Obese People Buy 2 Seats?
United Airlines has announced that obese people will have to buy 2 seats unless there are spare seats on a flight.
As you might imagine, this has caused a little ripple of comment. Ripple did I say? In Chicago where United is based, the Chicago Tribune has had 265 comments on their website. The online news report, Huffington Post has had 786 comments with 67% of people polling on the site in favour.
Southwest Airlines has had this policy for some years but I can’t recall it being implemented very often. Air France has something similar but in Canada discrimating by weight is illegal.
The definition used by United is not a medical one so in some ways it seems fairer. If a passenger can’t lower the arm rest or buckle a seatbelt after having an extension added, then they are liable to being removed from that flight if there was no extra seat. Or if they are aware there might be a problem they can buy two seats.
So is this blatant discrmination or making it fair on other passengers? The Fat Rights Coalition called it a blatant attempt at making money and accused the airline of discrimination. Others have pointed out that flying on an airbus instead of a boeing gives you an extra 2 inches width.
Supporters of the idea point out that neighbours get cramped in and have difficulty moving about. Others say if weight becomes an issue, a small person should get extra luggage allowance so that the system is fairer.
Could it happen here? Will Ryanair, easyJet, Flybe, Jet2, Globespan and no frills airlines in Europe copy it? Is it discriminatory? Does it contravene the Human Right Act?