Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Take the Parade poll

In this week's issue of Parade magazine, the editors invite readers to go online and vote whether or not “obese” passengers should buy two seats. So far 83% say yes, 17% say no.

Go vote.

UPDATE: The tally is now Yes 57%, No 43%. Woo-hoo!

15 comments:

Rachel said...

Harriet Baskas wrote a great column on this issue for MSNBC here and then did a follow-up article here. I sent her a note expressing my appreciation for the considerate way in which she approached it. (I'm pretty sure she had nothing to do wih the headless fattie photo in the first article.)

I've sat before next to "seatmates of size," to borrow Baskas' phrase, and I know how uncomfortable it can be both for me and the other person. But I don't think the answer is to force fat passengers to buy extra seats, but rather to make seats that better accommodate the growing girth of the nation. Most airline seats today are smaller than the width of a computer keyboard - how realistic is that even for the average passenger? Also, I've heard accounts wherein fat passengers buy an extra seat for comfort, and then are pressured to give it up to passengers flying standby.

If airlines truly wanted to be respectful and courteous of its passengers, it would offer up a few wider seats for patrons on a first-come, first-buy basis. And I don't even care if they charge more for them, as long as the additional fee is nominal - not the cost of a whole extra seat. Airlines are already strapped as it is, with less people flying due to lingering after effects of 9/11 and rising fuel prices. If airlines want more people to fly, then shouldn't they better accommodate their clientele, which, according to popular estimates, place about 60 percent of them as fat or overweight?

April D said...

How absolutely insulting! How about, if SW is SOOO worried about making sure everyone is getting the "real estate" space they've paid for; making those damnable seats BIGGER! I don't care HOW small I've been, plane seats are not the most comfortable, body accomodating items.

This is just another way for irrational fat hatred to gain someone a few more dollars. I mean hey, if the diet industry can do it so successfully; why not airlines too?

Sorry for the rambling but MA is my state and the worry that this is next coming my way makes it a bit more real; and me a bit more rambly!

nuckingfutz said...

If airlines truly wanted to be respectful and courteous of its passengers, it would offer up a few wider seats for patrons on a first-come, first-buy basis.

That's exactly what I was thinking! They don't even have to change every single seat on the plane - just offer a few rows of bigger seats for those who would choose to buy them.

I also have a problem with this whole "obese" idea. I CAN fit into airplane seats (not that they're comfortable, but I fit)... and yet I'm obese. Are they going to make me buy an extra seat that I actually don't NEED just because I'm fat?

Anonymous said...

Airlines are selling airline seats. If you do not fit into one seat, you can choose to buy another one - or not fly altogether. If I go to a restaurant and order a plate of food, and after eating it I'm still hungry, I can order another one - but I can't complain that the food was not enough!

Having bigger seats is not a feasible solution, because there will always be people who are bigger than the seats. I'm not saying there's something wrong with being fat, and airlines seats DO fit fat people - just not arbitrarily fat people (which is impossible).

Betz

ricki said...

I haven't flown since 1999. The issue for me is as much "I don't like traveling with my knees pressed into my chest" as "I don't fit that well in the seats." (I'm tall as well as big).

But from what I've read - and from what I remember back when I was flying - passengers are basically treated like livestock. Pack 'em in, slam the doors, take off, who cares if they're comfortable. If they complain, hit 'em with the cattle prod.

I read a story - I think it was on Consumerist? Of someone who was forced to sit on a urine-soaked seat on a plane. The flight attendant put a blanket and (I think) a plastic bag over it, but the airline's general attitude was "this is your seat. We have already closed the door. Either sit down or face charges for unruly conduct."

I'm sorry, but I'm not going to fly again. Not until the airlines recognize us as human beings instead of oddly-shaped pieces of cargo that seem to have an unfortunate need for water, air, and the occasional restroom break.

Rachel said...

Anonymous wrote: "Airlines are selling airline seats. If you do not fit into one seat, you can choose to buy another one - or not fly altogether."

Oh, COME on. The issue isn't as clear-cut as you make it out to be.

First, airlines continue to reduce the size of their seats. Eventually, it won't only be fat people who don't fit in them comfortably. Should everyone then be required to purchase two seats?

Second, airfare is expensive enough as it is, and the costs continue to rise. If you require a sizable portion (no pun intended) of your clientele to pay double the cost, you're going to lose out on a lot of business from folks who can't afford to purchase two seats.

And to use your restaurant analogy: If I run a restaurant and my portion sizes consist of a couple green beans and a sliver of meat at the same cost as the restaurant whose portions are much larger and competitively priced, people aren't going to patronize my restaurant and eventually, I will go out of business. If the airlines want to remain profitable and viable, they will better accommodate the needs of their clienete. Period.

fillyjonk said...

Also, airlines are not actually in the business of selling real estate. You don't pay for the space you take up on the plane, because the plane is selling you passage, not property.

mary said...

They could offer a variety of seats from which to choose. Comfort might be a PLUS sale, pun intended, for the passengers and perhaps it would be worth paying extra for a little more elbow room, opposed to paying for 2 seats.
Since people weren't flying in passenger planes 100 years ago how the hell do they know that we are fatter? I collect old portraits/relatives for fun and the people came in all sizes back when as well. They knew how to fry up a donut too!
So, what time period was it we were supposed to have gotten fatter from?

Anonymous said...

You can pay for a bigger seat. It's called business/first class :-)

Rachel: I agree with you! If people continue to gain weight and stop buying airlines seats, the airlines will eventually have to do something to stop from losing all their customers. I just wanted to make the point that there will ALWAYS be someone who doesn't fit into a seat, because seats can't be arbitrarily big.

Fillyjonk: Apparently, the airlines disagree!

Mary: I read a pilot's blog, in which he has commented that all pilots before flying a plane must calculate the total weight of the plane. Years ago, the average weight of people flying on planes was lower than what they have to consider now.

Betz

Anonymous said...

I agree with the anonymous person above - you can buy bigger seats - first class or business class! I know that isn't offered on all airlines, such as Southwest, in which case I think that people who don't fit into one seat should absolutely have to pay for another seat.

I have sat next to people who don't fit into their assigned, purchased seat and it is extremely uncomfortable to say the least, especially if I'm flying cross country or on a flight longer than 2 hours.

Why should I, someone who does fit into airlines seats, have to be smashed into one side of my seat for an entire flight just because the person next to me can't put down the armrest?!

Perhaps I should have been refunded for half of my airfare as I was forced to only sit in one half of my seat!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the anonymous person above - you can buy bigger seats - first class or business class! I know that isn't offered on all airlines, such as Southwest, in which case I think that people who don't fit into one seat should absolutely have to pay for another seat.

I have sat next to people who don't fit into their assigned, purchased seat and it is extremely uncomfortable to say the least, especially if I'm flying cross country or on a flight longer than 2 hours.

Why should I, someone who does fit into airlines seats, have to be smashed into one side of my seat for an entire flight just because the person next to me can't put down the armrest?!

Perhaps I should have been refunded for half of my airfare as I was forced to only sit in one half of my seat!

Katy said...

Okay, well, here's the real question--if we're going to make "obese" people pay for 2 seats, does that mean if I was traveling in a group of 4 fairly small people, we could buy 3 seats and share???

The whole thing is ridiculous.

The only place I can see merit is in the case where a person genuinely cannot fit in the seat without taking up a significant amount of the next person's seat--but a little "spillover" (god forbid anyone has to *gasp!* TOUCH a fat person!) shouldn't be an offense punishable by a second-seat fine. The real solution is bigger. freaking. seats. Jeez.

ja said...

I voted NO but I don't think bigger seats are the real solution either. The best solution is to prevent conditions that lead to obesity in the first place.

observer said...

Good luck with 'obesity' "prevention" as a solution...it does not work. And can't.

The airlines' biting the bullet and simply installing bigger seats would be cheaper and faster. And would make everyone (except, perhaps, those who wanted the extra fares on the "bottom line") happier and more likely to fly with that airline again.

Pamela said...

I'm wondering how they will decide what constitutes "obesity".

I am 5'8" tall, and although I weigh nearly 200 lbs, I have a waist measurement under 30 inches. I lift weights at the gym six times per week, and I still fit into jeans sold in the junior's department of Macy's.

Because of the density of my muscle tissue, on the Body Mass Index chart I am considered "obese"...just as Schwarzeneggar and Stallone are.

Will they have me take butt measurements before purchasing my next airline ticket? Or are they going to go by weight, and stick me on the scales alongside my luggage?

Thanks to yoga, I am also flexible enough to fit in the over-head compartment...perhaps they could give me a discounted fare if I fly "carry-on" class.