see weight as something that is easily changeable, whereas height is not. So if a tall person’s knees are constantly bumping the back of my seat, making me uncomfortable for the duration of a flight, it’s not the person’s fault, because s/he can’t help being tall. But that fat person’s weight is all his/her fault, and s/he should just go on a diet and lose weight – then s/he deserves to fly! Because so many people see weight as the fault of the individual, they feel justified in discriminating against fat people.

    Just look at all the comments about fat people over on Flights from Hell. The descriptions of fat people are very often replete with adjectives that are associated with fatness (like smelly, odious, disgusting, oozing, waddling, scarfing, etc.) as an undesirable or hateful quality. These descriptions are completely dehumanizing.

    I strongly believe that airline policies should all be one person one fare.

    • mamaV says:

      Great point comparing height vs weight…so sad. Plus your comment about having to afford two seats is valid as well.

      Hmmm….this makes me think of other places, like stadiums for example. I recently attended a concert where the seats were small, and the arm rests did not go up. There wasn’t a mom who was horribly uncomfortable the entire time.

      Not sure there is an easy solution since I don’t see Corporations forking over $ to end this discrimination.
      mv

      • Meems says:

        Ugh, there were auditorium seats at my university that were so narrow I could barely fit in them at a size 10! I’d totally forgotten about that. This definitely isn’t an issue limited entirely to airplane seating.

        • living400lbs says:

          Quite true – seeing Carrie Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking” in Seattle, for example, the seats were not only small but the armrests resting on top of the dividers were narrower than the seat itself. I ended up crouching so that the wider part of my hips were below the armrests and then backing into the seat. I guess it’s a good thing I include squats in my exercise routine?

    • lissa10279 says:

      Meems that is a really sensitive and thought-provoking comment about comparing weight and height … the comments DO tend to be dehumanizing.

  11. One of the things missing from this post is that Smith said he typically books two seats on a flight – not because he doesn’t FIT in ONE… but because he hates sitting next to people.

    He was IN the seat. The arm rests were DOWN. He FIT!

    So why take him off the flight except someone made an arbitrary decision that he was “too fat” for their flight that day.

  12. vitty10 says:

    This airline needs to learn a thing or 2 about proper customer service. Rule 1 is don’t unnecessarily humiliate customers. If he was in his seat with the armrests down then why did they pull him off of the flight?

  13. mamaV says:

    Couldn’t a feasible solution be to make a section of wider seats with more leg room to accommodate the tall, fat, etc?

    Currently, there is the exit row for tall people, which used to be no extra charge, you just had to be lucky enough to book it first. Most airlines charge between $30-40 for it (my husband is 6’4, needless to say the regular seats are kind of hellish for him).

    Regarding the overall issue, it makes me sad that we can’t just lift up our little metal armrest and let the person next to us utilize a portion of a seat that is not in use anyway. I traveled a lot on business, and I went out of my way to make someone who looked uncomfortable more comfortable….just like someone stronger than me would lift my bag, or let me get out of the row to pee ten times, or not freak out if one of kids were acting nutty.

    On the flip side, if I was the one that needed two seats, I would save myself the embarrassment and buy two seats, until the airlines decide to stop discriminating (so THEY can squeeze in a few extra seats for extra $)
    mamaV

    • Meems says:

      if I was the one that needed two seats, I would save myself the embarrassment and buy two seats, until the airlines decide to stop discriminating

      Unfortunately, that assumes you can afford the extra ticket. Luckily for me, I’m fairly short and easily fit in one seat, but if I were in the position to need two, I don’t think I’d ever be able to fly.

      • Heidi says:

        This would be my problem also. My husband is English (my son and I hold two nationalities) and his family lives in the UK. We’re already struggling to find money to pay the $2400 that it would currently cost the three of us to fly to the UK for a visit. If I had to add another full-price seat on that?!

        Luckily, with my son being a child I wouldn’t need to, as I can infringe on his space as much as I like, but the fact remains that if I were being asked to pay twice as much for two seats because I couldn’t fit (being apple-shaped, I fit into the armrests fine but I’ve got the wide shoulder issue too), I simply wouldn’t be able to fly anywhere.

        I’d love to be able to afford that option but cannot; yet another marginalization of people who don’t fit into the right earnings bracket.

        • Gina says:

          … yet another marginalization of people who don’t fit into the right earnings bracket.

          Heidi, airlines are commercial ventures operating on a very tight profit margin. Air travel is a privilege, not a right. If you can’t afford their services, you can’t afford them. They are not “marginalizing” the less well-off, they are trying to stay in business.

    • lissa10279 says:

      I like the idea of a section with wider seats and more leg room for everyone’s overall comfort (regardless of size/height) — but sadly that is what business class and first class offer; not coach.

  14. Lori says:

    The absurd thing is, my understanding is that airline seats have actually become, in the last few decades, smaller both width-wise and depth-wise, meaning that we have less room for both our hips/shoulders and for our legs. I’m not particularly tall–5’8″–and I am extremely uncomfortable with how little leg room I have when I fly. So they are simultaneously making seats smaller to cram more people into the plane, while creating policies that require people who can’t fit width-wise to buy two seats.

    I do think these policies are very arbitrary, since they seem to rely entirely on subjective opinions of the airline crew as to whether or not somebody is “too large.” While the policy in theory seems like it would unfairly be discriminating against women, since women do tend to be larger in the hips, I wonder if in practice that’s the case, or if airlines really aren’t looking at how wide somebody’s hips might be, but instead just focus on if they look “too fat.” My father weighs over 300 lbs. but he’s very apple-shaped, so he has room to spare in an airplane seat (width-wise, at least–he’s 6’4″ so he’s got absolutely no leg room). I weigh 100 or 150 pounds less than he does, but I’ve got very wide hips, and I can find it a tight squeeze in some airline seats, if I don’t cross my legs (which is hard to do given how little leg room there is!). And yet I’ve never had airline employee even look at me twice as I got on a plane, much less question me as to whether I needed two seats, while it seems like people more my father’s size are the ones who get singled out.

    I think in general airlines need to do much more to ensure passenger comfort, and shrinking seats is not the way to go about it. My husband, who is 6’5″, won’t fly unless it’s absolutely necessary, because it is so uncomfortable for him. He’s got a really long torso, so not only does he have no leg room, but the seat backs don’t go high enough to actually support his head or neck. He’ll only travel for work, if necessary, and won’t fly for leisure. My son and I do sometimes fly out to see family, but it’s not my favorite way to travel, either.

  15. Emily S. says:

    I’ve been mulling this over for awhile and there’s something that keeps being said that really bothers me.

    Often the case for forcing “passengers of size” to purchase two whole tickets is that they paid for one seat, and took up one and a half, while their smaller row mates paid for one seat, and only received half.

    First, I’ll overlook the fact that it is highly unlikely that you actually were only left with half a seat. I recently shared a row with a man who was well over 400 pounds and 6’5”. He spilled over about 3″. It was just not that big of a deal. It would have only been a big deal if I was so horrified by his fat touching me that I spent the whole trip focusing on catching his big ugly smelly fat genes.

    But let’s assume that you are in fact one and full-half-a-seat wide. You did not buy a seat in the same way that you bought a house. You did not pay by the square inch. You paid for a SERVICE, and part of that service is that space. But the service is not comprised of ONLY the space. You paid to get from point A to point B, faster than is possible by car or train, with your luggage, served a beverage and maybe a snack, and to have a place to sit during the journey.

    The cost of your ticket covered much more than the 17″ of hip room. So why should taking up an additional 3″ – or even the highly uncommon extra 8″, cost TWICE as much?

    I like the idea that customers of a certain size qualify for larger seats for the same price. I think that if there were a few of these seats available on every flight, and the flight attendants were having to decide who is large enough to need this extra free space (much like they decide who is disabled enough to sit in a special row or who is tall enough to get a free upgrade to business class), instead of who they can consider large enough to justify CHARGING for more space, they would be much less liberal in classifying folks as too fat for one seat.

    • Lori says:

      You did not buy a seat in the same way that you bought a house. You did not pay by the square inch. You paid for a SERVICE, and part of that service is that space. But the service is not comprised of ONLY the space.

      It’s funny how airlines have no problem understanding this concept when it comes to extremely small passengers. Since my son turned 2, I’ve had to pay full fares for him to fly. The fact that his tiny little rear end took up less than half a seat didn’t matter. He was one passenger and was treated as such, regardless of how much seat space he actually took up.

      “One passenger = one fare” is something airlines adhere to when it comes to very small passengers, and I don’t see any reason why they can’t do the same with very large passengers.

      • Emily S. says:

        Yes! And when I hear the stories about two very large people traveling together being forced to buy 4 seats instead of 3 for the two of them (providing plenty of space), it really seems to be a lot more about money than any of the airlines are owning up to right now.

      • Gina says:

        Lori – it’s not unreasonable that your two-year old has to pay for an entire seat, because the airline can’t sell the half-seat he’s not using.

        • Lori says:

          I didn’t say it was unreasonable. I just said it shows that we’re not paying by the inch or, as sometimes argued, by the pound. If a rationale for forcing a larger passenger to buy two seats is that it’s a safety issue because of the overall weight of the plane, then why not have a cheaper fare for very little passengers?

          And, FWIW, I’ve heard stories of people who were told they needed to buy two seats, even though they were flying with a small child and, between the two of them, could have very easily have fit into two seats’ space. It seems like, even for those asked to buy two seats, very few people actually need two entire seats.

  16. tom brokaw says:

    Kevin Smith is an atrocious director.

    He basically resides in that class of director I call “camera on a tripod” director. About all he can do is place a camera on a tripod and point it roughly at the people who are speaking in the scene, or worse yet, leave it up to his cinematographer, or worse yet veto creative ideas his cinematographer might come up with, in favor of camera on a tripod work.

    It’s really one step up from home movies.

  17. Somebody's Mother says:

    I work as a corporate travel agent. And having dealt with airline policies for years, I think I have a bit of a different perspective. I have said for years that I want to have airplanes, because if you have airplanes you can do whatever you want. There is not a single rule about air travel on any airline that at times does not seem to be unfair, arbitrary, or just down right stupid to most reasonable people. There are a lot of factors involved here that most people do not realize. Let me try to share some of the things I’ve learned working in the industry.
    The price of a given seat on a plane is not fixed. Ever. Depending on how far in advance you book, how long you stay, how full the flight is already, are you connecting to another flight (often times it is cheaper to fly farther which makes no sense) etc, the cost of that seat varies. The person sitting next to you may have paid much less for their seat than you paid for yours. This also means you may be able to get 2 seats for less than someone else paid for one seat, depending on these factors.
    You do pay for space on an airline. The more space you want the more it costs. Premium economy, business and first class seats all cost more because you get more space. Also most airlines have children’s fares that are discounted (you have to know to ask for them though) depending on their age.
    Airlines always over sell flights. This means they will always sell a few more seats than are actually available on a flight. They want to ensure the plane is full when it takes off to maximize profits (it’s a business first). There will always be people who no-show or cancel at the last minute. This is not going to change. And the question of who actually gets the seat will always seem arbitrary and unfair if you’re the person being asked to leave the flight.
    In this particular situation, Mr Smith, by always purchasing 2 seats flagged himself as someone who needs 2 seats. He chose to try to get on an earlier flight where there was only one seat available. These 2 factors combined probably moved him to the top of the list as to who was getting ‘bumped’ when the flight was full.
    The question of I paid for 2 seats but may the airline cannot guarantee they will be together. The thing is, seats are on a first come first serve basis. The people who book earlier have their choice of seats. They can get a specific seat assignment when they purchase their tickets. If the flight is fuller and the only available seats are single seats scattered throughout the plane they’re just letting you know the reality of the situation. This is true if you are purchasing 2 seats for yourself or traveling with a small child you need to be next to. Also I have had to put people on different flights than the ones they wanted because they needed an aisle seat due to injury or disability and there were simply no aisle seats available on their preferred flight.. There are almost always a few seats that are under what is called airport control. This gives the gate agents the ability to try to accommodate as many people as possible in the best possible seating configuration. You never know all of the different factors involved with the other passengers whose needs are also being considered when they are distributing these seats.
    There are a lot of other issues that have been touched on in this thread that I could give perspective on. but I’ve gone on long enough. The long and the short of it is, airline travel used to be a luxurious experience. Now, it’s uncomfortable, over-crowded mass transit that is fraught with way too many rules and inconveniences. Everybody is just trying to survive the flight experience without going crazy.

  18. greenbunny78 says:

    I think when people talk about this issue, they miss one key point- flying an airplane is very much about weight ratio. The increasing weight that people have is very much a factor in flight safety. I have a friend who is a pilot. I went flying with him once, and he needed to know my weight so he could accurately calculate how much fuel we could have. Its very important. So, while I think that it is not horribly fair that airlines do this, there is a certain level of necessity involved- at least from their bottom line perspective. Perhaps a more fair solution would be to re-fit the planes with bigger seats so they carry less people- thus eliminating the problem. But I doubt airlines would find that a reasonable solution

    • vitty10 says:

      I don’t think that the weight of individual people is much of a concern with large commercial airliners, such as the one Kevin Smith was kicked off of. That is more for small regional airplanes and those little 4-seaters that people fly for fun.

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  1. […] to the Kevin Smith thread at Shapely Prose.  Then tonight I wrote up a huge long comment at We Are The Real Deal and … it’s a post in itself.   […]



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