Saturday, May 2, 2009


United To Charge Heavier Passengers Twice To Fly

Airline Says Overweight Travelers Will Need To Buy Extra Seats Or Be Denied Entry To Planes


If “beefy” or “curvy” describes you, here is a word of warning: United Airlines will begin aggressively enforcing a new policy that allows it to charge heavier passengers twice to fly.

United will now implement new policies for passengers they deem to be overweight.

Under the rules outlined by United, passengers who “are unable to fit into a single seat in the ticketed cabin; are unable to properly buckle the seatbelt using a single seatbelt extender; and/or are unable to put the seat’s armrests down when seated” will be denied boarding unless they purchase an extra seat.

If no empty seat exists, the passenger will be forced to take a later flight.

“The seat purchase or upgrade must be completed for each leg of the itinerary,” the United policy states. ”If a customer meeting any of the above-listed criteria decides not to upgrade or purchase a ticket for an additional seat, he or she will not be permitted to board the flight.”

How do you feel about this??

The other day when I was traveling, I had to sit next to a guy that was let's just say, he was on the "heavy" side. Not simply overweight. He was at least 300lbs and for the entire flight, he had to try to clasp his hands together over his stomach so that they wouldn't come over the armrest into my seating area. As much as I felt for myself, I felt badly for this gentleman in his predicament because his fingers were turning pink because he could barely hold onto his other hand:(

Now while I totally understand the reasoning behind United's policy, I guess the whole question of discrimination comes into play and exactly just what is fair. Yes, I guess if you go strictly according to the rules, if you're "spilling over" into someone else's seat and for all intents and purposes, taking up two seats, then I guess perhaps you should be charged for two seats. Not to mention, making the other passenger uncomfortable. On the other hand, it seems a little calloused and heartless but I guess in this economy and in the world of business, heart and compassion have nothing to do with anything!

All I can say is, personally I hope they put in place a similar program for smelly people too because that negatively impacts fellow fliers as well. Just imagine the pre-flight check!


Eternal Lizdom said...

I think they should also upcharge the overly talkative people. And the talking loudly on their cell phone people. And the people with the crying baby. And the airsick people. And the scared to fly but have to people.

I think it's damn insensitive. I think the airlines are desperately seeking ways to charge more and more because business is tanking. The thing is- th more you charge, the less people can afford it.

I guess I'll just stick with car travel, as usual!

Jim and Garret said...

I love the cartoon! Well, Liz brings up a good point as so do you. Where do we draw the line? I'm kinda leaning (not because I'm that fat) to charging more for obese riders.


Brianna said...

I was flying back from Africa a few weeks ago on a completely full much so that they bumped up passengers in coach to business to make room. I was one of the passengers bumped up because I had elite were a few others. Well there was a big commotion before we took off because there was a rather large person (and honestly, I'm talking VERY LARGE) and the person sitting in the middle seat next to him refused to sit by him. This is a 10 hour flight we are talking about so I really can't blame them. I didn't see how he fit in the seat, but once I saw his size I could only imagine he was nowhere near fitting. So, they had to come up to business and take away someone's upgrade and have them move back to Coach so the big guy could sit in the business seat and the plane could take off. I felt bad for the person who had to give up their Business seat! Then the guy walks up to the front happy he gets to sit up front!

Honestly, I am no fan of discrimination and in my opinion the seats are quite small. Even really tall people or people large but not in an obese way, have trouble fitting. But if I have to sit next to someone who has their own seat and half of mine, that also is not fair. I think that if you require two seats to fit comfortably on an aircraft, maybe you pay some sort of extra fee...not two whole seats, and the airline has to accomodate that. Kind of like what they make you pay for excess luggage.

anonymousnupe said...

Hey, bring on the heavies, and situate them all around me,left, right, front and back! And the heavier the better. 'Cause when the plane goes down you-know-who will be surrounded by layers of downy-soft cushiness.

See, that's why I dig you so much. You tackled this issue with grace and allowed the potential victims to keep their dignity.

And on the real, as I've read and heard about this issue over the years I've always wondered how and when they would charge an obese person for two seats. I mean, is it up to the check-in staff to eyeball and individual, then make a judgement un-aided by tape measures or scales and force the potential passenger to pony up another full fare right there on the spot? Cause like, who buys airline tickets at a ticket counter any more?! And will travel agents have to ask for a customer's dimensions when taking phone reservations so they know how much to charge ahead of time? And what about sites like Orbit and Travelocity? Will they instruct online purchasers to, "Please stand in front of your webcam so that you may be scanned in order that we may determine the price for your airline ticket."

And what about really, really small people?! Will they now be charged LESS since they sometimes leave a lot of leftover room in their seats?! Why not balance it all out and only sit really rotund passengers (who spill over) next to petite passengers (who leave wasted space)?!

At check in will the attendants force a suspected size violater to sit in a simulated plane seat--yes, out there in front of all the waiting passengers--in order to demonstrate the degree of overlap and whether they can snap the belt, so that their fare may be calculated? (That's kinda like those contraptions where you place your bag and if it doesn't fit then the bag has to be checked 'cause it won't fit in the overhead or under your seat.) How embarrasing would that be?! I can see the other passengers now making sport of, or even wagering on whether each subject of humiliation will fit into the chair and have enough room to buckle up! (Upon re-examination, that might actually be entertaining and make the wait go by more quickly...for everyone except the test subjects, that is.)

See, a really savvy airline operation would sieze this as an opportunity to rollout a new service where they only fly overly-endowed passengers! I mean, America is way overweight as a nation, right? So they'd have plenty of customers. This sounds like a move that would be right up SW Airlines alley! It would bring a whole new meaning to "jumbo jet"! And imagine all the new revenue they could realize with onboard meals. Passengers get a free "snack," and then everything after that is, well, gravy, baby!

Of course this skreed was all tongue in cheek. I feel sorry for folks in this kind of predicament. They suffer so many related healt-related issues, and so very few of them really have any hope of living a normal life. I pray for them. While I was in a doctor's waiting room recently a very obese black lady came in, checked in, and then sat down and proceeded to (loudly) make arrangements on the phone with a home for the disabled. I really felt bad for her. You could hear her breathing throughout the entire 40 ft. area, and she told the administrator on the phone, "Yeah, I'm overweight, got heart problems, diabetes, leg problems..." then she chuckled, "heck, I got it all!" I said a prayer for her right there.

Sorry. That was long. And I still didn't answer your primary question. I think my answer is "I don't know," 'cause I can empathize with both sides of the argument.

Jim and Garret said...

anonymousnupe hit the nail on the head. How does one calculate that. Who makes the call? Who determines that? Ugh.


Jackie E. said...

Nupe, like Garret said, I really think you hit the nail right on the head! This type of policy brings so many other things into question and since it's soooo subjective, there's no fair place to draw the line, so I say they should just leave it alone...

life said...

I love the cartoon!
I've just came across to your blog.
Interesting blog!

Mizrepresent said...

I'm with you...i think it's kind of heartless. I remember in that Tyler Perry movie, "Why did i get Married", they made Jill Scott leave the plane bc she was overweight. I really don't thinks it right at all. What they should do is put in a few roles of extra large seating and charge extra. That way those obese folks will know ahead of time of the seat availability and the charge.

Anonymous said...

I think it is fair to be honest. People are so darn out of shape and unhealthy and maybe making them pay more to fly will help them to get on some type of exercise program and lose that gut. I know some people can not help their weight, but some people can and those are the ones that need to do something to make things more comfortable for themselves and others around them.

Living in D.C., I take the Metro around more than I drive and nothing is more annoying and uncomfortable than being pressed against the window of the subway train by some person that is three times my size; there should be a charge for that too.