Thursday, August 7, 2008

How Airlines Deal with Supersize Passengers

A couple of weeks ago I talked about a recent flight I was on where my seatmate was Sasquatch and couldn't quite fit in his own seat so half of his girth bled over into my seat.

I was curious how different airline policies handled this issue, so here is a breakdown of airline policies dealing with this issue in case you happen to find yourself on an 8 hour flight with the golly green giant sitting next to you.

Here's a look at how different airlines deal with the "customer of size.":

Southwest Airlines

Passengers should plan on purchasing an extra seat or risk being asked to do so at the airport by staff. If the flight is not sold out, the passenger may claim a refund.

American Airlines

The airline states that passengers over 250 pounds should recognize that there may be limitations to the service that the airline can provide. However, it does not require that you purchase an extra seat automatically.

United Airlines

The airline has no policy whatsoever. They are probably too busy coming up with policies on how they are going to charge you for things, I am amazed they haven't seized on this issue, what a potential money maker.

Midwest Airlines

As with Southwest, passengers are encouraged to know their needs in advance. If staff members determine that two seats are required, the seat will be sold at the lowest possible fare, with a refund available if there is one or more open seats on the flight.

Air France

Passengers with "high body mass" may receive a 25 percent discount on an extra seat, knowing that if they choose not to buy the seat, they may risk not being able to fly.

JetBlue Airways

You are required to buy a second seat, and there are no refunds.

Delta Air Lines

The airline "works to accommodate" passengers with special needs. Upon request and availability, it will try to make sure the next seat is unoccupied. However, if the plane is full, you will most likely be asked to leave the flight and buy a second seat on the next available flight. (You can actually count on this being a fairly typical practice on most airlines.)

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Chris said...

Recently (on a 50-seat RJ) I sat next to a very large man (so large he could not lower his arms without knocking me into the aisle). He sat with his arms folder across his chest. I scrunched over as far as I could and read my paper. The man was clearly embarrassed. So, to be nice to him I offered him my paper when I was done. He refused it but seemed grateful. Fortunately, the flight lasted 45 minutes ... however, had it been a longer flight, I would have asked to be moved.

Ricky said...

If mega fatties want to fly, they should pay extra. I say mega fatties, because I am a normal fatty. 5' 8", 225 pounds. If I weighed a hundred pounds more, I would expect to have to pay for an extra seat to house my huge ass.

Andrew said...

Im right with you both, im certainly not insensitive to peoples issues, however we pay for our seat also, frankly airline seats are unfair to everyone anyhow but if you cant fit in your seat no need to punish a seatmate