A man has charged his obese seat-mate $150 for violating a 1/3 of his own seat, leaving people unsure how they feel about this situation.
What are the details?
The situation happened on a 5-hour transcon flight with United Airlines. The passenger sharing his experience explained he specifically chose an aisle seat in a row of two for this flight. A “very obese” man boards the flight and takes a seat next to the passenger. “He sits down and is easily seeping into about 1/3 of my seat, I sit down and am pressed up against him, making me uncomfortable.” the passenger says. After a minute, the passenger is upfront and tells the obese man “Sir, I’m sorry but this situation is not working for me, you’re taking up quite a bit of my seat.”
The obese man shrugs, knowing there was not much he could do and tried to tighten his arms in to take up less space. “It just wasn’t enough” says the passenger. The passenger raised the issue to a flight attendant, who then suggested to the obese man to purchase a second seat. However, the flight attendant wasn’t able to accommodate as the flight was completely full. The obese man mentions he cannot miss this flight and the flight attendant tells him that unless someone on the flight agrees to let him take up part of their seat, he’ll need to book another flight. “The guy seems really flustered by this ultimatum, and here’s where I made my offer” says the passenger.
I told the guy, “Look, I’ll put up with this if you give me $150 — that’s half the cost of this flight and that would compensate me enough for the circumstances.”
He instantly agrees, pulls out cash and pays me. He even told me he appreciated it.
“I gave the guy a valid option to stay on the flight and I was compensated for literally having only 75% of my seat max (let alone the feeling of a person’s body pressed against you involuntarily). A win-win. He wasn’t angry at all, if anything he seemed quite relieved we could work it out privately.”
The debate around whether larger passengers should pay for two seats has been discussed for many years. Policies differ from airline to airline about similar situations to this one.
Alaska Airlines, says: “We require the purchase of an additional seat for any customer who cannot comfortably fit within one seat with the armrests in the down position.”
Meanwhile, American Airlines policy states: “For the safety and comfort of all customers, if a customer’s body extends more than one inch beyond the outermost edge of the armrest and a seat belt extension is needed, another seat is required.”
And United Airlines, states: “A customer flying in the economy cabin who is not able to safely and comfortably fit in a single seat is required to purchase an additional seat for each leg of their itinerary.
Was the $150 a compromise to the problem or was the man being taken advantage of? Is the airline truly to blame for offering such small seats or did the man have other options?