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scdreamer Aug 13th, 2015 11:58 AM

Small seats - big passengers
I know this topic has likely been discussed many times, but I am finding it interesting that Uzbekistan Airways.apparently has begun implementation of their new policy to weigh passengers prior to boarding - for "safety" reasons. Samoa Airlines says they have been doing this for years.

There was talk of this on my local radio station earlier this morning, and it was mentioned that when purchasing a ticket, the passenger must state his or her weight. They will be weighed at the airport on the departure date to verify their stated weight. Passengers who are heavier than a certain weight will be required to purchase a more expensive fare. No one seemed sure if that meant the overweight passenger would be given an extra or larger seat.

I know this is for safety reasons, but gee, it sure would be nice if there were some sort of similar policy in place for those passengers who are just too large for standard economy seats. Having been uncomfortably forced to "share" my seat next to very heavy passengers on long-haul flights more than once, it just seems unfair that there isn't some sort of guideline.

Physical weight probably doesn't work - as taller passengers or people with higher muscle mass often are not as big as very fat people who do not have much muscle mass, yet they may weigh more. I wonder if the seat belt extender might be discontinued in favor of the purchase of an upgraded seat - or even two seats - for anyone who would be impacting the person stuck next to them? Seriously, if someone can't buckle a standard seat belt, maybe they need more room ...

wally34949 Aug 13th, 2015 01:54 PM

While I realize weighing passengers is necessary for helicopters and very small planes, weighing passengers for a jet engine aircraft is ridiculous.

marvelousmouse Aug 14th, 2015 12:49 AM

And your point about sharing your space with oversized passengers is pretty stupid, imo- it boils down to the fact that you are choosing to use public transit and your neighbor (as well as all other passengers) is the luck of the draw. You could be next to a sick person, or a screaming toddler, or someone with heavy heavy cologne...the list goes on and on. If it bothers you that much, it's not on them- it's on you, for not upgrading to first class or better yet, choosing not to fly at all. (That probably sounds harsh. But seriously with all the other stuff airlines waste our time with, you really think required weigh ins would make everyone's trip happier or less stressful?)

Plus...are airline seats standard at all?? I swear they aren't. I almost always fly economy and depending on the plane, I've felt: tiny, normal sized, gargantuan...

scdreamer Aug 14th, 2015 07:11 AM

Hmmm ... I didn't say weighing passengers was a good idea. In fact, I think if you actually take the time to read my post, you will be able to see why I don't believe that is an appropriate method of determining a passenger's ability to fit into his or her seat.

I do, however, believe that anyone who cannot fit into their purchased space on a plane - at the expense of whomever is seated adjacent to them - should be flying in a larger space.

Have you ever been assigned a seat next to someone who fills a third of your seat? Have you ever had to be in this situation for ten hours? It's unpleasant for everyone involved, including the obese passenger. It seems to me that with the smaller and smaller spaces for larger and larger people, there should be some sort of option to avoid the discomfort. Expecting typical-sized passengers to be the ones to mitigate it - by not flying??? - seems a bit over the top. Maybe it shouldn't be "on me," as you say. Maybe it should be on the airline? Or - horrors! - on the person who can't fit into a standard airline seat?

And thanks for calling my point "stupid." That pretty much sets the tone for your response.

gail Aug 15th, 2015 02:11 AM

Seats are smaller, people are bigger, flights are fuller. I once again reference research done years ago with rats. Summarized - if you put them in crowded conditions and starve them, they get violent. The reason study was done years ago is that animal research protocols no longer allow this type of cruelty.

And regarding Samoa Airlines weighing people for years. Pacific Islanders are statistically the most overweight demographic group in the world - with, according to Wikipedia article, 80% of Samoans classified as overweight. I would guess that most of their flights are on puddle-jumper aircraft from island to island.

I would rather walk than fly Uzbekistan Airlines under any condition.

pariswat Aug 15th, 2015 06:44 AM

Solution is to forbid obese to fly.
Or better still to shoot them all.
A guy did somehting like that in 1933 and later.

You have an obese next to you ? bad luck.
You snore ? bad luck for your neighbour.
You smell ? bad luck for neighbours.
The guy next to you is drunk ? bad luck.

Want to avoid all of this ? Fly in private jets or first class. Humanity is diverse and will remain so.

scdreamer Aug 15th, 2015 09:31 AM

The guy who is drunk would not be permitted to board. And, yeah, snoring and smelling bad are inconveniences we all have to put up with at times. But having someone actually pressed into one's (paid for) space is different, in my opinion. That becomes a safety issue.

No one is suggesting that boarding be denied to obese passengers. Much less shooting them - where did that come from?

It's not an "all or nothing" situation. There has to be a way to accommodate everyone, but it doesn't seem fair that anyone should buy a ticket and then only have two thirds of a seat available.

I think it's easy to defend the current policies regarding allowing over sized passengers to be assigned only one seat and then impinge on their fellow travelers ... until one has had the unfortunate experience of being trapped in that partially unusable seat for hours and hours.

I still believe if someone cannot lower the armrests of their seat, or fit into a regulation sized seatbelt, then some sort of accommodation should be required. Whether that means upgrading the obese passenger to a larger seat, requiring that two seats be provided, or some other option - it's of no concern to me. My attention is on the rights and safety of all passengers, INCLUDING the ones who can safely sit in whatever seat they are assigned.

pariswat Aug 15th, 2015 10:00 AM

Well I've next to an obese guy on a translatlantic flight, couldn't lower my armrest and didn't feel unsafe.
couldn't sleep, though, each time the guy moved or laughed I was propelled towards my other neighbour.
I kept the guy's business card, actually he was quite nice.

And where do you get this opinion that drunks are not allowed on flights ? I saw some guys drunks before boarding and even more disembarking.
Sure we 'could' modify the rules and oblige the aircrafts to accommodate obese, as it does exist on trains for handicapped people. Which BTW reduces the number of passengers and hence ups the price for all seats.

In the meantime, well, if you sit next to an obese guy, do like me : remove your armrest and be nice to him.

tiddlywinks Aug 17th, 2015 05:32 PM

weighing passengers? i'd think raising fares are more palatable than nickle and diming with foolish surcharges and fees. This is getting out of hand. Whats next? An armrest fee?

NoFlyZone Aug 18th, 2015 04:27 AM

>And where do you get this opinion that drunks are not allowed on flights ?

It's plain as day in the FARs:

CFR 14 §121.575 Alcoholic beverages. ... (c) No certificate holder may allow any person to board any of its aircraft if that person appears to be intoxicated.

Of course, the keyword here is "appeared" and how it is interpreted.

evecolorado Aug 18th, 2015 10:13 AM

Good to read your reasoned and calm responses, scdreamer, as well as your thoughtful initial post. It's difficult to be fair to both a person of size, whether it is overweight, broad shoulders or long legs, and passengers who are affected by it.

Airlines have downsized coach seats and reduced pitch to the point that a "normal" size person barely has enough room.

I like the Southwest policy on "Customers of Size". A CoS can purchase 2 seats at whatever the cheapest price available is (instructions are online in the CoS policy). At the gate they are given a card to put on the seat next to them stating it is occupied (and I guess some kind of note in the record that states they are indeed a CoS so they can't scam the system for a free extra seat). After the flight they can receive a full refund on the second ticket EVEN IF THE FLIGHT IS FULL OR OVERSOLD. So that means extra seats are always free on Southwest if they are needed for CoS. It says they've had this policy for 30 years.

needmorevacation Aug 24th, 2015 06:02 AM

Eve- fares are only refunded if the flight is not full-so if there are empty seats on the plane *then* they can get a refund. If it's full? No refund.

I'm fine with passengers being weighed, but height and other factors need to be taken into account- for example a 5' 200lb person won't fit as well as a 6'200lb person will in a seat. If it's based purely on weight, then I'd have an issue with it- no one should be penalized for being tall- the small pitch is penalty enough!

pariswat Aug 25th, 2015 07:43 AM

'no one should be penalized for being tall'

That's exactly what brings me to comparison with Hitler : subtitles are : but you could/should be if you're fat because it is your fault.

You're fat = you brought it on yourself = don't bother me with your weight = pay for 2 seats and leave me alone.

Argh. It is one of the 2 topics that really make me angry.

NewbE Aug 25th, 2015 08:04 AM

For once, pariswat, you and I agree!

But what is the solution? Do you have any ideas? I have dreamed of a configurable seating arrangement, but I am not an engineer and I suspect that such an invention wouldn't pass safety standards.

Another option is for airlines to simply build in a certain number of seats for larger/taller people, but that seems unmanageable and also unlikely.

eliztravels2 Aug 25th, 2015 08:27 AM

Canadian airlines are required to have a “one passenger, one fare” policy, that permits passengers ‘disabled' by obesity to have an additional seat at no extra charge. It also requires that in the case of a disabled individual requiring an attendant to travel the attendant is entitled to a free seat. Not sure if this applies to only domestic flights, but international as well. Apparently Canada is the first country in the world to institute this regulation, which I believe came about as a result of a court case on behalf of a person who was obese as a result of a medical condition (yes, such conditions do exist). Of course, the devil is in the details and how the policy is interpreted and applied could make all the difference.

pariswat Aug 25th, 2015 08:46 AM

I'll drink to that NewbE !

NewbE Aug 25th, 2015 09:47 AM

That's interesting, elizatravels2. Good policy, IMO. It doesn't address the problems tall people encounter, though. I have a friend who is 6'4". He always buys the extra leg room seat when it's available, but when it's not, he is dangerously cramped, and giving him two seats wouldn't solve the problem.

I do think that we travelers need to press the airlines to solve the issue, instead of turning on each other.

thursdaysd Sep 11th, 2015 01:30 PM

I think the airlines should load us into capsules and put us to sleep.

And I'm sorry, but I pay for a seat and I expect to occupy all of it myself, with the arm rest down. If you can't fit into your seat you need to buy two, not try to steal some of mine.

gail Sep 11th, 2015 02:43 PM

For those who argue that obesity is not a disability - 2 points to ponder. First, only about 5% of those who are obese ever manage to lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off - and complications of obesity such as orthopedic problems - are real

Second - "it's their own damn fault". If someone becomes paralyzed in a car accident after drinking, we do not question their spinal cord injury since it is also their own "fault"

thursdaysd Sep 11th, 2015 11:19 PM

I am not questioning whether or not it is a disability. I am objecting to how the sufferers choose to deal with it.

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