United Airlines Passenger Breaks Down After Being Assigned Middle Economy Seat

We all know that, at times, flying can be stressful. From the rush to get to the airport in time to the hassles of security and finding the gate, tensions can be running at max by the time we eventually get to our seats.

queues at airport
Getting through the airport can make our blood boil

However, here at Simple Flying, we believe in simple manners. There’s no need to ever ruin somebody else’s day just because yours isn’t going to plan. That’s a notion which is, apparently, completely alien to one particular United Airlines passenger, who was videoed having a crazy meltdown about being seated in the middle:


Woman Didn't Want To Sit Between 2 People


Woman Didn't Want To Sit Between 2 People, On A United Airlines FlightRegards #NormaRodgers Normarn722@gmail.com

Posted by Smash Da Topic Breaking News on Tuesday, January 22, 2019


The blonde lady has some issues with the seat she’s been assigned. Admittedly both people in the aisle and window seat are larger individuals, but her attitude towards the situation is absolutely out of order.

‘I don’t know how I’m going to do this for the next four hours’

OK, so United economy isn’t known for having the most comfortable or the most generously proportioned seats, but surely you’d just ask a flight attendant quietly and respectfully if there are any spare seats on the flight? Not if you’re this particular piece of work, it seems.

‘They’re squishing me’

Loudly complaining on the phone, she blatantly shames her neighbouring passengers, letting everyone on the flight know how disgusted she is with the situation. At one point, she jokes,

‘At least they’ll keep me warm’

The person videoing this episode does not see the funny side of things. Not. At. All.

‘I eat salad, OK?’

The pinnacle of her rudeness is when she loudly exclaims that she eats salad. Not once, but twice she pronounces her dietary preferences, presumably to indicate she doesn’t think those other people know of the existence of green vegetables.

‘They’re both so big, I can’t even sit here’

She complains that she can’t breathe, that she’s squished and can’t take it. The blatant rudeness of this passenger is astounding, and yet United’s cabin crew do little to diffuse the situation.

‘I will not be verbally abused’

The lady filming is not at all happy about the way this woman is handling her business. Worse still, she’s a frequent flier, at one point exclaiming, ‘As a Platinum member, I don’t tolerate this sh*t from anybody’

Eventually the woman gets moved. It’s just a shame United didn’t move her to another flight, or perhaps into the waiting arms of airport security, in return for her shocking mistreatment of other paying passengers.

The response?

Since the video was posted on social media, it’s had a whole lot of views and stirred up a whole lot of opinions. Right now we’re looking at 11k comments and counting, most of which have come down on the side of the people sitting either side of our moaning madam.

But other’s thought she was right to complain. Several have commented that they wouldn’t be happy to sit there either, although the way she ‘fat shamed’ her neighbours was definitely not right.

Sadly, an awful lot of viewers have taken this issue as a racial slur against the two people she was sitting between. There’s really no need to make it anything more than what it was; simply a person who wasn’t happy with her seating but went about her complaint in entirely the wrong way.

At the end of the day, it’s the chance you take when you book a seat on a regular, economy flight. If you’re concerned about being seated in the middle and are uncomfortable with that eventuality, surely you’d pay to assign a window or aisle seat before you fly?

We reckon Lauren Lo hit the nail on the head:


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Of course someone will take the opportunity to play the racist card but like you just said it’s just an ungrateful passenger.

Chris Parker

The “oversized” passengers are so common anymore, I won’t even touch choosing a flight unless I have aisle because I’ve been there. Stuck between two obese dudes with my broad shouldered not so skinny self in the middle. I spent the entire flight hunched forward like I was praying. Full flight and desperate to get home, there’s no options, just got to bear it. But I swear years later I have PTSD from that episode as I recall it anytime I book a flight and it’s the reason I avoid flying whenever possible. People need to set realistic expectations that… Read more »


I love how the solution is “Take some valium or other potent prescribed drug” not “Airlines should treat us like people not cattle.”

This woman was having a histrionic fit that was completely rude, but she’s not wrong about WHY she’s having a histrionic fit.


Well said!


LMAO “freaked out” or claustrophobic? No, just a entitled white b**** who hates fat (and probably black) people. Completely out of line, end of story.


I can’t believe anyone thinks those two obese people were in the right. They knew they were too fat to fit in the confines of their seats and they should have been made to purchase two seats! For that one fat woman to make those comments was ridiculous, she fly’s all the time… and makes other people miserable because she can’t put her fork down! I would have gotten up and demanded that I either be given another seat or those two people be taken off the plane and made to purchase a second seat. United should know better. The… Read more »


Exactly! I would never be hateful to anyone regarding their size. I am however often amazed that people whom clearly dont fit in a single seat believe they are entitled to half of the one i paid for and the airlines allow it.


I hope you’re stuck between to larger people forever in the hell you’re going to.


When in doubt, always play the race card. If the fat window aa really had a “Platinum” card, shouldn’t she be in first class or upgraded to business class? I bet she has no platinum card let alone ever laid her eyes on one. But the pos white lady is fat too, and has little, ” very little “room to talk. One more thing, when are the airlines going to wake up and buy bigger planes with bigger seats and more room??? Certainly, an airline that would provide this service, it would be an insane game changing money maker. Cause… Read more »


if first class is already full; no upgrade. Reward ticket; no upgrade. Platinum members wind up in Economy all the time.

AF Kay

Airlines in general should deal with the proliferation of over-sized passengers that make it unpleasant for the rest of us.


People in general should recognize that other people come in all sizes, and that it benefits all of us to be charitable, courteous, and patient. We may need that courtesy ourselves someday. If one difficult flight is your biggest problem, count your blessings.


All overweight passengers should have to buy 2 seats but if she is indeed a ‘frequent flyer’ then she knows to pay for an aisle … posturing never helps

Larry Maurer

Bottom line, if a person is too fat to sit in a seat and is taking up another persons seat they should fly 1st class. I had it happen to me where I was hemmed in like sandwich meat and had to ask for another seat. I think the airlines ought to charge fares by how much a passenger weighs and where they will be seated.

Ralph B.

Easy out for her (obviously a novice flyer as she’s in an Exit Row): Ring the flight attendant call button, say you are uncomfortable assisting in an evacuation, you will be moved with no issues.

Chris Parker

Wow… good catch. I couldn’t tell that just skipping through video. And yes, super easy out.


If a passenger pays for a seat, they are entitled to the full width of the seat, half-way across the armrest on each side. She was justified in demanding a new seat, but went about it very poorly.

She said nothing that could be construed as racist, even at the “microagression” level. But she should have directed her comments and requests only to the flight attendant.

the heck

those are two bigass-people that should’ve had to pay for a second seat. Of course the lady was an asshat, but those are TWO BIGASS PEOPLE WHO SHOULDVE HAD TO PAY FOR A SECOND SEAT.

If you go to a restaurant and order a meal, and the two people sitting on either side of you just take a little, ‘barely noticeable’ 10% bite of your meal, would you be upset? Why? probably because you paid for 100% of your meal (seat), and being forced, after you’ve paid, to ‘share your meal’ seems kind of asinine.

C. Ballinger

Being a larger than average, tall person, I ALWAYS purchase 2 seats…..and that is just bearly comfortable! The disgusting behavior of the ‘bottle blonde’ in the video is typical of what I have encountered in many non-fly situations….I can only hope her metabolism shuts down & she gains 50# overnite…(smile). Shame (also) on the profit-driven airlines who make even the average-sized person uncomfortable in their tiny seats jammed together…..[insert here some dirty/vulgar words to describe them]. As a related comment of my experience with flying: Since I purchase TWO seats—-window & middle in a 3 person row…the aisle person always… Read more »

Wendy Sherman

She might have handled it better but the airlines are to blame. Four hours in a seat with virtually no pitch or room on the
sides is a an unreasonable, dreadful, dangerous and disgraceful way to fly. Some people just can’t afford to upgrade. In their absolute greed and
disrespect the carriers
are charging more and more for everything, inch by inch and pound by pound. I don’t blame her. It’s all about money. There will be
blood clots and more boorish behavior unless they improve
their treatment of passengers and not
gouge them for every
little thing…and now I understand it’s water!


The airlines need to charge $10 for every pound over a BMI of 25 (borderline between normal and overweight).

anita vejsiri

What’s her name???

*Mr. Burns “Excellent” pose*

Marcyle Woodard

I haven’t been on an airplane in years. I am afraid to fly with security animals and obese people of color who always want to claim the race card.


Seriously, I fly a lot too. If I were in that position (but I always pay for a window or aisle) I would ask quietly to be moved also. And let’s give kudos to the extra large passengers… They handled it well. Blondie was unnecessarily rude by making snide comments. If I were a flight attendant she would have made it very tempting to make her sit there based on her remarks… That having been said, the flight attendants did the right thing to defuse the whole situation by just moving her quickly and moving on so the flight could… Read more »


I agree that the airlines are in large part to Blame for these unfortunate situations. I also agree that while it may have been handled better the woman in question was completely justified to request reseating. The vulgarity of one of the morbidly obese passengers should have warranted her removal from the aircraft.

Candy Brown

You know what? Crap happens. I was once on a United flight and was in first class in an aisle seat. The gentleman sitting next to me in the window seat was quite large. He needed an extra belt, etc. At one point he shifted his weight, hitting my tray table and propelling my cranberry juice all over me. He was oblivious. I got the flight attendant’s attention to get me something to clean myself up. The gentleman looked at me and said, “Did I do that?” It’s the luck of the draw people.

Ken Morris

It’s the black fat lady that got abusive. I thought the lady who asked to be re-situated acted appropriately. The fat lady called HER a bitch, which I didn’t hear the blonde lady call anyone names. People who are that big should have to buy 2 seats.

Sue Pah

She could have handled it better…but I completely understand her frustration. Those two people took up SEVERAL inches of her seat on both sides. Those morbidly obese passengers should have been made to purchase two seats. The blonde woman isn’t the one taking up others’ space and if anyone should “just deal” with the way the airlines operate it should be fat people who expect to be accommodated.

Matthew in PDX

If she’s a MileagePlus Platinum Premier as claimed, then she has traveled enough times to know how not to get assigned a middle seat. While I think that passengers of size should book two seats, and airlines should enforce those rules, this lady quite likely would have got an upgrade to Economy Plus or First Class if she had quietly sought out the lead flight attendant and explained the situation. Instead she has gained social media notoriety that may come to haunt her professional life.


The black woman claimed that, not the white woman.


It was the fat lady who said she was platinum premier.


I had to get off a flight once because my middle seat was half way taken by 2 very fat people in the window and isle. I can’t fit into a 8″ wide seat (literally). THEY should have had to got off, not me. I fit in my seat.


I’m not that big and tall, but big enough that I pay a few dollars extra for an aisle seat.

A platinum member would know how to get upgraded, or God forbid, pay a little more for an aisle seat.

Finally, cattle class has become just too cramped. Especially with ignorant passengers reclining into the limited space you have.

My knees have to go somewhere, and I sure won’t go into the fetal position. If asked, I say sorry, can’t make myself any shorter.


Matthew in PDX, you should know that there are plenty of ways to end up in a middle seat that are beyond one’s control, regardless of status. Short purchase windows (i.e. T-48 or much sooner), IRROPS, Mechanicals, Misconnects, having to be on a certain flight, etc. Even the best prepared traveler can end up with circumstances beyond their control. And sometimes all you have to choose from are middle seats. And if it’s a really bad situation, there’s one seat left, it’s a middle, and that’s it. There are plenty of 1Ks, GS, and equivalents at other airlines that end… Read more »

Tully Mars

I am a six foot plus male. When I discharged from the military in ’87 I weighed 218, body fat 11%. I currently run between 240 and 250 depending on how active I am. Several injuries, broken leg then a broken hip sidelined me and I gained weight. The day I flew to boot camp was my first flight ever. I noticed then my shoulders didnt fit in the seat. I asked a friend, also heading to boot, if he would trade me his aisle seat for my window seat. The curve of the side of the plane was forcing… Read more »


The big woman was rude to begin with the foul language throwing the B word before it’s ever warranted. I wouldn’t wanna sit there either.

Dana H.

I’m a not so average flyer, but I always purchase comfort or, if I can, First Class. That way I can choose my seat(I prefer window). If I end up with an aisle seat, fine. I had knee replacement surgery and I need the leg room. I couldn’t tell if the 2 passengers were white or black, shouldn’t matter. She was totally in the wrong. No one is a skinny mini, there’s more average and larger people. I couldn’t tell if these were obese persons or not, but, economy is very, very cramped, big person, skinny person.

Andrew Russo

This never should have been a situation to begin with. With all due respect to larger than average people (myself included), if you do not fit in your assigned space, you need to pay more so you can have enough room that you do not encroach on other passengers. Alternatively, regulations on the airlines are required that dictate minimum seat sizes based on current data on the median size of adult males. They cannot keep pressing us up against each other, air travel should be not uncomfortable. The current system is a pile of manure. It is not insensitive of… Read more »

Dave Ray

P.T.S.D from a middle seat! You need some serious help! Or maybe eat a salad?


It is hilarious that because she claims to eat salads, she’s a racist. She may be fat people intolerant, but race had nothing to do with it. Those two people knew they were too big or they would have sat next to each other. She was trapped. She waited until she became unhinged before acting.


I think the problem is, all 3 of them are fat

Winston Heil

I remember once being in the middle seat between two morbidly obese people. Each had thighs so huge they covered my thighs and almost touched each other. Something one never forgets! At the time I said nothing; today I’d ask for another seat.

Joe Maklare

They need to start profiling passengers weights and dimensions (that fit within the standards and confines of a “normal” body size) and then let us choose seats accordingly. There should be “oversized” seats available to those who require them and let them bear the burden of the cost for such an accommodation.

Ingrid Carter

Been wedged in between two large people several times. Some even raise the armrest and spill over into my seat. Disgusting to have a stranger’s body mashed against me,! Just plain wrong! Blondie handled the situation wrong for sure but the airlines need to address this issue before someone gets hurt. It really gets that bad! The seats are to small for average size people out alone the Big and Tall. United Airlines seems to be one of the worst of all. You notice the big couple were not seating side by side….they didn’t want to be squished either. Big… Read more »


Both parties were to blame. 1. The large passengers should have been aware that because of their size, they may encroach on the adjacent seat and passenger. They should have been proactive when booking to accommodate their size, either with booking a premium class or two economy class seats. They didn’t, thus creating a potential issue with the adjacent passenger. There are airlines that accommodate large people by providing a second seat at no additional cost if the large passenger is proactive in arranging it. However, United is not one of them. I am a large person and am proactive… Read more »

T Taylor

I find it hard to take that it is somehow OK to pass judgement and video someone, anyone having a bad day and then utilize that one experience to revel in the potential karmic retribution that happens as a result. I prefer to assume that this lady had a bad day and a bit of a melt down. It could happen to almost anyone. Assuming she is a Platinum member, it’s unlikely that she would have booked a middle seat and, perhaps, she missed a flight and United was trying to just get her to her destination. It could very… Read more »


The window seat and aisle seat passenger are traveling together; they contributed to setting up this situation. The window seat passenger states on her Facebook page: “…she has the seat between me and Mac.” This couple was using a common booking trick of reserving both window and aisle in hope that no one would take the middle seat. The flaw in this couple’s execution was: normally if a middle seat passenger shows up, the traveling together couple will trade the middle seat in order to sit together. They clearly knew it was uncomfortable to sit in those narrow seats next… Read more »


Sitting next to an obese passenger who is literally on top of parts of my body, even in an isle seat, feels like an assault to me—an inappropriate, unwanted touching. Feeling their warm flesh pressed up against mine upsets me terribly and I’ve broken out in both hives and tears. I asked to be moved twice and once volunteered to take a later flight. (It was longhaul and I couldn’t have done it.) I do not want to be touched and I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

Tubby Custard

If you can’t fit 100% of yourself in the seat, you need to buy two of them. You know before you get on the airplane that you don’t fit. Both of the passengers were occupying more than 100% of a seat. The middle passenger is fully justified in being unhappy. She paid for the real estate, and she is entitled to it. Why the heck did United make it her problem in the first place? That being said, the bottle blonde was rude, insensitive and offensive. She could have quietly addressed the issue with the flight attendant and asked to… Read more »


Airlines don’t do this to get blowback. They do it because their research shows that people are generally willing to put up with this stuff. They put 10 across in 777s because, if they don’t, they lose business to LCCs. Spirit? Frontier? Air Asia? Nok? Ryanair? Easyjet? LionAir? WestJet? They have not gone under (though in the case of LionAir they should) and they fly routes that are longer than 4 hours. People choose tickets by price, not seat width. This woman is the exception, not the rule.

MarK in CAE

I wholeheartedly agree with the reply pertaining to her receiving an upgrade if she had not been rude. I am not accepting of the fact that the people on the flight jumped right in and started hating on her, that behavior wasn’t appropriate either. It disgusts me that it was taken to a “racism” level. Maybe she really DOESN’T like black people, maybe she IS a racist and the lack of room was an excuse to sit next to someone else. It appalls me that ANYONE feels that they can treat another human being that rudely. In is concerning that… Read more »

Hus Sae

Been there before. Especially when i miss my flight and have to settle for the next one out. Most of the time it’s middle seat. The seats in the middle are made for 4′ tall skinny Ethiopians. The two blacks seem like a couple that chose the seats they were sitting in. They should have been more thoughtful when booking knowing as “platinum” members that have supposedly flown many many times before that the shear bulk of their bodies on either side would sandwich someone in. I would have simply gotten up and asked the flight attendant to reseat me… Read more »

Paula Audette

I have flown on business for almost 40 years now, and for the last 20 I have been a United 1K flyer and once or twice a Global Services member. However, prior to this “exalted” status, I always flew cheap coach, and although I am slim, I found myself occasionally squashed between two fat people. Back in the “good” old days when you got a meal in Economy, these fat people would invariably pick at their food, eating maybe a few leaves of lettuce, but then pig out on snacks they had brought and soft drinks throughout the remainder of… Read more »


The personal space needs of Americans is somewhat larger than other cultures. The discomfort of having to be pressed up against two strangers in these miserably small seats is not only physically uncomfortable but psychologically uncomfortable. And let’s face it, these two hefty people knew they were trying to steal the third seat for their personal comfort with no regard for the poor devil who got assigned there.

not fat

They had the aisle seat and the window seat, knowing that they were leaving the empty middle seat to be sat in by somebody else, in this case the old woman. They clearly knew that they were very very overweight and would take up a lot of the seating, but they like to be comfortable so reserved two seats with an empty between them. Clearly they should have bought all three seats and shared them between the two of them.