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Help - need advice on horrid flight experience

Help - need advice on horrid flight experience

Mar 29th, 2008, 04:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 931
I don't know, I was just wondering how a person could be sitting on the armrests and still get the belt fastened. I would have thought the airlines did require the seatbelt to be fastened, they seem to go down the aisle and look to be sure all are.

this thread is making me glad I have no immediate plans to fly anywhere!
aloha is offline  
Mar 29th, 2008, 04:08 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 9,285
aloha- I didn't really check but I'd would guess that her seat belt was clicked. The flight attendants are usually picky about that.
ncounty is offline  
Mar 29th, 2008, 04:13 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 4,835
The airlines do carry seat belt extensions for those huge folks that cannot click their regular belts. I know, from being smooshed next to one.

nukesafe is online now  
Mar 29th, 2008, 08:46 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 10,190
I honestly don't see what the airline could have done differently under the circumstances.

You weren't honest with the flight attendant about the dissatisfaction with your seat before takeoff. You told them that you were "feeling claustrophobic from the window seat". There isn't much they can do to resolve that for you on a full plane.

However, if you had been honest and told them that you were unable to fit in what was left of your seat due to your neighbor's size, they could have dealt with the oversized passenger appropriately. That might have meant having her change to a later flight where there wasn't an overbooked situation.

While I understand not wanting to "be rude in front of her", your actions were directly related to your unhappiness on that flight.

You didn't tell the flight attendant the truth before the flight, so you ended up sitting in 2/3 of a seat.

You didn't want to confront the woman about her "spillage", so you stood for the entire flight.

I've learned that if you aren't honest about the problem, you aren't going to get a satisfactory resolution to it. I'd chalk this up as a learning experience to speak up early (when there is still time to do something) and be honest (so they know what needs to be resolved).
toedtoes is offline  
Mar 29th, 2008, 09:07 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 611
My husband and I were in the same exact situation on a Jet Blue flight. The woman pre boarded and had an aisle seat. This woman was OBESE. Not only did she spill 1/3 into my seat but her frontage was tremendous. We literally had to climb over this person to get to our seats as she did not/ or could not get up to let us in. Not only that but she was a very high maintenance customer (I am not making a joke here) but continued to ring the attendant button for more snacks.

We were very angry as this person not only took up my seat, but we were baracaded into our seats.

I called Jet Blue the next day and spoke to a manager. I explained the situation and I also felt it was a safety hazard/violation to be blocked in to your seat by a very large human and her ever growing pile of potato chip bags. I asked why someone that large was not in 2 seats. I was then told that it was against their rights -- WHAT! I thought I had rights as well, but apparently they cannot tell someone at check in that they need 2 seats. Honestly I don't care what size someone is but when a third of someone elses body is in my seat that I paid full price, not 1/3 off, I wonder what happened to my rights.

My peoblem is not with obese people it is with the Airlines not addressing the situation.
Annabel is offline  
Mar 29th, 2008, 09:47 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 17,802
Alexa, I do not think you should have had to state plainly that you could not fit into your seat--your white lie, and your seatmate's size, should have been enough for the FA's to size up the situation (sorry, sorry) and handle it. How? I don't know, that's their job! They should have seen what was going on with the armrests before takeoff--isn't it required to lower them for takeoff?--and either bumped the woman to another flight, or offered you, alexa, that option. Once the plane was in the air, you were screwed, and I encourage you to fight the full ticket price, although i doubt you'll win.

We have to demand SOME customer service from the airlines, folks! As it is, we seat ourselves, feed ourselves, ship our own luggage ahead to avoid its being lost...what's next, we flap our arms during takeoff to save fuel?
NewbE is offline  
Mar 29th, 2008, 10:27 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
I had a friend tell me that she recently returned from Europe to the West Coast and had to stand most of the way.

The passenger next to her was so sick, the captain came and asked the man if it would be better for him to leave the plane, the man refused and the captain let him stay.

My friend got up from her seat so that she would not have to sit next to him the whole trip and maybe catch whatever it was he had. The flight was full and there were no empty seats.

Sometimes the stewardesses would let her sit in their fold-down seat, but for most of the trip she had to remain standing.

So much for customer service.
easytraveler is offline  
Mar 29th, 2008, 10:30 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
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curious if these obese customers travel alone? or are they separated from their family and/or friend(s). so far, it sounds as if they travel alone.

a relative works for an airline which monitors weight of the aircraft prior to take-off. he works in a sound-proof booth, similar to a sound studio. he told me once they actually seat heavy people (except first class) in certain areas in coach purposely. not a joke.
kauai_aka is offline  
Mar 29th, 2008, 11:11 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
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I've never heard that the armrests have to be down for takeoff. Seatbelts on, trays up, seats in upright position - yes. Armrests - no.

I agree that customer service should be expected, but I also believe that as a consumer you need to make your needs known. When you start expecting others to "just know" when there is a problem, you're setting yourself up for failure. For me, I'd rather be assured of success by stating exactly what the problem is and what I need to happen for it to be resolved, then to just hope that someone gets my veiled comments and happen upon the solution I want.
toedtoes is offline  
Mar 30th, 2008, 06:54 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 621
toedtoes is right. Those who work in the service industries are not mind readers. You should have made your issues known either immediately, or by getting out of your seat before take-off and talking to the FA in a place that was more discreet. I realize you didn't want to appear rude in front of your encroaching seatmate, but she certainly didn't seem to mind being rude to you by encroaching upon your space.
I personally would have said something to her first, then to the FA (right in front of her too) - but that's just me. I'd rather air my grievance and dispel my frustration to the person causing the problem, than to get upset with someone who might be able to help me with it.
I really do empathize with you. Obese people need to realize the impact of their choices - in this case she should have sprung for two seats, or something in first class. And if THEY don't, then I agree that the airline industry needs to manage it - even if it means upsetting a growing demographic of the population.
furledleader is offline  
Mar 30th, 2008, 07:50 AM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 13
On a domestic flight from Houston to Las Vegas my eighteen year old son was seated next to a woman weighing I would guess about 20 stone (280 lbs) who had preboarded and being too large to put her tray down had used my sons tray to hold two 12" diameter pies whilst she finished off a third that she had brought on board with her. The armrest was up and stayed that way since a good part of the woman was over it. So it was literally impossible for my son to sit and she refused to move her pies.

Eventually a member of staff persuaded her to store her pies in the galley until the plane took off. My son squeezed in for take-off, she got her pies back and he stood for the rest of the flight.

After touchdown it took two crew members to lever her out of the seat so she could leave. My son was so astounded by the situation he never complained. He couldn't believe it.
carolrh is offline  
Mar 30th, 2008, 08:10 AM
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While I don't mean to be rude or hurt anyone's feelings, the trouble with all of this is that there are SO MANY OBESE people in our world and more and more I find that they think they own the world and that we OWE them part of our seat or whatever b/c they are different. That being obese should give them extra privileges. I feel sorry for them, but I think a FA who supports their bad habit should be turned in. Most other people would not get more than 2 bags of peanuts or chips, even if they asked for more. It's just like a wife who buys booze for an alcoholic husband, as long as she supports the habit, she's also to blame. For those FA to keep giving her bags of chips, was just wrong.

That instance right there is my worst nightmare about flying. I've been near one lady, but not as big as the one you encountered, alexa35, and I made sure the armrest was down, but she leaned on it and hogged it the whole time. She finally went to sleep and practically had her head on my shoulder, I woke her and asked that she please lean the other way or ask the FA for another seat. She sat up straight and stayed awake the rest of the flight.

I think having your Amex fight it out is great... good luck!

Boycotting NWA won't help, they'll just sell the seat to someone else. But, maybe a letter also to the FAA might do something. Many airlines are now giving people one checked bag and then charging $10, $15, up to $75 per bag for any more than one, then why can't they charge an obese person for a second seat, even if they only charge half price. Would sure eliminate a lot of problems. I think when buying a ticket, the airline should have every right to ask a person's weight and then check it when they have the driver's license in their hands. If the person lied, they should not be allowed on the flight until they pay for an extra seat and then only if the airline can accommodate the person that had already purchased the seat that now becomes the obese person's seat for their "hangover"! But that's part of the problem with our society, asking the weight is infringing on a person's "rights", and I agree with you, doesn't a thin person have rights too????

What is worse, a huge obese person or someone with horrible breath or smells like they haven't bathed for a week??? Three of my worst flying nightmares! YIKES. >
Paytons_Grandma is offline  
Mar 30th, 2008, 08:38 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 3,194
There's a woman on another message board I frequent who is morbidly obese (I've seen pictures of her). My guess is that she weighs upwards of 300 lbs. And I know there's no way she could easily fit into an airline seat.

She hasn't been on a plane in many years but is posting about flying this summer, she is excited about the trip. I also know that she doesn't have much money and will not be buying a 2nd seat. All I can think of is her poor seatmates. Luckily the flight in question is only about 2.5 hours, but it will be a miserable 2.5 hours for all involved.

I think part of the issue is denial. I know from her frequent postings that this woman truly does not think she's as obese as she is.
wyatt92 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2008, 09:07 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 611
I think that is a great point. I just had to pay $15 extra per person/per seat for extra legroom for a RT JetBlue flight to FL. Some airlines are charging extra for additional bags, and alwyas for extra WEIGHT on bags. Why not for the person who cannot fit within the parameters of an airline seat. The seat measurements are on the airline websites and on seatguru.

The only solution we have found to this problem (which is not fair) is we now have the "two and a half hour rule" Any flight over 2.5 hrs we fly first. Anything under that, if we can't get exit row or extended legroom seats, we just buy the third seat. I also have to add that I have had words with FAs about that as well. We pay full fare for the third seat, we have had FAs try to put passengers in our paid for empty seat. It is quite uncomfortable as the passenger is standing there with bags and you are sitting there with the seat's ticket in your hand and explain that is why we bought the third seat in the first place.
Annabel is offline  
Mar 30th, 2008, 09:18 AM
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Just another reason to make sure you have an aisle seat!
suze is offline  
Mar 30th, 2008, 09:54 AM
Original Poster
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Posts: 44
Thanks - lots of interesting responses - that one about the pies is unreal and I like NewBe's remark, "what's next, we flap our arms during takeoff to save fuel?".

Yeah, I was too polite/nice and it got me nowhere. Frankly, I think the airlines are afraid of a discrimination lawsuit from an obese passenger.
The FA's were well aware of the issue before take off. I have never seen a flight in such a hurry to take off and once in the air I was told we could make an emergency landing, or I stand the 6 hours.

Amex is great with disputing charges and I have a document from the head FA proving how bad the situation was. I refuse to pay NW for the portion of this flight.

My sister's father-in-law is less obese as this woman and he only flies if he purchases 2 seats - the second seat they give him at 50%. And so should this woman.

I am seeing the humor in it all now that my anger has subsided since I caught up on the missed sleep.
The FA was encouraging me to put blankets and pillows in the lavatory and lock it to sleep in there for the night. He said it would be like my own private airplane.
I said thanks, but I avoid airplane bathrooms at all costs.

The first hour of the flight, the woman was purchasing snacks, sandwiches and kept requesting sodas. I feel VERY badly for anyone who has a health/metabolic condition causing obesity- they can not help this. But someone who continually overeats junk food, I have no sympathy. I wish I could all day too, I love to eat but I refrain from doing so and make my lazy self work out.

And then the 2nd leg of the flight from MSP to NYC where we had a long take-off delay. The captain said our flight was "overweight".

alexa35 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2008, 10:31 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 10,190
Not that this is related to this exact flight, but I'm wondering:

An obese person buys 2 seats as recommended.

Due to storms, technicalities, etc. flights are cancelled and people rebooked on the flight with the obese person.

A family of 4 that got bumped from a previous flight is told that only 3 of them can get on this flight because all the seats are taken. The husband stays back for a later flight.

The wife and kids get on the flight and see this obese person using two seats. She becomes very upset because her husband is sitting at the airport for another 6 hours while this obese person gets to be comfortable in two seats. "If she would just cram her fat body into one seat like the rest of us, my husband could have been on this flight".

Somehow, I think no matter what the obese person does, the chances of it being observed by others as unfair, rude, etc. is greater.

I don't see it getting any better with the current configurations. I'm sure the same problem occurs with trains and buses. etc. Ferries seem to have it worked out by using bench seating so you can squish together according to your needs.
toedtoes is offline  
Mar 30th, 2008, 10:50 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,342
When this is finally resolved, hopefully to your satisfaction, you must start another post about this being a more common problem than many realize and tell us specifically what you did to achieve some measure of satisfaction. I say a brand new post because your outcome will probably be buried at the end of this one. Start a new one that will enlighten people about the nature of the problem, your solution(s) and lessons learned. You could help awareness of the problem for future travelers and give some solutions that worked for you. You could be a role model! Seriously, what do you think?
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Mar 30th, 2008, 02:14 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 44
Thanks, Orlando. Great idea. I do agree and look forward to being a "role model" if I can.
I'll outline all the steps I am taking against the airline and will post the outcome. So far they offered me a $300 voucher which I have declined, as I will never fly them again. The manager, Becky at MSP was the most rude person/manager I have ever dealt with in my life.
I'm not letting this one go. NO reason I should not have had a seat to sleep in through this overnight flight.
Thanks. Wish me luck!
alexa35 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2008, 02:24 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,490
I totally agree that if the airlines are going to charge passengers additional fees for a second piece of checked luggage, or for "overweight" luggage AND if they are strictly enforcing the carryone size rules, then they should also charge large passengers (who cannot fit into the seat they paid for) extra for additional space they require.

After all, weight is weight and requires the uses amount of jetfuel whether it's on a person or a suitcase!
Dayle is offline  

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