Should overweight passengers pay extra to fly?

Yesterday United Airlines announced that overweight passengers — those who who can’t fit in a single seat, can’t properly buckle the seat belt, or can’t bring the armrest all the way down when seated — would face new travel guidelines, some with an additional cost attached.

The airline could move such a passenger to two adjacent seats (when available). The passenger could sit there free of charge. But if two seats together aren’t available, the passenger would be required to purchase a second seat, or pay to upgrade their seat (or cancel for a full refund). Read the full story here in the Chicago Sun-Times.

No matter what your size, you don’t want to spend a long flight being uncomfortable. But is it fair to ask someone to pay fully twice the price of their ticket? If I were riding on a plane with an overweight passenger, I would try to switch my seat so they didn’t have to pay extra.

Do you think it’s fair to ask overweight passengers to pay for a second seat?

Photo: iStockphoto.com

191 comments Add your comment

Gunter Sharp

April 16th, 2009
10:18 am

Yes, it’s only fair. If an overweight passenger prevents the person in the adjacent seat from being able to comfortably use that seat, then the overweight person is taking away from what the other passenger paid for.

Drew

April 16th, 2009
10:22 am

I think it’s fair, yes. I agree that if I could help the obese passenger by moving MY seat, I would but frankly I haven’t been on many flights where there were numerous seats available where I could exercise that option. We pay to have a seat on a plane. We basically rent the seat and the space for the duration of the flight. If the fat rolls on a particular person are so large that they interfere with my comfort and safety, then they should absolutely be required to buy a bigger seat.

Willie G

April 16th, 2009
10:30 am

YES charge the MORE.

Paige

April 16th, 2009
10:38 am

I don’t mind being squished against the window or shoved into the aisle a bit by an overweight passenger. To be fair, that’s happened to me only three times in many, many flights. It’s the screaming kids (on almost every flight) that drive me up the wall.

Stephen J

April 16th, 2009
10:40 am

As it should be! I only hope Delta follows suit. As a frequent Delta flyer I have endured too many uncomforatable flights when the person sitting beside me spilled over in to my seat (sweat and all). If you require the space of two seats, you should pay for two seats.

wannabe

April 16th, 2009
10:47 am

I agree, they should pay more. We all pay for/rent a seat and expect reasonable comfort. I don’t expect not to rub shoulders/arms occasionaly, but no way should anyone be subjected to someone elses gurth literally laying on you for a flight. It is also unsafe if anything were to happen on the flight and it just isn’t right. It should be handled in a way to preserve there dignity as much as possible but it is what it is. You have to pay extra for oversized luggage that sits next to luggage for pete’s sake, absolutely a person that ways considerably more, takes up the space of two or more people should be expected to pay up.

YANCYVB

April 16th, 2009
10:56 am

wannabe
It’s their and weighs.

TC

April 16th, 2009
10:59 am

So you going to ask the NFL players to pay twice as much when they travel?

Holy Macaroni

April 16th, 2009
11:07 am

Yes – without a question. If you take up 2 seats, you pay for 2 seats.

iamKathi

April 16th, 2009
11:27 am

As a frequent flyer and a larger person I was on the side of I pay for my ticket and I fit in the seat so leave me alone. But, on a recent flight from LAX I had an empty seat next to me and hoped it remained so. But… I saw him coming down the aisle, the biggest man I have ever seen on a plane and I just knew he was coming to sit on/by me. I fit in my seat and I can fasten the seat belt but he couldn’t. He was by the window and took up his seat and half of mine. He had his own seat belt extender. the arm rest wouldn’t go down. He should have paid for 2 seats.

wannabe

April 16th, 2009
11:28 am

YANCYVB – I know, there just isn’t a way to edit your post after submission. Don’t you have anything better to do? lol

Steve

April 16th, 2009
11:32 am

What bothers more is women being able to carry a fairly large infant on board and sit with the child on “her lap”. Couple that with a fat woman and it is miserable. Fat and with child should equal purchasing an extra seat.

Chatty old smelly people bother me too.

YANCYVB

April 16th, 2009
11:33 am

No, I am bored to death today. LOL!!!

Shaye

April 16th, 2009
12:15 pm

Absolutely–if you don’t fit in one seat, you should pay for two. That said, perhaps airlines should start installing a couple of seats that are a bit wider (maybe 1.5 times normal size). I’m not a very large person, but I flew internationally with my ex who’s 6′4″ and about 260. He fit in his seat just fine (though his poor legs were cramped). besides, if you really weigh *that* much, you’re sucking up more gas. Fair’s fair.

GOFORIT

April 16th, 2009
12:19 pm

I think this is the best rule the airline came up with and I think all airlines should follow. I went to LA this past summer from Atlanta and had a large man sitting in the middle. I was at the window and another flyer was in the aisle seat. The flight attendent didn’t give him 1 extended seat belt but 3 total. I cant sit here with my knees bent towards window. I told her I will get off the plane and take another flight before I sit here this long. Me and her went back and forth with the problem until I told her if I need you to give me 1/2 of my ticket price back because I paid for a seat ,but yet I am sitting in half of my seat and the other half is being shared by this man next to me. Finally they found me another seat and I couldn’t been happier.

AL G

April 16th, 2009
12:22 pm

Airlines are not buffets, but rather more akin to traditional restaurants where you pay for what you eat. You should absolutely pay for the space you occupy. Either pay for 2 seats or buy a 1st class ticket. It isn’t my responsibility to accommodate your irresponsibility at the dinner table by tolerating your amorphic, gelatinous rolls in my lap, on my leg, etc. Consider this: If we are neighbors, both paying rent or owning our homes, would you tolerate my piling up my belongings in your living room because I can’t fit them in my house?

Mel

April 16th, 2009
12:40 pm

Here’s a concept: stop shoving people in like cattle, and give them 2″ extra inches of seat space in coach. Make *everybody* more comfortable, and save overweight people embarassment.

If you aren’t fat, then you do not know how embarassing it is, nor how incredibly uncomfortable, to do all you can to squish into a seat and not impinge on your neighbor’s space. And what about people who can’t afford business seats? Callously tell them not to fly?

Not all fat people are the same size nor dimensions. I carry my weight in my thighs/hips, which means I need an extender and I can fit into a single seat, although painfully so. (I do buy upgrades when I can afford them.) There are also plenty of fat people who have skinny legs, have no problem fitting in their seats from the waist down, but are huge up top, and spill into your seat from that direction.

The fact is that at least 60% of the American population is overweight. But public transportation doesn’t reflect that nor give sway for changes in pysiology over the past 50 years. I have more room on my bus ride home than I do on an airplane!

I want a refund for every skinny person who has sat next to me stinking to high heaven because they apparently have no clue how to shower; or has drowned themselves in cologne; or has a baby that screams and cries half the flight; or yacks my ear off; or snores like a truck.

JESS

April 16th, 2009
12:43 pm

AIRLINES SHOULD REVERT TO THE WIDER SEATS OF THE ’50s AND STOP SCREWING THE FLYING PUBLIC. SQUEEZING PASSENGERS INTO SEATS ONLY LARGE ENOUGH FOR A 3 YEAR OLD TO SIT IN COMFORTABLY IS NOT ONLY CRUEL , IT’S DOWNRIGHT GREEDY.

Nee

April 16th, 2009
12:52 pm

why draw the line at the size of a person? I had to spend 75% of a 9 hour flight next to a thin person who snored like a buzz saw and drooled on top of that. A breath mint might have been nice as well. It was so loud I couldn’t rest comfortably. I was also afraid something was going to fly out his mouth and hit me. Did I have a pleasant flight? NO! I would have rather had someone with good oral hygiene who spilled over a little in to my seat.

Jack P

April 16th, 2009
12:54 pm

It’s really quite simple and elementary: the bigger the load the more you pay. Even the fatties ought to understand that.

Grace DeVita

April 16th, 2009
1:06 pm

Yes, I not only think it’s fair, but it’s about time. I’m not overweight, but I’m not small, and I have had to sit next to too many people that take up what little space I’ve paid for.

Storm

April 16th, 2009
1:13 pm

Quit flying!!!! Problem solved.

Man you people are some whiners!!!! Want some cheese with that whine???

It’s not fair…….I had to sit next to blah blah blah….

Should you charge fat people extra at a buffet? Should there be a scale at the door? If you weigh over 250, you pay twice as much. But if you weight under 250, you get regular pricing? I’m a light eater, but a friend of mine can eat two pizzas in one sitting, but he only weights 210, and is over 6 feet tall. Should he be charged more at the buffet cuz he eats more than I do?

When does it end? How do you make EVERYONE happy?????

Should grocery stores charge for fat people in the aisles that you can’t get around. They are occupying space……

Should playgrounds be made larger for fat kids? Wider slides?

Should auto makers charge more for a larger vehicle for fat people?

I mean come on? Can’t we all just get along?

LaCinda

April 16th, 2009
1:20 pm

Airlines should widen the seats or remove a few rows of seats to give passengers extra room. Obesity has been proven to be a disease. This disease should not prevent a paying passenger from traveling without added fees.

AL G

April 16th, 2009
1:20 pm

Just because you can’t push away from the buffet doesn’t mean you deserve to be accommodated!

darryl

April 16th, 2009
1:33 pm

Paige, i agree, control the kids…..

ajcReader

April 16th, 2009
1:48 pm

If airline seat designers can design First-Class seats that fold into complete beds, then they should be able to design a seat that could adjustably accommodate multiple sizes.

Greg

April 16th, 2009
2:00 pm

My dislike is when a large person raises the armrest without asking so that they can have half of my seat. My preference would be to require for the passenger to be required to pay for first class with the larger seats or to pay for two seats in coach.
By the way what happens on ASA where the seats are really small and the bathrooms are probably inaccessible for some of the passengers described in earler posts.

Melissa

April 16th, 2009
2:03 pm

Yes and No, Yes because it is uncomfortable for the person sitting next to them, and No because it is discrimination. Make planes with larger seats to accommodate overweight passengers. Should the movie theater charge an overweight person for two seats at the theater because the same thing happens there. Also if obesity is on the rise, then maybe these places should make changes to coincide with the rise in obesity.

wannabe

April 16th, 2009
2:07 pm

All obesity is not caused by a disease/medication. Some need to except that they just like to overeat period. Storm, your analogies are all over the place and don’t negate the arguments presented here.

Melissa

April 16th, 2009
2:09 pm

Wannabe you are right not all obesity is caused by disease or meds.

Melissa

April 16th, 2009
2:10 pm

Basically if you have to lose another person to get to your target weight for your height, then you should pay for two seats.

LA

April 16th, 2009
2:15 pm

It is certainly a problem with the overall amount of space given to begin with, I am a size XS to S with womanly hips and some airline seats are snug for me in the hip area. BUT, there is a BIG problem with obesity in this country and most of it is not a disease (although maybe psychological) so somethings need to be done. Paige and Darryl, I couldn’t agree more… on a flight there is NOTHING worse to me than screaming children which seems to happen on almost every single flight now and that is much more disruptive than a large person taking some of your space. Make parents pay extra whose kids disrupt the ENTIRE plane and not just the person sitting next to them!

stevie

April 16th, 2009
2:25 pm

Whether or not they are required to purchase two seats you should just do what I do. Just refust to raise the armrest. If they can fit on thier side then no problem…if not they have a problem because that armrest is not going anywhere tubby.

Mark H.

April 16th, 2009
2:42 pm

If there aren’t two adjacent seats available and the “large” person pays extra because they don’t fit in their seat, should the person in the seat where the “fat” hangs over be given compensation? Why do I pay full price when part of my seat is occuppied by a “wide body”? Yes, charge them more, but be fair to the person who is not given an option to give up part of their seat.

Amelia

April 16th, 2009
2:47 pm

60% of Americans are fat. Does that mean the other 40% has to suffer??? Should I be punished because I exercise and follow a low carbohydrate diet?

OAL

April 16th, 2009
2:53 pm

Absolutely obese people should be charged for additional space. Airlines DO offer wider seats and that’s in FIRST CLASS!! If you don’t want to pay for the wider seat, then buy TWO in coach so that you don’t infringe upon other paying customers. I’ve actually had to remove someone from a flight because they took up two seats. And NO you don’t get compensation for being removed either because you KNOW you should have paid for two seats. Boeing, Airbus, McDonnell-Douglas, etc… aren’t making the coach any wider. Just make your butt SMALLER!

Greg

April 16th, 2009
2:53 pm

Stevie, its even better when you have the seats usually bulkhead or exit aisles that have fixed armrests. I saw an instance where the passenger would not fit in to one of those seats and he was moved next to a very unhappy new seat mate. Full planes on Friday are a pain

Amelia

April 16th, 2009
3:05 pm

Furthermore, when I buy a ticket I am paying for my whole seat, not just 50% of it.

SayWhat

April 16th, 2009
3:06 pm

Wow. I’ve always been overweight, and thank God I’ve never met any of you self-centered fat people haters! I require a seat belt extender, but do not “spill over” into the next seat and keep the armrest down. So I should pay for an extra seat because I need a seat belt extender? P.S. If you’ve never had a weight problem you don’t have a clue. If I thought I could get rid of the weight by using a carving knife (with or without anesthesia) I’d start cutting. All of us don’t eat whole boxes of Twinkies and cartons of ice cream. Yes, I overeat – but I’ve seen plenty of skinny people eat more at the buffet than I do. It’s like the t-shirts say “I might be fat, but you’re ugly…and I can always lose weight.” Feel free to subsitute “rude,” “conceited,” “self-centered,” etc. for the word “ugly.”

Jerry

April 16th, 2009
3:10 pm

Obese people should have to pay. Flying is a pain anyway, even when you aren’t sitting next to goliath. If I have to be inconvienced by a extra large person while flying, there is no reason they shouldn’t be inconvienced by paying more or upgrading to first class.

When the cost of being obese starts to burden the obese, they may start doing something about it. With our medicare, medicaid, and welfare; most obese people aren’t having to pay a thing in health coverage for being so fat. I think a “fat tax” on fatty’s on airplanes is a move in the right direction!

Dewey

April 16th, 2009
3:17 pm

I was on a flight Minneapolis to Palm Springs on a single aisle plane and had the window seat. In the middle seat next to me was a wide passenger that made me lean against the window if I didn’t want to rub against him. But the real danger wasn’t him but the well dressed man on the aisle who was sooo obese that he forcibly wedged himself into the seat so that the armrest were so tight they acted as his seat belt. He did not ask for a seat belt extension and could not use a seatbelt any way during take off or landing. It was obvious that he always flew this way. Although I needed to go to the bathroom during the flight I had to contain myself because I was trapped. The worst was if there were an air emergency and we had to evacuate the plane, I could not get out quickly and would have died. This is not just a matter of an personal rights but the safty of other passengers. When a musician travels with his cello, he buys an extra seat and the cello always has the window seat and the muscian the middle seat. Obese passengers should not be given the aisle seat trapping his or her seatmates.

Passenger

April 16th, 2009
3:17 pm

If I have to pay for more than 50 lbs of luggage then they should be made to pay for more person. More weight means more fuel.

wannabe

April 16th, 2009
3:22 pm

SayWhat – Sure, some posted comments are rude and call names, but I sure hope you don’t believe that everyone who feels encroached upon by a large person and agrees with this airline policy is somehow a “fat people hater?” that’s just shortsighted and silly. It’s like having a neighbor that plays music as if he is at an outdoor concert at 2am, are you a jerk or a “hater” for calling the cops? for making an HOA rule about not making everyone have to listen to your music at 2am? Come on. You can agree with this policy and not be guilty of discrimination, its just physics, common courtesy, and common sense. IMHO

Jerry

April 16th, 2009
3:22 pm

“I might be fat, but you’re ugly…and I can always lose weight.” Feel free to subsitute “rude,” “conceited,” “self-centered,” etc. for the word “ugly.”

SayWhat…then do like the t shirt says, and lose weight! This isn’t an issue of respect and decency, its one of comfort and saftey!

LA

April 16th, 2009
3:30 pm

SayWhat, it does not seem to me that people on here are “fat people haters” I think this has just become a problem that isn’t quite fair. Also, the obesity rates in this country are so startling that foreigners can spot an American coming from a mile away b/c fat is associated with Americans. Being made to pay extra for a ticket is embarrassing and might actually be a motivator for some obese people to make a change.

I do know what it is like as I used to weigh 215 pounds at a height of 5 foot 4 inches and the embarrassment I felt was the motivator for me to do something about it. Was it easy…no! Was it possible and took determination and personal choice…yes! 7 years later and I was 128 pounds (by exercise and eating well) which is where I have been ever since. Most people have the choice, it is just whether or not you choose to act on it! If you choose not to, why should other people suffer?

Passenger II

April 16th, 2009
3:33 pm

I say yes to larger passengers paying extra only if “FUNKY” passengers are not allowed on until they shower. I will take a fat arm in my space over holding my breath for four plus hours any day.

Lou H

April 16th, 2009
4:02 pm

Braves#1

April 16th, 2009
4:05 pm

Why dont the airlines put a few wider seats in the plane? Everyone deserves to fly and be treated the same. This discrimination bull is really getting on my last nerve. Black, white, mexican (legals that is) fat, skinny, young, old, babies, toddlers. Lighten up people. We all have feelings and we all all created equal. Just some of you think your better then others. By the way im white, 5′6″ and weight 135 so im not fat and sticking up for fat people. Im a christian sticking up for GODS people.

Stan

April 16th, 2009
4:18 pm

I have a t-shirt that says “I beat anorexia!” and yes people too large to fit in one seat should have to pay either for an upgrade or for 2 or more seats.

Mr Tall

April 16th, 2009
4:22 pm

I’m 6′7″, and am what the industry calls Large and Tall, not big and tall, as I was told by a very robust man in a big and tall store once. If I pay a little more can I have the seat in front of me moved a couple of inches forward? How about charging Mr Five Foot tall more for sitting in the emergency row, just because they like to stretch out more?