“United” in Discrimination?

Recently, bloggers here at DiabetesSelfManagement.com have written a lot about weight, diabetes, and discrimination. Jan Chait took an argument over insulin for Type 2 diabetes as an opportunity to discuss weight discrimination, which seems to be commonplace even among medical professionals. David Spero, on the other hand, focused on the role that discrimination may have on diabetes independently of someone’s weight: By raising stress levels, discrimination may hinder blood glucose control and even contribute to developing diabetes — possibly both Type 1 and Type 2 — in the first place.


So last week’s announcement of an obese-passenger policy from United Airlines is sure to generate some negative feelings. The airline, which until recently was the last major airline not to have such a policy, announced that if a flight is full and a passenger is deemed to be too large, the passenger will be “bumped from the flight” and moved to a later flight that is not full. The passenger may instead choose to buy two seats or a first- or business-class seat on a later full flight, or to receive a full refund.

In an article in the Chicago Tribune, a self-described “fat flier” who was interviewed about the policy showed support, expressing his own discomfort with being crammed next to someone. A woman interviewed in the article, who was obese until she had a gastric bypass operation, noted that it was humiliating when a passenger seated next to her would ask to be moved. No one in the article expressed outrage at the new policy (possibly because most airlines have similar rules in place already).

Have you ever had trouble on an airplane or with an airline because of your weight? What do you think airline policy for large passengers should be? Leave a comment below! (You can also voice your opinion in a poll on the Web page of the Tribune article.)

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  • martyn

    Anyone who’s travelled outside the US will realise that we don’t have fat or obese people in the USA. We have ENORMOUS people in the USA. You simply do not see HUGE people in other countries that you see here. I see people in this country, especially in the mid-west, wearing jeans that are so large they could clothe a whole family oveseas. The only people I ever see asking for seat-belt extenders are American. I think overweight people have two choices: pay up, or travel by another means (car, bus, train etc). Finally, leavingn aside comfort, consider safety; would you like to be in a window seat trying to get off a plane in an emergency if the people in the outer seats are big enough to fill two seats?? Think about it.

  • Salty

    Grossly overweight people should fly by the same rules as overweight freight – pay the difference. No one has the right to make me uncomfortable in my seat, or to make the airplane dangerous because they can’t/won’t control their weight.

  • ……….bwin

    Why is obesity an epidemic? Why are unruly children an epidemic? Why is drug use increasing? Why is the percentage of non-producing citizens increasing? Why is monetary inflation increasing? Do healthy people always feel like saying “no” to yummy treats? Do they exercise because it gives them immediate gratification? I don’t know. It couldn’t be my fault. I’m just a poor victim trying to find happiness–like everyone else.

    150 years ago Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”

  • Kismet

    Is this a magazine/site meant to help diabetics or is it a site for overweight ppl?
    I have read many of Chaits articles and they all seem to get back to this problem of being overweight.
    We know from study after study that if these folks lose the weight (surgery or whatever), that the diabetic symptoms usually go away. I do not believe they were ever diabetic to begin with…just exhibit the symptoms due to being so overweight.
    When will the editors wake up and stop allowing her to hi-jack a legitimate diabetes resource.
    She needs to be writing for magazines that deal with weight problems.
    I am sympathetic to the discrimination and other problems faced by overweight ppl….but believe I speak for MANY type 1’s and LADA’s when I tell you that I really don’t want to hear it when I fight everyday to maintain my weight and not waste away!
    Please! Give us better articles.

  • lavahotsprings

    Good for the airlines! Morbidly obese people should have lap band surgery or gastric resection performed. They need to do something to help themselves to prolong their life.
    I am a type 2 and proudly have lost 55 pounds since my diagnosis just by dieting. I no longer have to take meds.
    I will pray for all grossly obese persons.

  • mare

    There will always be heavier people due to several health issues … not just from overeating as most think. We need to stop being so judgemental of a larger person. Theaters are now making their seats with arm that rise in case you need to use more than one seat and they do not charge you for 2 seats. Before that in some theaters, the end seat was wider than the other seat also to accomodate and no extra charge. I believe that the airlines need to get with it and do the same at no extra charge for people. AT any rate, no where else do you see the larger person having to pay extra for being overweight. More an more you see business’s becoming more accomodating for the larger person. This is a good thing.

  • doughboy

    My girlfriend and I are both over weight and when we fly we look for flights that have only two seats in the row that way we can put the arm rest up and snuggle. If we are seated in a 3 person row we will sit with my arm around her and the arm rest between us up. We go out our way to be as close to eachother as we can so someone next to us has the most room possible. Personally I would rather sit next to someone that is “fat” than have a kid behind me kicking my seat the entire flight or crying the whole time. There don’t have any rules for that and should.

  • Lorre G

    I find this just another way to discriminate against certain people. Unless you are “perfect” in the eyes of the airlines, you will be forced to pay double or deplane. Not a lot of choice there, huh? In this day where airlines are insisting on full flights, how might anyone be lucky enough to have an empty seat next to them? In this age of financial woes, how easy will it be for many to pay double when we are already faced with sryrocketing airline fares? I think they might consider focusing on service versus discrimination.

  • cholmes

    Airline seat sizing and row positioning have NOT changed size in over 40 years, despite the fact that people worldwide ARE larger than they were 40 years ago. Taller, heavier, etc. I view airlines generally as nothing but greedy pigs.

    Charging for first checked bag ($15), more for second checked bag ($25), meals are extra…$7.00 for a small sandwich worth about 70 cents. Sodas $3.00, most alcoholic drinks at least $7.00

  • mary

    well having a large number of large friends for an entire lifetime i would surely not want to sit in any seat next to them on a plane i have done that and it was uncomfortable to say the least as it left no room for me to put my elbows or read a book or anything else couldn’t even talk becasue i am deaf and couldn’t turn in the seat to face them for lip-reading and as for the strangers really uncomfortable and as for the weight well i was ‘weighty’ at one time and i would totally embarassed by it so i went ahead and lost it i understand not many can do that but i did i am diabetic and even it has elped that also this is just my view and i love my big friends but it is uncomfortable and several of them now pay for two seats as it makes it easier for everyone and mostly they get a break on that second seat and as for that the people who travel with the free child in the lap seat should stick to there seat also i am not on the plane to babysit or have their kids kick at me endlessly or get in my face (and yes i had a child also and never allowed that to happen) just my opinion

  • Bert

    When I pay for 1 seat, I expect to have a whole seat, not 2/3 unless a portion of my fare is going to be refunded. This issue, as far as I am concerned, is about my rights not the discrimination of others.

  • Joyce

    When I heard about this, I was dismayed. I am a female that weighs about 245. It amazes me that people who are overweight are being singled out AGAIN. What about those airlines who have added more seats to their planes to make more money, cramming what little space was left, into even a smaller space. I think it’s a shame that with today’s eating habits more and more people are not the “ideal” weight, and so in the end the only ones that are going to benefit from this action, are the airlines. I think that this is an act of discrimination no matter what the airlines say. I don’t see them putting people with kids or laptops into two seats. Kids are great when they can move around but sitting on someone’s lap they have a tendancy to flay their arms around, scream, and are just as annoying as having to sit next to someone with their laptop out and taking up more room also. When’s it all going to stop. Never probably, that’s life and we all just have to fly with it or drive where we want to go. By the way, have they set a weight limit per seat yet? And, is going to eventually include emergency flights on helicopters?

  • cdawg

    I feel that we as a country need to enact a means for obese people to get help to lose weight and protect themselves from both health issues and discrimination. If smokers are victims of both fewer places to smoke and higher healthcare expense, so should be the obese person.
    As far as my thoughts on airline travel, I am uncomfortable in an airplane’s seat and take offense to anyone whether obese or not invading my ‘little’ space.

  • Dotti

    I am overweight and find it difficult to lose the weight, so I do have empathy. However, if the individual takes up two seats and/or infringes on the comfort of another paying passenger, I can understand why they are requested to buy two seats. It should provide better for their comfort as well. I do not see it as discriminatory, but as a fact of life.

  • pqrstny

    I work in open-heart surgery. Many patients who do not believe that they are obese are shocked to find out that they aren’t just overweight, they are technically obese. I bet that a lot of people who support this new regulation by United Airlines would be stunned to find out that they are obese, too, not just “pleasantly plump” or merely overweight. I’d like to know what definitive standards United Airlines is going to use for “obesity”. BMI doesn’t take into account fat content, as muscular weightlifters would be considered “obese”. Perhaps EVERYBODY should have to weigh in on a public scale, since the fuel calculations are based on the total plane’s weight, not just the weight of the “fat people”. Maybe in this instance, skinny children should pay less per seat. This is a slippery slope. What’s next, extra charges for kids who cry on flights or people in wheelchairs needing assistance? Discrimination against fat people is the last socially acceptable discrimination.

  • Gregginsarasota

    Airline tickets are sold by weight. You cant fly 500 people who each weigh 300 pounds as easily as you could fly 500 people who each weigh 150 pounds. If the average person weighs 150 pounds, then a person who weighs 300 pounds weighs twice the weight an average person weighs. The person who weighs twice the normal weight should, in all fairness, purchase TWO TICKETS! It’s not discrimination, it’s COMMON SENSE. Like in the ghetto, if 80% of the population is black, then it’s fair to assume that 80% of the crime in that area will be committed by blacks. That is NOT racial profiling, it’s REALITY! I am so sick of people telling me what is politically correct. Like people who sneak across the border from Mexico are NOT immigrants, they are illegal aliens. People who come to the United States LEGALLY and go through the proper channels are immigrants. Creatures from outer space are aliens. People who sneak across a foreign border and take up residence in our country are illegal aliens. The sooner we all call it like it is, and stop trying to “spare someones feelings” and stop this immature, stupid, politically correct way of speaking, the sooner we will see less frivolous lawsuits and wasteful spending of our tax dollars. There are so many illegal aliens in California having babies they are driving the healthcare system there broke. Like the muslims who want us to acknoledge THEIR holidays and customs in OUR country needs to stop too.
    So, call it discrimination if you want. If people want to let themselves go, be sloppy and get fat, then they shouldn’t call it discrimination when they are asked to purchase two tickets to ride a plane. (Same thing applies to roller-coaster rides, boat cruises, etc.)
    This is just my opinion and not gospel truth. The sooner you face up to the facts, the less heartache you’re going to have. I’m not trying to convince you to my thinking….It’s like my mother used to say: “YOU CAN’T TEACH A PIG TO SING…IT’S A WASTE OF TIME, AND IT ANNOYS THE PIG!”


    Gregory Schwartz

    [email protected]

  • Andrew

    Not all heavy (obese) people can help it. I read where they found that a gene might be the cause for someone being heavy (obese) so whom do we blame for that?

    What about the people that are taking steroids or some other medication that may cause obesity?

    What about the Veterans that have been exposed to different types of chemicals that cause weight gain?

    I feel that to make someone pay extra for a flight or throw someone off the flight is nothing short of decimation.

    We already know that Americans have a weight issue. Some of it is our own fault and some we have no control over.

  • azxcvb

    That’s not unfair discrimination. It’s, first, a safety measure. All that extra weight is more that the plane is calculated to hold per person. And second, it is a comfort point. It is unfair to make the fat one’s neighbors suffer for Mr. Fat’s problem.

    They might, instead, offer sections specially set up for the large set. Put two seats where three would fit, and charge 1 1/2 times the regular fee. If not needed, the two seats could be spread to the edges of the row and a third seat inserted and locked in.

  • lamljm

    I would not be opposed to airlines charging passengers by weight (like freight). However, in that case, passengers would pay less if they are below the average weight, and this would apply to women and children, who tend to be lighter than men. It would also apply to their luggage.

  • rosefilice

    It is discrimination- and it is illegal.EVERYONE with a handicap has to be accomodated-and obesity can be a handicap and it is NOT always a choice, as some say.If an obese person is in a wheelchair – does that change the accomdations>?Corporate policy cannot dictate a “customers” size

  • OH RN

    Often these obese passengers also fall asleep and begin to snore. It’s amazing but true. Unruly children also need to be toned down. All passengers need to put their best foot forward as flying today usually means a cramped, hot, often smelly (at lease stuffy) atmosphere in which to be held captive for a few hours. I only do it when there is no other convenient way to reach my destination. Recently I flew on a French airline (business class) and found it to be vastly superior in service and comfort to its American counterparts. But in France, I saw almost no fat people. Those I did see looked like American tourists. There were many smokers however. OH RN

  • Teri

    Why can’t airlines have a row of seats that would accomodate larger passengers? They could still be sold as regular seats if not enough “larger” passengers booked the flight. I know I wouldn’t mind having a seat with a little more room!

  • Ray

    Not only is a fat person causing problems for the people sitting next to him, but any extra weight also adds to the fuel consumption. Strange as it may sound, airlines are actually decreasing the amount of magazines on board in order to save fuel.

  • fairweather fan

    There’s a very easy solution to this problem.
    Let’s let all the thin people ride and encourage all parents of toddler age children to ride on the same flights. In the meanwhile, let all over weight people boycott the airlines.

    We can get charter buses or trains (who need the money) to take us where we want to go, or entrepreneurial companies can make some real money by catering to those who have some pounds on them and discriminate against the thinner crowd and those who want to carry toddlers on their laps to yell their heads off while they are riding the “elite” planes.

    Then perhaps all the thin folks will be happy that their virgin skin is not touching someone else. Oh, one more thing. It should be necessary that every thin person with a plane ticket should wear a distinnctive perfume or bath oil in excess so that the thin ones can gag all the way to their destinations on the planes.

  • Michaela

    The problem I see with a number of these comments is that they are blaming the fat/large/obese people. The reality is that airlines are loosing money. These airlines have known for YEARS that their spacing of their seats are completely uncomfortable for EVERYONE. This industry has made it a point to make flying less and less appealing. No wonder they are losing passenger and money. And like most things its always easier to point the finger and blame on someone else or in this case some other group of people.

    I say the airlines should get their heads out of the skies and back in to reality of how real people are built now. I was told by someone that if you buy two airplane seats with Southwest and the flight isn’t full that they will refund you the price of one ticket for fat/large/obese people. You don’t see that in any article or news story now do you. Why? Because this is one of those industries that is not about the customer but about money.

  • Saddened

    First, it always saddens me to see how much hate exists for people just because they are different. Mostly, vile people have to swallow that hate because society frowns on it. Lucky for them, it’s still acceptable to hate, abuse, and discriminate against fat people!

    As for the airlines, they are privately owned companies and can do as they deem fit. I have no problem with their issue, except that I reserve the right to fly an airline that doesn’t discriminate.

    As for the insensitive who are using this discussion as a forum to spew hate, they have more problems than fat people ever will.

  • ceesiren

    What is particularly hideous about this policy is how completely humiliating it is. How can you plan a trip when you may or may not be able to get on the plane with your loved ones? Who would voluntarily purchase a second seat if the flight may not be full and the extra expense may not be necessary? Are they proposing that you must? Then will the 2nd seat charge be refunded if the flight isn’t full? (I have a feeling that even if they agree to do that now it’s only a matter of time before they rescind that policy as they grub for money… remember they now charge to check a freaking suitcase!).

    Also, what about people who are just born large (not fat necessarily, but BIG with broad shoulders that spill over into the seats next to them? Football & basketball player types) When I was younger and thinner I was seated next to people like this several times and it was not a pleasant thing to have a stranger’s shoulders pushing hard against me and not being able to use my armrest because it was monopolized by my seat-mate. I didn’t begrudge it because I could see he was also uncomfortable, but the point is that I haven’t ever heard anyone suggest people like that should be forced to purchase a second seat… I think that’s proof that this is really about fat discrimination rather than solely about comfort concerns.

    Who decides who is too fat? If this is a corporation’s policy, they MUST be required to publish STANDARDS (just like Disneyland tells people they can’t go on certain rides if they aren’t a certain height). Perhaps that means that they set this policy by weight and I don’t see them doing that or anyone asking them to. Of course people carry weight differently, but it seems to me that the only way this can be a fair policy on any level is by setting such standards. If you ever watched the Airline show about Southwest Airlines that used to be on A&E you know that this is completely arbitrary. Many people fly to their destination with no problem, but when they try to get on the plane to return they are told they have to purchase a second seat before being allowed to board. Many people CAN’T pay it and they’re screwed. How can that be allowed???

    If you are traveling with a smaller family member who is ok with being snuggled up to you, and you are on an aisle seat and therefore not encroaching on anyone else, does the policy still stand?

    Finally, the cost is prohibitive for many people, but remember that not all travel is discretionary. If you travel for a family emergency and need to get there NOW, will they really kick you off a flight because there aren’t 2 seats available or you can’t afford a second seat? If you must travel for business is your company going to pay for that second seat or do you have to absorb that cost? (And doesn’t this just give another reason for employers to discriminate against fat people when considering new hires?)

    I’m not unsympathetic to the discomfort of sitting next to a large person (it’s not fun for those of us who are obese either, you know), but there needs to be some kinder, gentler way to deal with this.

    First, airlines will need to ask ALL passengers their weight or size at the time of reservation or at the very least state… “If you are over XXX lbs in weight, please be advised that you are required to purchase a second seat. If the flight is not filled, the cost of the 2nd seat will be refunded.” Perhaps to help with the cost they could “double up” larger passengers… let 2 larger passengers pay half each for the extra middle seat. In fact, I think airlines should consider opening up that option to everyone. Let people add the option of paying half the cost of a 2nd seat in exchange for a guaranteed empty middle seat and be assigned seating by the airline (unless you and a partner are both opting for that option and would fill the full 3-seat row, of course). Imagine that! Flights would leave with less passengers (burning less fuel) and yet the airline would make the same amount of money. Customers would be more comfortable and therefore less crabby. Heck, maybe they could even let you check a suitcase without paying extra because of the pounds they’d save with those empty, but paid for, seats. By offering everyone the option, it would also remove some of the stigma and the burden of excessive expense.

    The one problem I see with this is the “inventory management” system that airlines use. I’m a travel agent and well aware that not all seats cost the same, so what would the cost of that middle seat be (or the half share in the middle seat)? The variety in pricing is not inconsequential. Some people may be paying $200 for a seat and others on the same flight might be paying $500 or more…or anything in between depending on when the seat was sold and how full the flight was at the time. And this would also open up some really nasty questions about what happens when everyone shows up and the flight is overbooked (in case you don’t know, this is a common practice based on the assumption that not everyone will show up). That could be a mess, but I still think it’s the most viable option (and the one that will be a win/win for most people involved).

  • Sam Spencer

    It is a sad fact of life. Airlines are making seats less comfortable for regular so called slim people, but I recently was on a flight & had a very large person on either side of me & the flight was full so no releif there. It was a terriable flight & totally uncomfortable. Some can’t help it, but the airline didn’t make them overweight & why should other passengers have to suffer for it. Sorry, but you can’t please everyone.

  • perry

    I like azxcvb’s idea of a section where obese have larger seats and pay 1 1/2 times the regular fee. It is beyond miserable to sexual harrassment to sit next to a very fat person. I am a woman and have been seated next to huge fat guys and they thought it was funny to keep “rubing up next to me”, the plan was full and I was told too bad. I was almost sick from that cross country grope. Fat people need to pay more so we are not intimately aquainted with their lard in our lap.
    I too think screaming and kicking kids should be removed to walk around the back of the plane. I had four kids under 7 years ago and my kids NEVER did that on a plane. That should be illegal as well as sitting with someone’s fat all over you. It is gross.
    Former fatty (so I know)I flew business then. No one should have to put up with my fat!!

  • jimmy

    Well the passenger sitting beside
    the overweight has paid for a seat
    also.I have had an obese seat mate
    insist on the arm rest up so i was
    almost crushed.Of course the airlines
    are not to generous with there seats.

  • jimmy

    Well the passenger sitting beside
    the overweight has paid for a seat
    also.I have had an obese seat mate
    insist on the arm rest up so i was
    almost crushed.Of course the airlines
    are not to generous with there seats.


    It’s discrimination, full discrimination and no one cares!!! With obesity being on the rise and even our children becoming obsese, we need to be looking for solutions to the problem, such as, stopping farmers and livestock owners from adding steriods to our food. No one discusses how the manipulation of our food may be a big contributer to more prople becoming overweight. Also the pharmacutical companies who manufacture medicines that make you gain weight as a by product of taking the medicine. Rarely do people discuss these facts.

    I believe it is a crime to charge people for two seats, if the airplane is full or otherwise!

  • Dale Chriscinske

    I fly every week and I am a Type I diabetic. I have to agree with the United Policy. Obese patients cramp passengers. Obesity does not permit cramping other passengers. If they take up more than one seat, they should pay for two. It is not the disease that they are obese.

  • RCReeds

    I believe that two seats should be required for indivuduals that require the space of two seats. I detest the practice of someone sittinmg next to me requesting that the arm be lifted between us to allow their oversize body to flow into a good portion of my seat. I have paid for that seat and not for it to be shared with by a stranger. Pesonal space is such that individuals need to be invited, this certainly violates that premis by being forced upon you.

  • bubba


  • linda

    For years, heavier travelers have booked first class seats in order to be comfortable. However, unless the entire family or group wanted to pay first class passage, the heavier traveler could not sit with their traveling companions. This at least provides a way for them to travel with their companions.

    Some above have suggeted that the airlines make all the seats larger. Larger seats means fewer seats. Revenues would be reduced forcing all passengers to pay more.

    It’s not personal, strictly business.


    Considering how much fuel is burned lifting off a 300 pound passenger compared with one weighing 150 pounds, no wonder the airlines are asking for excess weight charges.

  • David

    The other day, after reading about the latest obese policy, I acknowledged my thanks for not being significantly overweight. In fact, for most of my adolescence I was underweight. Today I am at an acceptable weight foe Type 1. The line of discrimination towards obese people is narrowing, much more evident. I feel it, to my humiliation.

    This policy is another price to pay for what can be a chronic illness.

  • djkuehn

    I too have flown with an obese person. I was on the plane and I prayed no one as fat or fatter than me would sit by me when a larger woman came down the aisle and her ticket was for right next to me. I was miserable the next three hours on the plane next to her. I am a Type II diabetic and my weight has gone up and down over the years. I also have other health issues which are chronic and will get worse as time goes on. As a retired person on a fixed income I cannot afford to pay for one seat much less for 1 1/2 – 2 seats. Therefore, I am limited to flying any more even though it is much easier for my health. I understand that we need to fly without the extra cost but I think if the airlines would ask your weight when you buy a ticket and seat someone next to you who isn’t as heavy it would be a much happier ride for all. I know it would be more work for the airline employee, but it would be good PR for their customers.

  • Joe2

    Good for United !!!!

    Seems like a fair policy —- given that one of the major costs of the airlines is the total weight being transported —- we all know that lighter cars get better fuel economy ( smaller engines etc. ) —– it makes sense that the same idea applies to airlines

  • Mark Ekstrom

    I have type 2 and feel over weight. I have gone through 34 operations so far and broke my back 2 years ago. Discrimination is wrong! I feel the seats are too small and very unconfortable.Whats next?

  • Beckyjo

    Regarding airline “discrimination”, I have to agree with the airlines. They figure an average of 175 pounds per passenger. If you weigh less, it helps balance out for those who weigh a little more, but not hundreds of pounds more. Airplanes have a weight limit. Also, the seats are small and I personally do not like being squished by someone who is obese and spilling over onto the seat I paid for. It is also difficult to get past the obese person if you happen to be in a window seat and need to use the lavatory. I don’t think it is discrimination. I think it is just good business sense. If you take up two seats, you should pay for two seats.

  • pallen

    I am a former airline employee of 35 years. This is nothing new. Many airlines have had these rules for years. They are running a business. It is undeniably more comfortable for the overweight person to have more room available and if this means purchasing two seats then so be it. Case in point….if you can’t fit into a small economy car you buy a bigger car.

    It is a shame that all people have do this day and age is complain, complain, complain. Lets use some common sense.

  • JuJu

    It is a business decision, not one meant to be personal insult.

    There is just so much space on a plane and the plane’s weight limits must also be kept in check in order to try to make sure the thing get safely off the ground and then lands intact.

    I am heavy but still use one seat. I have had to be between much larger people and it was miserable for all of us. I believe a person that is heavy and uses two seats should have to buy 2 seats. You are renting space on a public conveyance and should pay for the amount of space you use. The policy is not unfair. You do not have the right to violate another flyer’s paid for space or their personal space. Sitting on some stranger is not appropriate.

    We were in Puerto Rico and flying to the American Virgin Islands. I am 5-3 209#s, and it was not offensive to have the person seating us to be aware of that fact. He had to properly place each of us so the weight load on the plane properly balanced at liftoff and allowed the plane to get off the ground SAFELY.

    Buck up, don’t pout, don’t blush. Just decide this is business, not personal.

  • JennyinPhoenixAZ


  • June Ulz

    I think this is great, it has been a long time coming—–we all pay for our seats and deserve comfort……

  • Paula

    How about this? If all of us do this and give S.W. Airlines our money in support, perhaps that would force other airlines to offer this as well….Since airlines are GOING TO DO THIS, why not just fly Southwest all the time and buy two seats? I have ALWAYS received a full refund for the second seat if the aircraft is not COMPLETELY FULL. I fly mostly on Saturdays and it has never been full the last five years when I’ve done this. This way, I’m comfy, others are comfy and I didn’t lose a penny! Let’s FORCE other airlines to follow suite! Southwest is also the only airlines that doesn’t charge you for changing your flying dates. They hold the money for a year and you can use it later if you have to cancel, too.

  • mkirchem

    If you can’t fit into a seat with the armrest down then you should have to pay for another seat. It’s not fair to the passenger next to you.

  • JSW

    The airline seats are small with just enough room for the average size person….Morbidly Obese people have a hard time fitting into one of those seats…. so buying 2 seats would make more sense for everyone concerned…it wouldn’t bother anyone else and you would have more comfort.
    You cannot hide your size and squeezing into those airline seats would be hard to do…and the discomffort of sitting in a small seat for several hours…well you can’t always help your size…but if it takes 2 seats for ones comfort to all involved…..I don’t think it is discrimination…just the reality of the situation which we diabetics all have faced at one time or another….and it is not the airlines fault that one is morbidly obese…they have to satisfy all of the passengers comfort while flying.

  • José

    Mr. Airline
    Charge by the ton and solve everything for everyone.

  • Al F

    I think there’s an easy solution that no airline is utilizing yet. Why not have a few wider seats in coach, wider like those in first class? It would make sense for somebody to have to pay more for one of these, either the calculated 50% more, or even some lesser increase. Since it’s in coach, it wouldn’t come with any perks that people in a regular coach seat don’t get. But it’s absolutely unnecessary for anybody to pay twice as much as a single coach ticket would cost. And most obese-bodied people don’t need twice the width of a regular seat; 50% more width would do the trick for the majority. If we had wider seats offered in coach that could be identified and selected and paid for beforehand, this would allow anybody (not just wider bodies) to purchase them, and it would completely avoid the issue and embarrassment associated with a wider-body person trying to fit into a regular seat or being required to purchase 2 seats. Let’s just use our commons sense and be rational about this stuff.

  • hvnbnd01

    If the airlines plan to do this, they should make a section of larger seats for these people as the current seats are very uncomfortable if you have to sit in two of them together. It is discriminating.

  • JC

    BULL CRAP to the loud mouth about the band surgery! Just do not take this as a place to trash over weight people. Your attitude is worse than their weight problem! I am certain that the airlines do not care about your health, they are concerned that an obese person is taking 2 or more seats instead of 1. That, my friend means dollars. I do not blame them on this issue. Also weight load is an issue for the plane. Not everyone can afford gastric banding or gastric bypass. Some asses say you should get the surgery, some asses say it is an easy way out. Since so many people in AMERICA have weight issues, it seems rather ugly of you to be soooooo judging. Nobody wants to be overweight, many work really hard to lose, or try to lose! If you want to pray for them, pray for their success and strength to deal with the issue od weight gain.

  • JC

    I have an idea! Why dont all fat taxpayers request a refund from any airline that receives money to keep their business afloat? Us fat taxpayers should band together and boycott everything that is so busy judging our weight, after all, there are soooooooooooo many fat, obese people in AMERICA! We should be able to handle anybody that does this kind of stuff. WOW, we have the power!!!!!!!!!

  • Type2&Big

    I believe a standard needs to be established. I do not want a counter person to say who is obese or not. I do feel it is fair for an obese person (and for some people it is apparent) pay for a business class seat, assuming that is large enough.

  • Ceesiren

    I posted the option earlier suggesting people (ALL people, not just overweight ones) should have the option of paying extra to guarantee an empty middle seat, figuring if both of the people in a 3-seat row paid that, everyone is pretty happy, there is no stigma (since the option is open to everyone), the plane lifts off with less weight and full revenue and nothing is refunded if the flight isn’t full so the airline wins too.

    However, I liked the suggestion of the person a few posts back about having a section of seating for larger passengers with 2 seats in a normally 3-seat row, but none of the perks of business and first class and having the pricing be 150% of what others in “regular seating” are paying. This is much more reasonable than suggesting large passengers book business or first class for comfort because the pricing for that is MASSIVELY more than coach (and buying 2 seats is much cheaper than first class or business). The big drawback here would be that demand may outstrip availability since these seats would be so much more comfy. A solution would be to treat this section as a need-based area (like handicap parking is) where only overweight or large individuals are allowed to purchase the seats). Undoubtedly this might annoy the general public who don’t fit into that category, but it would certainly not feel quite so draconian and discriminatory for the obese (and they would still be paying their fare share while not contributing to the discomfort of others). Of course if the airlines did this, thin people everywhere would probably be screaming that it was reverse discrimination. In fact, that is one of the things that I like most about it. At last something designed and reserved for obese people that isn’t a negative planned to make them feel worse about themselves. After all, accommodations are made for the disabled (and whatever the cause, morbid obesity is most certainly a disability) and for screaming babies in movie theaters (at least where I live they have soundproof areas in many theaters), so why not offer reserved seating for the obese?

  • ethelyn

    i am fat and have sat by someone fatter paying for what you get does not offend me i like many of the others commenting agree that there are other issues that offend me as well and how to make all equitable i am unsure consider for instance individuals with respiratory problems and persons wearing perfume/cologn that in appropriae amounts might not be offensive but in the quantity they apply it offends many the children are another issue industry whether food or airllines not charging for children also offends me they are often noisy and roudy if that is the kind of kid you have (not the one in control) make other plans letting children eat for free or reduced cost when they mess up more than other people is also not fair because as an adult with diabetes and not needing all the food on a regular entre and refusing to let me order off the kids menu or the senior citizen menu before i was on i have heard all my life, life is not always fair ok i get the point maybe like the buffet where you pay for what you get we all should weigh, bodies and all luggage (cary on included) give us an amount and we pay skinny people would pay less as would folks with more stuff pay more, parents would pay for kids and us bigger than we aught to be would also pay more have a weight limit on the plane and when it is reached no more tickets could be sold as for the unrully kids or obnoxious individuals put them on a no fly list or pay more to fly and if behave by some standard remove their name if we fly and have the unrully with us, compensate us by some measure all seats should be larger, this with the weight limit would then balance

  • sugarbabe1

    I think restrictions on weight are a safety issue. I fly frequently and have resented when obese partners have booked their seats on either side of me, leaving me cramped and using my armrests. Now I only book tickets where I have an aisle seat. When my husband and I fly together he books the aisle seat and I sit in the middle. After takeoff we lift the armrest so he can be more comfortable. If people need more room to be comfortable then they should have to pay for special accommodations. The reasons for obesity are varied and not the issue. Anytime you buy something that is not standard you pay for the differential. Why should airline transportation be different?

  • readnat

    The airline companies should consider providing appropiate seating for obese pasengers.I personal do not like being cramped into the narrow seatings spaces that most airlines provide. I am not an obese person.

  • kwest

    I do not think all the “Fat” charges are OK. Those people have a right to fly but it is not fair to the person they are next to. Who wants a stranger hanging over in their seat? If you are family or know each other and it is OK, do you still charge? Also there is a weight limit for luggage to total for the plane. How many people add up to unsafe for the plane? That endangers everyone. I have been a nurse for 35 years. My ex-husband was over 350 pounds at one time. My son is an EMT. I have said all this because I do not feel I am prejudiced about weight but it sometimes comes down to safety, not necessarily health, but it is a nightmare for CPR and even transport of these people if injured. I just feel everyone has rights and if you take up twoo seats you should pay. What about a person denied a seat and they are trying to get somewhere, be it work or pleasure, and a seat is taken up and no revenue then the airline looses also. It is all very complicated. But every one has to be taken care of.

  • andurian1

    Im big but I fit in one seat o.k. But my daughter that lives in Mn. has to buy two seats which she cannot afford. I have not seen my daughter in five years.

  • Ruth

    no one is forcing you to put those extra bites of food into your mouth. Be an adult and eat healthly. I hear people say, I know its not good for me but I like it. I am very slender and I do not appreciate someone trying to take over my seating space. I was at a football game and the man next to me, kept trying to take over my seat. I said to him this is my seat please move away as you are in 2/3 of my seat. His remark to me was he could not fit into one seat and I should allow him my space as I was slim. My remark, then you should buy two seats. The same for airlines, if you don’t fit in one, buy two. As far as being a health issue, try watching the show ” The biggest loser”. They follow a healthy diet and plenty of excercise. Health issues get better and some of the health problems go away altogether. It is also a safety issue for the airlines. To much weight on a plane can be dangerous for liftoff and landing. Growup, if you need two seats, buy it. People in America are spoiled, over weight cry babies. Travel abroad, you don’t see fat people and if you do they are americans on vacation. Get up, eat right, excercise and watch the weight dropoff, then you won’t have to worry about airline seating.

  • kmcewen

    I CAN’T believe the freaking fat discrimination I’m reading in these posts. Please, give me a break. Yes, airline seats can be VERY uncomfortable, particularly in steerage class. However, how can weight discrimination be justified by either the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or the 504 accommodations’ law? Fat people are the last acceptable group to be discriminated against. And ridiculed, etc. Since I am fat and have the shredded self esteem of a person who has consistently encountered the prejudice against fat people…. And I’ve bought into that prejudice as well. Yes, airlines ARE businesses. Fat people need to boycott any airline that believes discrimination is good for the bottom line. Use ground transportation instead, especially Amtrak.



  • Renmeleon

    I am considered morbidly obese. I am 348 pounds and just shy of 6 foot tall. Though I am told I carry it well, I do not feel I do and the stares I get (occasionally at my legs) do bother me. If I let it stress me out though I would never leave my home or I would be dead already. I deserve better than that.

    I carry around approximately 100 pounds of toxic lymphatic fluid on a daily basis and cannot exercise without compression which is stressful in itself. I do not have diabetes but watch what I eat and follow similar guidelines which is why I receive the newsletter.

    I am not fat because of what I am eating or how much. I am fat because I cannot exercise comfortably and my lymphatic system shut down during my pregnancy. I adore my daughter and blame no one including her. I just got the lucky 1 in 1,000 ticket. I would do it all over again if I could and change nothing except to get diagnosed sooner as I went to several doctors in several different treatment types and they made it worse for 5 years because none of them knew what was wrong. In the end, it was my hairdresser who diagnosed me, sad but true, and I am thankful because I was able to find treatment finally.

    I did not choose to be this way and a lot of us don’t; I agree there are people who just don’t put forth the effort but nothing is cut and dry and no one wants to be miserable. Gastric bypass is not an option in my case because it is not the problem.

    I grew up flying. My mother worked for the airlines most of my life, till she retired, and I would always look forward to our trips. It was always an adventure.

    The last time I flew the seats were somewhat constricting and I was uncomfortable so I “made the best of it”. Needing a seat belt extension was embarrassing as it was. I was lucky enough to not have someone sitting next to me on the outgoing flight, though I did on the return flight and I was very uncomfortable.

    I think forcing people to pay more is not the solution and, yes, as a designer myself, I know that aircraft have specific layout requirements. No one likes a tight seat though. Increasing seat size on a couple of rows shouldn’t be a source of discrimination, it should be customer service. If this was about a skinny or even anorexic person, would we be suggesting giving them half off their tickets and giving them ‘skinny seats’ because they don’t take up as much room? No. The subject wouldn’t even come up because its absurd.

    Flying isn’t just about getting from one place to another. It is about relaxing and being comfortable on your journey…otherwise in flight catering wouldn’t exist. It is a break from the day-to-day, even if you are working on the plane while you are traveling. It shouldn’t be just another place to get stared at, be crammed into a tight fitting seat with no leg room, and forced to pay more because you have a body that doesn’t fit in with what is deemed currently acceptable in society.

    Thank you for letting us post our opinions. Hope this finds you all well and in good spirits, no matter what your opinion. The communication is wonderful and I hope it is heard.

  • David Spero RN

    I am disabled and require some extra accomodation from airlines. I couldn’t ride buses or trains at all without some kind of accomodation. I think most airlines and bus companies are required to help me travel, and they don’t charge for it.

    I’m not sure what the solution is for heavy fliers. I like the idea of two-seat rows at a reasonable higher charge. Also, the idea that, if we’re charging for weight, all heavy people, not just fat ones, should have to pay extra. How do those football teams travel anyway? And finally, that if a heavy person is traveling with a family member or friend who can take the seat next to them, that should take care of the problem.

    It was really cool to see all the smart ideas people came up with on this thread. Not so cool to see the viciousness that some expressed toward overweight people.

  • begonia05

    I love the idea of per pound travel…EVRYONE pays the same XX dollars/pound of body weight, kid weight AND luggage weight(including medical equipment..lets make it fair for all)
    Of course First class and upgrade will have an add-on cost but if air travel is so dependant on weight then here you go..then they will know when the plane reaches its max.
    Asking people for their weight when they purchase a ticket is a joke..Most people are clueless to their real weight..we walk around with a “percived weight” in our heads. So this only works if acual weights are taken at the time of boarding. But if everyone is weigh in private ot with their luggage, no embarasment.
    And last..Id get lap-band tomorrow(well first I have to have this,my last, baby in a few weeks) But I cant pay for it..I have medicaid till the baby born then poof! it disappers.. So if your thinking right..if Im on medicaid then Im in no posistion to even pay for it myself! Weight loss is a nightmare when you have metabolic syndrome!!!

  • magglesworth

    It makes me very sad to see that the majority are once again complacently swallowing something else that they know is basically wrong. What happened to the Americans who were willing to fight for injustice and stand up and say “NO” when asked to humiliate an entire segment of the population. There are a lot of “obese” people walking around and who is to say what they can or cannot do.

    Who’s next? People with red hair? People over a certain age? People with children? Maybe doctors who won’t people who work for airlines? I say be careful when you jump on the band wagon….maybe you will be in the next group targeted for discrimination.

    Let the airlines provide a certain number of seats for larger people. How would they like it if all the thin people decided not to fly in retaliation of their discriminatory policies and in support of their fellow man?

  • jeanrx1

    I am overweight, I realize how hard it is for some people to lose weight, just like it is hard for some people to quit smoking. The airlines need to know how much weight the plane is carrying for fuel consumption, etc. When you only single out certain people to weigh or pay for two tickets then that is discrimination. I think everyone should be weighed and pay per pound/kg. That would be the fair thing to do.

  • bernice

    I think it is a good move in the right direction. The health care system is bogged down with people who just dont move or stop eating. Lets face it you must feed so many calories to maintain this weight. I dont just happen over night. We all need to check ourselves every once in while and say enough is enough.

    Find a hobby or go for a walkget up get out do something for someone else. You will feel better at night when you lay down to sleep if you are tired.

    I am 66 years old and work over 100 hours a week and enjoyy it and thank God everyday for the health to help others. I am a home health nurses aide.

  • engteach

    I am so sick, sick, sick of people acting as if heavy folks would just get up and wiggle around they would miraculously be free of their weight.

    This isn’t about seats on airplanes. This is about you people who say the most vile, hurtful, evil things about people of size because you are hidden behind a computer screen and have self esteem issues or are on a power trip. “Try watching The Biggest Loser”? Do you REALIZE how condescending that sounds, while at the same time suggesting people watch a embarassingly bad reality show on television in order to better manage their weight? “Wearing jeans that could clothe an entire family overseas?” How do people justify such insulting, bad mannered statements?

    My FAT, wonderful, departed Nana used to say that you need to be careful what you say about people, because there is always something about you that you’d hate to have discussed.

    People call fat sloppy, ‘let go’, disgusting, nasty, gross: I loved my Nana, I love my Momma, many aunts and uncles, and friends. How dare they be called these negative names!

    Search yourself and find that dark, sick little corner in you that has to be cruel in order to feel powerful. That place that hates people because of reasons that totally have NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU AND YOUR SMALL LIFE. Then, work on it. You may be slim, but your heart and soul are deeply unattractive