Forced Off The Flight

   By drodriguez  Feb 17, 2010

The issue of whether or not overweight or larger passengers should be required to purchase two seats when traveling on an airplane has been a controversial one since the policy was adopted.  Hollywood director, Kevin Smith, recently brought this issue back into the spotlight when he was ordered to deplane a flight he had already boarded on Southwest Airlines.  Directly after the incident Smith took to his Twitter page to express his outrage over the situation.

Many of his fans then began publicly criticizing the airline for their treatment of Smith which prompted the airline to issue a statement on their Twitter feed apologizing for the way they handled the situation with Smith.  But had this been an average non-famous plus-sized passenger, would they have felt the need to apologize?  Probably not.

Southwest is just one of many airlines that have adopted this policy of requiring larger passengers to purchase two tickets for a flight.  Southwest’s specific policy is that if the passenger can not lower the armrests on either side of his/her seat than they must purchase an extra seat so as not to make the person sitting next to them uncomfortable or unsafe in the event of an emergency.  In Smith’s case, he contends that he fit in his seat comfortably with his armrests down which makes one wonder if a passenger is being deemed "too big" for one seat based on the opinion of a flight attendant rather than official regulations.

Critics claim that this policy discriminates against people because of their weight while proponents seem to like the idea of keeping everyone comfortable even if the overweight passenger must pay extra to fly.  A recent article from the Los Angeles Times reports about the Smith fiasco and the controversial two-seat policy.  According to the article, Canada takes a more diplomatic stance as they have ruled that airlines must pay for a "clinically obese" person’s extra seat. 

What do you think of the two-seat policy many airlines have adopted for "obese" passengers?  Does it discriminate against larger passengers?

Do you think this policy would be more fair if the airline had to pay for the overweight passenger’s extra seat?

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Dianna1962 by Dianna1962 | White Oak, WV
Jan 03, 2011

OMG I can' t even say how MAD I am there is such a rule....YES this is my opinion like it or not...I think it is all about a DOLLAR they cram too many seats in a plane to make MORE money they could make a section somewhere even at the back of the plane with some slightly larger seats even if you had to pay a premium price to get one! Maybe if were in the OBESE persons shoes you would feel different about it! They wouldn't be SPILLING over on you or crowding "your" space if they had this type of seating on the plane; seriously if the OBESE (and I despise that word) person knows the seating is small they would be more than willing to pay a premium price for a comfortable seat NOT bothering anyone than to be singled out as a PAIN for anyone who is the "perfect" size for the small seating! Funny how it seems that any overweight person has to pay EXTRA for anything no matter what it is!

brimcgrail by brimcgrail | Clinton Twp, MI
May 26, 2010

I have had other passengers "spill" over onto my seat on flights. I have to say that I was very uncomfortable during the flight and the people were constantly shifting and moving around to get comfortable themselves. One one occasion I was elbowed in the eye and the person never acknowledged what had happened. I am not a small person, but I don't consider myself obese..I fit in my set just fine and if I was taking more room I would purchase another seat.

wagger by wagger | Peebles, OH
Feb 26, 2010

I find it deplorable that the airlines cram way too many seats into a tiny space trying to make more money in the first place. A large part of this country is overweight. Who determines when you are TOO big to fit in a seat that is already too small for the average person. If you have a window seat everyone has to get out of the way so you can scootch out to use the rest room. Hell, even the rest rooms are too small. It's a way to make more money. More small seats = more $$. Last time I flew my knees were almost up to my chin. It was so uncomfortable. They should have a couple rows of a little larger seats, charge a few more bucks for those and have a gauge you walk through to board. If your hips hit the those few bucks more to have a wider seat. NOT 2 full price tickets. I'm sick of the things airlines get away with. Like keeping people on the tarmac for hours without food if there is a delay problem.

mommyof3ree by mommyof3ree | Las Vegas, NV
Feb 25, 2010

I used to be a flight attendant and it's just uncomfortable for the other passengers. Nobody likes an uncomfortable flight. If you don't fit buy two seats or drive. Sorry :(

cybrown551 by cybrown551 | HOOKSETT, NH
Feb 24, 2010

I think Southwest Airline's was wrong in saying that the passenger should pay for two seats. It is discrimination to decide passenger should do something different than another passenger. I feel that all passengers should pay the same amount and just because one passenger may be larger than the other I don't think the Southwest Airline has the right to charge this passenger more money.

MadHatter by MadHatter | Whitestone , NY
Feb 23, 2010

clearly my post has struck a nerve in some people, and Krys2000 you are correct, i can also move my self so there is no need to be so "angry" with your post. i do understand that no one is perfect, in shape and sizes. just people people don't agree with you, doesn't mean they need to "grow up", and as if their opinions are "immature" compared to yours.

MadHatter by MadHatter | Whitestone , NY
Feb 23, 2010

krys2000 - please, this has nothing to do about growing up. being pregnant is a different story. i have not seen a pregnant person spill over another persons seat yet in my life time. maybe you have, but i haven't. personally, i am not here to make people pissed or mad. an opinion is only an opinion.

idahospud by idahospud | haines, AK
Feb 23, 2010

They should pay for 2 seats.Flights are uncomforatable as is,let alone someone spilling over onto MY side.We pay plenty for a ticket-I demand my space to be ALL mine.

krys2000 by krys2000 | COLORADO SPGS, CO
Feb 23, 2010

I agree with ROWEN- this is discrimination. I am not a big person. I am 5'4" and normally 140 lbs but when I am pregnant, I balloon up like a whale, and those itty-bitty seats on planes don't usually fit me. Should I be forced to buy 2 plane tickets because I am PREGNANT?? Yes, I am embarrassed to be spilling over into someone else's seat, however, I have every right to be pregnant and I am sorry if that bothers people. It's out and out discrimination. And if you are that afraid next to someone you think might be "fat" or "obese" or "crowding you" then ask the flight attendant to move your butt to another seat and think about how you would feel if the shoe were on your foot. Grow up and leave people alone.

MadHatter by MadHatter | Whitestone , NY
Feb 23, 2010

ALSO, not to piss anyone off, but i personally have Cacomorphobia. you might laugh and think its rediculous, but will you laugh at those who have Acarophobia or Altophobia or any other type of phobia's? you might snicker and tell yourself how i deal with this since there is no escape if that is the case, the answer is close my eyes take deep breaths and look away. I'm not the type of person who likes to cause a scene so if i could avoid it, i will.

MadHatter by MadHatter | Whitestone , NY
Feb 23, 2010

ok fine, lets put the obese talk aside and focus in on the people who aren't, but say for the big rear end or hips. i would STILL take into consideration and feel embarassed if i was spilling over someone elses seat. however, not many people think about that. if i see that the person is uncomfortable before the take off. then i would ask the flight attendant to see if all the seats were taken, if not, if i could switch with someone if possible so that no extra fair is needed to be paid (hopefully) and both parties are comfortable. its embarassing to admit to it, BUT to avoid dirty looks, i would do it. and this is me being realistic about this situation.

Feb 23, 2010

What nobody has addressed here is that an obese person is required to purchase 2 seats but only allowed to occupy 1. I find it surprising that so many have agreed that this form of outright discrimination is not only laudable but should be copied. Are you serious? Do you all really think that it's fair to make a person pay for 2 full priced tickets because they are obese? What if they are not obese they just have a big butt? Or more hips than can fit comfortable between the armrests? Do you treat those people the same way you treat an obese person? I find unruly children and loud people annoying can we do away with them on flights too please. Put yourself in their shoes people. Would you think it was fair if it were you? I mean really.

MyEmptyCanvas by MyEmptyCanvas | KOSCIUSKO, MS
Feb 23, 2010

While I think it's best for all to be comfortable in their seating situations, the airline could've told him that more than likely 2 seats would've had to be purchased because of his weight. Waiting till he got on the plan to sit down was unnecessary.

christywills by christywills | brooklyn park, MN
Feb 20, 2010

I think they should have to buy an extra seat if their body is large enough to bother the person sitting next to them. Not all flights are sold out. They could easily be moved to a seat so that no one is sitting next to them.

fergyscoop by fergyscoop | fresno, CA
Feb 20, 2010

Oh My Goodness! I work for the airlines and I am thankful that I didnt have to make that choice. I have had larger passengers on my flight, but I do not tell them that they have to buy another seat or tell my pilots to make a decision. I know that I have noticed that larger passengers are embarassed to ask for seat belt extensions...therefore I discreetly hang them one as i pass by them. Some tell me thanks when they deplane, explaining that some flight attendants hold it up in the open and say "here's your extension". And when there is an open seat I let them know. :( I feel bad for that nice guy and for others that suffer for their size...people dont realize that some people cant help it, health conditions do contribute to their problems.