Should Overweight Airline Passengers Be Penalized?


Much has been written about what to do about overweight airline passengers and it has sparked debate and controversy.  On the one hand does the person who is overweight have the same rights as a thin person? Is it right or legal, to discriminate against passengers, based solely on their size? Or, do thinner fliers have the right not to have their space infringed upon by larger passengers.  When sitting in first class, all seats are self-contained.  Each person has his or her space regardless of the size of the person sitting next to them.  Heavier fliers simply need to fit in the seat.  In a coach seat, the only thing separating passengers is the arm rest which is movable.  On a recent flight from Chicago, due to a change in my itinerary, I was sitting in coach.  I was very cognizant of the fact that the armrest stay down if I was to protect my personal space.  As it turned out, the person sitting next to me was heavy and attempted to lift the arm rest.  What that of course would do, is enable him to “bleed” on to my seat, in to my space.  Of course I would have none of that and explained as much.  Although he was unhappy, downright pissed perhaps, my right to my space was at least as important and protected as his need to take up more space than I.  In order to earn a profit, airlines have been forced to add seats and make seats smaller.  Unfortunately, US citizens are getting larger, so the math doesn’t add up. Therefore, if he wanted the extra space, he should have purchased two seats.  Or, lobby the airlines for rows of larger seats spaced throughout the aircraft, that anyone can purchase at a higher cost.  Therefore it isn’t discriminatory.  Most airlines are doing something like that currently; more leg room, larger seats etc. for an additional cost.  But one thing is clear, this issue is not about insensitivity,  discrimination, or penalizing one group of passengers, it’s about fairness for everyone.

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