Should airlines discriminate against "heavy" people?

Are you a doctor? Are you involved in actual research about obesity? Did you read any of the myriad of articles from legitimate medical researchers and doctors over the past few years that are increasingly falling on the side of a definite genetic factor involved in obesity? Unless you have something more substantial than ‘common sense’ to support your opposition to the medical researchers’ findings, I think I’ll take their word over yours.

This may be the solution. Maybe you should be allowed to sell your space to other passengers.

“Excuse me, but my seat appears to be too large for my enormous gut. May I lay some of my fat on you?”

His4ever: “What are you going to give me for it?”

“Well, what if I give you $200?”

His4ever: “Make it $300 and it’s a deal.”

“Okay, here you go.” PFFLUMP!

Cuuute! :smiley: Seriously, though, there ought to be some way of solving this problem. The only one I can think of is to provide some extra large seats. But then the argument would come up, should they pay more for those large seats than others pay for normal seats? For cost purposes of the airline and keeping ticket prices down for everyone else, one could say yes. But I’m sure someone else would have an argument against them paying more, such as should a fat person be discriminated against because they take up the space of two normal sized people? I don’t know that it’s a matter of discrimination but simply the fact of their size and the amount of space they need and whether they should pay for the extra space. Only so much space is available on an airplane.

I may have missed this when I read over this thread, but…

Extra large people (whether tall or heavy) are already paying more for their clothing, right? Why not pay more (within reason) for a larger seat on an airplane? It doesn’t seem to be a matter of discrimination when they go shopping. At least, I haven’t heard it.

I don’t even qualify as overweight, or overly tall, and am not comfortable in those little tiny airline seats. I don’t know how anyone who isn’t smaller than a 135 pound 5’ 7" woman fits. Course, sitting between a 300 pound man and the window on my last flight didn’t help.

If they made bigger seats, and then put some sort of weight qualification on them (you can only sit here if you weigh more than 250 pounds), that would be discrimination - I’d like more room, too. And, I can get more room - but I’d have to pay for first class, and I don’t want more room THAT much. And apparently few others do either, since when most people shop for airfare, they choose the lowest priced flights.

Is anyone else picturing those baggage things “if your carryon bag cannot fit in here, you must check it” but for butts? “If you can’t sit in this space, you must buy two seats.”

Seems to me that forcing people to buy muliple seats is the only fair solution. Eventually, if people are forced to buy mulitple seats, airlines with more generous seating arrangments in a single seat will win business from the significant portion of the American population that is not a mere 17" wide (its cheaper to pay for 1 1/2 seats than two - and if everyone pays for 1 1/2 seats, economy of scale kicks in) and the market will take care of the problem. Course, it means thin people will eventually be paying more for their airfare.

Originally posted by Zoe

I guess that if private airlines can do what they want, they could change the “normal” seat size to twelve inches. Some of you might feel differently then. Maybe not.

That tone suggests that you mean “some of us may feel differently about having the government force businesses to comply with arbitrary standards”, and if that’s the case, your logic is faulty.

Since you seem to be talking to free market advocates with that statement, I’d guess they’re the first to realize that an airline would fail and be largely rejected by the public if they made such a decision, thereby weeding out such a company, or more likely, preventing them from doing it in the first place when they realize the implications. No central authority imposing it’s will needed.

Sorry if this is an excessive response, but that statement rubbed me the wrong way. You seemed to imply those against arbitrary government regulation would “change our minds” when private entities did something we didn’t like, then we’d want to impose our wills through a central authority. And the logic there is faulty, hence my response.

Reread my original quotation, please. The use of “some of you” and “might” and “Maybe not” keep my post from being illogical.

Although I may have seemed to you to imply that those against arbitrary government regulation would change you minds, that was not my intention. I did not imply – you inferred.

BTW, IANAA=I am not an attorney.

I’m sorry that the tone of my post rubbed you the wrong way. Discrimination against the morbidly obese rubs me the wrong way, so I can understand.

from BURNER, who was quoting ADA regulations:

Raising an armrest on one section when it is necessary to accomodate a large person does not seem to me to place undue burden or a fundamental alteration.

The issue of a larger exit and larger bathroom would, however, require alterations. Whether or not they are “fundamental” alterations would depend on interpretation and design, I guess.

From occ:

Smaller people could put down the armrest when the extra room is not reserved. Remember, I am talking about one section only. Any airline with this accomodation would have the undying gratitude of the morbidly obese who would patronize their services. Maybe some seats that were previously left empty would now be used.

Larnia said:

I wouldn’t be ticked but I would be frustrated if I had access to the knowledge that someone was flying “double” or “triple” while I couldn’t get a seat. But, more than likely, I would never know the reason and would not feel the resent. Meanwhile, a lot of obese people wouldn’t be ticked anymore. I would be willing to endure the frustration in order for the airlines to be able to provide this act of kindness – especially for someone who has so many conveniences denied them all the time.

According to the CDC, 31% of people in the United States are obese. 60% are either overweight or obese.

I am a 170 pound, 5’ 8’’ man, and fit just fine into those coach seats. They are fairly comfortable, and I can even doze off in them. In fact, I am overweight according to the body-mass index (BMI). I try to watch my weight, I exercise, and I only eat 1 or 2 healthy meals a day out of habit without problems.

If you eat more than this and are obese, perhaps it is not necessary, but out of habit? Bariatric surgery just reduces the amount of food you eat. If you got into the habit of eating less, the results are the same as the surgery: weight loss.

I do not want to pay more for my airfare because of obese people. Those people should either buy 2 coach tickets or a first class ticket.

I know this is a hijack, but I just couldn’t let it slide. While what The Controvert says is essentially true, there is no way that a person could, long term, just start eating at the caloric level bariatric surgery takes you to, without the surgery. It is my understanding that post-bariatric surgery patients eat between 750-1000 calories a day. Yes, you could theoretically skip the surgery and just drastically reduce your caloric intake, but the hunger would be too much for most of us. The thing about the surgery is that you are satisfied with that amount of food. I would go so far as to say that if one could be satisfied with that amount of food without the surgery, one would never reach the point where surgery is needed.

Well, I will admit that some people are not able to skip meals without succumbing to hunger.

However, maybe it’s because society has told us we should eat a meal immediately after we wake up, then another meal 2-3 hours later, and yet another one after that. And at night, a snack is conveniently waiting for us in the kitchen. Or as many snacks as wanted, because we wouldn’t want to suffer, right?

I can understand and believe this habit is difficult to change. Unfortunately, because some people have this problem, they want everybody else to shoulder their burden, too. I honestly think there are a lot of people who, faced with the choice of one person buying an extra ticket, or making everybody pay twice the airfare, would choose the latter.

I think the solution is to make an extra wide seat. Persons who pay double can use this seat. If they insist on using the seat without paying extra, then a giant stinkass appears and sits on them with considerable weight for the entire trip.

After all, they didn’t hesitate to subject another passenger to this, so they shouldn’t mind at all, right??

They should charge by weight, not space.

Society? Or maybe nutritionists…? One of the fundamental problems that a lot of obese people have is meal-skipping; they skip meals (usually breakfast, sometimes lunch as well) hoping that they will be able to cut out the calories and then they end up feeling so hungry that they gorge themselves later. It can be a very effective weight-control strategy to break up the daily caloric intake into as many as four or five smaller meals instead of two big ones; there’s less of a liklihood of gorging later on snackfoods.

Wasn’t it Southwest that started this whole thing?

Controvert said:

Wrong. I’m sure that most obese people find it humiliating that they sometimes make other passengers uncomfortable. I used to be morbidly obese. I wouldn’t even fly because of the situation – my own discomfort, the embarrassment of causing others discomfort and the degrading situation in general.

Free market, baby. The airlines have uniformly added space between seats (front-to-back) because of the market – they went too far and people were literally starting to not fly. American used “more room in coach” as a come-along and the others followed suit shortly thereafter.

Personally, at my height (6’) I fit just fine front-to-back (now). Side-to-side, not so good. I’m not obese, but not slender either – more importantly, I have extremely wide shoulders (i.e. a function of frame, not weight). I feel bad for anyone stuck next to me in coach! I think the airlines should make seats a coupla inches wider, but then they’d fit less seats, tickets would cost more, etc.

Personally, I think a lot of the problems airlines are experiencing stem from anti-customer policies. They’re generally rude, they constantly lie to you (like they JUST found out the flight was delayed 30 seconds after they pushed back… right), they’re unconcerned about lost luggage or other problems, and the service is simply lousy. They also don’t offer enough room for many people to be comfortable.

But I’m a capitalist. Either they’ll figure out that better customer service (including normal-human-sized space) is good business, or they’ll not and go out of business, or they’ll not but do well anyway: in which case they’re right to not address these issues.

DrLizardo, I have the same problem fitting into seats. It’s not the waist, it’s the shoulders. I also have a problem if I have to use under the seat for my bag if the overheads fill.

Don’t get me started on delays. Airlines will hold up announcing delays until the last possible second. Friday, when it snowed ~10 inches in Boston, my flight was never more than 30 minutes delayed…until it was cancelled. Calling before I even left for the airport, the flight was still ‘on-time’. I told them no way it could be, but they were just looking at a computer.

I disagree with your last paragraph. I think just the opposite - the market has already voted with it’s pocketbook. People would rather save $50 rather than have comfortable seats and good service, including frequent business travellers. That’s just my opinion, however, and I’m willing to entertain studies that show otherwise with an open mind.

Or sit around watching football, or pretty much sit around doing anything else that doesn’t involve physical activity. Anime isn’t in and of itself fattening. But hey, those geeks are easy targets.