A few days ago, I tweeted the photo below (found on epicwtfs.com, which by the way, is a hilarious site) and posed the following question: “What would you honestly do if you were seated next to this passenger? :-/”
I’m most certainly not trying to poke fun or come off as offensive, but this question really did cross my mind: What the heck are you supposed to do?! I’m asking that question from all angles – from the perspective of the passenger of size, the surrounding seat mates, and the airlines themselves.
In fairness, I know that talking about larger passengers on airplanes will always be a touchy subject for all parties involved, and it will continue to be an on-going discussion – definitely a step above, but along the same lines of the “do-passengers-have-the-right-to-recline” debate because at the end of the day, the argument is simply about getting to your destination comfortably. Let’s face it – what it comes down to is this: you and I, and everyone around us are purchasing a seat and we all deserve be comfortable, right?
Going back to the photo above, other questions that I pondered include: Is the above scenario even legal? Did the flight attendant step in and say something? Are they even supposed to? Is the plane in the air?
Ironically, a few days after I tweeted the photo, Kathy @ Will Run For Miles wrote about her recent experience getting compensated 7,500 miles for sitting next to a passenger of size on a Delta flight. Do airlines feel that compensating the ‘inconvenienced’ passenger after the fact is better than addressing the issue during the flight because it eliminates embarrassing confrontation? I really don’t know, and these are the types things I have been thinking to myself…
So now the big question is: What counts as being “too big?” While there is generally no “weight limit” in place across the board, most airlines judge by whether the arm rest goes down and stays down during the duration of the flight.
Most airlines actually have published policies in their contracts of carriage referring “customers of size”. Some airlines have the armrest rule, some require an extra seat to be purchased, some will give you a spare seat for free if it’s available.
In case you’re curious to see how each airline states that they handle these types of situations, airline “customer of size” Policies can be summed up in this article here. Keep in mind that most of these policies are enforced [or not] on a case-by-case basis.
Now for the discussion – What have you done/would you have done/should you have done? Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? If so, how did you handle it? I’d love to hear from all angles – surrounding seat mates, passengers of size, and even airline crew if any happen to have stumbled across this post. I personally have not found myself in a “customer of size” scenario as they call it, but I’d love to hear your thoughts… the floor is yours…