Posted by: foodtalker | May 31, 2011

tight fit

I’ve got some concerns about the new airline ruling.  Recently United Airlines and others announced that extra-large passengers will have to purchase the seat next to them if they don’t fit in the seat, can’t lower the arm rest, or need an extra seatbelt extender.  Whether or not this policy is right or wrong is up for debate but worst of all is that they have left the decision to enforce it with airline staff at the check-in counter of the airport.

This can lead to nothing but trouble.  To begin with, what if you don’t consider yourself large?  You’re feeling good, about to take a trip, turn up at the airport for your flight and the agent suddenly tells you that you have to pay double?  I see either a fist fight or years of therapy right there.

There’s just no practical way to enforce this policy.  What are they going to do?  Ask people to disclose their BMI and step on a scale?  Good luck getting any of my girlfriends to do that.  It’s the annual moment of dread getting weighed in the privacy of my doctor’s office when no one is there and the nurse knows better than to shout out the reading.  What are the chances I’ll stand on scales that might not have been calibrated for months and in front of hundreds of strangers?  Nil.

Perhaps they will build a metal cage similar to the one they have for testing the size of carry-on luggage.  Then people will be asked to get into the cage and if their flesh bulges through the bars they’ll be declared over the size limit.   But it’s not like being able to redistribute your belongings throughout your other suitcases.  You know people will try to squish themselves in saying, “It’s not me, it’s my clothes.  I’m wearing layers.”  

A big part of the problem is that what constitutes fat is subjective.  There are some people who think anything over-size 8 is plus-size.  I don’t want these people in a position of power.

I know this decision is intended for people who are obese, but once it’s in the hands of the airline staff, anything can happen.  Let’s say they’re having a bad day and feeling vengeful.  Where you sit and whether or not you even get on the plane comes down to their mood.  As it is I’ve been in enough unpleasant altercations about aisle seats.

What if they have not only the last word, but the ultimate weapon.  I can hear it now.  “Sorry, looks to me like you’re too fat to fly.”

Also, I’m wondering if there will be extensive training in tactful protocol?  Because there really is no good way to deliver this news.  In Britain, for example, they would be extremely polite.  “May I suggest, my good man, that you purchase an additional seat as your girth exceeds the limits.”  Whereas in New York, it’s more likely to be a case of “Git yer lard ass of this plane.”  Definitely a lawsuit waiting to happen.

There’s so much angst about travelling as it is, do we really need one more thing to be anxious about?  At what point must a heavy passenger worry about public humiliation aswell?

I’ll complain about a lot of things but I’d never complain about that.  Because no matter how uncomfortable it’s been for me, I know it must be far worse for them.  I save my complaints for behavioural traits, not physical ones.  Why not make someone with poor parenting skills purchase another seat, or sit at the back near the toilets.  Or someone who’s wearing cheap cloying cologne.  Screen for that at the ticketing counter please.


  1. I am usually compassionate about all kinds of follies here in life…..but there is something about the metal cage you mention!!! LOL

    Screaming children and their parents should be given tranquilizers, and perfume should be washed off! Too many exhausting flight to Europe and back have stretched my patience….

    OR put me in first class if I am next to one of the above…..I could live with that solution! 🙂

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