Accomodating larger people

Airline obesity policies differ in degree and detail, but decree essentially that if you don’t fit in a seat with an extension seatbelt and the armrest down, you will be charged for two seats or removed from the plane.

Most airlines recommend that if you think you will be too large for your seat, you should purchase a second seat at the time you make your original booking (or, of course, buy a ticket in first or business class).

As airlines continue to cram more and more people into each plane, the flying experience gets less comfortable for all passengers — especially as the traveling public grows increasingly overweight.

Most carriers now have some sort of policy in place to prevent obese travelers from infringing on the personal space of the passengers next to them.

The solution is simple, of course: wider seats on planes.

In the same way that airlines offer “economy plus” sections with more legroom, they could have rows that have fewer and wider seats.

Who decides if someone fits in the seat, and when do they decide? Will there someday be a BMI (Body Mass Index) field on booking sites?

Is it to be a flight attendant after the entire plane is boarded? Might we eventually have to sit in a test seat, much like the metal cages that indicate whether or not your carry-on is regulation size?

Most big folks have simply taken the abuse, or made their case without going too public.

In Canada, obesity is considered equivalent to other disabilities when it comes to extra seats on a plane under the One Person One Fare program.

Says the Air Canada website, “For travel within Canada, customers who require extra seating because they are disabled by obesity or because they must accommodate another disability may request the service free of charge” on most aircraft.

If no empty seats are available, you may need to wait for a later flight.

Southwest encourages obese passengers to purchase an extra seat in advance to guarantee that sufficient space will be available on their flight; the airline promises to refund all extra seat purchases, even if the flight is oversold.

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