Airline Policies for Overweight Passengers Traveling this Summer

When Samoa Air announced it would begin charging passengers by weight, the airline industry buzzed with reports that overweight passengers should pay more for air travel. While the debate on passenger weight certainly isn’t new, airlines have been challenged to find ways to accommodate heavier travelers while pressured to sell seats and maintain customer safety and comfort.

Airline Policies for Overweight Passengers Traveling this Summer

Safety regulations from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandate that passengers must be able to lower their armrests and sufficiently buckle and fasten their seat belts. However, the average seat width for a domestic economy flight ranges from 17 to 19 inches between the armrests. So what happens when you can’t fit in the seat? According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), airlines are not required by law to provide additional seating or an upgrade in the event additional space is required for a passenger.

There is no industry-wide policy, and each airline handles the situation differently. So, while we often get questions about passengers of size, it’s not a straightforward answer. Knowing the airlines’ policies can help you save money and avoid embarrassment while boarding. Here’s what we found by searching airline websites and calling them.

Domestic Airlines

Southwest Airlines:

Passengers who cannot fit into a seat must purchase an extra seat, either online or over the phone, although they offer cheaper rates over the phone for the extra seat. Southwest also advises that a passenger of size may contact them for a refund of the cost of additional seating after travel.

Passengers of size who do not purchase an additional seat in advance have the option of purchasing just one seat and then discussing their seating needs with the Customer Service Agent at their departure gate. If it is determined that a second (or third) seat is needed, passengers will be accommodated with a complimentary additional seat(s). However, you may be bumped to another flight if no extra seating is available. Southwest Airlines’ width between armrests measures 17 inches.

American Airlines:

American Airlines requires passengers to purchase an additional seat or upgrade if they do not meet one of the following criteria:

  • Unable to fit into a single seat in their ticketed cabin and/or
  • Unable to properly buckle their seatbelt using a single seatbelt extender (available upon request from a flight attendant) and/or
  • Unable to lower both armrests without encroaching upon the adjacent seating space or another passenger.

American Airlines notes passengers to address their seating needs at the time of booking the original reservation. If seats are available in your ticketed cabin, you may be accommodated in the same cabin next to an empty seat. The additional seating must be available without downgrading or unseating another passenger. If time allows, and upon payment of the fare difference, you may be offered a seat in a higher class of service that may provide more space. If additional seating is not available, passengers may purchase a second adjacent seat on a different flight. The fare for the second seat will be the same as the original seat. American Airlines economy seat width ranges from 17 to 18 inches.

United Airlines:

Passengers traveling on United Airlines are required to purchase an additional seat or upgrade if they do not meet one of the following criteria:

  • The passenger must be able to properly attach, buckle and wear the seat belt, with one extension if necessary, whenever the seat belt sign is illuminated or as instructed by a crew member.
  • The passenger must be able to remain seated with the seat armrest(s) down for the entirety of the flight.
  • The passenger must not significantly encroach upon the adjacent seating space.

United will not board a passenger who declines to purchase a ticket for an additional seat or upgrade for each leg of their itinerary when required. The second seat may be purchased for the same fare as the original seat, provided it is purchased at the same time. A passenger who does not purchase an extra seat in advance may be required to do so on the day of departure for the fare level available on the day of departure. The passenger may instead choose to purchase a ticket for United First, United Business or United BusinessFirst, or elect to pay for an upgrade to a premium cabin if there is availability to do so. United Airlines economy seat width ranges from 17 to 18.3 inches.

Delta Airlines:

Delta does not require passengers who need a seat belt extender or are unable to lower the armrest to purchase additional seats. However, you may be asked to move to another location that provides additional space. In the event of a full flight you will be asked to take a later flight with available seating. To avoid this, Delta Airlines recommends that you purchase an additional seat. Economy seat width is 17.2 inches.

JetBlue Airways:

No clear policy is stated online. When calling Jetblue, they advised to either purchase an additional seat at the current price or opt for a seat belt extender. JetBlue seat belts are 45 inches in length and you can request 25 inch extensions on-board the aircraft. Economy seat width ranges from 17.8 to 18.25 inches. Passenger’s who cannot fit, will have to purchase an extra seat at the current fare offered.

Spirit Air:

No policy is published online. When calling Spirit Airlines, they will advise you to either purchase an additional seat at the same cost of the first seat, or to purchase a Big Front Seat which offers additional seat width. Economy seat width is 17.8 inches. Spirit Airlines offers Big Front Seats which is 18.5 inches wide.

While we wish there was a standard industry wide policy, the reality is that each airline handles overweight travelers differently. International carriers are no exception. For example, in Canada, forcing one passenger to buy two seats is illegal on domestic flights, because Canada’s Supreme Court ruled that charging extra to someone who is “functionally disabled by obesity” is discriminatory.

To book an extra seat for yourself you will need to call and speak with a travel advisor who can assist you since each airline’s policy is different. For the most up to date information, please contact us at 1-800-243-2724 or e-mail us at support@cheapair.com.

Was this helpful for you? What do you think about these policies?

49 Comments

  1. Thank you! It’s great to have someone attempt to get the info out of the airlines but there is more than a bit of disconnect when it comes to the real world, in my experience. Have you tried to purchase an additional seat on-line? I have. The system didn’t allow the purchase of two seats with the same passenger name.

    Regardless of the question of whether charges related to size are appropriate, what difference does ‘policy’ make if you can’t implement it?

    • Hi April,

      Thank you for your feedback. The airline policy determines how the airline handles a passenger who requires an extra seat. Since the policy is not standard across all airlines in the industry, our website will not allow a customer the option to enter the same name twice when attempting to purchase an extra seat. Airlines often will require some additional information informing them of the extra seat requested. For customer’s who would like to purchase an extra seat, we strongly recommend calling our travel advisors who can assist with requesting extra seat space.

  2. Hi,
    All well and good if you are obese person to buy an extra seat, but what about someone who is just large?

    My son and I traveled on an American Airlines flight to St. Croix, he is 6ft 5in and is not at all fat. He was wedged into the seat and had bruses when he left the plane. A flight attendent who was dead heading to another airport was much larger in the butt, and said many people have the same problem. Air travel is not enjoyable any more.

    • Ann, I am a “passenger of size” and often fly Southwest. Their policy accommodates both big and tall passengers. He can simply ask for his additional seat at the gate, no extra charge. If he chooses to pre-board (which is allowed to any passenger requiring the additional seat), he should have no trouble getting one of their 6 front row seats (which sacrifice a tray table for an unbelievable amount of legroom). I am 5’10″ and the last time I took a front row seat on Southwest, I put my legs straight out in front of me an my feet just reached the wall.

  3. The truth is that most airlines are simply dodging the issue because it is easy to–it is socially acceptable to publicly shame overweight people and therefore the airlines can get away with having weak policies that treat large passengers unfairly.

    The issue isn’t whether or not a person who takes up more space should buy an extra seat. That’s a given. Whether you are tall, wide, or just smelly, you should pay for what you use.

    The issue is that large passengers basically have to gamble with expensive airline tickets with no guarantee of what they are going to get. A gamble that ‘average’ sized passengers are not expected to take.

    Airline seats are not the same size. Passengers can go through acrobatics to figure out what size seats their particular flight will have, but of course equipment problems or weather delays may mean that the actual aircraft they end up flying on is different than what they planned for. There needs to be some standardization in seat sizes so that passengers know what they are getting when they purchase one seat. There should be a sample seat available at the airport prior to boarding, just like there is a sample suitcase size available for passengers to verify compliance prior to boarding.

    Second, airlines allow flight crews to use their discretion. The crew member themselves can decide they don’t want a large passenger on their flight, or they can easily bow to the complaints of another passenger, who oftentimes just wants more room for themselves. The large passenger then pays the cost of a choice that other people made. The bottom line is that if a passenger can meet the criteria (arm rests down, no more than one seatbelt extender) then there is no room for discretionary decisions on the aircraft. This is no different than decisions about children on a flight. If they are of a certain age or weight they must have a seat. It’s not up to the flight attendant to decide if they are safe sitting on a parents’ lap.

    And finally, there must be some standard means of charging for additional seats at the last minute. It is not fair to charge thousands of dollars to a passenger at the last minute when they have not been given an opportunity to avoid the excessive charges. The current protocol amounts to nothing more than sanctioned extortion–a passenger has to decide, right there on the aircraft, if they are willing to fork over a substantial sum of money, or forfeit both their plane ticket and their vacation or business trip. There needs to be a standard in place so that plus sized passengers know how much an additional seat will cost prior to boarding.

    Not that none of this has anything to do with whether or not the average airplane seat size is reasonable nor does it have anything to do with the growing obesity epidemic. This is about basic commerce practices–currently airlines have two sets of rules. Sometimes they abide by the terms and conditions of their transactions, and sometimes they don’t. Nobody knows which will be the case for them until they show up to fly.

  4. Not Telling,

    How one-sided can you be? It’s nobody else’s fault that you are a person “of size”. We all have our allotted space on the plane, and if you take more than your share, you need to pay for more. Encroaching on others’ space is just not an option…we all pay for our tickets and the comfortable seating space that comes with it. Either pay for a 2nd seat or don’t fly. Stop acting like a victim.

    • I think that “Not telling” has an issue with inconsistent policies and standards. That is primary focus of the comment. If you re-read the post you will see that (s)he agreed that you SHOULD pay for what you use. That being said, I agree that no one has the right to be talked down to or treated unfairly because of their size. You were a perfect example of the rudeness and disrespect that an overweight person likely encounters in these situations. It’s not about being a victim, it’s about being treated fairly. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

      • I agree with Not Telling, you lot are acting like victims. The airlines are acting in a very professional and dignified manner whereas overweight passengers are acting like entitled brats. Are you seriously suggesting that airlines should change their entire seating arrangements and lose passengers+profits, rather than you simply choosing to lose some weight and fit in a seat like everyone else? You not hear this all the time from inside your fat-acceptance bubble but this kind of behaviour is pathetic and embarrassing. The airlines aren’t charging extra for black people, they are simply using a fair economic policy. Even if they did increase seat size, it would only be a matter of time until even fatter people couldn’t fit in the bigger seats. This whole topic is nonsense.

        • I will remember to cut off 6″ from my 6’8″ son so he isn’t considered a “person of size” yes…that is right….TALL people fall into that too! At 210lbs there is NOTHING fat on this kid…and I agree with Erika, not everyone needs to diet to fit

      • If you pay for the space you use, then you take the price of your original seat and multiply it by two if you need two seats, or three times if it’s thee seats. That would be paying your share, rather than paying less and expecting others to subsidize for your ass

        • Someone said that it’s only fair that people pay for the space we use. Well my 45 pound daughter barely uses any space, nor does my 33 pound daughter. Yet I still pay a full fare for them and will have to pay extra for my own ticket because I’m to fat. How is that fair?

    • Thank you! I agree 100%. I get so tired of overweight people encroaching on my seat when I fly.

    • You obviously have no compassion for others. Some people can not help their size. The airlines take advantage if everyone including you when chesting just to check in a suitcase. I could put you in a profile myself and only imagine what kind of person you are. Be nice to others my dear you never know when one of these fat people may save your like. Plus being compassionate to others makes your life happy to unless you like being a mean uncaring person. Good luck with that because it only gets you so far in life.

  5. If they increased seat size that will reduce the total number of seats on the plane therefore it will increase the price per seat so they make the same profit per flight, thus making everybody pay more money to accommodate fat people. So screw that! I don’t want to pay more to cover the cost for flying fat people.

    It is your problem you are fat. Nobody cares about your excuse for being fat. If you take more than 1 seat you pay for more than 1 seat. It is that simple.

    Entitled morons.

    • And it’s your problem you are unnecessarily rude. Do you feel better now that you’ve taken a cheap, anonymous shot at another person? Having an opinion is no excuse for nasty behavior.

  6. I am really skinny and I think it’s unfair that I pay more for my ticket because of all the “normal” sized people needing more room than me. If everyone on the plane were my size they could fit more seats on the plane and cut prices a lot more than they are now. Why are there only 6 seats per row when there could be 10 to 15? I think all the regular sized people as well as the obese people should be checked as baggage. Actually, we could all just sleep during the flight with like 100 rows of “Skinny Beds” (I coined the phrase myself) – maybe 2 beds per row. Not sure how many rows would fit, but we can work in more by redefining normal until more people fit. I once knew a person who was obese because of a hormonal imbalance and who wants to fly with someone who is imbalanced? And I don’t like “normal” people cause they think they’re normal. I’m so glad I’m the way I am and not like those other people!

    • You are out of your mind. Skinny, overweight your attitude sucks. I’m sure someone would rather spend time with a over weight kind person instead of a self indulgent ,selfish and uncaring person like yourself. You must spend a lot of energy on hating that’s why you are so skinny. Plus not eating makes you grumpy and mean. So do everyone a favor eat a sandwich!!

  7. Maybe if the airlines weren’t trying to cram so many people on each flight this would be less of a problem. I hate flying, not because of my size I am average size person, but because you are treated like cattle. You get x-rayed going thru security, then you’re herded on when it’s boarding time and pushed into 17″ total width seats. Has anyone seen how the human butt spreads on everyone, fat or skinny when you sit down? Your legs are cramped like pretzels(God forbid any emergency) you can barely get out of your seat to go to the bathroom or leave the plane at your destination. No that’s not the way the paying public should be treated, I reserve flying for life or death situations only, that way I’m miserable before I get on and don’t notice the treatment of the airlines. Charging for blankets, overhead bins, extra luggage, soda, snacks, earplugs , you name it, I’m waiting for coin slot on the bathroom door next?????? Has anyone seen the amount of profit the airlines made this past year from gouging everyone, check it out you might be horribly surprised

  8. I’ve flown too many times next to a “too fat to fit” passenger between Hawaii and California. I deeply resent having the “too fat to fit” passenger squishing me and pushing against me for over 4 hours because the armrest couldn’t be lowered by that passenger. It was also impossible to get up to go relieve myself if I was seated next to the window and had to get past the huge bulk of the “too fat to fit” passenger. If you are “too fat to fit” into one airline seat, you should have to buy enough seats prior to boarding so other passengers don’t have to be subjected to discomfort caused them by your obese body. Maybe what the airlines should do is have a special row for the “too fat to fit”. Instead of trying to accommodate the “too fat to fit” passengers into extra seating (if two adjacent seats are available), the airlines should dedicate a couple of rows just for them. It is rare that the “too fat to fit” passenger is able to be seated elsewhere on two adjacent seats because these popular flights from the US West Coast to Hawaii and back are normally full to capacity and booked solid way ahead of their departure dates.

  9. I am a big person, of course I would love to have a huge wide width seat but its not going to happen( oh well ) I do not play a “victim” in any situation so I do not speak for every person that is overweight. I do not think it is fair for anyone to be uncomfortable on an airplane for any amount of time.. I do however believe they should have certain rows or seats designated according to size. This is not about “fat people needing to lose weight” it doesnt have to be.

  10. I miss Midwest Airlines. Their seats were downright roomy, and unless one was truly obese, seemed to fit many “persons of size.”

    • We hear you. Loud and clear. Unfortunately, a lot of airlines are going toward extra charges for extra amenities in general. Extra “comfort” falls within this category. The good news is that most of the more full service carriers like Delta and United do offer a “comfort” option that is roomier and can accommodate people in a variety of sizes. The bad news is that they will charge you for it.

      • Why is fairness bad news? Bring an overweight bag, you pay for it. Bring an overweight body, you should pay for it. You can pack lighter, or lose weight, and avoid the problem.

        Pay for what you use. Don’t steal it from others.

        The airlines’ spineless timidity is allowing a minority of passengers to oppress the majority of passengers.

        • What I find amazing is so many people talking down to the overweight people on here when all I see them asking for is to be treated fairly. Most have said they’ll pay for a second seat, but still there are people treating them like garbage. This is one of society’s many problems these days. No one gives a crap about anyone anymore. There’s just condescending people.

          • You hit the nail on the head, people suck and don’t ever think of anyone but themselves. Just drive down the street and see how many people pull out w/o looking, walk in front of the car and expect YOU to not hit them!! If I didn’t want the karma, I might just keep on trucking, LOL!

    • Larger seats mean less seats on each flight and higher fares to make up for the smaller amount of passengers per flight. If we increase the size of the seatstl to accommodate larger people everyone pays more. No thank you. How about the overweight people take some personal responsibility and lose weight or buy two seats? Don’t punish us all because of a few.

      • A few? The US is the most obese nation on the planet. Do i place blame? Nope. But there are more overweight people than not. Let’s all be human, and polite, and fair to others. Don’t let a person get on the plane and try to settle in his/her seat before we center them out to buy more. Is there no way to have a seat present at the gate area? Are you bigger? Test it out, and if you need another seat… Get it done before boarding. No one needs to be a dick about it, although i do know that dickheads cant help themselves.

  11. If the airlines insist on not dealing directly and firmly with the obese passenger issue, they need to install solid partitions between the seats. I’m sick of having the next passenger’s fat ooze under and over the armrest, and having their thighs, shoulders, and arms project well into my purchased seat area. Strangely, fat flyers all seem to be blissfully unaware that their blubber is constantly rubbing against the person next to them. I didn’t pay to have body contact with the fatty next to me for hours on end. Arm rests aren’t enough. Partitions would keep each passenger’s bulk within the area they paid for.

    • Jim, big, small, tall or short, you are one miserable human being. Good luck with that. Before your next inane comment, try reading the posts that make it clear noneof these big people are asking for anything but a set of standardized, workable policies. 3

  12. All I can say is just wow, I mean, WOW, so much hate for people of size. Never knowing their situation, never knowing what has caused their size. It is truly disgusting how all of you have bashed the people who are over weight who would just like to take a trip for business or pleasure without having to pay thousands of dollars. There are going to be overweight people, just the way it is. Why doesn’t the airlines make spaces in the planes for people of size and just charge a few hundred more, people of size have the right to fly as well as everyone else, as comfortable as everyone else and for the same amount as anyone else, IT IS DISCRIMINATION plain and simple, nothing more, nothing less. And yes, I am a person of size, and the reasons I am are very severe, but does that mean I can’t fly? No, it damn well should not. Screw you fucking haters, one day you will receive yours. fucking bastards all of you!!!!!

    • AGREED!! I am disgusted with the out right “entitled” bashing of people of size. This is DEFINITELY DISCRIMINATION! I have been on both sides of the size issue….I lost 126 lbs and I will tell you first hand I am very sensitive to this issue. Anyone of any size should be treated with dignity and respect!! What is this country coming to?? Soon are people of size going to be reqired to wear certain clothing and be denied basic rights!? Or should we/they have separate bathrooms??? You haters are extremely ignorant!! Get over yourselves…you live in America….everyone is equal and should be treated as such….ugh…sickening….find a hobby other than trying to shame others!!

    • “The airlines’ spineless timidity is allowing a minority of passengers to oppress the majority of passengers.”

      You say this like this isn’t the American way. The outcome of last PotUS election (specifically, the known and promoted political agendas of both lead candidates) should’ve made it more than clear that the average person (morally and ethically) does not give a shit about fairness, about equal contribution, or about personal responsibility. And if that average person can make someone else pay for XYZ, then even better!

      Obese people (in general) do not care that, in this airplane situation, they will encroach on their fellow passengers’ space and comfort on the plane. Space and comfort that was paid for. No, the choices that these obese people have made over the course of their lives by choosing to not control their caloric intake, or by choosing to not exercise (and, NO, I am not talking about the ONE obese person in TEN THOUSAND that actually has some glandular/hormone issue that wasn’t also brought about by either of these two choices mentioned).

      Someone asked for an across-the-board standard on what the plane’s seat’s size is, industry-wide… Read the article: roughly 17-18 inches across. Don’t tell me you are surprised by the seat size. You didn’t fly a month ago and then go to fly today and find out the seats are 10 inches more narrow than they were. You know, generally, how big the seats are, no matter what airline.

      And the rest of you obese people: please don’t insult people who are actually discriminated against by calling this discrimination.
      Discrimination is having something held against you unfairly. Buying two seats when you require them is not unfair.

      I know it’s hard for you to understand how disgusting it is to have an obese, sweating stranger overtake your already too-small seating area on plane. This is because you are that obese sweating stranger.
      Maybe you should stop being so offended by people taking offense to your selfishness. Remember, it is YOU who are initiating this problem by not fitting into an actual physical area that you have chosen (over the course of a lifetime likely) to not fit into. It’s not the airline’s fault. It’s not your fellow passengers’ faults. However, it’s likely that had you ever learned to take ownership of the difficulties that you face in life, rather than trying to make it everyone else’s fault and problem to deal with, you’d probably not be obese to begin with (and again, I’m not referring to the one legit obese person out of ten thousand that didn’t bring their obesity upon themself.)

      Go ahead and call me insensitive. It’s okay. I understand: the truth stings sometimes.
      Game over.
      I’m tired of giving to all of you bitchy-ass whiners.
      Mature and be a man or woman and take control of yourself. Be the man or woman that you are supposed to be. That you want to be.
      You aren’t worthless. Far from it, but people write you off as nothing more than some “fat person”. People do this because they don’t respect you. People don’t respect you because you have chosen to be obese and (back to the airplane situation, IF you are spilling into your neighbor’s seat) rude and inconsiderate. If you WANT to be the obese person that you are, then be that obese person. Be happy, love yourself, enjoy life, but just remember, you WANTED to be this obese person and so chose (and choose) to be this obese person, and guess what: you get to deal with all this bullshit that obese people have to deal with (airplane seats/tickets, clothes that fit, people slagging you for your size, health complications, etc.).

      For health reasons alone, I implore you to really search deep down about what I am telling you.
      You are more than just the obese person you’ve chosen to devolve into.
      You can control the monster.
      Do not choose to stay a victim or a whiner.
      Put your life where you want it, because only you can.
      You are the only one keeping yourself obese.

      • I just read your comments, Game Over. Not everyone can control their weight, Some people DO have medical conditions that cause obesity. Obviously you do not……..you are very fortunate. Please do not judge others by yourself.

    • If you take up extra seats, in order to be treated equally you should pay for them. That’s not discriminating against larger people, that’s holding them to the same standard as others.

      I have a snapping hip problem and am uncomfortable during flights (because normally my legs need more room). But I don’t infringe upon my neighbors’ space, I deal with the pain until landing. And if I need more space I will find a way to pay for it.

  13. Lot’s of opinions about seat size, passenger size, cost, buying additional seats, and seat belt extenders, etc..

    I am 6’4″ and off and on in my lifetime I am/have been fat.

    I have been flying since the mid 1960′s and have seen air travel go from fun and relatively comfortable to a nightmare of cattle car or sardine can seating.

    The airlines generally could care less about the comfort of their passengers and I have experienced many uncomfortable flights as a fat man and a person who just needed a decent amount of leg room.
    On a flight one night from Norfolk, VA to Chicago, I was mistakenly assigned a middle seat in a 3 seat row. I suggested to the airline customer service rep at the gate that assigning me to an Isle seat would negate the discomfort of all 3 of the passengers in my assigned row. The rep asked why I cared, I would never see the other people again.
    These days, I either fly first class or am delighted with the idea of being able to purchase a second seat to avoid being uncomfortable or causing discomfort for
    other passengers sharing my row

  14. A person of size who boards a plane and clearly is too large for a standard seat (they know they are) is guilty of a selfish act. They KNOW they will cause discomfort to someone on a plane and are happy to gamble that the plane will not be at capacity (so they can be moved to a place on the plane with an extra seat). They are gambling with others discomfort so they can save a few dollars. I will not put up with this, and keep a copy of the respective airline policies and carriage rules on my phone. Just had to use for the first time last week. a 400lb+ man was put in the exit row between a largish man on the aisle and a tall 6’3 man (me at the window). This man overflowed a minimum of 4″ into my vertical space. The flight attendants were going to let this go until I pointed out the safety issues (was not able bodied) and rules of carriage. The crew knew this was not appropriate, but were to embarrassed to take action. So I did and person was accommodated on a later flight. This person should be ashamed of trying to take advantage of others. I don’t care if someone is overweight, but I do care if they infringe on the space I paid for. If you can’t fit in your vertical “man up” and pay for it. I am tired of subsidizing people.

  15. What sort of body fascist troll pool is this? Shame on you.

  16. Here is the funny part. . Even if the airlines did in fact create a section or row for the obese,oversized, fat or what ever clever descriptive word you would like to use, skinny/ normal people would be snatching those seats up. They too want the extra room and comfort wit out paying first class. . So my solution if you hate being uncomfortable… you can buy two seats regardless if your skinny or fat.

  17. At 6’4″ and 218lbs I am by no means fat, I do however have broad shoulders that will encroach into your space if you sit seat next to me, should I too be called selfish, be discriminated against, called sweaty, smelly, etc? Face it, everyone has a right to travel and be resonably comfortable at a fair price. A lot of you are quick to trash those who are not just like you but I dont see you buying a second seat because your to cheap to buy a first class seat to ensure nobody sits next to you. You all need to grow up and quit whinning, besides if 65% of Americans are considered obese that makes you the minority. The obese people should demand legislation requiring airlines, buses, and trains to provide larger seating in the name of safety and you minority “smaller” people will just have to pay more for booster seats so you can fit safely.

  18. I’m pretty petite (5’3″) but also a little chubby. I fit just fine in an airline seat. If you’re obese and can’t fit, buying an extra seat seems fair to me. You are, in fact, taking up an extra seat. If there is excess capacity on the plane at the time you board, I think it’s also fair to be refunded the cost of the extra seat, since no one was going to be using it anyway.

    It’s the tall people who I really feel sorry for. I mean, if you’re 6’7″ tall, WTF are you supposed to do? I sat next to a man flying from AMS (Amsterdam) to BOS (Boston) who was assigned a middle seat! I was on the aisle and switched seats with him, though I warned him he’d probably have to get up quite a few times for me to use the bathroom! He was extremely grateful and bought me two glasses of wine. Win!

  19. I am on here looking because I normally fly Alaska which has been just fine. It is not the seat width but the variance in seatbelt length that I am concerned with. On other airlines it can be up to 7 or 8 inches different by plane. If I need more width I would understandably but unhappily buy two tickets. I just wish at the time of booking they would tell you seatbelt length and seat width. I’m not asking for more free space or to take others space just knowledge before getting to the gate and having to be publicly shamed. If the information was clearly provided at booking many ‘people of size’ would be better able to book space appropriately and reduce time wasted at the gate due to this issue. I do know they have seatbelt extenders but I would put on several layers of spanx to avoid that conversation. I have always been able to put side rest down without over hang and buckle the seat belt. Maybe seats should be sold per inch, then everyone gets what they pay for.

  20. The bottom line on this issue is that flying is a privilege, not a right. There is no discrimination against larger passengers. If you don’t fit into the seat–and seat dimensions are readily available–then find another mode of transportation or buy two seats. I pay way too much to travel on an airplane to share my seat with another body. I don’t appreciate having another passenger touching me for hours at a time. However, a little courtesy goes a long way, so let’s just be respectful when uncomfortable situations arise.

  21. Let’s face it, standard coach seats are comfortable for small to medium-sized people. If you are over six feet, or over 200 lbs., you will be cramped, and quite possibly encroach on your neighbors space. If you’re 6’4″, or 250 lbs. or more, you’re screwed, and so is your neighbor(s).

    I think the solution is a section of “economy large” seats, with more width and leg room, at of course a higher price. All travelers should have a size profile; if you’re too big, you must choose one of these more expensive seats. People too large should not be allowed in the smaller standard seats.

    Space is at a premium on airplanes. A person 75″ tall (6’3″) or 2 feet wide should pay more than a person 65″ tall and 18″ wide.

  22. I was 57 kg until I was 30 years old. I had my time with weight gains, but wouldn’t consider it a problem in reality. I have a friend who weighs 133 kg at present, which is quite a bit. He has no choice in the matter. His doctor has told him last month that three medicines which he must take will ensure that he will never lose weight again, and that he probably will continue to gain. That’s a horrible enough sentence without having to worry about the hateful among you adding to it. I am not saying it would be a bad thing to have to buy an extra seat on an airline. But I am saying that those naïve among you who say that it’s because of simple choice of overeating and not exercising that all overweight people are the way they are mean-spirited. It’s true as someone else noted that it’s not so much of a problem of buying a second seat as it is just most of you being mean about it. I’ve noticed in the comments that most overweight people are willing to buy an extra seat. I’m truly disgusted by many of you — really. You’re really good at bringing out the worst instincts of humanity. How are we ever going to really move forward as a society and improve with you guys doing and even thinking this kind of crap? You know it reminds me of some other similar things. Do you remember some of the early religious movements of the 1800′s, for example, the Mormons among others? How they were butchered and herded from place to place by people that claimed to be Christians, especially the clergy in Missouri, as I understand my 18th century US history? I also just read some comments on some Indian scriptures online as PDFs that some “Christians” tore to shreds and one person even said the person that wrote that “deserved to die”! I’m not saying that everyone who hates overweight people is going to go do something drastic, but I am saying, it sure stinks enough like it, with all the hate and discrimination against overweight people. From the comments I’ve read here, they sure as hell are kinder and more civilized people than many of you.

  23. I used to be quite a bit larger. I’m am a disabled woman. And I at one point weighed 500lbs. I am not as obese as I once was but am still struggling daily with my weight. I also used to be a full blown athlete. I have felt cramped but I have also felt not guilty but apologetic. I have quite a few medical problems that now have me on 5 medications and my weight will not lessen while on them. Gastric bypass surgery is in my future however it’s a wait and a process. I fly in 5 days to hawaii with my wife for her bday and our honeymoon. And I paid an arm and a leg by myself for this trip. Because my illness will take my life when it chooses. I am who I am and I will do everything to not infringe on anybody else’s space however I will also not be ashamed of me; I have lost over 275 lbs and and I am proud of it. I did it without skinny diets pills drugs or starving myself; but I am still curvaceous. I don’t judge people by their color religion or size or by how much money they have. I have respect for those who showed respect. I also believe in karma. And what goes around comes around. So to each their own and I’ll send positive energy and prayers that my honeymoon won’t be infringed upon by negativity and sadness and gloom. Because I choose to allow light n goodness to surround my partner and I.

  24. I think the people commenting here are focusing on the wrong factors. It doesn’t matter if you are taking up extra room due to obesity or just the result of being a very tall wide person. If you are taking up extra space and encroaching onto your neighbors seating area, THEN YOU SHOULD buy another seat. Your rights should stop where the next persons begin. We get that you need to travel, but you don’t have the right to make everyone around you uncomfortable. If you cant fit, buy another seat. If you cant buy another seat, fly a red eye so your chances of getting an extra seat for free are better. If you don’t want to take that risk, then DONT FLY! take a train, ride a bus, fly private if you can. You have options, so don’t pretend like encroaching your fatty goodness/ wide shoulder’s over me is your only option. Its just the only option you’re willing to deal with bc its most convenient. This kind of behavior just reflects the average brain-set of a obese person- laziness!

  25. Airline travel is very expensive, and now that airlines are back in the black I have a lot less sympathy regarding protecting the profits of carriers.

    My SO is a passenger of size, and I have to tell you it is not easy to travel when you are larger. She has gained a lot of weight over the last 10 years and as she’s gotten heavier, the seats and aisles have gotten smaller. Very recently we had to fly home and this was an issue because she has put on maybe 70 more lbs since we last flew. We’ve been buying a “second seat” for her for some time, no problem with that. The issue was that after preboarding to get her in, the attendant argued that she should be required a THIRD SEAT because she can no longer fit into just two.

    Now, she carries a lot of her weight in her hips, so I am aware that despite being well over 500lbs at this point, some over her weight is going to spill over into a third seat. But this is MY seat, and I don’t care if the armrest doesn’t go down! It’s my SO! Besides, whoever heard of a THIRD SEAT policy anyway???

    Eventually the attendant let it go, but I could feel that “darts” sent our way the whole flight.

  26. The bigger issue here (pun intended) is not that I have a problem purchasing a second seat to fly, but getting a refund of the seat if the flight is not sold out. I am more than willing to purchase a second seat whenever I fly. However, many airlines will not refund the ticket cost if the flight is not sold out. So it becomes a double edged sword. If you don’t purchase a second seat and hope to be assigned next to an empty seat, you run the risk of getting bumped to another flight. If you do purchase a second seat and there are 20 other empty seats on the flight, how is that fair that I had to pay for an empty seat when the other 20 passengers did not? That’s all I’m asking for, give me a refund if there are empty seats I could have been placed next to. That’s it. Nothing more. No empty seats, fine, I paid for a second seat. Finally, for all you Spacist idiots out there. If I purchase a second seat because of my size and you sit in that third seat in the row, you had better not even think about stretching out and encroaching on my extra seat in any way. Remember that Hippos are the actual most deadly animal in Africa.

  27. I am on the smaller side and fit comfortably into airplane seats. I like to fly Southwest because of their good rates and the ability to choose your own seat. However, the choose your own seat has turned into a nightmare…bigger patrons see me and immediately figure since I’m not using all of my seat that they are welcome to it. I literally have taken to ‘puffing out’ and putting my coats and bags in my seat Until take off to make it look like in bigger than I am. Multiple times I have had arguments with ‘seat neighbors’ who refused to lower the armrests and stay on their seat. I paid just as much for the seat, why should I get less room?! Also, what if I want more room, for whatever reason, would Southwest give me a free seat or refund my money?? Doubtful. Frankly, I think there should be a sample seat that customers can sit it so they can see the size and see if they need to purchase more room. It would be like the things they have for baggage so you know if it needs to be checked or not.

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