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May 18th, 2011
05:32 PM ET
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Rich

    I am a frequent flyer. If you have never had to share your seat with a fat person you might feel sympathy for this lady. I object to anyone her size expecting to share my seat. If you can't fit in a seat with the armrest down, buy two seats. Think of the other passengers not just her. she has no consideration for others. Lose some weight, fly first class, or buy two seats!

    May 22, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  2. Tom

    Sorry, but I don't want to sacrifice my comfort by sitting next to someone who is obese, and "hanging over into my space which is extremely limited to begin with. If I carry extra baggage, I have to pay extra. If someone carries extra body weight, they should have to pay.

    May 22, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  3. Jon

    I come from a family of obese people, i myself am slightly overweight. I'm also, however, a commercial pilot and have been functioning in that capacity for 8 years. In aviation it is absolutely reasonable to ask someone about their weight. Too much weight and the plane doesn't fly. Too much weight outside of the center of gravity and you have new problems. As an airline passenger i can say that if you are too big for your seat i don't want you anywhere near mine. Tickets are expensive and I don't want anyone encroaching on my allotted space for any reason. I don't want a big stranger spilling over into my seat any more than i want to sit next to a screaming baby. It's not all about how "you" are enjoying the trip. If your enjoyment is at some other person's expense than that is an issue. The idea of stretching the rows to accommodate a larger America is preposterous. There is a finite amount of space in a plane and they cost a lot to fuel and operate. You start pulling out seats to stretch rows and now there are fewer seats covering the expenses and everyone's ticket price just went up. So first you're spilling over into my seat and now you are raising my prices!? I'm all for everyone getting a fair shake and their equal due and all that other stuff, but this is just one area where that is simply not possible. Buy two seats, charter a private plane, take the train, do whatever you have to do to accommodate yourself before demanding that all of society do it for you. I think that is a little unreasonable.

    May 22, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  4. Jeo Heeers

    As someone who has been forced to sit next to an obese person, I agree with Southwest. They should have to buy an extra seat. I spent 3 hours next to a woman who took up her seat and half of mine. I paid the same price as she did and was rorced to squeeze into to half the space.

    May 22, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  5. Lisa Tonkin

    It's not about equal rights, it's about airline safety! I don't have to explain that cork in the bottle. Also, why should a company condone an unhealthy lifestyle? The medical industry doesn't condone smoking? Why should the airline industry condone obesity? Americans are not larger now than they were fifty years ago, they are less intelligent when it comes to what they consume.

    May 22, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  6. Wayne Pravitz

    This woman is far too big for a single seat. Either she buys 2 seats or she doesn't fly. I'd be in favor of charging passengers – over a certain weight – graduated additional fees. This interview did not demonstrate the woman's degree of "overweigntness" – or what the other discussions were at the terminal. Don't allow the subject to control the discussion – do explicit questioning.

    May 22, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  7. skarrlette

    I understand she was humiliated by being overweight in front of others , but everyone can see she is overweight it doesn't matter if its said out-loud its already out there and everyone is thinking it. I just don't understand why someone allows themselves to get that overweight, I really don't. I might understand if its caused by a medication they have to take for medical reasons, but truly what causes it is extreme eating habits. And also she is to big to get a on plane the isles are to small, sorry that is the truth. maybe the airline should stop trying to just make money and make larger seats to accommodate large people. But the airlines don;t care they want squeeze every dollar out the flight by squeezing in to many seats. That is what she should be mad at that no one wants to accommodate her and others like her. Because they want a full payment for each seat.

    I am also a little upset how overweight people put a huge burden on the health care system by raising premiums because they want to eat themselves to death with all these health problems. I am sorry I am not trying to be insensitive but this it the TRUTH. Forget being politically correct I am done with political correctness. These people need to stop looking for sympathy and stop eating!!! Its an addiction just like heroin except food is used for feelings of comfort among other things.

    I am losing patience with obese people and their plight frankly.

    May 22, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  8. Ivan

    It is very disappointing for those of us who have to suffer sitting next to someone who is overflowing into our seat watch the glorification of obesity. What about someone who takes the time to keep in shape? Do we not deserve a voice and the right to the seat that we have purchased?
    Why is it that the people who are doing the wrong thing for society get to talk while those who keep society running by keeping costs down and staying in shape get no voice at all. I would like to see us on TV.

    May 22, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  9. Patti Mullin

    Twice I have had to fly with 1/2 a seat. on one flight I argued with the attendent that I had paid for a full seat, the man next to me was actually over the arm rest and in my lap he was so large. there were no empty seats and it was an incredibly long uncomfortable flight. I agree the airlines need to address the issue. However, I do not want my costs to go up because the airline needs to have larger seats which will make them more expensive. People who are large enough to need two seats should simply buy two seats. I agree the attendent was inappropriate in how he addressed the situation, it is also inappropriate that I buy a full seat and land up with less.

    May 22, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  10. Beau Browning

    Hi Brooke, this story made me angry. Not due to the supposed "discrimination", but because of her sense of entitlement. Her "simple" requests such as how the airlines need to accomodate larger people, does that mean the automaker Mini needs to ensure their flagship Mini Cooper can comfortably accomodate someone in excess of 300 pounds? Is every theme park in America required to redesign their roller coasters to accomodate someone over 300 pounds?
    No, the point is that the airline really can do whatever they want. I was fine with her babble until she said the airlines provide a public service. No, they provide a private service. Public service is government owned and operated, funded by the public. A private service is anything or anyone for hire. I can't go hire a Judge for my own personal use, but I can go hire an airplane. I don't normally fly (due to the TSA) but in this instance, every airline should have signs everywhere just like a convenience store.

    "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason".

    Was the airline perfectly within their rights to ask her size and weight? Yes, for safety concerns. Overall takeoff weight is CRITICAL in air travel, and you can't put a blanket weight on passengers when you have someone who weighs as much as 2 passengers. Also, how well can she move down an aisle and through an exit in an emergency?

    She is perfectly within her rights to be offended, but she also chose to disclose her weight publicly.

    May 22, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  11. TJ McMahon

    Obviously this girl has no clue how much money airlines have lost over the last 10 years. The answer is billions. They simply can't just add larger seats and remain an viable business. Jetblue has some rows that have extra leg room which are simply at the expense of other rows. They've also made a business decision to keep their seat count at 150 when that aircraft should have about 150+ seats. The problem is they have to add a 4th flight attendant. I've got a solution for this passenger, it's called first class. If you're to big to sit in coach the airlines have a solution, buy a second seat or buy a first class seat. Goodluck in your weight loss journey.

    May 22, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  12. brian

    If you are too big to fly, that's your own problem, not the airline's. It costs them more money to get you up in the air than it does a non overweight person. Your size inconveniences the other passengers around you. The same things goes for amusement park rides. It's all about safety and if the plane can't accommodate you you're stuck driving, or losing the weight.

    So what you're trying to say is all airlines need to have a + size section to accommodate your unnatural size? I don't think so.

    May 22, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  13. LK Hershey

    Instead you asking other people to build bigger planes for you, take responsibility for yourself and your health/weight or just buy your own plane and no problem.

    May 22, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  14. Kelin

    I'm not trying to be rude, but if the seats are widened to accomodate people who are of larger statue, then what happens to the price of my ticket? Bigger seats, means less seats, which means in order to regain the cost of the seats lost, I have to pay more for my ticket.
    We can't continue to accomodate every single person on a personal basis. Most people fit into these seats without incident, so to accomodate the 1% of people to who don't is absurd.
    Yes, Americans are bigger. Yes, obesity is a pressing issue but by allowing it to be "ok" and offer to adjust everything for accomodation, we are just enabling the problem. If you need more room, you should have to pay for it. Not the rest of us who fit just fine.

    May 22, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  15. Ledy Rivas

    I encourage the interviewed lady(I could not get her name during the interview) to reflect on the incident and to consider being thankful for what happened. She really needed help on making radical changes for health's sake. Now she looks healthier!
    Another aspect to consider in cases like this one is the risk factor for flights carrying too overweight people. Personally I travel very often all over the world and, in the same way as airlines personel, you see cases like this under a wider perspective, all passenger perspective and not only under one passenger perspective only. There are not guidelines yet on how to describe cases like the one on the interview: disable people that needs especial flight conditions? new designs of plane seats? cargo regulations because passenger's weight. If healthcare leaders do not take radical decisions about USA overweight epidemy, this is some thing the future will be presenting more frequently

    May 22, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  16. Sidders

    Too big to fly?
    I fight a weight problem. It is MY PROBLEM, and no-one elses.
    It is NOT the airlines responsibility to accomodate all problems their passengers may have. At 400# is the emergency room to have a special guerney for the person with such a problem, the fire truck specialized equipment, the auto manufacturing companies a compact car with a seat that fits the entire front cabin space, extra long seat-belts, the ski lift a special ride? Absolutely not! There is a "norm" by which all items are manufactured. A mid point that is upsized in a manner to accomodate more than just the "norm". 400# is way outside almost all manufactuers spec's. 400# is not mainstream. So, the airlines accomodate your request, who will you target next? America is overweight in general. I travel globally. In Europe a large, my US clothes size, does not come close to accomodating my belly. Should European clothing manufactures accomodate me? Again, absolutely not. I can lose 20#, if I wish, and all of a sudden European large fits well.

    Public humiliation, personal questions, unprofessional conduct is not appropriate, Neither is a 400# person expecting special accomodations. A plane load of 400# people would never attain flight. Simply too heavy to become airborne. Is that the airlines fault? Only in America do you find this incredible mindset of "I am entitled". Sweet lady, you are not entitled. You are one of millions for whom the airline industry functions admirably. You are entitled to do something about your problem. Period.

    May 22, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  17. jsr

    Have weight limit. If weight exceeds XX lbs, waist exceeds this length, passenger need to buy 2nd seat. No questions, no exceptions, no discussion, nothing.

    Extra lugagge, extra weight is a factor for checked luggage. People are no different. Americans are obese, and getting fatter. The average bus seats are wider, stadium seats are wider. The cost is born by everyeone; we're subsidizing obese people with through less passengers, or fans, less bus riders.

    Obese people can lose weight or pay going fare. It's very simple. Flying isn't a right, it's a privilage. Don't fit requirements, then pay extra and everyone is happy.

    May 22, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  18. Henry

    If youdo not fit in a regular seat, you buy two. There are IATA regulations regarding this. Last year on a flight to Johannesburg, I had a woman of considerable size seated next to me for a 12 hour flight. There were no other seats and accordingly Air France was supposed to refuse her flight. Instead, I had to sit sideways all night. I had over two weeks of back pain after that, as I have two degenerated vertabraes and a 7mm cyst pressing on my nerves. I had to suffer because of other peoples over sized. Why do normal people have to suffer the consequences of over sized people? Secondly, it IS a safety issue for the large person blocking acces during an emergency!

    May 22, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  19. ES

    She looks HUGE, sorry. Having been squashed more than once by sweaty overwhieht passanges overflowing from their seats I don't feel sorry for her. It is especially awkward when they are of the opposite gender. Buy two seats.

    May 22, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  20. Chris

    the woman says the airlines are providing a 'public service'. the airlines are privately owned companies, they have the right to decline their services to whomever they choose to.

    May 22, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  21. Steve Webster

    I'm sorry but I totally disagree with this lady.

    If I was the Captain of this flight, and I held concerns about the weight and balance of my aircraft (a key pre-flight consideration all air crews are aware of), I would not think twice about putting this lady or anyone else that could represent a potential balance issue, off the aircraft. Pleasantries are wonderful but the reality is passenger weights are calculate based upon the number of passengers in seats and each passenger has an assumed average weight of around 200 lbs for males, less for females. If someone shows up that is clearly twice the "normal" weight (and those average weights are ascribed by the FAA not the airline) then the airline has every right to insist the individual buy a second seat, deny them boarding, or make them wait for a flight that has space to accommodate a two-seat passenger. If the customer wants to avoid a possible uncomfortable situation at the gate, then it is incumbent upon them to notify the airline of their situation at the time of booking rather than wait until they get to the boarding process where gate personnel are rushing to load the flight, and are generally ill prepared to deal with this sort of situation. This issue is especially more critical on smaller aircraft. Its a very serious safety issue for the airline. They are not out to embarrass anyone – they are in fact following the rules to ensure they do not end up with a more serious mishap as a result of improperly loading the aircraft!

    May 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  22. ldean50

    The passenger stated that "airlines need to accommodate their passengers . . ." They do. If you require the space of two seats, then you have the option of paying for the space required. If you cannot afford to purchase a ticket, you are denied boarding. I'm fat and I know that. I buy two seats and have never been treated badly by any airline personnel.

    May 22, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  23. Aaron

    Airlines do not offer a "Public Service". It is a private service that is regulated by the government. If this private service thinks you are two big to fly because of extra seating or fuel costs or whatever they want, they have the right to charge you extra. You don't have any case for discrimination.

    May 22, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  24. Julie in Austin

    The woman's comment that airlines need to accommodate passengers is 100% spot on. In my case, I'm tall, and while no one tells me "you're too tall to fly", airlines have changed seating arrangements in ways that make it increasingly uncomfortable for me to fly. Now that airlines are charging premiums for seats with enough legroom to sit safely, I'm being charged more as well.

    It is time the FAA put its foot down and told airlines that they will make seating arrangements available for the real people who fly, not for whatever increasingly shrinking passengers they think we are.

    There is a definite double standard - big beefy hunky guys aren't told "you're too muscular to fly" and I've been forced to sit between two men whose broad shoulders encroached on my seating space. Come on, FAA - tell the airlines to knock it off.

    May 22, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  25. Ray

    After sitting on a five hour flight to Aruba next to a large couple, I completely agree with the airline! It is ridiculous these overweight people get offended by this. Yes, I agree it shouldn't have been made into a public event but you have to put your foot down at some point. It is your right as a passenger to have a comfortable setting and when an obese individual sits next to you, that goes out the window. The seats are barely big enough to hold three 175-200lb adults comfortably, then throwing a 275lb+ person in there, please! I'm sorry if I sound like a jerk but I have myself lost 40 pounds at one point and all you need is some determination and self discipline. It's not impossible. Is it easy? Of course not, but nothing in life that is worth having is easy to obtain.

    May 22, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  26. JJ

    Flying is a privilege, not a right, and if you don't fit into the seats because you're HUGE, you cannot force the airline to take you. It's that simple. Someone who weighs 400 POUNDS also poses a huge risk to any other passengers on the aircraft if there is a need to quickly evacuate and they can't because this woman can't get through a window exit, for example.

    May 22, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  27. lmuliolis

    So if I weigh 1/3 her weight I am supposed to pay her share of flight costs? At the post office, should I also pay for someone's 8 pound package when i am sending a 3 pound package????

    May 22, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  28. Jill

    I am sorry but I had to sit next to people a few times on southwest that were too big for their seat. I had a horrible flight and was in pain because I was completely smushed. It should be done in a diplomatic, kind, way but people who spill over into the seat next to them have to buy another seat!!!!!

    May 22, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  29. jeff

    While the airline no doubt made her uncomfortable by bringing up her obesity, the fact remains that her weight infringes on the rights of other passengers when she can't fit into the seat. "The right to swing your fist ends where the next man's nose begins", and the same holds true for a backside that can't fit in a seat.

    The airline is also passing on its increased fuel consumption because of her weight to the other customers. If she can't fit into the seat, it is perfectly reasonable for her to be required to purchase another even if such a conversation makes her feel uncomfortable.

    May 22, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
  30. Big Bob

    I guess what she's really asking for is the airlines to make ALL the seats wider. That would certainly make me more comfortable as I'm very broad across the shoulders and routinely get creamed by the drink cart because I don't really fit in a seat. But let's think about this a little deeper; If we make the seats wider, there will be fewer of them on the aircraft, if there are fewer of them on the plane, each ticket will cost more, if each ticket costs more, people that fit nicely in the current seat will have to pay a surcharge for her (and me) to have more room. Does this sound fair?

    I agree that the seats are tight... they're tight for all of us (larger people) but it's unfair to a) encroach on the neighboring passenger or b) tax the entire planeload of people for the space I require. I suggest buying another seat or flying in a class with a larger chair.

    And oh by the way... I DO think that the airline people were out of line.

    May 22, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
  31. Jonathan

    Geez, what a whiner. "Im not looking to play the victim.." whatever shes on CNN, shes blogging about it. Nah, she doesnt want any attention.... Listen lady, youre grossly overweight and from what it sounds like, you had the opportunity to avoid the situation rather than be sucked into it. So what if you got called out by other people that were being treated inappropriately? No one physically restricted you from getting on the plane. Theres only so much an airline can do to accomodate larger passengers. Lets say they do make bigger seats. This means seats are elimminated, fewer people can fly, the airline loses revenue, and ultimately, it will cost you more to fly. Hows that for accomodating?

    May 22, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
  32. joshua mann

    It is regretable that accommodations do not fit all but we come in all sizes. I have sat next to large ppl on airplanes.
    I paid for my seat and declined the offer of my seat-mate to lift the arm rest in order for her to fit into her seat. The armrest was little barrier but allowed me some room. I fell asleep and upon waking found the armrest raised and feeling violated.

    If some men or women cannot fit into one seat....they need to buy 2 seats or at least compensate me for for 1/2 of mine and the discomfort of 2 hrs.

    May 22, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
  33. kyle

    i once had to take a flight and the passenger next to me was very overweight. i could care less how much she weighed but unfortunately she was taking up a good portion of my seat. the plane was full so i could not change seats. i ended up with a backache that lasted most of my vacation because i had to sit leaning to one side the whole trip. perhaps the wronged passenger shown on this video would like to comment on my situation as well. or should we all just blame the airlines?

    May 22, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
  34. LG

    Flying's a privilege, not a right. If you feel your privacy's being encroached upon, you don't have to fly. See SWA policy below... great resource for folks, over and under sized.

    Guidelines for Customers of Size Policy from Sourthwest:
    Customers who encroach upon any part of the neighboring seat(s) should proactively book the needed number of seats prior to travel. The armrest is considered to be the definitive boundary between seats and measures 17 inches in width. The purchase of additional seats serves as a notification to Southwest of a special seating need. Most importantly, it ensures that all Customers onboard have access to safe and comfortable seating. You may contact us for a refund of the cost of additional seating after travel, provided the flight does not oversell (which means having more confirmed Customers than seats on the aircraft).

    May 22, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
  35. Rod

    I think if a person is overweight they should be made to buy 2 tickets.I would tell someone obese to not impede my full price paid for seat.3 percent of people have a phisilogical problem.97 percent of people have a fork to mouth problem.obese people need to take care of themselves.

    May 22, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  36. Tim

    The time to be politically correct has long passed. Humans are not meant to be obese, so almost nothing is made to accommodate some one in excess. The fact that this woman ignorantly requested a change in airline protocol and went as far as to suggest widening aisles just proves that obese people in general do not want to get better, they want the world to become "fat friendly." If so many Americans suffer obesity then that many citizens have a problem, we should not support their suicidal lifestyles by making widening everything, let them drive 20+ hours if need be, something has to change

    May 28, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  37. Chris

    Advocate for people being discriminated against? She talks about how people are larger then they were a few years ago. We are the only country with this many obese people. I don't understand why I have to have a large person in my space that I PAID for yet your going to find it offensive when someone tells you you are too big and going to be in others space? I do understand that there are medical conditions and what not well bring a doctors note the airlines should allow those with medical conditions to get some for of a waiver or something for two seats. But, for those that are just outright lazy pay for two seats! No one told you to get that big. Or do the easy way and sit in first class.

    October 24, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  38. LS

    I cannot afford to fly. I know most airlines r trying to find a way to allow ALL passengers to be comfortable. Some, I've heard, can be quite biased. Can we not be fair here. I was thinking of another possible dilemma alot of passengers exp. that I believe the airlines should also address. Alot of ppl. who want to be comfortable, do complain about unruly & loud ppl seated next or near them. Some even have their, just as equally, unruly kids with them. I know, I would not like it much. There should be provisions to accommodate these ppl as well & all rules should be equally applied....Don't even want to think about snoring & smells (ex. alcohol)...just trying to be fair...

    March 29, 2012 at 4:19 am |
  39. Up yours

    Does everyone feel the same about wheel chaired passangers. What about the fact the seats are smaller than most standard dinning room table chairs just to fit 1or2 more rows so the airlines can make more money. Space = money so when those with big egos have to sit in 16 in seats and they are made to buy an extra seat how will they feel. Incoviance is purpatrated by the airline greed not just large customers.

    February 17, 2013 at 11:24 pm |

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