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In the News: Canada Rules Obese Passengers Don't Have to Pay for 2 Seats

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Canada's Supreme Court has ruled that disabled and obese passengers who require two seats--either because of their girth or because they travel with a wheelchair or a companion--cannot be forced to pay a double fare.

According to the Associated Press: " The Canadian Transportation Agency issued an order last January requiring Air Canada and other domestic airlines to make additional seats free to disabled or obese passengers who need extra room." The airline had appealed the ruling twice.

The Supreme Court ruling, which only applies to flights within Canada, takes effect Jan. 9, 2009.

Some facts to consider:

"The agency estimated the cost to Air Canada at about $7 million Canadian ($5.6 million U.S.) a year and to WestJet at about $1.5 million Canadian ($1.2 million) a year. The agency said that amounts to about 77 cents Canadian (62 cents) a ticket for Air Canada and 44 cents Canadian (36 cents) for WestJet."

In the U.S., Southwest Airlines requires each "Customer of Size" to purchase two tickets and has done so for 28 years. That means, if a passenger's size prevents the armrest from being lowered or if that person takes up part of the adjacent seat, he or she has to pay for the use of another seat.

According to Southwest, this policy does not violate any U.S. laws:
"Interstate airline travel is specifically excluded from Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by Section 12141(2). Airline travel is instead covered by the Air Carrier Access Act, 49 U.S.C. 1374(c) and the regulations implementing the Act issued by the Department of Transportation as 14 CFR Part 382, et seq. The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) preceded the ADA, and Congress excluded air carriers and other air transportation services from the scope of ADA. As regulated under 14 CFR §382.38 Seating accommodations (i) "Carriers are not required to furnish more than one seat per ticket or to provide a seat in a class of service other than the one the passenger has purchased." "

Why would Southwest institute such a policy? According to the company's Q&A page: "We could no longer ignore complaints from Customers who traveled without full access to the seat purchased due to encroachment by a large seatmate whose body extended into the neighboring seat. These Customers had uncomfortable (and sometimes painful) travel experiences, and it is our responsibility to seek resolution to prevent this problem."

No other U.S. airline has such a blanket policy.

Do you think the Canadian government is serving as an enabler by allowing obese people to have two seats for the price of one? Should people who are obese be given the same special treatment that people with disabilities are given?

What do you think is the proper, respectful procedure in such a situation? Have you or has someone you know ever dealt with this particular Southwest policy?

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Should really big people who don't fit in economy seats pay more? YES.

It's not fair to the people they are sitting next to to be squished in against them (miserable for all squished), it's miserable for the bigger person too ... and *I* don't want to pay extra for the extra room needed for obese/disabled or other people with extra space needs.

There's a ready remedy for this already in place: UPGRADE. Pay more money and get 1st class, business class or the economy plus upgrade -- whatever is available on that particular airline.

I flew recently from the east coast to the west coast and back again. My ride out was fantastic -- I bought a $30 upgrade and had a super comfy seat with extra room.

On the way home, I was in the middle for all legs of the flight. One portion surrounded by Moms with toddlers who REALLY needed some space, and the portion by a huge guy pressed up against the entire side of my body. I don't want to be that close to strangers -- it was like being on a packed subway but for 4 hours. Gross. He needed an upgrade and should have paid for it ... and honestly, the moms must have been pushing the limits on the ages of the kids allowed to "share" their laps (and mine). Report
The "correct" answer to this question all boils down to the understanding of just what it is that an airline is selling when it sells a ticket for airline transportation. I read the FAQ page on Southwest's website regarding "Customer of Size" issues, and they state the the transporation dept. has upheld Southwest's contention that they are selling the use of a seat. And in that case, if you can't fit in the one seat you have puchased the use of, well then you gotta buy two!

Only if it is determined that the airlines are selling the transportation of one person, does the matter become open for debate, and you get into these questions of providing two seats for the price of one to someone who is huge.

In my opinion, it really doesn't matter whether you "choose" to be obese. The fact of the matter is that if you can't fit in one seat, then you have to buy two. Just like the person with the really long hair has to buy two boxes of hair color, or the guy who is 7 feet tall who has to fly first class because he's too tall to fit in economy seats, or the person who's long-winded and has to buy a more expensive telephone plan, or the person who's chronically cold and has to pay more to keep their thermostat set higher... The list goes on and on, and frankly that's just life. Nobody ever promised life would be "fair" or "equal". Get over it, people! Report
It's no surprise, they are reducing everything [i.e. seating capacity (seats are way small), flights, etc] and increasing the prices for everything else, now you have to pay for extra baggage, don't have the comfort of pillows and blankets because you have to pay for them. Report
this is a very tough and touchy issue. I would not like to be either the larger person or the one who has to sit beside them. I don't know what the air and reasonable thing to do would be. Report
If (and I say IF) the airlines are going to charge for an extra seat it should be based on BMI and not strictly size or weight. Someone who is 5'2" and 30% overweight is not going to take up as much room as someone who is 6'0" and 30% overweight. Therefore, it is discrimination.

I'm embarrassed to say it wasn't that long ago that I was having trouble putting the arm rest down. It doesn't take much to fill up those seats! Report
Here's one for ya...
I was on a flight from LA to Honolulu. There was a very, very large man in the seat next to mine. His body literally went over the arm rest, and took over about a third of my seat. I was smashed in between the other arm rest and his overflowing body. I complained, but the plane was 100% full, so they couldn't move me anywhere.

I was so miserable for the over 5 hour long flight. I got up and stood in the back by the kitchen area because it was impossible for me to fit into my seat.

It was very unfair to me that he was taking up my seat. I paid for my seat.

There has to be a solution to this. I don't think that it's fair to all the other passengers on the plane if a few need extra seats due to their girth, and I don't think it's fair for people to be literally hurt in their seats due to large seat mates.

Maybe there should be a discount rate for additional seats purchased, but I don't think they should be free. It makes everyone else on the plane have to pay more, and I don't want to pay more because the man next to me is too large for his seat.

As others have suggested, there is always the option of Business or First Class travel, where there are larger seats. Report
I think the Canadian government has the right idea. If the airlines have a problem with it, they should purchase planes with larger seats. And more leg room, while they're at it.

No one chooses to be obese. Report
Yeah for the Canadian government! They realize that there is more to this than meets the eye. If the obese are discriminated against where does it end. How about smokers who reek of stale smoke? People who bath in cologne? Crying babies? Kids who kick the back of your seat? Loud talkers? Deaf people who require signing? Better still why not legislate the size of seats? Or have the airlines put in small, medium, large and extra large seats? how about normal or extra long leg room? How about head room? How about the bathrooms??????
Make all seats bigger! There isn't enough room for a skinny person in one of those seats, much less an obese person. All seats should be the size of those in first class. That said, if you use it-pay for it! Whoever voted for passing that law in Canada should have to fly in the middle seat between two obese people until they see the error of their ways! Report
No matter what your opion is .It is a form of discrimanation. Report
My understanding is that over the years the airlines have gradually reduced the seating space available to gain extra revenue. With problems associated with that e.g. DVT, and the fact that they seem to use unhealthy superslim model sized people as the norm, I feel that the airlines should go back to slightly increasing the size of their seats - width and leg-room. A lot of people seem to think that "big" or "obese" people are that way because of gluttony - that may be the case with a lot, but there are a lot it certainly doesn't apply to. There are a lot of reasons - including medical. Why should big people be punished constantly with glares from small(er) people, rude comments, financially (as in 2x seats tickets etc). The comment one person made re smokers having to pay more for insurance should apply to big people too, in fact, already does happen with some insurance companies - even if that person is very healthy with a Doctor's letter to prove it!! Report
I think that the whole "seating" issue needs to be addressed by the airline industry. Comfort is not a word that I would associate with "econonmy" seating, my word for steereage. With the airline industry cutting flights and routes to increase economy, they need to look at the seating on those flights. If I am paying more for the priviledge to fly, then please make sure the seat can accomodate anyone. With a better seat, this issue should become less important. The real issue then would be that the air industry is no different from anyone else when it comes to following the guidelines from the ADA. Report
I don't think that Southwest's policy is a judgemental one. It is just good business, though not an easy one to sell to an obese customer. In the real world, you pay for what you get, and we are all entitled to get what we paid for, ie. a whole seat. If they don't charge for the 2 seats, they either have to inconvenience the squashed customer, or just not sell one seat, and this would impact the shareholders who ultimately then pay for the unsold seat. In the long run, someone has to pay for it so I don't understand why it should be the unlucky neighbor or the shareholder rather than the person who prevents the company from selling all of the seats. I know that obese people would rather not be obese, but life is generally not fair in that respect, and it is not intended to be offensive, or even imply that it is their fault. If they are paying for 2 seats, I'm guessing that they are also then entitled to double the baggage allowance as well if they want to bring extra bags or parcels since they would have paid for all of the benefits of the 2 tickets. I also think that airlines could offer some wider seats on each flight, and then they could charge more (maybe not quite double the price) for these and maybe then not only obese people, but also others would opt for them and pay the higher price. I'm not sure how this would compare to first class seats. If it makes good business sense, some airlines will make all seats bigger, but then will need to charge more, so they can make the same profit for their shareholders (the owners of the company) and then the people who don't mind paying more can fly those airlines. To expect the airline to make them bigger for the same price or offer a free extra seat is like asking GM if I can please have a Cadillac because I need the space but I'd really prefer to just pay for a sub compact car, so maybe they could just sell it to me for the same price based on my needs. Report
Be for your needs..... Report
I have never had to "share" my seat on an airplane before until last month on a flight from Vegas to Houston. I have rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and other physical ailments.

I boarded the airplane, walked all the way to the back for a window seat, got comfortable and then an obese woman sat down beside me. I am not kidding when I say that half of my seat was taken by this woman legs and buttock. I flew for 3 hours, on a full airplane, having to be squished up against the wall of the airplane and window. I was in so much pain and in tears due to the lack of space and wiggle room I had for myself. I paid for my seat on my airplane, not half of a seat. I understand completely why the airlines need to change their policies.

I don't think that charging an obese person an extra fee is a bad thing, especially when there is not 1 seat left on the airplane like on my flight. If there are available, extra seats available on their flight, then they don't have to pay. We all know that the seats on airlines don't have any wiggle room.

This is a super, seriously, sensitive issue and I am sorry if I have offended anyone. I'm just being honest.
The airlines should just do a retrograde - make the seats larger and more comfy, or with more leg room (like how things used to be!). They are getting smaller and smaller. I'm not a large person by any means, and even I get uncomfortable in those seats.

The issue is simple, if the airlines started charging larger people for 2 seats... they they have to define some sort of measurement cut-off, and that could include pregnant people, tall people, etc... opening up a HUGE case for a lawsuit, costing the taxpayers money. Nobody wants that.. so good on the Canadian government. Report
I am so glad to hear that someone finally gets it. We are such a mean and greedy society we don't even try to relate to people who are not part of the norm. Let's face it life if hard enough for obese people. "Normal" people would never think of abusing a person of color or someone in a wheel chair but think nothing of harrassing an obese person. Do you think that a person who is obese wants to be? No absolutely not. Report
If people take up two seats, they should pay for two seats. If they can't hack that, they should not fly with that airline. Report
It's simple: If you take up two seats, you should pay for two seats (excluding valid reasons like wheelchairs). People who are obese should NOT be given the same treatment as those with disabilities. As far as I know, obesity, like any addiction, is preventable and reversible, whereas a disability is NOT. Anyone who has lost weight or has gotten in shape the healthy way knows that it takes hard work and determination, which cannot be achieved the "easy" way. By allowing obese passengers to only have to pay for one seat, the Canadian government is taking the easier route, rather than tackling the obesity academic. I don't believe that Canada is "enabling" obesity, but the government is not discouraging it. Report
If anything, that should be more of a motivation to lose weight. I don't believe that a customer should only have to pay for one ticket because they are taking away from another potential passenger. Even if they did, like Melnaegeli said, the person who gets stuck next to that person can't sit comfortably either. Report
Unfortunately depending on your 'views' most obesse will be treated soon the same as Smokers- higher insurance, less open-options & freedoms. Its being treated as a 'Life Style Choice'. Some US Governments have already started charging any employees that are 'over-weight' higher Insurance & Deductibles.
I do understand that all Airlines are looking into this just because they fear that the Weight Limits for flight may be the cause behind some air disasters, starting with considerations of how much the Passengers on Board Weigh- it does make sense when you look at it from that perspective. Report
I thought it was interesting how the question was phrased: "Do you think the Canadian government is serving as an enabler by allowing obese people to have two seats for the price of one?". The implication is ridiculous. If the question had been phrased "do you think the Canadian government is promoting equal rights by opening up air travel to all people despite size or disability?", the answers might be less biased as well.

My family recently flew from Calgary (Canada) to Las Vegas on WestJet (a Canadian airline). My husband is quite tall and very broad and he sat with his legs mashed because he didn't have leg room. Fortunately he sat beside my smaller child, so his shoulder width only impacted someone in my own family. It isn't just obese people who are impacted by plane seat sizes. Report
Does that mean that under weight people get a 50% discount because they don't take up the space of two people? Report
Obviously those of you who voted for one-person, one-seat have never travelled with an obese passenger next to you!! I'm not what-you-would-call small. I fit in one seat with around 10 cm arm/butt space on each side of me in a normal economy class. When I flew over 10 hours to the US a month ago, I was seated in a window seat. Next to me on the aisle seat is a man over 200kg whose arm has encroached INTO my seat. Not only did he ask for a belt extension, he refused all the meals offered because he could not even put the food tray down!! Not only is having one seat unbearable for him, it is torturing for me!! I don't care about his eating habit or if you like to blame on medication that put him into this size but for the sake of co-passengers, obese people should just buy TWO seats. Why make your obese-disability a burden on other people?? The world does not own obese people anything that they become the way they are. Just be considerate for others and stop being a leech on the society! Report
I have been Obese most of my life and have travelled on a plane many times. At 356lbs my largest weight I did not need two seats. I needed a seat belt extension. One of the things I have learned is book a window seat and lean to the window. I normally find it fusterating because the person beside me normally invades the little space I have. Do I think you should be charged for the extra seat...with a medical certificate no...but just for the extra comfort of course. First class seats are much larger and if you wish comfort perhaps one should think about booking one. As far as leg room there are many rows on the plane that have extra leg room. I will go an hour earlier to try and get one with a window seat. Often I can not eat on a plane because I am too big for the tray. Is that the airlines fault NO. Why should they loose money because I am too big and the extra seat would make it more comfortable for me. Thanks to Sparks I am hoping for a stress free, seat belt extension free, able to eat flight in February. :-) Report
I often fly from Japan to Canada to visit my family, so I know a thing or two about airline seats and comfort. The two leg flight usually adds up to 17 hours in the air, so no matter what, my husband and I have numb bottoms by the time we reach our destination. My 6'2" tall husband is always uncomfortable. If airlines cannot seat a man of 6'2" between their seats with enough room for his legs, it is clear that they are not leaving enough space for the average person. Around 40% of passengers must be male, and the majority of North Americans tend to be around this height these days. In my family alone all of my brothers and male cousins are over 6 feet in height. However, at his heaviest weight of 205 lbs of muscle, seat girth was not an issue for him--just leg room. Therefore I ask you, if a 6'2" 205 lbs man has enough room for his bottom, are airline SEATS really too small?

What I am getting at here is that obviously airlines are packing in as many seats as possible, and that leg room obviously suffers for it. Airlines are businesses like any other, and you get what you pay for. They have done a lot in the last few years to improve comfort and help passengers pass the time, such as individual on demand entertainment screens loaded with variety. Personally I would be happy to pay more for a bit more comfort on these long flights. We all want low prices and we all want comfort, and we all want someone else to pick up the check. This is reality, and not everything is fair in this world. Life is pain sometimes, deal with it.

There should be a larger seat option for tall or obese individuals, but if you want more, you should also pay for it. Consider this: if you are short, don't you always have to pay to shorten your pants or skirt hems? Some people have a tiny waist and wider hips, so they often have to pay to take the waist in on pants and skirts as well. Clearly these problems are frustrating, and yet it is not something you can really do anything about. Sometimes you have just got to suck it up. I have big feet and find it very difficult to get good shoes and usually have to spend a lot more for them--it's not my fault I was born with clown feet, but I still have to pay for it. Why then should the obese get special consideration when others do not, especially considering that there are personal choice factors involved with obesity that cannot be denied? If you are looking for fair, please tell me how that is fair? Who ever said that life was fair past grade 3 anyway?

Please note that I am not referring to physically challenged individuals who should be accorded all due rights to assistance and support.

Honestly, considering we now pay for extra for any baggage, food, snacks, pillows, and everything else why does it surprise anyone that airlines are charging people who do not fit comfortably in one seat for the one next to them?

The airlines still have to make money, and if they have to start giving away seats then we're all going to see another price jack. Especially with the obesity rate increasing, ultimately that would be a lot of free seats. Report
Airlines used to have larger seats as a rule. It has almost been a policy as they replace the planes to make the seats and foot room smaller and smaller so they could get in more seats per row therefore more bodies per Plane.
It's not right for an obese or disabled perosn to have to pay for an extra seat when if they had left the seat size alone, there would be ample room.
I have seen thin people take up more than their share of the seat because of their personal pillow, blanket, coats, laptop etc. They aren't charged extra. They also don't mind taking up YOUR overhead area with their extra suitcase either because they don't want to check it and have to wait to get it back.
So all it all, there needs to be some give and take on all peoples parts. Report
Definatly two sides to this issue. I do not think this law enables people to become heavy. However, I think it is sad that being obese is being considered a dissability. Granted there will be a percentage of obese people with dissorders like glandular or some medications make you gain weight, etc. But I was once obese. I made myself obese due to poor nutrition, over eating and inactivity. I also made myself lose weight and become fit. I think this blog brings up something important and that is responsibility. Are people no longer responsible for their obesity? Report
There was a time when seats were larger and there was more room for legs. The airlines changed to try and squish more seats into the aircraft and when they did that they knew there was a risk that some people would not be able to fit. My husband is very tall and I am large. I don't need two seats but I do find in some planes I cannot put the tray down in front of me. Why in some planes and not others? And with an artificial knee in some planes I can cannot get my knee bent enough to get my foot under the seat in front of me so have to switch to an outside seat.... again, not in all planes. In most I have no problem. I wonder if airlines should start having seats the same way as parking lots have handicapped parking spots. Or with technology could they not have "convertable seats" so that certain seats can be changed to accommodate special needs? I wonder how a smaller than "average" person would feel about their space being made smaller? Personally when I am on a plane where I have enough personal space to access my bag, plug in my headset, stretch sometimes.... I am much happier! Report
There are far kinder ways to handle this. Airlines make money on the difference between their expenses and the costs. There is no reason why certain seats cannot be made wider within a plane and given preferentially to those who need more room, perhaps with a reasonable surcharge (the way exit row seats and first class seats are handled, or the extra charge for baggage). The extra costs would be passed on to the customer, of course! But we already are doing that - either by the policy of requiring some customers to buy two suits, or some customers to "donate" half of the one they paid for to the people on either side. There is no need to double the cost of a ticket. Few people truly need double the space; reducing three seats blocks to two seat blocks would solve it in nearly every case I've seen barring wheelchairs. Report
I honestly don't know how this should be handled. If I buy a seat on a plane, I want that whole seat. I don't want to be scrunched because my neighbor's bum exceeds the seat size. If they need two seats, they should be allotted two seats, not one and half of mine.

That having been said, I don't think it's right to charge double for larger people.

That also having been said, I don't really want to pay for their extra seat either.

Maybe there should be larger "comfort sized" seats available for a reasonable surcharge. I think if I needed the extra room, I would want it for my own comfort, and it would be worth it to pay a little more. But not double. Report
QUOTE: "If they are obese because of a glandular disorder, they should be allowed an extra seat free of charge, but ONLY if they can provide proof of the disorder"

You can never go down that road. Once you start saying some reasons for obesity are "acceptable" then by definition you are saying everyone else's reason for obesity are their own fault. Once you open that can of worms, then you ARE getting into the murky waters of discrimination. You will have folks saying, "Well I am a food addict, that is a disability". "My mother fed me too much when I was a child, its not my fault". "I am obese because I have no mobility" and on and on and on. Where do you draw the line? How many people are going to step up to the plate and say, "I am obese because I eat too much and exercise to little. So I will voluntarily pay for two seats because it is my fault I'm fat". That just isn't going to happen! The only solution is to require ANYONE for ANY reason who uses two seats to pay for them (obesity or any other reason.)

If someone has a"glandular" reason for obesity that is a true medical condition, then they can take that up with their insurance company. They can get a doctor to say that they are medically prescribed to take this flight requiring two seats. Just like you can get medical supplies covered - wheelchairs or whatever - then see if you can get that second seat on the airplane covered. Report
It is not so often in Canada that you would actually meet someone who required two seats on the plane because of obesity. There are lots of overweight people but not so large that they can't fit in just one seat. Report
It does cost more for an airline to fly 350lb person with 50lbs of luggage vs. a 150lb person with 50 lbs of luggage, even before accounting for the loss of revenue of providing an additional seat. Weight (of the plane and all it's contents and passengers) has a huge impact on their fuel costs, and their fuel costs are a huge portion of their expenses. Now, I don't know how big this effect is. Perhaps a few dollars per person per flight. But a few dollars times a lot of people on a lot of flights adds up to a lot of money.

It would probably save the airlines millions, if not billions, if the average weight of their passengers went down 10lbs. Report
I have to admit that I am bias. I think they should be charged for two seats. I spent a good part of a flight from Minnesota to Tokyo with half of my seat being taken up by a large passenger. I had to spend a good portion of the flight standing at the back of the plane because it was painful to sit in my seat (not to mention, I don't want to be that close to anyone except my husband!!!).
If they are obese because of a glandular disorder, they should be allowed an extra seat free of charge, but ONLY if they can provide proof of the disorder. Report
Obviously there are a lot of sides to this story. However, I do not believe that SW is "discriminating" against any of it's passengers. Everyone here is obviously on one side of the situation or the other, but if you look at both, it would be much more comfortable for everyone if people who do not fit comfortably into one seat, get two seats, and it is only reasonable for that person to pay for the second seat at a reduced rate. If I were driving an SUV, and parked in a parking lot with parking spaces only big enough for a Mini Cooper, and I took up two spots, I would pay for both of them. You have to pay for what you use. Report
Interesting discussion - with no one right answer. i applaud SW airlines for at least trying to deal with this issue right up front and maximizing the comfort of ALL their passengers. i don't think you can ignore the fact that airlines are a business, and a compromised business in this day of expensive airline fuel. It does seem fair to me that if you take up two seats, you pay for two seats. Kudos to the savy airline workers who give disabled people with wheelchairs or guide dogs, parents with infants in arms and obese people, the benefit of the empty seat beside them. This kind of consideration makes travel so much more enjoyable for everyone. Report
I have to add one more comment!

About a year ago I bought my DH and my Dad a vintage biplane ride as a gift. They were told ahead of time that their combined weight could not exceed 375 lbs. And with DH at 200 lbs and my dad at 170 lbs they were pretty darned close!

Was this "discriminatory"? (hint.....this was a safety issue....) Report
For all the obese people who don't think they should have to pay extra to accommodate their girth, they should be seated TOGETHER! Why make it more comfortable for them by placing them next to an average sized person where they can take up that person's space? If you put a couple of XL people next to each other - both of them spilling out of their seats - then they will see very quickly why another seat is needed. And if they still think that the extra seat isn't necessary, then they can enjoy their flight smashed together rather than inconvenience someone else.

Just a thought............ Report
I have to object to the statement done, that obesity is the choice for a lifestyle. Even if someone is obese not due to genetic or other health issues, this means, he/she/it is a food addict. Why is alcoholism, annorexia, bulimia, drug addiction a recognized addiction/disorder and food addiction is not?
I am a frequent flyer. With being 5`9 tall and obese (with 128kg) I still fit in the seat, on most planes I don`t need a belt extension. I am not really bothered by the armrest squeezing into my hips, what is really freaking me out, is the cramped space for my legs. Ever heard of the "Eco-Syndrom"? It`s thanks to the fact that people do get thrombosis after flying economy class. I choose the airlines I use according to the space they offer me. There are tons of websites and forums, where passengers exchange, which airline to take, even which airplane, if you have the possibility to check that one out before. E.g. Lufthansa (my german airline) is providing the airplane type for every trip they perform.
I am just sick and tired, that society is not treating obesity as an illness, but just as "eat less and work out more, than everything will be right"... gosh, my pulse is even increasing now, writing it ;-) Report
Do you think the Canadian government is serving as an enabler by allowing obese people to have two seats for the price of one? I'm gonna become obese just so I can take advantage of the '2 seats for 1' with the airline industry...I really can't see that in the thoughts of the majority of airline consumers....I don't think Canadian air is 'enabling' any 'bad' behavior...I do think they are attempting to address the unjust acts of taking advantage of disabled and obese patrons. I have to admire that personally.

I have yet to fly and watched a disabled and/or obese person and think, wow, I'm jealous they get to board first I wish they would poor themselves into the seat next to me so I can be additionally discomforted by the lack of elbow room I have during my flight. I have been grateful when obese patrons have been allowed 2 seats for their comfort as well as my own. If you watch obese patrons on planes, they are just as uncomfortable with the fact that the seats are not accommodating their size as anyone sitting near/ next to them. I empathize with them.... and..on that note...can we talk about airline bathrooms???

Should people who are obese be given the same special treatment that people with disabilities are given? Yes.

What do you think is the proper, respectful procedure in such a situation? To treat all consumers with respect and to provide the best customer service possible. On that note....where are all the blankets going to....please reinstate them or put a sign up before we board so we remember to get one at the store before boarding....

Have you or has someone you know ever dealt with this particular Southwest policy?
My mom is obese, and not wealthy by any means. She has traveled by air and pours herself into one seat as she request the seat belt extenders. I know how difficult it is for her, or shes disabled...another story, and I don't think another seat is asking too much for her or the people sitting around her. Same for disabled and can we talk about mothers with children (or fathers...yet haven't seen that to date...)

I like the idea about providing a 'first class-type' seating area. Bigger seats without the perks with an upgrade charge. Not as much as two tickets, yet affordable and only requires one seat. Seems reasonable. Report
I think that instead of being asked to pay for 2 seats, the obese persons should be suggested to take a seat in business class. The places are more roomy and the price would be a little bit more expensive but not as much as paying for 2 regular seats. Plus, the person would be more comfortable sitting in a bigger seat than on a too small one feeling sorry for those sitting next to them. Report
It seems simple on one hand, but like BMI, it can't be one size fits all. I don't want to be the person squished into my seat because the person next to me is too big to fit into their own seat. However, at what point does that person have to purchase an extra seat? Can I regulate the rude people on the plane? I would rather be a little squished next to a quiet bookworm, than stuck next to a drunk passenger, who impinged on my space in non-physical ways. But it may indeed cost more... Report
Definitely a topic with many sides. I personally feel that that the policy should be one person one fare. How did this ever become an issue? We need to get to a place where we treat people as people. This is just one more way that someone who doesn't meet another person's criteria is treated differently! We honestly need to come to a point where we stop making any section of the population feel less. That just brings all of us down. Just start treating people as you would choose to be treated. Especially at this time of year!!! Let's show our humanity. Report
requires much thought Report
All I know is that if I pay for my seat, I would like to be able to occupy it. If someone next to me is interfering with that ability, I am being deprived of what I have paid for. It has nothing to do (for me) with weight as I have been one of those large passengers that people see coming and groan if they think you're sitting my them. Now I'm much smaller and I realize that we're all going to the same place, literally and figuratively, and we might as well be kind.

My most recent flight was from the San Francisco Bay Area and there was a very large woman in the seat next to me. The flight was full and she was stuck in the middle seat. For those who've never flown Southwest Airlines, you do NOT have assigned seats so this can happen and often does. She was a sweetheart and made every effort to get into her seat with a minimum fuss and had already acquired a seat belt extender before she sat down.

Flying doesn't have to be unpleasant for any of us. We need a little common sense and a lot of consideration for other people. Too bad that can sometimes be in short supply. Report
I've sat in airline seats with my arms crossed holding my shoulders hunched forward to be a small as possible. It is especially difficult when in the center seat. Along with the authority to require 2 seats, I think that the counter agents should have the authority - and the smarts - to seat a large person in the seats that have the most room and especially to avoid putting them in middle seats. I've also been yelled at by flight attendants to buckle my seat belt when I asked for an extender several times and not gotten one. There are people who could make the process easier but don't.

Pay for two tickets? The baggage handler doesn't have the work of two people. People in the front office - and any other overhead figured into the price of a ticket - don't have to work any harder when one person pays for two seats. I really appreciate the New Zeland Airline that offers the second seat for $75 rather than a full fare.

I travel by train where the seats are adequate in size and I more than willingly spend the extra $78 (round trip) to sit in Business Class with even larger seats along with fewer children.

I can't pull down the tray table on any airline lately but there are some trains where I've had to sit forward in my seat to do work on the tray table. Train travel is on the rise and I can see why. Except for commuter runs, Amtrak does not seem to have tried to pack 'em in. They don't check baggage so you do have to stumble toward whichever doors they choose to open at the smaller stations. After that, you have to get your baggage down the steep, narrow flight of stairs (made more difficult with my cane) but I'll be more than happy to deal with that because I'm not treated any differently than anyone else because of my size.

As for the smaller person, I have reason to have hope for the future when, on my last flight, a ten year old boy sitting next to me noticed that I couldn't use the tray table and offered to share his so I could set my beverage down while I ate my salad. I've had supposed adults who sat through the whole flight tsking and sighing at the unfairness of sitting next to me. I didn't gain weight to inconvenience anyone. I have a medical problem and I'm doing the best that I can. If she had taken a stroll down the aisle, she would have found that there were whole empty rows in the back. I'm not going to suddenly get smaller because you're upset. I'll do all that I can by jamming the armrest on the opposite side into my rib and making sure that the arm rest on the other side is available. Once seated, I don't get up unless I absolutely have too because too many people grumble as I brush past them down the narrow aisle that even the slender flight attendants have to walk sideways. I figure that I'm as comfortable as I'm going to get.
I've flown on Southwest & never had to buy a second ticket because of my size or my disability. They do usually give me an aisle seat due to my disability though. I don't think that the obese person should be penalized for his/her weight,
but I'm not sure it's fair to the other passengers sitting next to him/her either. Report
I don't think obese people should have to pay for 2 seats. Airlines should chalk it up as the cost of doing business and have an allowance of seats reserved for such passengers. Report
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