Quick Hit: Parade Poll on Fatties and Airline Seats

Harriet points out that Parade magazine has a poll up on the age-old question of whether fat people should be required to buy two airline seats. Right now, they’ve got 82% yes votes, and only 18% no. Let’s see if the Fatosphere can change that, shall we?

Posted in Fat

358 thoughts on “Quick Hit: Parade Poll on Fatties and Airline Seats

  1. Hooray, we can turn into weekly poll crashers, just like the Pharyngulites! ;)

    I’m heading over to vote NO now.

    *******

    Off topic rant that I just need to get off my chest: A few weeks ago I had one of my soon-to-be-famous migraines, which had me throwing up all day, and seriously affected my appetite for almost a week afterwards. When I mentioned it to my mother, her first response was…….can anyone guess??

    “Well, maybe it will be good for your waistline!”

    I was kind of taken aback (and still feeling icky), and just mumbled something about how that wouldn’t exactly be a healthy way to lose weight. If I’d had more presence of mind, I probably would have done a better job defending FA.

    You know, sometimes I think she just can’t even help herself. It’s like she has a compulsion to throw in diet/weight loss talk even when it really has nothing to do with the conversation. “Now if you only lost 10 pounds, you’d look perfect in that dress!” Thanks, Mom. It’s like she doesn’t even think about them; it’s just a lifetime of diet training has made her into some sort of industry spokesperson. Perhaps I should rename her the Weightloss Mom Bot 3000, because that would just about capture the impersonal and random nature of these tidbits that come lose from her mental filter and flow out into the world.

  2. If anyone is feeling particularly motivated and wants to vote more than once, the tracking seems to be cookie-, not IP-based. So delete your cookies and have at it again!

  3. I want to know what airlines you people are flying on that have wide enough seats that a fat person can comfortably fit in one. I’m not particularly large and I feel cramped most of the time.

  4. One of the things that pisses me off about this question in general is that even if you buy two seats, the seats aren’t designed to allow you to spread across them and you’d still be uncomfortable. I believe there is only one airline with bench-like seats where buying the 2nd seat would actually make the fat person more comfortable…that’s one out of how many? And even if you buy that 2nd seat you have to defend it because the airline will still try to place someone in that seat.

  5. Of course, airlines would NEVER use the cover of a policy like that to put smaller seats in their planes, guaranteeing that even more of the population would then oops! not fit and have to buy a second ticket. No way would they do that.

  6. And even if you did buy two seats, what do you want to bet some *sshole airline would be like, “OK…you have one seat in row 5 and another in row 18. Good luck!”

    I refuse to fly any more. The last time I did (1999), the passengers were treated like livestock, kept in the dark about a delay, and crammed on a hot plane. From what I’ve heard and read, it’s gotten worse.

    I don’t like travel well enough to subject myself to airlines.

  7. Weightless One, THANK YOU. All this sanctimonious harping about “If you’re going to INVADE another SEAT you should PAY FOR IT!” goes both ways. Or it should, anyway. If the airline industry were competently run, which, well… yeah.

    (Also, ATTENTION SHILOH: I’m leaving you a message on the South Bend Craig’s List under personals/strictly platonic/w4w.)

  8. I mean some of those seats are so small that fairly normal sized people do not fit in them. Now I’m worried about my planned trip to Disney World this summer.

  9. This one is so hard for me, because on some level I can totally understand where the other side is coming from. I just don’t understand why they have to be so mean and hateful making their points, going on and on about how we all choose to be fat and eat those donuts all day. Sigh. Who cares why we’re fat? That has nothing to do with whether we fit on an airplane.

    My favorite part is how everyone’s an expert. All the comments saying “the majority” or “most fat people” or “in rare cases” in regards to whether or not us fatties can possibly help it. I am almost even more bothered by the comments going on and on about their thyroid and PCOS and other conditions that cause fatness. It’s valid, but why feel the need to jump in with that? It almost contributes to the feeling that those of us who *don’t* have PCOS are somehow morally deficient, we have no “excuse” for why we’re fat. I remember being really bummed at my last physical when my doctor said my thyroid was functioning normally, becuase it must mean I was just a loser who couldn’t lose weight. Ugh.

  10. I want to know what airlines you people are flying on that have wide enough seats that a fat person can comfortably fit in one.

    Oh, airplane seats aren’t comfortable for anyone. But being forced to pay twice as much because the airline’s too cheap to put in bigger seats is discrimination — and as Sarah says above, people are always so fucking hateful in expressing their opinions about it.

  11. With the current financial conditions of airlines it seems inevitable that they’ll try to make the seats even smaller, cram more in, and charge for breathing room…

    I flew on a DC-10 the other year right before they retired them, and was surprised at how much difference the little bit more space we USED to get on planes made to my comfort level.

  12. Here’s my thing….if it’s all about “the passengers’ comfort” – how come they don’t make people pay for their obnoxious kid who’s kicking the back of my seat? How come tall people who lean their seat back into my lap aren’t paying for two seats?

    This is why train and bus travel (in addition to being more environmentally friendly) will always get my dollars before air travel. And Southwest? They can fuck right off. I’ll never fly steerage with them.

  13. I find it especially delightful that they say “obese fliers.” I am obese and I fit into one seat just fine thank you very much (I’m hardly comfortable, but nobody is). I’d just LOVE to know how they’re going to determine whether you have to buy two seats. Doing it by BMI is ridiculous because so many obese people have average-sized asses. The other options are… what? Measure your rear elevation? A basket like the one you’re supposed to test your carry-on in, where you plonk your ass in it and it automatically measures for acceptable spillover?

  14. Fillyjonk – “A basket like the one you’re supposed to test your carry-on in, where you plonk your ass in it and it automatically measures for acceptable spillover?”
    I just snorted coffee out of my nose. You owe me a new keyboard.

    Seriously, why can’t they just make the seats larger, the cheapskates? I flew from London to New Zealand last year and it was super uncomfortable, despite fitting into one seat with no problems. Over 24 hours of being in that seat made me want to scream. Bigger seats would make everyone less testy on flights.

  15. I’ve already voted against this. It is just appaling that so many people agree, right off the bat, that rather than make a more accomodating seat; the airlines should be allowed to discriminate against a person’s weight (not height mind you, those of you with your long limbs sticking in the aisles are still fine).

    If the airlines are really and truly, as Parade’s “article” suggests, concerned with “…[giving] everybody the room they need,” then I would like to know when they plan to make the seats comfortable for even the “normal” sized folks for whom 2-tickets are not required…because I’ve never been in a plane seat and thought “oooo luxurious!”; no matter what my size.

  16. “Doing it by BMI is ridiculous because so many obese people have average-sized asses.”

    I’ve been wondering when someone would bring up the other human-rights dimension of this situation — that the current seat size and proposed two-seat policy discriminates primarily against WOMEN. (Even a very fat man would likely be able to get his hips into most airline seats.)

    I am soooo glad to be in Canada, where the law now prohibits airlines from charging for a second seat if a person needs it b/c of disability or weight.

  17. that the current seat size and proposed two-seat policy discriminates primarily against WOMEN

    Absolutely – if they’re going to make people buy two seats based on size, they’d better be checking their shoulders, too. I’ve sat next to many men whose lower halves fit fine, but whose arms and shoulders were well into my seat space (I do not have small and delicate shoulders so I need my shoulder space).

    But no, it always seems to be about the hips. Ptui.

  18. No, I don’t think a person should be charged for an extra seat if they need it. It is an accommodation issue. Vidya, that’s sounds like a great policy in Canada!

    I flew just last week and the woman who sat across the aisle from me was fat, and carried it mostly in the hips and bottom. I could see her tensing up as she approached her seat. It was just an uncomfortable situation for everyone, everyone was watching (covertly, they thought) and I’m sure she was humiliated and extremely uncomfortable because she clearly did NOT fit in the seat, and had to really stuff herself in. (And even if she bought two seats, how comfortable is it to sit on the crack? Not.) I felt so mad for her, and sad and, yes, embarrassed to have to witness her pain.

    To his credit, the young man next to her was very accommodating and polite, because she did take up a good portion of his seat. As a larger person myself, I would have been really uncomfortable with a stranger rubbing right up against me the whole flight, for whatever reason!

    It was just hard for everyone, and no-one knew what to do to be helpful. What are your options if you’re a fat lady and you want/need to fly? None, it sounds like.

    Stoopid airlines.

  19. Hmm, looks like my comment got sent to moderation due to a typo in my e-mail address.

    Anyway, to those asking about how they plan to determine this, from the article, “Passengers must buy an extra ticket if their girth prevents them from lowering the armrest that divides the seats.”

  20. 78% yes, 22% no

    A basket like the one you’re supposed to test your carry-on in, where you plonk your ass in it and it automatically measures for acceptable spillover?

    Hee!

  21. It’s valid, but why feel the need to jump in with that? It almost contributes to the feeling that those of us who *don’t* have PCOS are somehow morally deficient, we have no “excuse” for why we’re fat.

    My take: there’s so much blame and guilt involved in being fat that when one gets a “pass” it can feel like absolution. I know that when I got my diagnosis of PCOS I immediately told my (fat-shaming) mother. Yeah, I know, really grown up, but I thought it would get her off my back. Thought wrongly, as it turns out, but hey.

  22. Anyway, to those asking about how they plan to determine this, from the article, “Passengers must buy an extra ticket if their girth prevents them from lowering the armrest that divides the seats.”

    Yeah, but the way they enforce this policy is by eyeballing at the ticket counter during check-in. So it’s sort of a crapshoot as to whether the check-in agent will think you’re ass is going to fit in one seat or not. It’s a completely subjective thing.

    Hilariously, I just stumbled across a British Air advert in The Economist with this giant headline: “This is not a passenger, this is a person.” Damn right.

  23. Sarah–re “It’s valid, but why feel the need to jump in with that? It almost contributes to the feeling that those of us who *don’t* have PCOS are somehow morally deficient, we have no “excuse” for why we’re fat.”:

    Some of us with PCOS and thyroid feel the same kind of feelings during all the discussions about how fat people can be healthy. Because we don’t have that option.

    About the flying thing, I have to say, if the airlines that do transatlantic flights start doing this kind of thing, I’ll never get to see most of my relatives again. None of us are likely to actually agree to pay for an extra seat.

    To javamama: if we can afford business or first class tickets, we could still fly –they usually have wider seats, I hear. Not being someone who can afford those seats, I wouldn’t know.

  24. Still 78% Yes, 22% No.

    The airlines want to give everyone the room they need? Riiiiight. I believe that like I believe in the Tooth Fairy. Cripes. We’ve plans to go to Montreal next year, and I hate flying so much I’m already stressed about it.

  25. I voted. 77% now.

    2 years ago, my very skinny son and I flew together. And as usual, I was feeling ashamed that I couldn’t fit into the seat comfortably, and I felt so weird, because I fit into the seats pretty recently, so wtf happened? And my son said “It’s not you, Mom, I can barely fit.”

    He has no ass at all, my son. 5’10″, weighs 150 lb.

    The thing is, everyone who is flying is so uncomfortable because the seats are so awful. A lot of us fatties look at our own asses and think “It must be me,” and a lot of skinny people look at our asses and think “It must be them.”

    And first of all, that’s fucking mean, but second of all, it’s JUST. NOT. TRUE.

  26. Mmm. I can sorta see this one, actually.
    Airlines operate on narrow, narrow margins of profit. Many of their reprehensible policies are due to trying to stay afloat. (This does not make them non-evil.) The loss of a seat that they could have used is not just the loss of the profit of the person’s ticket, but also the loss of the portion of fuel used to drive that part of the plane, and the loss of that portion of the stewards’ and pilots’ wages.
    I don’t think we should be billing people’s sizes (although the next man who unfurls his thighs and arms into my meagre space may get a reflex elbow jab). But I get why they’re trying to do it. It’s not like the subway, where we can all squeeze a little closer together for a couple stops.
    If we expect other people to understand our points, we should also try to understand where the evil capitalists are coming from (right now, trying not to go out of business). Maybe we could find a compromise. Like, everyone pays an extra couple of bucks to cover an extra seat on the bench for each flight, and if everyone can squeeze in like normal, great – it can go towards the next flight, where maybe there’s two fat people. (Or disabled folks, or someone with a puppy, or someone with a cello – seriously, folks, cellists should get a free pass too, please.)

  27. FWIW — I’m one of the few people who weigh 300+ pounds; wear size 28, BMI 52 or something. When I was a size 18, I could fit pretty comfortably into most airline seats and didn’t need a belt extender. Had someone suggested that I buy an extra seat in those days, I’d have been pretty pissed.

    Maybe I’ve just been beaten down, but these days, this is an issue on which I part company from most FA folk.

    When I fly with my husband, we either fly business (buy one ticket and use miles for the other) or get three coach seats for the two of us. Honestly, in most airplanes, it’s not terribly uncomfortable to sit with the “crack,” as long as the armrest goes up all the way. I’ve had a few flights where it doesn’t and yeah, it can be uncomfortable. But it beats being squashed.

    It also makes me feel better knowing that I’m not going to have to deal with someone else’s shit about my size for the duration of the boarding, flying and landing. My being fat and needing to take up more space than the seat allows isn’t my fault (I didn’t decide what size the seats shoud be) … but it’s also not the fault of the person sitting in the seat next to me who is also affected by the fact that my seat isn’t large enough for me. I suppose I could argue that those few people who can manage to sit at least somewhat comfortably in the existing sit space should have to pay more for an empty seat if they don’t want to run the risk of having some fattie sit next to them … but that just doesn’t seem right either.

    For me, the bottom line is that flying has just become such a miserable experience that I’m willing to do whatever I can to make it better for me, including ponying up the extra money for another seat or to fly in business.

    Buying that third seat (or paying for a business class seat) means I travel by air less often for leisure than I might, but nothing gets a vacation off on the wrong foot or ends it on a sour note than being squashed on the plane. When I travel for work (which is about 5 or 6 times a year), I try to fly on regional jets so I can sit in the side of the plane with just one seat per row, or fly at weird times to increase the likelihood that there’ll be an empty seat next to me. I should have Elite status later this year and next, which might help in that respect. I know these aren’t options for everyone … but I’m also old enough to remember the days when flying was a BIG deal, when if we wanted to go to Disneyworld, we packed up the car for the 2.5 day drive instead of hopping on a plane and when dinosaurs ruled the world ;) So I guess I’ve always looked at flying as a luxury, not a right, and if it’s expensive … well, then it’s expensive.

    It’s a noble fight to try to get airlines to make seats bigger generally. And it would be the best thing to allow everyone to fly more comfortably,. But, IMO, there are better places to put energy than into fighting this battle, because given the financial state of the airline industry, I just don’t see how we’d “win.” Even if airlines did reconfigure the seats to give people more room, they’d just raise fares by some huge amount, giving all the fat haters something else to whine about … “and now it costs SOOO much to fly, because they had to make the seats bigger for all those fatties …”

  28. Yikes … that was long. But this whole plane thing has been building up in me for a while. Sorry for the lengthy diatribe!

  29. JMars, but that’s you buying the seats voluntarily! I think that’s a very different situation from being pulled out of line and told that you need to pay an extra couple of hundred dollars. (And then what — do you actually get another seat? I kind of doubt it, with the number of overbooked flights these days. Have they really thought this through?)

  30. Yet another reason for me to move back east/midwest, so I can see my family and most of my friends by getting on a train and never having to fly again.

    I mean, sure, the airlines yowl like a cat having its tail stood on about fat people’s weight causing them to need more fuel, but then they’ll make the seats smaller so they can cram even more people AND all their luggage on board. So no fatasses are allowed, but there are a third more thin adults? Someone isn’t very skilled at math here, I’m afraid.

    I will NEVER buy a second seat to fly. Right now I don’t have to. But you can BITE me if you ever want me to sit on a plane for seven goddamn hours with an armrest jabbing me in the back and do the same going home. That, and spring for my chiropractor bills.

    And yes, it’s true, even most “obese” people do fit in one seat, albeit often just barely. And it’s usually women who don’t fit, not men; even the fattest guys usually have small enough asses to squeeze in. The hatred of fat “people” is really hatred of fat WOMEN.

  31. And even if you did buy two seats, what do you want to bet some *sshole airline would be like, “OK…you have one seat in row 5 and another in row 18. Good luck!”

    I have been known to buy 2 seats (flying from Seattle to Orlando, argh). This was back in the 90s on United – my idea, not the airline’s.

    “Um, so you have two seats? Is one for a musical instrument or something? We may not be able to put them together…”

    “No, they’re both for me. I don’t fit well in coach and it’s a long flight to Orlando. My friend [name] bought two seats too….”

    She actually looks at me. “OH! OK! Um, you were already supposed to be seated across the aisle from each other, so you each have an aisle and a center seat, does that work?”

    “Yes, that’s fine.”

    I will note that *IF* you choose to go this route it may help to tell a flight attendant. They count the number of heads on the plane and compare it to the number of boarding passes processed, and were going crazy trying to figure out why they were 2 people short.

    Also you may want to mention it to the other person on your row if they’re encroaching into your “extra” seat more than you want.

  32. Jmars, that’s your choice and it’s one that makes a lot of sense, but that’s different from other passengers your size being forced to buy another seat.

    For what it’s worth, in Canada if a passenger requires an extra seat due to size, the airline is required to provide it to them free of charge.

  33. If we expect other people to understand our points, we should also try to understand where the evil capitalists are coming from (right now, trying not to go out of business).

    I will never, ever fly on an airline that pulls that shit. I have already cut my travel back considerably because of the rudeness and discomfort of air travel and am very close to not using airlines at all. Perhaps the Evil Capitalists should consider people like me before they go full asshat.

  34. Oh man, Sniper’s comment got me thinking about what kind of traveling I do, and I just realized I have to fly for work in August. Can you imagine if you were going somewhere on your employer’s dime, and you got double-charged at the last minute, or if you had to travel a lot and you regularly got double-charged? People could lose their jobs over this.

  35. I just voted, and we’re at 77%/23%. Getting better!

    I just had to fly to Boston for business last week, and I can’t tell you how badly I was dreading the flights up and back, imagining the hostile strangers who would be put out because I encroched on their seats. It was a nightmare, but luckily the first flight was empty enough that the man stuck next to me was able to find himself another seat halfway through the flight, and on the way back I flew JetBlue, whose seats were surprisingly generously-sized (seriously, I was in a two-seat row, and the dude next to me and I had no problems).

    Word to the folks who commented above about this being a sexism issue as well as a sizism one; I’m an apple-shaped size 24, and while I’m able to buckle the belt and lower the armrests well enough, my shoulders are the part of me that inevitably end up in someone else’s space, and I’m usually forced to majorly contort my body (or at least ride with my arms crossed tightly across my chest) to try to confine myself to my seat as much as possible. Usually, I end up learned into the aisle a bit, getting banged with the beverage cart (with nary an apology, and sometimes attitude, from the flight attendants). And yet, for men, this is totally fine, because dudes are supposed to have large arms, shoulders and upper bodies in general.

    Finally, the two-seats-for-fatties rule would be flatly disasterous from a career standpoint for me if I qualified for it; most of my air travel is for work, and in this economy of cost-cutting, do you think my job is going to shell out double the cost to send me somewhere? Not if they can force me to pay the extra, or pay half as much to send my thinner colleage, they won’t.

  36. most of my air travel is for work, and in this economy of cost-cutting, do you think my job is going to shell out double the cost to send me somewhere?

    GMTA!

  37. And what happens if they ask you to buy another seat but the plane is booked? Do you get bumped?

    I personally wouldn’t mind paying more for a seat, if there were different sized seats that I could choose from on a plane. Perhaps, the airlines should have a sliding scale between coach and business/first class that allows for more space for the rear or the legs.

    On my last trip, I decided to splurge and fly 1st class. It’s not something I can always do, but if I have long flights in the future, I might have to try to budget for that again.

  38. I flew this weekend on a puddle jumper. Thank FSM I was in a single seat because those seats are really fucking uncomfortable. And small. My ass is a size 14 (US) and it sucked. SUCKED. I don’t understand how the airlines get away with it.

  39. People could lose their jobs over this.

    The fucking airline executives who thought this up should lose their jobs over this. You know, I’m just a touch over 5 feet tall and I don’t have enough leg room on most flights. My husband, who is tall but no giant, has to fold himself up like a card table. Nothing will convince me that passenger size is a real issue. It’s about greed and scapegoating, period.

  40. Fillyjonk, jinx, you owe me a coke!

    Also, “colleage” = “colleague”. I cin spel gud!

  41. Tari: “how come they don’t make people pay for their obnoxious kid who’s kicking the back of my seat?”

    Off-topic, and I realize this is a socially risky strategy, but I as a haggard parent worn out from flying and trying to keep my kids in line after delays and all the hassle that goes with airline flying, would be TOTALLY OKAY and even enthusiastic if, in that situation, you would turn around and say to my kid, “You know, I can feel your feet jabbing me in the back when you kick the seat, and it is very uncomfortable for my body. Could you get your wiggles out in a way that doesn’t touch my seat?” (My older kid is 4, btw. I would recommend using the phrase “get your wiggles out” with an adolescent.)

    Understanding that parents have primary responsibility for their children, the sudden polite interjection from a stranger can be VERY effective to a kid who has had to listen to (and has as a result tuned out) parental admonitions all day long.

    Incidentally, for other parents of verbal preschoolers…. I’ve found that a really good strategy – at least, for my son – is for me to approach the person in front of his seat before the flight starts and ask, “Excuse me, is it okay if I introduce my son to you so that I can explain to him that you’re sitting in front of him and if he kicks any part of your seat it will make it hard for you to enjoy the airplane ride?” People are usually ALL TOO HAPPY to agree to this. Then I introduce my son and say with as much enthusiasm as possible, “Nathan, this is Mr./Ms. so-and-so. S/he’s going on a trip to X. Isn’t that exciting? Now, do you see how his/her seat is right in front of you? That means if you bang the tray table or kick the seat, Mr./Ms So-and-So will feel it. Now do you think that feels really nice? Mr./Ms. So-and-So, would that feel nice to you? Okay, so let’s plan on respecting Mr./Ms. So-and-so’s seat, okay? I’ll do the same about the seat that’s in front of me too. You can help me remember if I forget.”

    Obviously it depends on your general parenting method and how your kid responds to that kind of engagement, so YMMV.

  42. Here’s my thing….if it’s all about “the passengers’ comfort” – how come they don’t make people pay for their obnoxious kid who’s kicking the back of my seat? How come tall people who lean their seat back into my lap aren’t paying for two seats?

    We’re the canary, if they can get away with discriminating against us because they think we don’t fit, tall people will be next on the list for double tickets. Seriously, if they’re going to make a big deal about my butt not fitting their narrow seat, they’ll eventually make a big deal out of some guy’s knees digging into the back of the seat in front of him. Then it will be the people with kids, some arbitrary system to determine extra ticket prices based on how annoying your kid seems at the time.

    The airline business really would like to treat us like freight and not people, they’re looking for any excuse to jack up the prices. Unfortunately for us, they have what seems like a plausible excuse to the general fat-hating public.

  43. I’d ALMOST be tempted to say yes provided that guys who sit with their legs splayed to accomodate their ginormous testes, and their elbows jabbing into my side, were made to pay for the half of my seat they take up, and I were given a short leg discount because I’m not using most of that space between me and the seat in front.
    But somehow I suspect they’re just looking for someone they’re allowed to overcharge.

  44. Having been told yesterday to “pick a night” to stay over on what had been planned as a day trip because “it costs too much for you to come home on the same day,” I’m sure my employer would go ape-shit if they had to start paying double for my trips. I doubt very much that they’d consider that a “reasonable accomodation.” Shit.

    And to FJ’s earlier point … I suspect it would be an absolute logistical nightmare, which is why I doubt that MOST airlines will try it. But if SW succeeds, maybe they will.

  45. Re: Kids on Airplanes

    Midway airport, the last time I flew had implemented my new favorite “chattle” rule. They divided the security lines between “Experienced flyers” “Recreational Flyers” and “Families with Kids.”

    I seriously threw a little party in my brain while I sped through the experienced flyers lane. I hope this will benefit families and recreational flyers as well as hopefully the staff will be aware of the type of passengers they are helping and be able to accomidate their needs better by asking questions and streamlining things in the families line.

  46. Southwest Airlines doesn’t have an email contact (cowards), but if you want to drop them a line to protest this flagrant bigotry, here’s the address:

    Southwest Airlines
    P.O. Box 36647 – 1CR
    Dallas, Texas 75235-1647

  47. 75/25 now.

    It really is about women. I’m overweight, but not by a whole lot – terrible at judging what 10lbs looks like, so I go by size — I’m a 16-20 depending on brand, and were I to slim down would probably be a 12-14. I doubt if I’d get lower than that; I have “birthing hips” as it were, and the boobs to go with ‘em. Airline seats are tight on ME; I have no idea how larger women suffer through flights. Ow. :( But I’ve sat next to women who had large enough bottoms that I wondered how they squeezed into the seat and not felt encroached on. The only times I’ve felt encroached on were when I got seated next to men who spread their legs wide (k, guys, your package is NOT that large, please to put your thighs together – and you’re shorter than I am, so it isn’t the lack of leg room) or put their arms/shoulders so far into my seat that I spent the whole flight leaning to the side. (This one is almost always men, but I’ve had one woman do it to me.) Polite “excuse me, could you move…” work for about 5 seconds. Elbows/knees garner me dirty looks and no more space.

    Seriously, gimme an obese woman as a seat-mate any day over an average-sized guy.

  48. A Sarah is both a great parent AND hilarious. “I would not recommend using the phrase ‘get your wiggles out’ with an adolescent” cracked my shit up.

  49. BTW, shinobi (and OT, I know) — Have a terrific time at Disney World! I live about an hour and a half from there, and it’s like my second home. If it’s your first time, I highly recommend reading The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa. It’s packed with great tips, insider info, and lots and lots of interesting facts. I’ve been going to Disney twice a year since I was born, and I still get great info from that book.

  50. “I would not recommend using the phrase ‘get your wiggles out’ with an adolescent” cracked my shit up.

    I may use this phrase on my adolescent students, but only if they have a good sense of humor and/or are really pissing me off.

  51. Danielle, Re; OT Disney. I”ve been a bunch, but we haven’t been back in probably 4 years. (And last time I was really sick. Memo to makers of Zithromax, Throwing up everything I eat is surprisingly more inconvenient than a UTI.) I will definitely check that book out! THANKS!!

  52. Hey Shinobi, about the different lines – I assumed that everyone would just think to themselves “Hey, of course I’m an experienced flyer! I’m the smartest guy/gal in the whole world! Recreational flyers are dumb.” And so the experienced lane would be really crowded anyway. But it wasn’t that way when you went?

  53. Oh-you-all-I-just-blush-blush-blush-stammer-murf-thanks-blush.

    (I totally flubbed a comment over at Bitch Ph.D today in a very blind-to-class-privilege way, so I’m glad my asininity over there didn’t follow me over here like a fart that gets caught in one’s pants.)

  54. Voted.

    A few things, though:

    1. People are just plain BIGGER, overall. Not just fatter, but BIGGER. Larger frames. Taller. Bigger feet.

    There’s also a far more diverse population doing air travel these days. Used to be reserved for those genetically slim aristocratic types whose ancestors never had to bulk up for winter. Now everyone does it.

    That’s a reality the airlines need to acknowledge and accomodate. Amusement parks have done so (went to WDW recently and was delighted to see that most of the new rides were quite large enough for me, though the older ones were sometimes questionable.) Movie theaters have even done so, too.

    Airlines are holdouts on acknowledging this reality, and they need to wake up and smell the evolution.

    2. I’d be happy to pay extra for the middle seat in a three-across (both hubby and I would be much more comfortable in such an arrangement), but they make it next to impossible to do so. You can’t make those kinds of reservations with the airlines’ websites or with the travel sites. You have to actually call and talk to someone to make the request. Which is both annoying and humiliating for some.

    Most of the time, we just kind of hope for the best, by reserving both an aisle and window, and hoping no-one gets stuck between us. Or cross our fingers for an available upgrade.

    3. My biggest suggestion for most airlines? Kill first class and retrofit the entire plane for business class, with an accordant price hike. I think most folks would be happy to pay $100-200 more per flight if they’d be assured of more-comfortable seating.

  55. What the fuck IS it about airlines? They regularly discriminate against people (mostly the fat and the brown), they uphold a totally ridiculous (and totally cheesy) 1950s beauty standard, complete with ugly, form-fitting uniforms, they drug babies , or request that they be drugged , but not fed , they shit on free speech all the time , and they hold paying customers against their will in unsanitary conditions, and now, on top of all of that, they want to charge us for checked baggage.

    Fuck the airlines and their fucking fascist skies.

  56. Also, one other thing to note: I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the idea of paying full price for the extra seat. I realize that, on crowded flights, they want a full fare in every seat, but from a fuel cost perspective, it’s actually CHEAPER to have my “extra” ~150 lbs in that seat than an additional passenger who almost undoubtedly weighs considerably more than that.

  57. Hey EntoAggie – Gosh, wouldn’t it be nice if the people who are supposed to love us unconditionally would not see an effing bright side in vomiting and pain, particularly when that bright side boils down to, “Hey! Maybe it will make you more acceptable according to bullshit beauty standards!” That really stinks. I’m sorry.

  58. ASarah–Thanks for the brilliant idea for what to do when I have offspring. I wish more people would follow your lead.

    And y’know, I’ve sat next to fat people on planes before, and honestly–doesn’t bother me. Rude people bother me. People who are shorter than me and yet put their seats back into my lap bother me. Parents who decide their children have a right to take my food off my tray table bother me (seriously, this happened once, on a 9-hour flight from Berlin to New Jersey). 5-Foot Penis Man bothers me. And so does pretty much everything else about air travel. But a nice normal fat person? Who the hell cares? While it would obviously be preferable to have wider seats with more leg room (my boyfriend’s 6’8, so I’m pretty sensitive to issues affecting taller people), what it comes down to is respecting people. And Southwest is not respecting fat people right now.

  59. A.Sarah – can you come and be parent to every kid in my apartment building? Please? They like to run around the lobby while I walk my slightly neurotic Min Pin (that hates loud/high noises and sudden movements) through to get outside.

    Also, whoever has said that airplane seats suck for everyone is right. I remember flying next to my mom (she was probably about a size 10/12 and I was like a 22) and complaining about how they don’t make airplane seats for fat people (and being nearly in tears when I had to ask for the belt extender) and she said something like “I’m far from the fattest end of the spectrum and I can barely get in this seat.” I’ve lost close to 60 pounds since the last time I flew, but I bet I won’t be any more comfortable. And if they tried to pull the 2 seat thing on me there’d be new assholes ripped left and right.

    Though nothing compares to the flight I was on two years ago: size 24, center seat in the middle section of 5 seats, Chicago to Beijing. I win.

  60. I think most folks would be happy to pay $100-200 more per flight if they’d be assured of more-comfortable seating.

    I would not.

    I can’t afford most air travel NOW, so adding on an extra Benjamin would certainly not be in my budjet.

  61. So obviously this is somewhat like charging a person in a wheelchair for the extra space they take up….BUT….what should the airline do to address this issue?

    If the plane is full and there is one person taking the space of two people how do they deal with that? Should you call in advance and let them know you will need two seats so they can book the flight appropriately.

    What is the solution here?

    I’m a size 18 and find the seats really tight in coach. I can’t imagine how much harder it is for people bigger than I.

    Really it seems planes are so packed with seats that its impossible to get in. I had to fly with my kids a few months ago and one of them still needed a carseat. Getting that thing installed was horrible. I was sweating and exhausted by the time I got it in.

  62. I totally agree that this new rule idea is ridiculously discriminatory, illogical, and just plain wrong.

    But some of the comments about how much worse *other* people’s bodies are on planes are making me kind of uncomfortable. Even if a skinny man fits into seats more easily, maybe he needs to stick his leg into the aisle or your foot zone because he has a bad knee. Even if a short person don’t have as much of a leg room issue, maybe he or she needs to lean the seat back because of real back problems and pain. I mean, airline travel is clearly uncomfortable for *everyone*. And maybe that person next to you who isn’t fat but is taking up too much room isn’t always just rude.

    (And I say this knowing fully well that there are LOTS of really rude people out there who just don’t care about anyone except themselves. Those people bother me a lot, too!)

  63. A Sarah, I didn’t read your Bitch, Ph.D. comment, but seriously? We all fuck up when it comes to forgetting to acknowledge privilege. I’ve put my foot in my mouth I don’t know how many times. It really just comes down to how you react when someone points it out.

  64. And now I have read it and think that it showed your trademark uncommon clear-headedness, from the points you were making to the fact that you recognized class privilege where I wouldn’t even have seen it.

  65. I would not.

    I can’t afford most air travel NOW, so adding on an extra Benjamin would certainly not be in my budjet.

    Well, this is kind of a market issue, IMHO.

    The underlying problem, IMHO, is that most airlines are basically the same these days. The only difference is what routes they fly and what their hub city is. There just aren’t different market segments for different airlines anymore. Only JetBlue (boutique, largely for NY-bound or -based fliers) and Southwest (discount, single-class seating) are any different.

    In a much better airline world, we’d have different airlines for the different market segments. There’d be the luxury airlines that cater to the people who really do give a shit about eating with metal utensils, mid-market airlines for frequent travelers of moderate means and discount carriers for people who can’t afford the frills.

    In other words, we’d have the Saks, Macy’s and Wal-Mart of the airlines, rather than the rough variations on Sears we currently have.

    Airlines are still a business, and they still have to make money with limited space. So it’s impossible for any carrier to have both discount airfares and cabin-wide 2×2 seating. Even stripping away every other amenity, from meals to the in-flight magazine, still won’t make up for the ultimate loss of carrying only 200 passengers at $200 each instead of 300 passengers at the same price.

    What that means is that if you want to pay low fares, you’re going to have to put up with cramped seating. Just as if you want to pay low prices for a sweater, you have to put up with a crappy piece of polyester made in Bangladesh and sold at Wal-Mart (and made in sizes that the majority of people come in.)

    Low-priced air travel isn’t exactly a human right. Airlines offer a service for a price. Better service, including better seating, is necessarily going to come with a higher price. There’s just no way around that.

    If the airlines were screwing over customers while rolling in dough, I’d be all over them for it. But they’re not. Most are operating on extremely small profit margins these days because of the increased cost of fuel. And for that reason, I’m willing to cut them slack, and not expect them to provide fewer seats for the same cost (which is what they’d have to do if they retrofitted.)

    What else would you have them do? You can’t make a 737 any bigger than it already is. The only choice they have is many seats at cheap prices or fewer seats at higher prices.

  66. Oh no, why’d it have to be Southwest? I love Southwest and it’s the only thing I fly! Still, I’m going to email them and threaten to take away my business.

  67. What else would you have them do?

    Tal, what were you thinking of suggesting when you said “That’s a reality the airlines need to acknowledge and accomodate. Amusement parks have done so (went to WDW recently and was delighted to see that most of the new rides were quite large enough for me, though the older ones were sometimes questionable.) Movie theaters have even done so, too.

    Airlines are holdouts on acknowledging this reality, and they need to wake up and smell the evolution.”?

  68. Yorke, I tried that too, but they actually only count one vote per IP. We’re up to 72/28, though!

  69. Well snap! Here I was clearing cookies and voting like a crazy person. 72/28 is much better than 82/18, though! Yay!

  70. Oh you know, I didn’t think that it could be tied to cookies. When you voted, was it saying “thanks, we’ve already counted your vote”? Because that’s what I finally realized it was saying every time I submitted a new vote. If not, we should ALL be clearing our cookies! (That sounds kind of messy.)

  71. It really is tied to cookies, I promise! It’s been letting me put in chunks o’ votes all afternoon. The most efficient way to do it seems to be to vote, then clear your cookies when it shows you the results, then click the Return to Poll link and repeat.

  72. Man, you guys are brilliant. I saw that my repeat votes weren’t making a difference and just gave up. Foolish!

  73. Oops, I just posted instructions for effective revoting, but they got eaten by moderation, I think!

  74. Still doesn’t seem to be working for me… it keeps saying “we’ve already counted your vote.” For a while I thought it was counting them anyway because the vote count kept going up, but now that’s stopped.

  75. Hmmm…. I’m using Firefox and I have it set to clear my cookies every time I close the browser, so I just keep closing and opening again and revoting. I temporarily set the poll to my homepage. Ha. I think this is so important to me as I notice the “yes” votes increasing a bit, too. For some reason, that makes me a bit angry.

  76. Tal, what were you thinking of suggesting when you said

    Just as I said in my original comment: Retrofit the plane for business-class seating, and charge more per seat.

    It’s a financial impossibility for them to retrofit without raising prices. And as it’s discriminatory to shove that extra cost only on larger people, the only sane thing to do is to create larger seats for everyone, and pass the cost for that on to everyone, too.

    There are certain realities of both physics and economics that have to be taken into account, here. You can’t make a 737 any bigger than it already is, and that means that if you want bigger seats, you have to have fewer of them. Fewer seats means higher costs per seat, and in the current economy, those costs have to be passed on to the customer.

  77. I’m using Firefox too, and just using the Clear Private Data tab under Tools to delete my cookies…just tried with Internet Explorer, and it didn’t work. Hmm…

  78. God, I made the mistake of reading the comments on that thread and now I wish humanity would disappear from the face of the earth. If I’d had any doubt that this “business” decision is based on hatred and scapegoating, the comments would have done for it.

  79. Completely OT: I just noticed my little monster icon has an adorable wonky eye just like Thom Yorke himself! Heee!

    Just an update, also, 71/29 folks. :)

  80. Tal, oh, I see… I just read more carefully. That’s more internally consistent than I’d originally thought, and certainly one way of doing it if you don’t mind airlines going bankrupt because nobody can afford their services. Which is probably going to happen regardless, what with the fuel prices, so why not.

  81. Tal, I see your point, but I think the kind of treatment people expect for other people is also a valid market issue. It does cost more to transport a larger adult, even more so if more accommodations are made. That is to say, if you’re paying for an intangible like passage, rather than for the specific amount of resources you’re consuming, it’s not going to be precisely fair. Smaller people are going to be subsidizing the passage of larger people. (This is true in other ways as well- people don’t generally pay more for requiring more flight attendant attention, etc.)

    I think it’s ok for us, as a whole, to choose that kind of system. It’s worth it for most people. Thinner people pay a little more than we might under a system in which everyone gets weighed and measured first, but the advantages are 1) less invasive system, and 2) we perceive it as more fair, for the most part.

    It’s that second point where it gets all messed up, because people have such moralistic views about body size. And that’s part of why dialogue on this point has to go past plain economics into a discussion of how we choose to set up the system. If we were talking pure economics here, we’d just weigh everybody and measure everything.

    Oh, and another point to mention is that transportation is pretty basic. Societally, we have an interest in making sure as few people are priced out of transportation based on something like body size as possible.

  82. If the plane is full and there is one person taking the space of two people how do they deal with that?

    Except it’s one person taking the space of one person — a fat person.

  83. My husband – 6 feet tall, 150 pounds – does not fit comfortably in the average airplane seat. His legs are cramped and his elbows poke out beyond “his” room. I don’t believe for a second that any of the assholes who voted yes in that poll would suggest that he buy an extra ticket for his bony elbows.

  84. Except it’s one person taking the space of one person — a fat person.

    I think in this case it’s “taking the space of two people” in the sense of, you had to buy an extra seat, so if the plane is full or overbooked, what do they do about that? They can’t give you your extra seat you just had to pay for, because there isn’t an extra seat to be given. Do they just make you pay twice and then shove you into one seat anyway? I’m truly curious. I think they haven’t thought this through AT ALL.

  85. and what if you are travelling with your sweetie who quite likes that you encroach on their seat? it’s ridiculous to charge this for someone who is travelling with a companion or family where it won’t be an issue.

  86. That’s more internally consistent than I’d originally thought, and certainly one way of doing it if you don’t mind airlines going bankrupt because nobody can afford their services.

    The amount that a ticket price would have to increase in order to balance out 2×2, cabin-wide seating (using the 737 as an example) isn’t really all that huge.

    For example:

    An Alaska Airlines 737-700 is configured with three rows of 2×2 first class, and 19 rows of 3×3 coach class (the exit row has a 2×2 configuration). Total number of seats: 12 in 1st class, 112 in coach.

    The average ticket price for a coach passenger going from SEA to LAX is about $300. For first class passengers, their average price is about $1000.

    So the total revenue, if they have a full plane, would be $45,600.

    Now, if we had a retrofitted plane, we’d take out first class entirely, take out a couple more rows for the sake of larger pitch, and do cabin-wide 2×2 seating.

    This would give the plane 20 rows of 2×2, for a total of only 80 seats.

    If they charged the same price as they did before the retrofit, they’d only make $24,000 on the same flight.

    That’s a loss of almost half the revenue. Absolutely impossible for any airline to manage.

    But, what if they increased the per-ticket price to $500? Then they’d be around $40,000. Still slightly under their original revenue, but a lot more competitive.

    Will customers pay that extra $200 per ticket to have greater comfort? Well, they already do for the larger seats on cross-country and trans-ocean flights, so I don’t see why they wouldn’t for shorter flights, too.

    And again, I also think airlines need to diversify in terms of market segment, too. If people really don’t mind being stuffed into smaller seats, then they can choose one of the discount airlines.

    There’s simply going to be no way to have both larger seats and low ticket prices. Just isn’t going to happen.

    What other options besides retrofitting would you see for resolving the underlying issue (which is that people are getting larger but airplanes are staying the same size)?

  87. What they have in mind, probably, is for the fatass to get bumped from the flight until one opens up where two seats are available. If you have to wait for days, or even weeks, and miss your trip entirely, then that is your just punishment for not skipping the extra mouthfuls that would have made you an acceptable size if you just hadn’t been so weak and immoral as to swallow them.

    Either that, or when you book your flight the system asks you for an ass measurement. If it is bigger than 17″ from side to side, that’s when you have to buy the extra ticket.

    This of course does not apply to the person who is naturally long-limbed and broad-bodied who obviously didn’t eat or drink anything excessive to get that way, or to the person who has developed huge biceps and triceps as a result of heavy-duty workouts and hypertrophizing supplements, since BIG MUSCLES, unlike fat, are always attained solely for the good of humankind. They do not need to provide any measurements for anything, because they are not BAD.

  88. Wow, you’ve really thought this through. But the point was not that the numbers couldn’t be made to balance out, but that most people would not be able to pay $500+ for domestic flights. Unless you can somehow increase not just the price of the ticket but the number of people willing and able to pay that price, airlines will lose money. If you can’t see why people might not be able to spend first-class money on every plane ticket, I’m a bit staggered, since you talk a lot about people being unwilling/unable to appreciate the nuances of your fat experience; I would hope that you would apply that to other people’s class experience.

  89. Oh, and another point to mention is that transportation is pretty basic. Societally, we have an interest in making sure as few people are priced out of transportation based on something like body size as possible.

    Do you think air travel in itself is a basic human right?

    People have a right to get from point A to point B. They don’t have a right to a particular method of conveyance to do so. Otherwise we’d all be entitled to drive Lamborghinis.

    I also don’t think that turning the airlines into a publicly funded operation would help, either. The same basic economic issues apply whether the company is privately or publicly funded.

    Again, as I mentioned above, if this were any other major industry with a habit of screwing over workers and consumers in order for shareholders and management to make scads of profit, I’d be all over their asses with a pitchfork and tar. But that’s just not what’s happening in this industry. Airlines are going bankrupt left and right because they can’t make enough money to even stay afloat, much less make a profit. And that means that air travel is going to get more expensive. There’s no way around that.

  90. Well, you know, they could provide just a FEW larger seats in coach and charge slightly more (not double) for them. Very few fat people are going to take up enough space for two entire seats, even if they are too wide for one seat.

  91. Otherwise we’d all be entitled to drive Lamborghinis.

    Basically, you want air travel to be a luxury item (even more so than it is already).

    Do you think the airlines want the same thing?

  92. This:

    Societally, we have an interest in making sure as few people are priced out of transportation based on something like body size as possible.

    Does not equal this:

    Do you think air travel in itself is a basic human right?

    The U.S. is a big country. People fly for business all the time. Many of us live far from our families. Visiting family and doing business is not a human right, but they’re part of what keeps society and the economy going.

    If we had any sense (as a society), we’d be investigating and supporting ways to eliminate pollution from air travel (it is huge) and worrying less about the ass-width of our fellow creatures.

  93. If you can’t see why people might not be able to spend first-class money on every plane ticket, I’m a bit staggered

    $500 is HALF of the cost of a first-class ticket on that flight. It’s the cost of a business-class seat. It’s not staggeringly higher than coach (on a percentage basis.)

    And also? You still seem to be missing my point about different airlines for different market segments. If Macy’s were the only game in town (and if they were making a ton of profit), of course it would be bad if they suddenly jacked up their prices. But they’re not. They have low-price competitors that draw budget customers who are willing to put up with lower-quality goods for lower prices.

    I’m not advocating that the discount carriers do the retrofitting. Southwest’s customer base won’t take the increase. But I do think that American, for instance, could save its ass by re-branding themselves as a mid-market carrier with better seats for slightly higher prices.

    Look, here’s the reality of the situation:

    Airline seats cannot get bigger without an increase in price. Period. There’s absolutely no getting around that fact.

    So again, what do you propose to do to resolve the situation?

  94. “Do you think air travel in itself is a basic human right?

    People have a right to get from point A to point B. They don’t have a right to a particular method of conveyance to do so.”

    Sure, but some transportation is pretty much only practical by plane.

  95. You still seem to be missing my point

    Yeah, I dunno, maybe it’s the Tigerwolf effect/genetic fallacy.

  96. Well, you know, they could provide just a FEW larger seats in coach and charge slightly more (not double) for them. Very few fat people are going to take up enough space for two entire seats, even if they are too wide for one seat.

    That’s kind of what business class already is. It’s just not an option on most regional flights. It may make sense, instead of retrofitting the entire plane, to just retrofit the midsection instead. Interesting thought.

  97. I propose that

    a) We tell people to get over themselves. Chances are pretty good that even if you have an “obese” seatmate they will not encroach upon your space, and that on such rare occasions that it happens, if you have to touch a fat person’s icky arms and legs for the duration of a flight, that you’re not going to catch “obesity” from having to sit next to us. If you had to sit next to Shaq and literally rub shoulders with him for a couple of hours, it wouldn’t bother you for two seconds, so put a giant sock in it.

    and

    b) We have a few larger seats available for a slightly higher price, for the people who want to be guaranteed more comfort.

    and

    c) On such very rare occasions that a passenger does take up the entirety of a two-person seat, that that seat be granted to them without any extra charge. I mean, it’s not going to happen that often that the airlines are going to lose their shirts from doing that. And it’s what they’d do if a passenger had any other physical characteristic that required extra room. Fat should not be regarded as the traveler’s fault. Period.

  98. If I was in a situation where I had to buy two airline seats, I would bet my (albeit meager) life savings that some employee/steward would be cracking jokes to his/her coworkers about me getting “two meals” as well.

  99. I doubt if airlines are going to suddenly start turning a profit by making air travel even more inconvenient and embarrassing that it already is.

  100. Sure, but some transportation is pretty much only practical by plane.

    Trans-oceanic flights are the only things that really qualify for that.

    We have a relatively efficient highway and passenger rail system here in the US. It may take longer to get from one coast to the other, but it’s still available, and far cheaper than air travel.

    Y’know, when I was growing up dirt poor, I didn’t expect to be able to fly to visit my grandmother in Phoenix. We drove down there every other year in a crappy van held together by duct tape and bailing wire. On occasion when my dad wasn’t available to drive, we’d take Greyhound (and that was a luxury.)

    I’m all for companies paying workers a living wage so they’re able to afford to put money away and have some nice creature comforts. But I really don’t get the notion that people are somehow entitled to a luxury like air travel. That’s beyond me.

  101. Trans-oceanic flights are the only things that really qualify for that.

    Tell that to my entire family in northern Canada.

    And U.S. rail sucks. The trains are nearly always late – sometimes a day late if you’re going cross-country.

  102. But I really don’t get the notion that people are somehow entitled to a luxury like air travel.

    Airlines like to have a large customer base.

    I wonder how they’d feel about your plan to strip and refit their fleets so that they can charge prices that are out of people’s range.

  103. We tell people to get over themselves. Chances are pretty good that even if you have an “obese” seatmate they will not encroach upon your space

    Unfortunately, this isn’t true. My hubby’s only about 220, and even he spills over into neighboring seats. And I definitely do. Probably a good third of my thigh flesh is over in someone else’s space on every bus or airline seat.

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask people to tolerate contact in small spaces, but there’s a difference between minor contact and actually being physically pressured by someone else’s body. Example? When we have no other options, I’ll sit in the window seat and the hubster sits in the center. Obviously, we have no problem being in contact with each other, but because both of us are big, those two seats just simply aren’t enough space for us to be comfortable. And if there were to be another big person in the aisle seat? All three of us would be miserable.

    Like I pointed out above, we’re ALL getting bigger. It’s not just about big folks encroaching on smaller folks’ spaces. It’s about us all being bigger, and therefore all of us are a lot less comfortable because the spaces haven’t grown to accomodate us.

  104. Sniper, hey, if you get a 35-mpg car, you could travel over 4000 miles for the price it would cost you to buy one of Tal’s airline tickets! Would that get you to northern Canada?

    I mean, you’d have to take an extra two weeks of vacation, of course. Between that and the employers sending people to meetings and conferences on the train and losing days of productivity, the economy should be booming in no time.

    I take it back, it’s not the genetic fallacy.

  105. “Tell that to my entire family in northern Canada.”

    Which reminds me to ask — does anyone know if our (i.e., Canadians’) new legal protection in this matter pertains only to domestic flights, or to any flights offered by a carrier headquartered in Canada? (I.e., if I was to fly overseas on Air Canada, am I still entitled to the second free seat? What about on those Canada-US routes where seats are available under both partnered airlines’ companies’ names?)

  106. You still seem to be missing my point about different airlines for different market segments.

    But if only the “Macy’s” version offers bigger seats, how is this different from charging an arm and a leg for the plus size version of a dress, for instance?

    We have a relatively efficient highway and passenger rail system here in the US. It may take longer to get from one coast to the other, but it’s still available, and far cheaper than air travel.

    Here is Amtrak’s route map (PDF). There are vast swaths of the country that are unreachable by train. I for one would LOVE it if rail travel were more feasible in this country — it’s more scenic, more comfortable, and more environmentally sound — but a lot of people don’t have the ability to take a week off from work just to get to their relative’s house, never mind actually spending time there.

    I don’t know that it’s that people are feeling entitled to cheap air travel as much as that for many of us, the basic decisions of our lives have been made (and often not by us!) under the assumption that air travel would be at least somewhat affordable.

    It’s true that air travel of all sorts is getting less affordable because of fuel prices — that’s true for everyone. What is NOT true for everyone is that airline employees can blacklist your body type and charge you twice as much for your ticket. That’s discrimination.

  107. I honestly don’t see how it could be such a debilitating problem for airlines to provide JUST A FEW rows of larger seats for people who need AND can afford to pay for them. (Some airlines don’t have “business class”, remember.) Sure, it would cost them money, but it’s not like the amount of money they’d have to spend if the public insisted on the ENTIRE PLANE be fitted with larger seats (although honestly? I still think it’s a good idea). At least then people would have an option.

    As it stands right now, peoples options are not only limited, but few and far in between.

  108. Airlines like to have a large customer base.

    I wonder how they’d feel about your plan to strip and refit their fleets so that they can charge prices that are out of people’s range.

    Why do you keep ignoring my point about different prices and services for different market segments?

    Right now, people are stuck with only two options for air travel: High-end and expensive first class or low-end and cheap cattle class. My proposal is merely that there be a third option, either on a plane-by plane basis, by retrofitting the midsection (great idea, Meowser) or on an airline-by-airline basis.

    There’s a very large market out there for midrange goods and services. I don’t see BMW threatening bankruptcy, do you? I’d be willing to bet that half the people flying first class right now would gladly pay somewhat less for less-exclusive service with the same physical comfort. And I’d bet that half of the people flying coach would be willing to pay more for the same thing. That right there is your market.

  109. But if only the “Macy’s” version offers bigger seats, how is this different from charging an arm and a leg for the plus size version of a dress, for instance?

    Or, for that matter, how is it different from charging an arm and a leg for business class, which offers larger seats and already exists without retrofitting existing planes?

  110. It may be an unpopular opinion but I’m with Tal about Flying not being a human right. It seems to me that people should put their money where their mouths are, it is not our right to force every business to change their policies, it is however well within your right to vote with your wallet. Let their bigoted values run them into the ground. They will either wake up and reorganize or they will go under and something else will pop up to fill the necessity.

    That said, I think we should hold them to higher standards when it comes to these across the board rate hikes. It they can give me a run down on how my body type costs more money and it is legitimate, then i will willingly pay a reasonable amount to cover the extra cost, But i will not fall for smoke screen tactics, if their business model no longer fits into today’s economy it is doomed unless they reevaluate the entire picture, It is the same with large companies that suffer while the CEO is making bank. The money is going somewhere to someone that doesn’t want to give it up. Remember the news when they cute one olive off of their in flight dinners and cumulatively it saved an exorbitant amount of money. If i need to bring my own blanket because they need to cute the disposable ones out of the picture, or give up my coke during a short flight, i am willing to do it. But passengers will have to be flexible during reorganization and airlines will have to do a deep clean and reevaluate where their money is spent.

  111. You know, Tal, I would love it if you would go revolutionize the airline industry. Please, be my guest. That will take up a lot of your free time, right?

  112. SM, might I add overseas travel? For any of my family to come visit me here in the UK, they HAVE to fly. There’s just no other option anymore. There’s no such thing as overseas ocean travel unless you’re talking about a luxury cruise.

  113. heck, I’d be willing to take the extra week to get there in order to take a boat across the ocean instead of a plane, if it didn’t ALSO cost more. I can’t quite talk myself into slow and expensive.

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a too-wide-for-my-comfort seatmate on a flight, or else I just have really insensitive legs and don’t notice. I have occasionally had discomfort from broad-shouldered men taking up the armrests but that’s partly because I’m strange-man-shy and really not comfortable maintaining contact with one.

  114. I mean, you’d have to take an extra two weeks of vacation, of course.

    Three if I decided to go over the Christmas break. The Alaska Highway can get nasty in December.

    But I should have thought of that before I a) married someone who lived far away and b) didn’t force him to quit his job and lose his pension to live with me.

    And no, I’m not saying that air travel is a human right, but it sure as hell is a fact of modern life.

  115. I looked into traveling by train once, between San Antonio, TX and Rochester, NY, and as I recall, it didn’t turn out to be any cheaper than flying, but it would have taken a lot longer. Go figure.

  116. But if only the “Macy’s” version offers bigger seats, how is this different from charging an arm and a leg for the plus size version of a dress, for instance?

    It’s not. More fabric = more manufacturing costs = higher price. (Albeit not as high as usually charged.)

    More space in a limited-space plane = higher per-seat costs = higher per-seat price.

    but a lot of people don’t have the ability to take a week off from work just to get to their relative’s house, never mind actually spending time there.

    And then those people just don’t see their relatives. I went for years without seeing some of mine who lived several hours away. We called. We sent letters.

    I don’t get the problem, here. This isn’t like health care or education, which are basic human rights and should therefore be publicly subsidized. I can’t believe anyone would suggest that people who can’t afford air travel ought to be able to fly anyway. Where on earth do you think the money for their flights ought to come from?

  117. Poll is at 70/30 now!

    And this bullshit is one of the reasons my husband and I will be driving the 28-hour round trip for my best friend’s wedding next month. Affording the plane tickets was iffy for us in the first place, and if we tried to board and they charged us both for extra seats? The trip would be off. There’s no way we could afford to pay extra, and I doubt my ability to raise hell in a public place like an airport. (Social anxiety FTL.)

    The other reasons are that driving is still cheaper and that I’m afraid of the airline losing my dress. I’m a bridesmaid, so it’s not like I could stop in at Lane Bryant and pick up something else suitable. I’ll take the extra hours in the car for peace of mind that weekend.

  118. I can’t believe anyone would suggest that people who can’t afford air travel ought to be able to fly anyway.

    Sure. Why should fat people be able to afford clothes, or travel, or anything else? It’s not like we contribute to society in any way.

  119. Tal, no one is saying fatties should run up credit card debts to fly. People are suggesting that is outrageous to make air travel financially unfeasible for a specific group of people solely based on their body type.

    And then those people just don’t see their relatives. I went for years without seeing some of mine who lived several hours away. We called. We sent letters.

    I don’t even know what to say to this. Compassion just leaks from every pore, doesn’t it?

  120. BMW is midrange?

    For their low-end line? Yep. Their 1-series and 3-series run about $30-35k on the base models, or about the same price as a high-end Camry.

  121. Their 1-series and 3-series run about $30-35k on the base models, or about the same price as a high-end Camry.

    Ah. I was under the impression that I’m a member of the middle class. Apparently not.

  122. “I went for years without seeing some of mine who lived several hours away. We called. We sent letters.”

    One night, my father passed away unexpectedly, 1000 miles away. Was I supposed to take the (usual, for me) 30-hour bus trip home that time? Or, in my grief and sleep-deprivation, argue with the airline personnel when boarding that I was literally impoverished and wouldn’t have been able to make the trip at all for 2x the price? (Thankfully I was (slightly) thinner then and fit the seat.)

  123. I don’t even know what to say to this. Compassion just leaks from every pore, doesn’t it?

    Not thinking people are entitled to luxuries does not imply a lack of compassion. For people who live far apart to see each other regularly is a luxury, plain and simple. It’s a luxury many people living in the wealthiest nations of the world have gotten used to, but a luxury nonetheless.

  124. Vidya, maybe you and I could have road-tripped together and visited my mother, since her dementia and aphasia has made it next to impossible for her to have a phone conversation or to write letters.

    (In all seriousness, I’m sorry for your loss.)

  125. Not thinking people are entitled to luxuries does not imply a lack of compassion.

    Thinking that it’s acceptable to designate something as a luxury for one group of people and not for another based solely on body size and shape does.

  126. Ah. I was under the impression that I’m a member of the middle class. Apparently not

    Me neither. My $17,995 Saturn Vue and I are apparently lower class. We love each other, though, and that’s what counts.

  127. Tal, no one is saying fatties should run up credit card debts to fly. People are suggesting that is outrageous to make air travel financially unfeasible for a specific group of people solely based on their body type.

    So what do you propose?

    We have to accomodate the reality that it’s not just “fatties” who need more space, but everyone. The current practice of allowing for two seats (whether paid for or free) isn’t making anyone happy. Forcing people to smush together so closely that they can’t breathe isn’t the answer, either.

    I really, really want to know your ideas.

    I don’t even know what to say to this. Compassion just leaks from every pore, doesn’t it?

    Oh jeebis. What next, we’re supposed to have taxpayer-funded tickets so people can take their kids to baseball games, since that’s such a classic family bonding experience?

    I’m absolutely gobsmacked that anyone would consider air travel some sort of basic right that taxpayers ought to subsidize. And I’m practically a socialist. Hell, I believe in a maximum wage and percentage caps on corporate profits for FSM’s sake. But subsidized air travel? Are you kidding me? That’s just bizarre.

  128. I can’t believe I’m delurking for this, but…

    My girlfriend’s parents live five hours away by air and five DAYS away by train. (I know – I’ve done it.) We don’t have a car, so we couldn’t drive there. If, by your logic, Tal, we took the train to see them, we’d see them once every four or five years for less than a week because the trip back and forth would take a week and a half, and neither of us have that much vacation time. Having vacation time AT ALL makes both of us pretty damn lucky.

    I guess seeing your family when you moved away from a state that passes more laws discriminating against your relationship every year is a luxury. I guess going to your grandmother’s funeral halfway across the country is a creature comfort.

    I’m not even asking for a comfortable flight. Just one where I won’t be bumped because I look like I might encroach on my neighbor’s seat, and they’re overbooked. Just one where I get to the memorial service on time. I did this time, but if this shit keeps going, I don’t know if I will next time.

  129. Sweet Machine: Thinking that it’s acceptable to designate something as a luxury for one group of people and not for another based solely on body size and shape does.

    Oh, yeah, I agree with you there. I thought we were just talking about access to airfare in general.

  130. “Thinking that it’s acceptable to designate something as a luxury for one group of people and not for another based solely on body size and shape does.”

    Exactly.

  131. It’s a luxury many people living in the wealthiest nations of the world have gotten used to, but a luxury nonetheless.

    So is air conditioning. Perhaps fat people should have to pay more for that because we sweat so much. Or perhaps we should be charged an extra $1000 on any cars we buy to haul our fat asses to the candy store. Or maybe a bus pass for a fat person should cost more. Or perhaps we should just cut to the chase and charge every fat person an annual fee for the privilege of being fat at people.

    We’re talking about fat hatred, plain and simple. It’s an excuse, not a reason.

  132. People are suggesting that is outrageous to make air travel financially unfeasible for a specific group of people solely based on their body type.

    Exactly. Nobody’s saying air travel is a human right. We’re saying not being discriminated against is.

    Look, Tal, I’d be all for an option between coach and first class, and I’d probably use it myself. But that still doesn’t solve the problem of fat people who can’t afford more than a single coach seat. Why should a thin person who can afford one coach seat get to fly, while a fat person with the same budget can’t?

    As many people have pointed out, this has ramifications from a business perspective, too. It’s currently legal almost everywhere in this country to refuse to hire a fat person just because they’re fat. If there’s a clear economic incentive, over and above existing fat prejudice, to hire the thin person for a job involving travel (which is a LOT of professional jobs), then who the fuck’s going to hire the fat person? So it’s not even just the discrimination by the airlines that’s so problematic — there’s a ripple effect, too.

  133. Thinking that it’s acceptable to designate something as a luxury for one group of people and not for another based solely on body size and shape does.

    BINGO.

    Skinny people can fly cheap. They can get jobs that involve flying, cheap. They can vacation, visit family, go away for a weekend, take a shopping trip, go to funerals, cheap because they’re thin, normal, or just barely overweight. The rest of us have to go buy a BMW or a Lamborghini.

    I have come to the sad conclusion that I will never get on an airplane again as I am fat AND I have a leg that does not bend very far AND I can’t afford to fly first-class. That isn’t really a problem for me but what if I got offered a great job that involved flying every other weekend? What if my mom decided to move to Florida? (not very likely) What if something happened to my brother-in-law in Phoenix and we had to fly out there? I’d be shit out of luck on two counts, three if you count financial.

    Mr. Buttercup flew to Florida last fall. I need to ask him how bad the seating was. He didn’t mention any problems, but he’s not as gifted in the derrière department as I am.

  134. I really, really want to know your ideas.

    So if people don’t have a master plan to save the airlines, they’re not allowed to call bullshit on fat discrimination? Okay.

  135. Thinking that it’s acceptable to designate something as a luxury for one group of people and not for another based solely on body size and shape does.

    The alternative is to define this class of people as disabled, and thus deserving of a subsidy for larger (or two) seats.

    Do we want to go there?

    Physics does not discriminate. You can’t stuff 900 lbs of people in the same physical space you can stuff 600 lbs of people. And when the company providing that space makes its money on a per-person basis, they have to find some way to recoup the costs of losing one person’s revenue.

    Passing on that cost to a single person is, of course, discriminatory. It’s also pointless, because it doesn’t take into account the reality of the fact that we’re all getting bigger.

    The only solution is increasing prices across the board. That’s not discriminatory. It is, in fact, the only egalitarian solution, because it distributes the extra costs for larger people across all passengers.

  136. So if people don’t have a master plan to save the airlines, they’re not allowed to call bullshit on fat discrimination? Okay.

    Look, you can rage against city hall all you want if it makes you feel better, but if you don’t have any better ideas, nothing’s going to change. And isn’t change what we really want?

  137. The airlines have already made their seats smaller and put them closer together. They’ve eliminated snacks and drinks and all kinds of things that used to be part of a normal flight. If they can’t make go of it without sacrificing the diginity of fat people, then fuck ‘em.

  138. Just to point out…. being able to afford a CAR, any car, puts you above a whole slew of people who have NO options like that. Even in the US where cars are almost a necessity in most towns and cities.

  139. But that still doesn’t solve the problem of fat people who can’t afford more than a single coach seat. Why should a thin person who can afford one coach seat get to fly, while a fat person with the same budget can’t?

    See above. There are unavoidable costs associated with the missing seat. Obviously, it’s discriminatory to pass the entire cost of that seat onto a single person.

    The only options for recouping that cost, therefore, are to either classify larger people as disabled and therefore deserving of a subsidy, or retrofitting, and therefore distributing the extra cost among more passengers.

    Something I think some folks aren’t getting: We’re not talking, here, about one or two people on each flight who need extra space. We’re talking about a long-term problem of people just being bigger in general, and that problem is not going to be solved by maintaining the status quo.

    Giving away a free seat to two passengers is fine. But what happens when 24 of your passengers need that extra seat? What then? How do you afford to keep your airline in business if you’re giving away 24 seats each flight?

  140. I couldn’t afford to fly if the tickets were $500 a piece. I have 3 kids (one will be half price for the next 2 years) so it would cost me about $2300 to fly to see my family.

    So perhaps I could drive? That would be about $1000 for gas, hotels, and food if we drove nearly straight through and got cheap hotels and found cheap gas. It would save us $1300 on the plane but would take 5 days from our trip. Husband has about 9 total days of vacation to use per year so we’d use over half just travelling and no even seeing the sites on the way.

    I just looked at a train too, probably better than a car, but it still takes 4 days to get there one way and costs about $1000.

    What I wonder is why the seats got smaller because they are smaller than they used to be. My knees on my 5’4″ frame didn’t used to rub he seat in front of me and now they do.

    I don’t know what the solution should be to meet the needs of all people. How do other countries handle this?

  141. I disagree with the basic premise of making fat people pay more, but I have a few questions.

    1- What price would I be charged for the second ticket? The price I paid for the first? The exorbitant “walk up to the counter and buy a ticket” price? The lowest price that had been sold for that flight (right…)? Some random price? Alot of variation there.

    2- When I travel, I travel with children. I’m not taking up much extra space, and what little I do, I’m sharing with one of my kids. If I’m to be charged twice as much for taking up an extra 15% (for example), can I get a refund for half of the kids’ seat, since they aren’t using up their full 100%. If I’m sitting next to my kid, or my spouse, it’s clearly not for the comfort of other passengers, it is to punish me for being fat.

    I’m a pear, so this would impact me.

  142. Yes, that’s exactly what I proposed.

    Yes, in fact, it is. Your point of view is that the airlines should provide, for free, an extra seat to larger passengers. That’s a subsidy. Whether it’s coming from the government or the airline is beside the point.

    If you really do think that subsidizing is the way to go, that’s fine. But it does end up putting us in an entitlement class, and there be dragons.

  143. We’re talking about a long-term problem of people just being bigger in general, and that problem is not going to be solved by maintaining the status quo.

    No, we’re not. The airlines have already tried to save money by making the seats smaller and closer together. As I pointed out earlier, I don’t have enough leg room on flights, and I’m five feet tall. My husband doesn’t have enough room width-wise and his BMI is 20.

  144. It doesn’t sound like this is a big deal for the Canadian law, though. I don’t think it would require jacking up prices so much (or a huge overhaul of the industry, for that matter, which just isn’t going to happen even if it sounds good) to have a law like that. And it seems like would more or less deal with the issue. It won’t solve the problem that the seats are uncomfortable/painful and passengers are overall packed in like sardines, but it seems to be one way of reducing discrimination a bit.

  145. Actually, air travel is already subsidized. Anyone remember the post-9/11 airliner bailout?

    It doesn’t apply to this case, however, because fat people don’t pay taxes.

  146. It’s not. More fabric = more manufacturing costs = higher price. (Albeit not as high as usually charged.)

    Um, I don’t think that’s how pricing works for clothing. A tiny tank top might cost more than a pair of long pants. They don’t charge by the yard…except for when they sell clothing to fat people.

    Also, there may be a greater difference in fabric yardage between the Small and the Large, then between the Large and the 1X, but the Large doesn’t cost more than the Small.

    /re-lurking

  147. “The alternative is to define this class of people as disabled, and thus deserving of a subsidy for larger (or two) seats.

    Do we want to go there?”

    That’s exactly what’s been done, situationally, to get the extra-seat-free right for Canadians.
    And, yes, I have no problem ‘going there’ in this case, because this fits the definition of disability, at least as it is used by disability activists.

    “But it does end up putting us in an entitlement class, and there be dragons.”

    Accessibility is not entitlement!

  148. And wait, now I’m really confused. Tal, you keep saying that “we’re getting bigger,” but I thought the actual data showed that people only got a bit bigger and that the trend had now leveled off. Based on that argument, not many people would need the extra seat, so the overall price increase for people who need it because of size would not be huge. Am I misunderstanding?

  149. You know what would be a kind of cool form of FA activism? Some sort of “second airplane seat” philanthropic fund. Only, on the website where you apply for assistance from the fund, it will ask, in very professional font, “Why do you need a second seat? Please click on one:

    a) I am obese and other people shouldn’t have to rub up against me in insanely small airline seats. It’s enough that they allow me to travel at all, when I don’t meet the completely appropriate beauty standards one sees on the teevee.

    b) I simply must spread my legs apart. You see, I am a big shot dude with an eight foot invisible penis and/or testicles that, just like Julie Andrews on a mountaintop, really need to brrrreeeeathe!

    c) My ordinary-looking briefcase is actually carrying something SO SECRET that it needs its own seat. (Alternatively, my briefcase is a celebrity in the briefcase world, and I need to maintain a certain radius around it to keep it from being barraged by fans. Little briefcase fans running up on their eight tiny little briefcase legs, begging in their little tiny voices, “Please, can I have your autograph? I know I have a pen in here somewhere…”)

    d) My money is greener than everyone else’s on the airplane, and also I poop little pink snowflakes that smell like rose petals.”

    …and so forth. you get the idea.

  150. “Yes, in fact, it is. Your point of view is that the airlines should provide, for free, an extra seat to larger passengers. That’s a subsidy. Whether it’s coming from the government or the airline is beside the point.

    If you really do think that subsidizing is the way to go, that’s fine. But it does end up putting us in an entitlement class, and there be dragons.”

    This is what I was trying to address before. You can look at it as a subsidy, but I think that it depends on how you frame it. A plumber, for example, might charge by the hour or by the service rendered. If he or she charges by the service (e.g. replacing a certain kind of pipe), there are always going to be times when the actual time taken is more- or less- than estimated. So if you have a particularly sticky drain, and my drain’s not too problematic, I might be subsidizing your repairs. But this arrangement might be better for the plumber or for us, for various reasons, so the plumber might choose to bill us that way, or we might choose to express our preference for this kind of billing.

    It’s not about socialism, it’s about the choice of what the unit of service should be (in this case, passage vs. freight). And I don’t think concerns of compassion, fairness, or happiness are irrelevant to this choice.

  151. That’s exactly what’s been done, situationally, to get the extra-seat-free right for Canadians.
    And, yes, I have no problem ‘going there’ in this case, because this fits the definition of disability, at least as it is used by disability activists.

    Fair enough. My impression, however, was that a lot of FA acitivists resist the automatic disability label.

    If this is really where we want to go, then so be it. I just don’t think it’s a good long-term solution, because I think far more people need more space than just a handful of really big folks.

    Tal, you keep saying that “we’re getting bigger,” but I thought the actual data showed that people only got a bit bigger and that the trend had now leveled off.

    Not according to the data I’ve seen. There was an excellent NYT article on this last year.

    It’s not that we’re getting more obese, we’re just getting plain bigger, due to better nutrition and health care. Our bones are larger and more dense. Our muscles are more dense. We’re taller on average than even a couple of generations ago.

  152. You know what? I think I just figured this out.

    How about this: We go with the mid-section business class retrofitting, but larger passengers only get charged coach fare for the upgrade?

    It would be cheaper for the airlines than subsidizing a full extra coach seat (using my earlier example, they’d only be subsidizing $200 instead of $300), larger passengers would be more comfortable because they’d be in a full seat instead of having to straddle two, and other passengers would have a wider range of seating choices than the first class/cattle class split.

    Sound like it would make everyone happy?

  153. Tal: This would be in some ideal world? Where the airlines aren’t using us as a sort-of gateway to charging an arm and a leg to everyone because most people (including lots of fat people) won’t complain –and many would even agree (what’s the current standing on that poll, again)?

    I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t make the people who actually voted ‘yes’ on that poll happy –because they’d still see us as getting something we don’t deserve, because they don’t see us as deserving a seat that comes close to fitting us.

  154. “…they’d still see us as getting something we don’t deserve.”
    Undoubtedly. I remember a few years ago, when our (fat) head of city transit was looking for ideas for improving the transit system, he himself threw out the idea of having bigger seats, noting his own discomfort with the seats. The vitriolic public response — “but then THEY will think it’s OKAY to be OBEEESE” — was shocking to me at the time (not so much now).

    Seriously, we need some sort of real-time chat feature on this site!

  155. Hey, if you know of a program that subsidises plane tickets to visit family members, let me know. Seriously. I have not seen most of my family in over five years, because I had to flee to another country, it’s a really long way, and it’s stupidly expensive. I wouldn’t even recognise my siblings by this point.

  156. Oh, cool! A Sarah, someone actually has a Luggage? I want a Luggage! That’d so be worth an extra ticket, even briefcase sized, I’d fear no dark alley again.

    Um. Voted in the poll too.

  157. Somebody named kitsune linked back to us in the comments, claiming that the poll was only 10% nay until we stuck our big, fat oars in.

    But I’m done with the comments over there. There are too many assholes in the world and life is to short to pay attention to them all.

  158. First of all, you guys need to check out Midwest Airlines/Midwest Express. All first class seats (wide leather seats, two on each side, throughout the whole plane, AND they bake fresh chocolate chip cookies onboard).

    Anyway. I just don’t know what to say. Formerly the 257 lb size 24 who encroached on another’s seat…now the 98 lb size 0 who frequently gets sat on. I don’t know what to think about this. I’m fine with putting up the arm rest and rubbing elbows. I usually meet some really nice people and have some good laughs on these flights (I am a road warrior). But I really don’t like being literally sat on as if I’m not even there, as happens sometimes. I try to remember that everyone gets road weary or has a bad day once in a while…although it can make my flight quite uncomfortable. And I don’t know what to think about this poll. I don’t think it’s right to have to pay for two seats. I don’t think it’s right that the seats are so small. (My back hurts being crammed in there, I keep my briefcase under the seat in front of me to put my feet on because I feel bad if I take up any overhead bin space. Although now, it seems they don’t want you carrying on anything, they don’t want you checking luggage because they charge you, so apparently you’re supposed to wear three layers of clothing and carry your toiletries…oh, wait, you can’t do that either because they confiscate them…

    but I digress…)

    My solution is fly Midwest whenever I can. You can be really comfortable, they fly more cities all the time (they used to be a real niche airline and you could hardly ever fly them anywhere) and they treat you nicely.

    That’s an airline that gets it.

  159. The best thing that can be done for a system that does not work and can not work is for the system to fail and be replaced by something else that can and does work. It has happened before. Cars were once seen as the great relief from too much horse poo accumulation. Back in the day, before cars, mass transit over land involved copious amounts of horses that created copious amounts of poo. So human ingenuity cranked up and someone thought up the car and other combustion vehicles. We have all admitted that the air transit system is failing and has become unaffordable for just about everyone including the airlines themselves, what we should be concerned about is not that the system will fail but that the gov will try to subsidize a failing system and prop it up and prolong the failure. If it were to fail or become too overcome, I have the faith that someone will come about with a even better idea but these changes usually do not become financial feasible until the original method is down for the count. this is usually become people do not throw money into the new technology until they know that there is no more money to be made with the original method.

    Tal is merely pointing out that the system is failing because the cost is outweighing the profit and that putting the cost on one group of people is unreasonable. Tal suggested a reorganization that would disburse the price among every passenger that chose to fly that particular airline. Then people argued back that the redistribution would cost more because no one would be able to fly.

    Both view points are arguing the same thing, the air transport system is failing. This is not a fat or skinny issue, this is an everyone issue. At these costs no one will be going anywhere and the airlines will fail. the question is not if but when, because all technology becomes obsolete. We can only hope it will fail quickly and be replaced.

  160. Moonlight, this might be true, but complete air travel failure would result in an immediate economic catastrophe. Maybe replacement technologies or business models need to be in the works, like, yesterday, but a catalyst that causes widespread market collapse and global starvation is not a good way to fix the problem. Not realistically, anyway.

  161. Sniper: Hee! I was wondering how long it would take before someone started whining about the poll being “skewed”. That’s the chance you take when you put an unscientific poll out there on the public internet.

    IIRC, the AFA tried something a year or two ago with an anti-gay poll on their website. They took it down (because the results were starting to strongly favor Teh Gays) and posted a whiny complaint about the results being tampered with.

  162. I was wondering if I was traveling with my honey if he would have to pay extra. I have a tiny ass so I share much of my seat with him. Does it matter if the wider person is traveling with someone smaller that their overlap doesn’t intrude on a stranger?

  163. Lynne, I agree that a complete industry wide shutdown of our airline system would be devastating. I don’t suggest that they decide that their last day to run is on the same day, and cut off activity all together. But you can’t keep propping up the failing system because that system is propping up other systems that are equally unrealistic. What we have is a global dependence on a fuel source that we know will not hold out for much longer. Our food is dependent on the airlines and trucking that is dependent on cheap fuel.

    Again i often have unpopular opinions, but we can’t save everyone unfortunately, and propping up this system will only grow a larger population that will be effected when it does fail. Our global population is not getting any smaller, it happens now or it happens later but it is still going to happen.

  164. I know this is not a solution for everyone here, but I’ve started flying AirTran on my flights from California to Pennsylvania. They call their “first class” “business class.” What this means is that you get a bigger seat, but you don’t get a warm cookie or a meal – perfect for me.

    As for cost, I’ve recently seen domestic economy in the 6-800 dollar range, if purchased at the wrong time. AirTran’s business class has consistantly been $1100 round trip, less than twice the price and one time, for a ticket purchased in an emergency situation, the business class was actually cheaper than their economy tickets.

    Most domestic first class tickets seem to be well over 15-1800 dollars, so it really has been a deal for me.

    I realize it’s still expensive, but it’s more comfortable and (potentially) cheaper than 2 seats. I’m pretty sure other fat people have figured this out too as the front of some AirTran planes have been a FA convention of sorts.

  165. “What we have is a global dependence on a fuel source that we know will not hold out for much longer.”

    Actually, the best reason to conserve energy that I’ve heard is to slow global warming and pollution. But there is more oil, for a while anyway, and beyond that there are other hydrocarbons. There is a lot of natural gas that is barely tapped, particularly in this country. These things will continue to be developed for a long time, even as we are yelling and screaming about the pollution problems. This isn’t a good thing, but it means that prices aren’t skyrocketing because of scarcity.

  166. First of all, you guys need to check out Midwest Airlines/Midwest Express. All first class seats (wide leather seats, two on each side, throughout the whole plane, AND they bake fresh chocolate chip cookies onboard).

    Ooh, I thought they went out of business! I used to fly them all the time, because the difference between that and coach on a big airline was negligible, and my parents lived close enough to the Wisconsin border that Milwaukee wasn’t that much farther than O’Hare. I’m delighted to know they still exist, even if Milwaukee’s more of a hike for me now (unless they go out of Chicago…).

  167. Oh, I HEART Midwest. I try to fly them as often as possible because of the nice seats AND the chocolate chip cookies. Once, they gave me three extras on the way out to take to my waiting kids. They hooked me for life.

    And no, I wouldn’t like Shaq to touch me the whole flight. Sorry. I could maybe get behind Johnny Depp touching me the whole flight, but he’s probably the only one. Including my kids and possibly my hubby, given my mood getting on the plane.

    I hate to fly and I just want to be in my little shell of aloneness as I contemplate how the plane stays aloft.

    I’m guilty of my legs poking out (they are freakishy long) but I do try to be extra mindful and never fall asleep so I can’t pull them in when needed.

  168. I’ve heard about Midwest but I’ve never gotten a chance to fly them! Weird that they don’t go to Chicago, though… I would consider that kinda midwest.

  169. Just sit next to me – I’m a skinny and I only take up 80% of my seat! :-)

    Okay, so I’m now imagining some new airline job in which people report what percentage of seat they take up (and it which areas – legs, arms, wev) upon buying their ticket, and then this awesome logician gets to sit down and work it all out like a puzzle, coming up with the greatest seating chart ever for optimum comfort for all passengers.

    And I’m thinking “Wheee! Puzzles! I want that job!”

    Never mind how unrealistic it is. This is where my mind went.

  170. 67-33

    Time Machine, I’d want that job too. And it actually doesn’t seem THAT unrealistic except for pretty much everyone will say at least 100% and then we wouldn’t be able to draw the rational conclusion “Make bigger seats”.

    Seriously, my shoulders are 4″ wider than the airplane seats, I have yet to figure out a way to suck in my bones, but every time I’m on a plane I work on it. (Along with trying to figure out how I can bend my knees in reverse so I don’t have to JAM them up against the seat in front of me and end up with little lines on my knees.)

  171. Airlines are not just cracking down on fat people. They also are cracking down on young people who travel alone. I am an under 18er and plan to tour some colleges this upcoming fall. (Mount Holyoke and Smith yeaaah!)

    Anyways, I looked at the Alaska/Horizon website and it said that I would have to pay an extra $100 because I am underage and am not going with someone over 18!

    Ok back on topic

    Passenger airlines will fail if they continue to be unaccomidating jerks(to fat people and people with pets, children, disabilities ect.). They deserve to fail if they continue to be jerks. They are no better than any other buisness that fails due to producing a lousy product.

    Airline industry is a service industry and they need to serve their customers. The customers have no “obligation” to fly with them. Whether the airlines like it or not, many of the people who are potential (and current) customers are fat.

    Disregarding an entire customer base(and being rude) is bad buisness!

  172. Time Machine, my first thought was similar, except I think we should have that service be for Shapelings, so we can be matched with people of the opposite size who respect our bodies and who will pretty much guaranteed to be good company. *grin*

  173. Airline industry is a service industry and they need to serve their customers.

    Customers? I thought we were considered freight now.

  174. OK, I just got off a plane an hour ago, and I’m too zonked to read through here to see if I’m saying something someone has already said, but dammit, those seats don’t fit ANYONE at ALL. They don’t fit people’s SKELETONS, let alone their fat. I looked down the length of the plane, at the gap between the seats. Nowhere was there space between people. The bones of their shoulders made one person or another, no matter what their size, overlap into the next seat’s space. Looking down the aisle, EVERY PASSENGER protruded out into the aisle at their shoulders, by anywhere from two to six inches. Everybody is occupying everyone else’s seats, but somehow the fatties are the only ones who get blamed? Bullshit squared.

  175. OK, skimming the comments now I see that Amtrak has been mentioned as an alternative to air travel. But the trouble is that, at least in the central part of the country, Amtrak often runs not hours but DAYS late. I have had a friend miss a funeral because of this. It’s very, very common. Amtrak is not a viable option for people using scarce vacation time, or needing to get back home to go to work.

  176. We took a trip to San Francisco on Amtrak and we were 12 hours late both ways – and were told to consider ourselves lucky. We looked at being on the train as the main part of the experience, so it wasn’t too bad, just very, very tiring. It was a lot harder to sleep on the train that I had expected.

  177. It was a lot harder to sleep on the train that I had expected.

    Yeah, Al and I just went to NY by train and found the same thing. Some parts of it were awesome, but Amtrak, too, cuts about a billion corners to save money, so really, a decent view and the ability to walk around are the only advantages.

  178. Yeah. I was disappointed with a lot of things on the train. It wasn’t very clean, for one thing. And this is weird, but here we are on the same route as The Donner Party with Voiceover Train Guy telling the story… and he left out the cannibalism! That’s taking being family friendly way too far.

    On the other hand, the scenery was fabulous. We woke up at sunrise in the most desolate part of Utah and both the sky and sand were pale pink. It was like another planet.

    And then we were stuck there for three hours, but hey.

  179. I’m hoping that the high fuel costs will revitalize the train system in this country, because I think it really could be great – especially for regional corridors like the New York-DC route. No reason it should be running 12 hours late. And the carbon footprint is so much less than flying or driving, as well.

    It’s also kind of a chicken-egg thing, because people don’t think of train travel as a viable alternative to flying (I took the train from Boston to D.C. last year and people thought I was nuts), and so the service isn’t shaped up, and so people don’t think it’s viable and etc. etc. sigh.

  180. Airlines are a common carrier. They are not simply businesses trying to turn a profit, and no one should be excusing their treatment of people of size on that basis. As a common carrier, they are legally obligated to provide the most favorable mode of transportation for their cargo in terms of efficiency, cost, convenience and, I would argue, comfort.

    This will be litigated, I guarantee.

  181. LilahMorgan, I really like your lobster monster!

    Also, I don’t know, I think people may give trains a chance if they hear about improvements. I hear a lot of people talk about how they want better train service. I hold out a teeny bit of hope!

    That said, even on major corridors with fewer delays, yeah, sleeping on the train is unpleasant, especially if you don’t get a sleeper. ugh.

  182. I haven’t been on an airplane in six years because I got tired of getting the “oh s#!t, where’s *she* sitting?” look when I get on the plane, being deliberately whacked in the arm by the drink cart, and getting off the plane with pulled muscles from trying desperately to leave a clear inch for a neighbor half my size who spreads out as much as possible.

    Amtrak? Doesn’t run to my city. Greyhound? I have severe motion sickness and can’t ride on buses (or even in back seats). There is no reason in hell why I should have to quash my wanderlust because the airlines (and the passengers) discriminate.

  183. I do think that making roomier plane seats is the best solution. Probably won’t happen, but it’s the best idea, especially since people are getting larger (not fatter, but larger). My husband is 6’5″ and he refuses to fly anymore, because he has no room. I think we’ve decided that, if we do have to fly in the future, we’ll use an airline that has business class and he’ll fly business class while our son and I fly coach, but it does seem ridiculous to me that a person who is on one of the outer edges of the height bell curve, but isn’t a statistical anomaly, can’t fly coach. My husband fits comfortably everywhere else. Cars, busses, trains, subways–every other form of transportation we’ve ever used, he’s had no problem sitting comfortably. The only place he’s ever found himself literally cramping up with pain has been in an airplane. That seems to indicate to me that maybe the size of airline seats isn’t reasonable.

    The other thing I’ve heard about charging people for two seats, that I find very problematic, is that airlines who do enforce that policy don’t care about other accommodations the person might have made. So if a larger person is traveling with a slim partner or friend, and that person has no problem with the larger person putting up the armrest and taking part of their seat, the airline doesn’t care. They still insist the larger person pay for two seats. If a larger person is traveling with a small child and plans on lifting the armrest between them, it doesn’t matter; they still have to pay for an extra seat. That, to me, is a big reason why these policies are unfair. They seem to not only assume that larger people haven’t even taken whether or not they can fit into the seats into consideration (which, from discussions I’ve seen online, is something that larger people are very aware of) and disregards the plans they’ve made to fly comfortably.

  184. I’ve chosen not to travel by air. I’m “voting with my wallet” so to speak. See, the problem is that air travel is a service provided by private companies, (so I really can’t say “voting”, can I?) and if I don’t like their service I can choose not to use it. But I can’t demand they legislate what I want, because if I’m saying it’s my right, then I’m saying that I should be given a special category, and that’s a slippery slope into saying that I’m disabled or handicapped in some way. I’m sorry, but I’m not willing to do that.

  185. Lynne, last time i checked the airline industry was citing high gas prices and not high pollution rates as the cost of their price hikes. Currently our consumption is higher than what they can pull out of the ground and process. The main factor being the quick growth and industrialization in India and China. We have limited the ability of companies in the USA to drill our own oil so we have to put up with whatever other countries are willing to send our way. We do indeed have a limit to the oil available, on a human life span time line it seems like a hundred or two hundred more years of oil is a long time, but on a human species time line we are going to run out pretty quick in the next few generations. Natural gas has its own problems of being viable at cold temperatures it turns into a liquid which locks up the engines that use it to run, airplanes fly at high altitudes where temperature will effect them. But those other options are what i was talking about, a jump in technology that will not happen until the old technology is nearly dead in the water, because it takes time for technology costs to go down because of streamlined mass production so industry will use the proven technology until it becomes financial impossible.

  186. “As a common carrier, they are legally obligated to provide the most favorable mode of transportation for their cargo in terms of efficiency, cost, convenience and, I would argue, comfort.”

    KellyGirl- airlines ARE businesses and ARE simply trying to make a profit, where did you ever get this idea that they were supposed to be some non profit organization? If they do something that is counterproductive to profit it is usually in attempts to set themselves up for profit later. That is what they are, they provide a service, set up a price and you pay it if you think it is worth that price. That is how business works, we would hope that they would have respect for their customers but the law by no means requires they do a cost analysis versus comfort level and provide their passengers with convenience. Current laws don’t even protect passengers from being held captive in a airplane for extended amounts of time on a runway, or protect them from being inconvenienced and not getting a refund. These things are all up for debate in upcoming laws, but for right now all they have to do is give certain passengers vouchers if they are bumped.

    Maybe the problem here is the misunderstanding between general expectation and what is actually required of them

    I am all for people being treated with respect and dignity. But I can understand how they have a limited area to work with and that ever extra pound adds to fuel costs. I’m actually not sure why they don’t come out and say its judged per weight and not per butt space but that space is a premium and seats matter. If their is any discrimination it is that they are hiding behind phat phobia to explain the rate hikes and blaming it on other passengers comfort level. Same reason that they are charging for baggage now, because it more strictly regulates the weight you are allowed to add to the plain. If you want to bring more stuff or heavier stuff you should have to pay for the extra fuel costs. Surely people already know that extra stuff in the trunk of your care effects your gas millage negatively. And if you were riding with friends and you brought significantly more stuff with you, would you not feel more obligated to cover more of the gas for the trip? If the airline industry was more transparent and truthful about where the cost was coming from, maybe it would make people feel better. My guess is they don’t already, because they are spreading out most of the cost already and thinner people would be pissed to know they were compensating for weight that wasn’t theirs.

    I’m really not trying to be confrontational it just seems like this topic has everyone taking sides. Can we all be friends tomorrow again…. Please….. I like my shapling friends.

  187. KellyGirl- airlines ARE businesses and ARE simply trying to make a profit, where did you ever get this idea that they were supposed to be some non profit organization? If they do something that is counterproductive to profit it is usually in attempts to set themselves up for profit later.

    It’s actually an old legal concept – common carriers and innkeepers have a greater duty to their customers than other businesses. For instance, they were prohibited from refusing to take customers on the basis of race even before the Civil Rights Act was passed. And that can translate to more liability for them in torts cases – for instance, courts are quicker to find that an action an innkeeper or common carrier takes against a passenger is “outrageous” for purposes of the tort of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.

    I’d personally love to see some of those concepts tested out in the context of discrimination against fat people.

  188. Ooh, thanks for the shout out about Midwest. I haven’t been on a plane since 2002 but I’m going to a conference in August and I booked a ticket on Midwest — it was cheaper to fly out of Milwaukee than O’Hare. Reading the comments, I was getting more and more wigged out, but I feel better now. I’m still going to take a seatbelt extender but I won’t worry so much about encroaching on the seat next to me, even if it is taken by a good friend of mine.

    I do think it’s absolutely ridiculous to make fat people pay more for another seat. Frankly, I’ve refused to fly Southwest since they wouldn’t make uniforms for their employees over a size 18, and refused to allow alterations. Fuck them.

  189. (And, umm, sorry for my long, annoying and probably mangled explanation. I’m studying for the bar exam and it’s eating my brain from the inside out.)

  190. Totally off-topic, but – thewellofemoness, hell yeah Smith/MoHo! I grew up in the Five College area. If you want pointers on places to go, drop me a comment on my blog and we can chat.

    Amtrak is pretty wretched these days. The train is the easiest way for me to get home from school, but it’s an hour to five hours late coming back. I’ve missed class because of it, and have given up on trying to get back in a timely fashion – it means I have to schedule my trip back a day earlier.

    As for flying… can’t afford it. This means I never get to see my best friends, who live overseas. Or my family that lives in Spain. It sucks. A lot.

  191. I’ve been told that the reason Amtrak can’t keep to a schedule is that it’s given lowest priority on tracks when there’s a conflict. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I have noticed when I’ve ridden the train that it’s often shunted aside to give freight trains the right of way. I’ve wondered if part of the reason for it might not be that there’s just too few active routes — if so many routes have been closed and allowed to decay that the ones that remain in use are strained beyond their limits.

    I’d love to see more (and more reliable) trains, but I don’t know that we will. Possibly. Yet Amtrak has never been profitable, and given what I’ve seen of fares on commuter trains I suspect that if longer routes were required to turn a profit or at least support themselves, they too would be too expensive for many.

  192. I’d love to see a new airline built on the philosophy of serving the needs of 21st century Americans. You’d think some rich businessperson would get to work on that.

  193. 67/33 – latest poll results.

    I’m glad I don’t fly. But it doesn’t matter, because fat people seem to be the scourge of the Earth.

  194. Eucritta: This is true, and it’s because the tracks are owned by freight companies. And once a train is late, it loses what little priority it has (i.e. against other Amtrak trains). This I was told by Amtrak employees, on the Lakeshore Limited, several years ago now.

  195. I love taking the train, but you heard right, Eucritta. The freight companies own the tracks and Amtrak is only allowed passage on sufferance. Some of the freight companies seem to go out of their way to be jerks about it, too. (I recall one cross-country train that pulled into LA more than 24 hours late. It was only three hours late into New Orleans. But then we got held up in San Antonio to let a freight go by. About five miles out of San Antonio that freight stopped and held us up for another two hours waiting for them to get a new engineer. They made us wait in the station so that they could get past us and block the tracks.)

    If passenger rail were subsidized to the same extent as passenger cars – or even passenger flight – Amtrak might be a viable option for getting from point A to point B on schedule. As it is, it’s mostly good for leisurely sightseeing.

  196. Last time I flew, I had a really shitty experience. I was flying from Toronto to Cleveland, and I was running late. When I was going through the security area, they pulled me out of line and took me back to the interrogation area. They opened my bag and unfolded all of my clothes, opened all of my containers, including unopened food and make-up, flipped through my books, and looked through my purse and inside my wallet. All through this, an agent was asking me a bunch of personal questions about my life and my job and my relationship with my now-husband (then boyfriend). For example, I told him I have a M.A. in sociology. He asked me my job, and at the time, I was a receptionist. I told him, and he asked me, “Why are you wasting your degree?” That pissed me off a lot. By the end, I was lightly crying, and the guy told me to settle down, or I would have to pay for a later flight. He finally let me go, and they had to hold the flight for me (THANKFULLY) because he kept me so long. I was super pissed, but everyone I told was like, “Meh. That’s how it is in airports nowadays.” Has anyone else had experiences like this? Is this really common?
    I know that (probably hopefully) doesn’t have anything to do with my fat, but I just sort of wanted to add that to the airport/airplane complaint log.

  197. Delurking to add two things:
    1) If one was using Firefox and disabled “Accept cookies”, one might be able to just click No – Submit – Back to poll about 103 times in a row without needing to clear the cookies. Hypothetically. This discovery did not cause an increase to 36:64 just now.
    2) Carleigh – I had almost the exact experience! Although in my case it was after arriving, when the customs person thought my distress must be caused by the drugs I was obviously trying to smuggle. Nothing to do with a stressful flight, a LDR, planning a move to another country…
    Thankfully, they stopped before the cavity search, although the glove had already been out. And except for the boyfriend (now cohabiting), nobody got why I was so upset. And this was in Europe… where flying sucks, too.

  198. “…some passengers on Southwest Airlines will be pulled aside and, because of their weight, asked to buy a second ticket…”

    This is not a new policy on Southwest. They’ve been doing this for several years though I can’t state exactly how long. The customer service agents are supposed to take care of this business at the gate. Often times they are afraid to label someone as a “COS” (customer of size) and leave it up to the flight attendants to determine whether a customer is or isn’t. It’s not a position the flight attendants enjoy being put in either. I’ve seen them discreetly and politely ask the customer in question to place the armrests down. This is primarily on full flights–which Southwest flights mostly are this summer–full. If the customer is required to purchase an extra seat and the flight ends up *not* being full, only then are they eligible for a refund of the second seat.

    I voted NO but I still love and will continue to fly Southwest Airlines. And just in case anyone has ever wondered, it is an FAA requirement for the outer armrest to be down during taxi, take off and landing. Also, avoid sitting in the very last row if at all possible–it is significantly narrower than the seats further up in the cabin.

  199. If I have to pay for two plane tickets I think cripples should have to pay for their privileged parking spaces, the blind should have to get taxed more every time something is made in brail especially for them, parents of kids with ADD/ADHD should have to pay more taxes for the extra school counseling and special education classes that assist them, and Republicans should be extra taxed every time they are permitted to invent a new word and get away with it.

  200. When I went there, I saw a poll about homeschooling, not the airline seats issue. I also saw alot of schoolyard bullies grown up, making up little names like obeasties for fat people. Perhaps you should put a sanity watcher on the link. It’s like, our government would rather listen to some pathetic adult bullies than us?

  201. Vidya, on July 1st, 2008 at 9:55 pm Said:
    If I was in a situation where I had to buy two airline seats, I would bet my (albeit meager) life savings that some employee/steward would be cracking jokes to his/her coworkers about me getting “two meals” as well.

    Absolutely. One for your lunch, and one for their asshat head.

  202. Well, sure, Moonlight, demand has suddenly skyrocketed and production rates are slow to increase to match it. It hasn’t been in the oil companies’ interest to build new, cleaner, more efficient refineries before, so now there’s a crunch there. And it takes years to get from exploration of a site to production, so there’s a huge time lag in increasing production. Also, speculation is probably a big factor. But that’s not the same thing as being about to run out of the stuff! (And I’m well aware of the problems with natural gas, I’m just saying we aren’t about to stop producing hydrocarbons, period. It’s unfortunate because they are so damaging.)

  203. I went there and the of course, I voted no. I think it’s ridiculous. If fat behinds have to pay more, then parents with screaming babies should also have to pay a surcharge for inconveniencing my ears. When will the insanity end?

    Liberty Bell
    Freedom Fighters United
    aka
    F.A.I.T.H. (Fighters Against International Tyranny and Hatred)
    freedomfightersunited.wordpress.com

  204. I’m 32 and I have never flown. First of all, I can’t afford to take a vacation that isn’t more than 100 miles away from home. Second, I still have some reservations about plane-riding (I have slight agoraphobia).

    I’ve taken Amtrak twice to NYC. The first time, the train was 10 minutes late going home, but the second time we were on schedule. But it was a pleasant ride and this fattie had plenty of room. I did okay in the teeny-tiny bathrooms too. So I would do Amtrak again for a longer trip, despite the problems they have.

  205. Crossbuster, FYI, “people with disabilities” is the preferred nomenclature (“crip” is being reclaimed by disability rights activists, but that’s a different context).

  206. Thewellofemoness, there are lots of Smithie Shapelings (including yours truly). Have fun on your visits!

  207. think cripples should have to pay for their privileged parking spaces,

    Why do you do this? WHY?

  208. I think cripples should have to pay for their privileged parking spaces

    Are you fucking kidding me with this.

  209. I was assuming that Crossbuster was aiming at sarcasm there, ventriloquizing the kind of person who thinks fatties should pay for the “privilege” of seating their ass. If he was aiming for irony, I think he fell short of the mark but I see what he was going for. If he was not, then clearly he’s so out of line that he can’t even see the line anymore.

  210. =\ Crossbuster.. damn dude wtf seriously…

    You really gotta learn to make your point without knocking down other groups of people cuz it’s totally not cool x_x;;; pretty damn offensive actually.

    On anothern note w00t! To the 36% No we’re up to that’s awesome!

  211. But… he was saying that it would be wrong to discriminate against disabled people. For that he gets banned?

    Yeah, his sense of humor and choice of words is out of line with the group consensus, but he’s not going to learn better by being thrown out permanently… a temporary ban and a link to a How Not To Offend would be *constructive*.

    But then, I’m the weirdo who wants to make people learn to get along instead of just excluding each other, so I’m probably due for a banning myself. :)

  212. Oo Oo now can we start the discussion about alienating people who are trying to support our cause? And how he’s just a victim of ignorance and we should explain everything to him in excruciating detail before we hold him accountable?

    I LOVE those conversations.

  213. But I can understand how they have a limited area to work with and that ever extra pound adds to fuel costs.

    Considering that I have a pay full price for a ticket for my 40 pound son (and have been paying full price to fly with him since he was 2 and about 28 pounds), I’d be more than happy to let the airline know that the extra 150 or so pounds I’m paying for can be used by somebody larger. ;)

  214. Off-set rows of seats. Do it on an angle and it’d optimize the space issue. That way, if you overhang your seat, it’s not going into the person next to you but into the space behind their seat. I think I may be on to something here…

  215. I hate to add yet more controversy to an already way-too-long comments thread, and admittedly I am more sensitive to this since becoming a parent (since, you know, it’s all about ME ME ME ME!) but it occurred to me… I hear some faint murmurs of “Young children are AT LEAST as much of an imposition than fat people are on airplanes,” which I think is understandable (and, if the child in question is crying, FOR SURE true.) But I also want to say, hey, wait up — part of the point is that people with bodily requirements that certain very privileged folks deem inconvenient are still a part of society, right? And then I also hear some stuff about the airlines’ bottom line too, and how it’s regrettable that accommodating everyone isn’t profitable, but it isn’t, and we have to follow profit.

    Anyway, on both topics, may I submit the following brilliance from Bitch Ph.D? It seems pertinent on both accounts.

    link is here: http://bitchphd.blogspot.com/2005/04/moms-at-work-over-there.html

    “The comments to that third post, about “Children as Public Goods” are especially bizarre–but then again, the post itself is fairly bizarre. As I said long ago (interestingly, also in response to a CT post), children are not “goods.” They are–are you sitting down? They are human beings. Actual members of society. Who, yes, happen to be in a dependent position. Nonetheless, inasmuch as they are members of society, they have a claim on society to help care for them in their dependence so that they do not starve. Now, since they have parents, there are many aspects of their dependence that society needn’t bother with: y’all don’t have to wipe Pseudonymous Kid’s ass, you don’t have to give him his bath, you don’t have to read him mouse books over and over and over again. You don’t have to help him remember to do his “homework” (i.e., finish coloring the pages he didn’t finish at school, because he hates not finishing things), or keep track of where the hell his socks are always going off to, or scramble for milk money in the morning when there’s no cash in the house.

    But yeah, goddamnit, you do have to deal with his presence in public spaces, even if he’s acting like a little turd; you do have to recognize that because I have all that other stuff to do, I might be slightly less at the disposal of my employer for a few years (then again, no one should be at the disposal of their employer 24/7 anyway); you do need to deal with the times when I bring him into work because there is work I can’t put off and there is no one else who can care for him on that day; and you do, I think, have an obligation to figure out social and economic policies that take into account the fact that this is not only my life, but the life of most adults at some point sooner or later. And in exchange, my friends, I and he have an obligation to deal with you when you have had a shitty day and are being a turd in a public space; or when you have to leave work early to pick up a friend at the airport or because you have opera tickets or a hot date; or when you have to call in sick; or when your illness turns out to be acute and far more expensive than any individual can afford; or when you get old and need to retire, and yadda yadda yadda.

    And note this: I am not saying you have to deal with children because someday they will deal with you; or that other people have to deal with you because you have dealt, or will at some point deal with them. I am saying we have to deal with each other because refusing to do so is wrong, anti-social, anti-human. Everything else comes after that.

    Now, some of these issues are indeed economic ones. And it is totally cool to talk about the economics of children, the economics of families. It is important to do so, in fact. But boiling kids down to economics is wrong, just like it would be wrong to claim that society is a purely economic institution. There are human needs that are not all about the bottom line, and that is okay, and people should not have to choose between economic survival and their other human needs. Yes, like all people, children do function as economic actors in many ways, but that doesn’t make them “goods” or “pets” or “luxury items.” When people start talking about kids as if they were things, those people are demonstrating that they, not children, are outside the realm of civilized society.

    What kind of society are we where that even needs to be said?”

  216. Emmy:

    “I’m the weirdo who wants to make people learn to get along instead of just excluding each other, so I’m probably due for a banning myself.”

    OK, this is not said snarkily, and it’s something that I have really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really benefitted from myself, as one who HATES conflict and was raised to be a pleaser:

    First off: To really get along, people have to do it on their own terms, not be “made” to get along. And that will involve bringing up shit that’s divisive.

    That’s number one. But when privilege is added in – and I don’t know you or have any breakdown of your privilege, obviously, I only know that you’ve questioned the helpfulness of “privilege” as a category – it can make that really tough. Those of us who have unearned privilege don’t see that it’s that very privilege that makes us think we can be conveners of the Space In Which Everyone Will Get Along. Also known as “bringing everyone to the table.” We think it would be really cool, and reflect really well on us, if everyone came to our beautiful table and got along. We don’t think, “Hmm, why do I own this table? Why am I in the position to offer the invitations? How did that happen?”

    Of course, that complete lack of self-awareness is PRECISELY what keeps everyone from genuinely “getting along.” And when this is pointed out to those of us with privilege, we very often wring our hands and say, “Why are you so ANGRY? Now you’re just being divisive.”

    Again, the “we” here is all me. I have no idea whether and to what extent this applies to you. I’m a recovering Nice White Lady who thought she could save all the poor wretches by doing community service and murmuring “I hear what you’re saying.” Uhhh, no.

  217. A few have mentioned that WDW and movie theaters, etc. have chosen to accommodate “bigger” people…how are they doing it and still making a profit? Sure the airlines suffer due to the intrinsic costs of their services, but at the same time, maybe they’re just being inefficient. Along those lines, many have mentioned the seats barely fit “normal” people, so maybe the airlines want exclusive business? Doesn’t seem smart. Charging overweight people more is just an easy way out, a temporary solution to a much bigger problem. What did you expect, that’s the way big corporations deal with their big problems.

  218. Jackie – I actually sort of love the name “obeasties,” because when I saw it I went “Grr snarl! RAR!”

    …It’s a good thing I don’t work in an office, isn’t it.

  219. I just want to say that what I said was not directed at Emmy but at comments that I inevitably knew would follow The Banishment.

    I have clearly been on the internet for too long.

  220. It’s great to vote and have your voices heard in this poll…but it really irks me that you want people to vote more than once. It seems like you’re trying to manipulate the poll. Pretty crappy, IMO.

  221. Wow, it’s gotten to 41% now. Rock!

    And yeah, pfft, anyone expecting scientific results from an open poll on The Internets? At least nobody here has set up a script to automate voting… that I know of.

  222. From A Sarah’s earlier comment:

    I am not saying you have to deal with children because someday they will deal with you; or that other people have to deal with you because you have dealt, or will at some point deal with them. I am saying we have to deal with each other because refusing to do so is wrong, anti-social, anti-human. Everything else comes after that.

    This pretty much goes for everything, including size acceptance.

  223. SL, as the person who gave the initial instructions for how to submit multiple votes, and as someone who does statistics for a living, I assure you that internet polls aren’t even the slightest bit valid to begin with.

  224. Oh no, you guys! We’re making the poll less scienterrific!

    But.. but, what if somebody thinks to misuse science to hurt fat people?

  225. I’m sort of taking this a step further and casting an inquiring eye at the people who MAKE the aeroplanes and the seats, etc. It’s documented fact that seats have gotten smaller (because they are smaller? because people are bigger? probably both) over the years, and have shrunk dramatically over the last few years.

    My question here: why is it that the people who make the aeroplanes get away with this? Sure, airlines want to make a profit. They’re trying to keep their heads up, etc. But if they didn’t have to work with what they’ve got, they wouldn’t come up with this fuckhabadashery. Similiar ideas, maybe, similiar execution, but not THIS specific example. Why? Aren’t there airline regulations? Who is actually profiting off selling the airlines aeroplanes with too-small seats and leaving them to founder in the water when those too-small seats piss off a large proportion of the population?

  226. Ok…whatever. I was talking about honesty. You don’t need to get all snarky on me. If you want to vote more than once, by all means, go for it. Cheers.

  227. For the record, I have voted twice: once my vote and once entering my husband’s vote. I’m sure I could do the same for every member of my very large family, as well, without making much of a stretch in saying that they’d agree. (we’re talking upwards of 50 people, here. More like100 if you include my husband’s cousins)

    And I agree, expecting an open internet poll to be scientific is just silly.

  228. I voted twice on all 4 of the PCs I have access to. I feel that as a statistician it is my duty to unscientifize their already unscienterrific poll.

    Also, Sniper
    But.. but, what if somebody thinks to misuse science to hurt fat people?

    FTW

  229. Also known as “bringing everyone to the table.” We think it would be really cool, and reflect really well on us, if everyone came to our beautiful table and got along. We don’t think, “Hmm, why do I own this table? Why am I in the position to offer the invitations? How did that happen?”

    This is such a great tweaking of this metaphor — thanks, A Sarah.

  230. I never said I expected it to be scientific. I guess I was just hoping that the people who voted ‘yes’ were being honest and not voting more than once and that those of us here, voting ‘no’ would also be honest.

    But then, I guess it’s too much for me to expect that the people voting ‘yes’ are being honest either. They’re probably all voting multiple times as well.

    Anyway…whatever. Do what you want. I was just posting an opinion.

  231. SL, talking about honesty, internet polling, and Parade magazine in the same sentence causes toxic levels of snark to saturate the atmosphere.

  232. It’s great to vote and have your voices heard in this poll…but it really irks me that you want people to vote more than once.

    For the record, I voted once and didn’t suggest anyone should do anything else in the post. But yes, it is absolutely too much to expect that people on the other side are only voting once. Online polls practically exist for the amusement of people who like to game them.

  233. What Kate said. Screwing with internet polls is an ancient and time-honored (internets time, of course) art, and is particularly satisfying when it’s such an obnoxious poll. Thus, I’m soooo not going to apologize for this one.

  234. “(And, umm, sorry for my long, annoying and probably mangled explanation. I’m studying for the bar exam and it’s eating my brain from the inside out.)”

    Thanks for explaining, LilahMorgan! I’m studying for the Bar this summer too so when I saw “airlines” I was like — hey! higher duty of care! And the gears started churning from there. ;)

  235. As a side note, Southwest has also done away with advanced boarding for people with kids–I’ve seen a single mom with twins balancing them and their stuff having to wait until other people had boarded to try to find seats together, not smack anyone with the car seats and get them buckled in. I’ve also seen a number of kids separated from their parents because of this. It’s another reason I won’t fly Southwest.

  236. There’ve been a lot of posts decrying the snark lately. It reminds me a lot of bit in Paul Campos’s book where he quotes a jerk who thinks that fat people should work to be the nicest people alive. We should be sweet and jolly and fall down to amuse regular people.

    Fuck. That.

  237. I’m kinda sorry I wasn’t here to back Tal up yesterday, ’cause I think maybe some of you are too young to remember what airlines were like before deregulation. (Which doesn’t change the fact that I still voted “no” for the poll.) Let me assure you that once upon a time, there were a lot of people who didn’t fly. It *was* a luxury (or close to it). People saved for years to go visit Grandma across the country. But deregulation gave us a whole lot of cheap airline seats, and we got to thinking that was the norm… but it’s not. Airlines are panicked at the idea of raising prices now, so they’re finding ways to add surcharges galore rather than just upping the price to $400 per seat like it should be instead of the $125 they’re charging for it. Consequently, they’re running into financial trouble. Gee, who’da thunk it?

    I don’t want to have to pay for two seats… and when my 6’4″, 300# hubby and I were on a multi-hour flight last year, it was ridiculously uncomfortable. I stopped eating on flights so long ago – because I can’t put the damned tray down – that I can’t even remember. I don’t know how I feel about being transitorily labeled “disabled” for the purposes of a cheap flight – but I also wonder if the airlines will start to limit the number of “disabled’ seats available on each flight if this gets to be a trend. I can totally see that. Then what?

    Anyway… enough of the diatribe. It’s a sucky situation I wish would change. But in the meantime, I had to throw in my pennies about cost/value.

  238. Sniper….AMEN AMEN AMEN…FUCK THAT…how many times have i heard you have to be the nice girl because you’re fat….”boys want a little lass, not a lass with sass.” THANK YOU.

  239. sweetmachine: “This is such a great tweaking of this metaphor — thanks, A Sarah.”

    Shit, now I’ve just realized I stole it from my husband without crediting him! Which I think is generally basically fair game between spouses, for ideas and turns of phrase and such… but now I’m worried that HE got it from someone (since he works for an antiracism program) and I’ve just forgotten, and that it will turn out I’m being a white woman appropriating a person of color without attribution.

    I’m going to Google this…

  240. shoutz, if i understand correctly, if the law requires airlines to provide additional seats for the disabled, they can’t limit the number of seats available for that purpose.

    also, boy do i envy people who can fly for $125! but i get your point. though i disagree that because something worse used to be the norm, this isn’t the norm *now*.

  241. Interesting thread. I just want to say that although I don’t think anyone should be singled out to pay more just on the basis of being “obese” – I have had the misfortune – twice – of being next to someone who was so large that they weren’t just “rubbing up” against me – they were actually on TOP of me for 7 hours. The last flight I took, as a matter of fact, I left the airplane with shoulder and hip pain from trying to accommodate the extra person next to me (who was so large that he spilled over a good 1/3 of my seat) – as well as my clothing being drenched in sweat on that side from the extra heat the contact caused us both. Now – I should have the right to have ALL of my seat I paid for and not have to have someone’s body resting on top of mine. I had great sympathy for the guy next to me, as I know he was trying his best to not get on me – but it was just impossible. He could not lower the armrest, he could not use the tray table, and the seatbelt extension was on its last bit. Is this fair that I was actually in physical pain both during and several days after my flight? I wasn’t mad at HIM, but I was mad that the entire plane was so full that there wasn’t a single seat I could move to. I was mad that they couldn’t move him or me into a first class seat at least (since there were plenty of those).

    You know – if there was something between first/business and coach.. I would gladly pay it. A coach ticket across the states, for example, can cost $500 and business class on the same plane will be $1800. Get me a bigger seat where I don’t have to worry about either crowding out another person or having someone sit on top of me for 7 hours and charge me $900 and I’ll gladly couch up the extra dough (Actually, I think this was Tai’s last suggestion).

  242. I’ve occasionally looked at Amtrak as a vacation alternative. The only use I’ve gotten out of it was a quick trip via Acela Express from NY to DC to meet up with my husband at the tail end of a business trip. It really was quite nice. Every other trip I’ve looked at has not only been slow, but has also been much more expensive then flying there. Until prices drop, it’s just not a viable alternative to the “buy two seat” issue for many people.

  243. I love to read fat discrimination posts and read all of the comments and the jam them in the ass with all the studies about obesity and health and the diet failure statistics and what not. I usually like it when the flounder around going “but…. but…. teh fat is bad, it’s just bad,” (then I like to imagine their heads explode, but that’s just me)
    However, the comments on Parade’s site are unredeemable. I was disgusted by them, which is a difficult task given my previously mentioned love of flaming these people. A word to the wise, DO. NOT. READ. THE. COMMENTS.
    I had no idea that many jack asses could congregate in one place. After reading a few pages I wanted to vomit. Is this really have Americans feel?

  244. What happened to competition, and being creative to solve market problems? WTF is creative about charging my big rump (and I’m also on the smaller end of the plus sized spectrum) DOUBLE? And no, air travel is not a human right, but it is a market that has become more available to more people. When market segments get shut down, they holler.

    At the risk of ticking off the keepers of the sandbox, I’ve really enjoyed Tal’s contributions today. It’s made me consider the issue from a more market-oriented space.

    But at the end of the day, The Customer Is Always Right. This customer has a big ass. And I can’t afford double. I’m still paying off my airfare and car rental from January, when my father had a very sudden sextuple by-pass surgery (he’s thin, BTW).

    I’d be paying it off in 2010 if it were double.

  245. Oh, and I swear that National Public Radio did a comparative study earlier this year, and found it was cheaper for a family of four to drive across country than to take a train or plane.

    Maybe the car is more of a democratizing mode of travel than we thought.

  246. For people looking into other travel options, you should see if the MegaBus runs to your area. The fares are between $1-25 each way depending on when you book. It is generally on time, and very clean .

  247. also, boy do i envy people who can fly for $125!

    Really. I haven’t had a plane ticket cost less than $500 since I left the world of student standby.

  248. iheartchocolat – I would argue that the intrinsic cost of running an airplane is not comparable to that of a movie theater. Getting rid of a few tickets at $8.00 each in a theater will never be able to amount to not being able to sell one ticket that would cost anywhere from $400-$600. I looked up how much me flying from Tulsa to New York City would cost even if i bought tickets early (the range was from $366-$806) So even saying I was able to pick the cheapest ticket, that one ticket would still amount to 45 movie tickets. Some things can not be compared when taking operating cost into consideration, furthermore a movie theater does not have added cost if one customer is heavier than another like the airlines do with fuel cost.

  249. Also? $30-$35K is midrange? I tried (and failed) to find some exact definition, but Yahoo! Autos started “mid-range” at $25,000. My husband and I make more than $150K a year, and we can’t afford a $35,000 car. *doubtful*

  250. I had no idea that many jack asses could congregate in one place.

    I mean, we are talking about Parade magazine.

  251. moonlight0806, i definitely agree with what everything you said…that’s why i said, “sure they have intrinisic costs…” meaning, it’s not completey comparable, but i still believe the airlines could do better.

  252. Here’s a wild idea – why shouldn’t the government subsidize and/or take over the airlines? They do it all of the time for things that aren’t rights but are in the national interest to maintain; Amtrak, for instance. Interstate highways, which didn’t exist until the government realized that they would have a problem managing large troop movements efficiently. Any number of dams and wildlife preserves.

    Then again, I might be unusual in that I don’t mind paying more taxes to support programs I believe in.

  253. Well I don’t have much to say on the subject really cuz I don’t fly, I never have… there is a chance I never will and I’m ok with that really :-)

    But my parents fly atleast once a year to Colorado to visit my older sister. People “spilling” over into others seats is not limited to “obese” passangers just FYI my mother and father have experienced on numberous occasions where thin people(by thin I mean questions of anorexia thin) have shoved elbows into their seats, one girl had the audacity to sit indian style a whole flight to use her laptop… Knee right in my dad’s stomach and her arm halfway into his seat tip-taping away

    SHE should more have to pay for two seats then say someone who is larger, because it’s her own pig headed childish way of behaving rather then someones own body girth IMHO

    And yes it targets women big time, and the ‘omfg heart attack! the fats butt is totally into my seat and I have to touch it’ needs to chill out with people. There were times when all sorts of people had to SLEEP in close quarters with all different types of people and many that didn’t shower… so just STFU and get over it =\

    (Just an FYI, I love sitting next to fat people ANYWHERE probably because in junior high I sat next to this fat dude on the bus and I used to pass out and sleep on his shoulder, we became great friends cuz he let me drool on his arm. So I’m always “Please come sit!” type person, and chatter to anyone that will listen in hopes of making new friends!)

  254. This I was told by Amtrak employees, on the Lakeshore Limited, several years ago now.

    I took the Lakeshore Limited last year – it was my first train ride! And was 3 hours late, on what was supposed to be a 5 hour trip. Case confirmed, I think.

    I also thought crossbuster was being sarcastic – I got that right off. I’m not sure if the use of “cripples” was unintentional offense or if he was trying to go for the full-out “talk like they do” mode, but either way I think the point was that if you’re going to discriminate against one group of people who have needs outside the ‘norm’, it’s a modest proposal to go all the way and discriminate against everyone who’s not perfect.

    As for the issue at hand – what everyone said, really. Although economically it would make the most sense for airlines to charge people by total poundage (people + luggage), sociologically that would be a disaster of epic proportions (snort). The only real way for airlines to handle it and not get a black eye is to distribute the costs, putting a top end on the one variable that is controllable, i.e. luggage. Yes, that will raise fares, but it’s the same problem we have with gas – we’ve built our society on unsustainable cheapness and the shit’s about to hit the fan.

  255. Do you think air travel in itself is a basic human right?

    I think being treated the same no matter the size of your ass is a basic human right.

    I think having the Saks, Macy’s, and Wal-Marts of airlines would STILL be discrimination – this time not just against fat, but against fat AND money.

    I’m assuming the Saks would be something luxurious, Macy’s would be similar to business class, and Wal-Mart would be 500 people crammed into a space that holds 350 with chickens running up and down the aisles.

    Guess which one I, as a student with a meager internship stipend, would be able to fly?

    But wait – I’m fat. So are you saying that if I’m also poor it’s still OK to discriminate? So now not only do I get to be embarrassed about my size, but I get to be mortified in front of people that I can’t afford to fly the airline that suits me better? Yay! Sizeist AND eliteist! How fun for you!

    Want to talk about how my brother had to use over 40,000 of my mom’s frequent flier miles (would have been ~ $400 each way without them) to get a last-minute ticket from San Diego, CA to Syracuse, NY so he could come to my grandmother’s funeral? I know, I know, she had the indecency to die suddenly while he was on a job across the country, so he couldn’t schedule the flight ahead of time. I guess it’s our fault and he shouldn’t feel entitled to the “luxury” of saying goodbye? I believe this was Delta, which I guess would be a “Macy’s” airline.

    Hey will discount tickets be like Macy’s sales – they jack the price up, then put a “sale” sticker on and a sign that says X% (off original price) so there actually is no discount and it just looks like it to draw you in?

  256. I love Midwest and fly them all the time, but they don’t have wide seating on ALL of their flights anymore; they have some flights that are wide 2-across (signature service) and some that are narrow 3-across (saver service). The 9/11 financial hit took away the champagne breakfasts and complimentary wine dinners too. Fucking terrorists. (yes, that was an insensitive joke, I get that)

    You still get the cookies (on all flights departing after 10am)

  257. Also, I’m going to go out on a limb and disagree with your banning of Crossbuster. That was total and complete sarcasm and s/he was making the point of how ridiculous charging people extra is. You banned someone who AGREED with our cause because they (maybe deliberately) used a word you didn’t like?

    It is ridiculous to ask fat people to pay more or buy 2 seats.

    Just like…

    It would be ridiculous to ask the handicapped to pay for their parking spaces.

    It would be ridiculous for parents to pay extra for special ed in public schools.

    It would be ridiculous to ask blind people to pay extra for braille.

    And so on.

    “Cripple” may not have been the best choice in words, but the sentiment was still on track. Yes, it was dripping in sarcasm and lacking in sugar-coat, but it was in line with what everyone is basically saying.

  258. In this particular case it’s a matter of “you probably didn’t read the same comments we did.” Crossbuster has been on the edge for a while now, across several posts.

  259. One last thing, I don’t think anyone has mentioned…if they have it’s in one of the comments I didn’t read because, gah, there are about a billion.

    There may be some kind of fire/FAA/safety code to prevent this, but couldn’t we make the seats wider by making the aisles a little narrower?

  260. (Just as a policy clarification: As a person who has made this exact same mistake, i.e. putting my foot up my mouth and my head up my ass by using a slur “in fun” as a Randy Newman-esque attempt to speak with the tongues of assholes, I would normally not be in favor of bannination if someone hadn’t been constantly skirting the line. So if anyone’s getting worried that they’ll one day let their sarcasm get away with them and let fly a slur that they only meant in jest: if you have been delightful up until this point, I at least will trust you to learn from being rebuked.)

  261. I would normally not be in favor of bannination if someone hadn’t been constantly skirting the line.

    Ditto. He didn’t get banned for that comment. He got banned because about 90% of his comments in a very short period of time made me feel oogy one way or another. Sarcasm is very much appreciated here, even when it falls flat, and usually if someone says something that’s offensive to a marginalized group, they’ll get an earful of education on why it’s offensive, but they won’t get banned or snarked off the stage. This one was special.

  262. I think when they don’t give us much in the way of a choice it’s discriminatory – either we pay thousands of dollars to fly first class (domestically) or we cram ourselves in coach and hope no one decides at the last minute that we need two seats. On the other hand, it’s why I’ve refused to fly Southwest. While most other airlines do have the policy, they’re the only ones who articulate it (proudly, it often seems to me). Consequently, they don’t get my business. I actually think having a middle ground isn’t a bad idea… then you decide if you pay less and take the risk or pay a bit more and have more space. The problem is, we just don’t have that option.

    Look, I’ll take the lumps of being elitest, even though my husband and I, in over two years of marriage, haven’t been to visit his family in Texas because we can’t afford to fly. Gasp! We begged, borrowed, & ran up our credit cards to send him for three days when his grandfather died… and I was grateful it was “only” $450 to do it… but rest assured, if we hadn’t been able to figure out a way – he wouldn’t have gone then, either! We did miss his sister’s spur-of-the-moment wedding. But that’s the consequence of choosing to live a few thousand miles away.

    (Nice visual on the chickens, though!) :)

  263. (and stop posting in flurries, y’all, until I’ve spoken, so I stop looking like a dummy!) LOL

  264. There may be some kind of fire/FAA/safety code to prevent this, but couldn’t we make the seats wider by making the aisles a little narrower?

    I think they’ve made the aisles about as narrow as they can get. I find getting through the aisle with a bag and a four-year-old difficult enough as it is. I think if they made the aisles much smaller, people who have trouble fitting into one airline seat wouldn’t be able to maneuver through the aisle.

  265. On that note, ahem:

    “by thin I mean questions of anorexia thin”

    STOOOOOOP THIIIIIIIIS PEEEEEEEEEEEOPLLLLLLLLLLE

  266. Liza: in 2002, I couldn’t do the reverse of that flight (Syracuse, NY to San Diego) for my grandmother’s funeral because the “bereavement fare” was something like $1500 (seriously!!) for a flight that would get me there just in time to miss the funeral while I waited for my luggage/a taxi.

    (The Lakeshore Limited Amtrak Experience I referred to earlier was my regular way to get from Syracuse back to school in Chicago)

  267. Yeah, I really only saw the one comment from that person so I guess I assumed you banned over one thing (you know what they say about assuming..). In my head it looked like overreaction. I didn’t see anything else inflammatory from them, but there are approximately 8 trillion comments on here, plus when I scroll with the touch pad on my computer it skips around a lot, so I probably just missed it. And let my big mouth go unchecked. Sorry. *pinkcheeks*

    I guess if my blog actually had readers I’d be more sympathetic to dealing with trolls. I heart this place, by the way. :)

    Oh, shoutz, I hope you don’t think I was talking to you when I said eliteist? Pretty much that whole comment was aimed at Tal, who suggested 3 price-tiers for airlines. The top one would be the most comfortable and the most expensive. Which would mean that rich fatties would be able to fly easily, but those of us poorer lard-asses would still be screwed. And my anecdote about my brother’s flight was basically to illustrate that sometimes flying really is a necessity. You may be able to argue that taking the kids to Hawaii for a two-week beach vacation is a luxury, but if you work freelance jobs in a lot of different places (like my brother does) and suddenly have to travel for a family emergency, that’s hardly the same.

    I wish there were some way to grade pricing by necessity. For emergencies/bereavement it would be the cheapest, for business ventures and family affairs (like weddings or reunions) it would be slightly more, and for vacations it’s the most. That’d probably be too hard to enforce, though.

    Aaaaand, back to not usurping the thread.

  268. I’m also old enough to remember when air travel — or any long distance travel — was a luxury. So what? Thing is, in the decades of inexpensive and easy travel since we’ve scattered to the winds, and we’ve come to rely on frequent travel to maintain social and economic ties. We were also actively encouraged to do so, not only by carriers eager for our business and a wide variety of dependant industries such as hospitality and tourism, but by employers who demanded a highly mobile workforce.

  269. A few thoughts:

    1) Airlines ARE subsidized already in a variety of ways (including but not limited to the 9/11 bailout).

    2) One of the reasons they are subsidized (like other forms of transportation) is that our economy really depends upon air travel. Air travel may not be a right but there are many many jobs out there (including my own) that would be impossible if I could not fly (and my employer would not/could not buy two seats). If this rule were implemented it would not just be an additional cost for fat folk in their leisure time but would in essence exclude them from many different kinds of employment–which would mean that employers simply wouldn’t hire larger people and…then you have a nasty pattern of discrimination. The government subsidizes regional rail here up the wazoo and the reason is because it is good public policy. So the idea of subsidizing travel is not insane.

    3) Having flown a great deal outside of the country–a lot of foreign airlines have much more comfortable amenities–British Air, Scandanavian Air & Lufthansa all have larger seats (and I’ve flown their domestic and international flights). Why can they do this and not American airlines? If it’s subsidies then maybe we should look into it. If no–what’s wrong with the business model of our airlines?

  270. Late to the discussion, I know, but..at first, I was horrified at the thought I might have to pay extra for two seats (I still am), but I do have to agree with Tal’s points. I too am old enough to remember when you really saved up to fly, and when you drove to LA rather than catching a $50 Southwest puddle jumper (and I’m only 32..), so I don’t think it’s a right. I’d rather pay more to have seats that fit comfortably, not just my butt, but to not be scrunched up (at only 5’8″ and wondering how taller people function) in a seat because there’s no leg room (and heaven forbid the person in front of you recline.) I mean, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen three tall business people trying to get to their laptops once the plane reaches the right levels. I had the pleasure of flying first class and also United Plus (a little extra room) and it was so nice to not have that cramp in my legs from not having enough leg room.

    I fly quite a bit, and echo a lot of the sentiments about other things people do in seats (sitting cross legged, men sprawled, screaming babies, kids kicking the seats/climbing onto my seat/shouting). So I guess I don’t have a good answer/response.. :-/

    Wait, I do..I’d gladly pay an extra $50-100 for a ticket if it meant there was more leg and booty room on a plane. (not a separate seat, just fewer seats per plane). I’m ok with multiple price tiers if the difference in tiers wasn’t so astronomical (like between coach and business).

    (Pennylane, I found British Airlines to be narrow as heck last year. Now Virgin, there’s an airline with booty room.)

  271. Pennylane –

    You are exactly correct in saying the airlines are already subsidized, and the fact that we are in this mess shows that it didn’t work.

    Amtrak is federally subsidized and it looses money every year. Throwing money at a problem rarely fixes the problem. Where do you suggest we get all of this money to subsidize air travel from? Subsidizing airline tickets comes down to one point, if you expect to use a service you should also expect to pay for that service. Do you expect someone else to pay for your travels when they are paying for their own or not using the service at all? also, how is that any more fair?

    Tulsa cosigned for an airline that went bankrupt, what did that leave Tulsa… a lot of nothing.. the bank repossessed the land and the city was out a lot of money. Government should not play in private business.

  272. Sorry. *pinkcheeks*

    No problem, Liza! As I said in the other thread, we need to revisit this topic about every three months, regardless of who’s here at the time. :)

  273. Hee… I still haven’t read the comments and don’t plan to, but we got a trackback from someone complaining about the “poll tampering.” YOU GUYS OUR POLL WAS SO GREAT UNTIL PEOPLE WHO DISAGREED WITH US SHOWED UP

  274. Hi Guys:

    Thank you for all you did! I felt so alone fighting all those bigots on the Parade Poll. You rock!

    Jasmine

  275. hey ARE shut DOWN. Small minded JERKS! I think that Parade needs to go further by apologizing and erasing the comments. Until then they’re complicit in my book!

    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 Editor’s note: Due to the inflammatory and inappropriate nature of some comments posted, the discussion feature has been disabled for this article. For information regarding Parade.com’s comment policy, please read our Terms of Use.

  276. *sigh* My greatest fear when I have to travel for work. How embarrassing would it be to have to call the boss and tell her you can’t be there after all? And why?

    If they were consistent about their policy, they would have to do something about my 6’7″ (and thin) brother who can’t fit his knees behind the seat. And they would charge half fares to people who are very thin and only take up part of the seat.

    I had a woman pitch a fit on a flight once. She told the flight attendants that she was claustrophobic and couldn’t sit next to me. And I actually can put the arm down between my seat and the seat next to me. But I guess my shoulder might creep over and touch her. Do shoulders get bigger with weight?

  277. Wow, they shut down the comments? They must have gotten pretty fucking bad.

    You’re right; we should call for Parade to apologize for not doing it earlier. Only part of me is like “whatever, it’s Parade Magazine, they’re such a joke.” Still, it’s the public internet and (see the next post here) moderators have a responsibility to keep things from going off the rails. Especially if they’re operating under the name of a quasi-legitimate publication.

    I’ll look up contact info tomorrow, unless a night owl/West Coaster gets a chance to do it first.

  278. What about people’s “personal space”? Most, if not all, people have an invisible personal space surrounding us. We step back if someone invades it. We adjust our stance when approaching someone else to talk. It’s there. It’s real. When our space is invaded, we retreat. The only exception used to be just elevators and subways. But the adopted standard for coping with the closeness factor is A) stare straight ahead watching the numbers go up and down. And B) Just deal with it cuz it’s a short ride.

    The airlines USED to maintain that personal space in the beginning with normal sized seats and wide aisles. Now it’s just a matter of dollars and asses. Im mean really…who can stare straight ahead for an entire flight these days? If they really cared about a passengers comfort they would make more realistically adjustable seats, allowing for the variety of sizes people come in to be accommodated.

  279. Regina, I’d like to refer you here.

    It’s about exactly that: fat people on public transportation and the “comfort” or “space” issue.

    (yes, I’m shamelessly sending you to my own blog…it was also discussed on this site, but hey, I’m shameless)

  280. I was just thinking, if a fat person buying one seat is such a problem for (presumably) thin people, maybe the thin person should buy the second seat for them. Since it’s them who have the problem.

  281. Some rambling thoughts…
    1—The TONE of the debate makes it pretty clear that this isn’t just about comfort/fairness. If the issue was framed as “HOW do we deal w/ the fact that airline seats are getting smaller & people are getting bigger (not just fatter–also taller/more muscular/etc) so no one loses it & smacks someone in the face for the knee bump that is the last straw on a 10 hour flight?” instead of “bad fatties should pay more to fly!” then I wouldn’t see it as nearly as problematic.
    2—Airplane seats just suck. Given fuel prices it might not be feasible for airlines to make seats larger, which is the common sense/ideal solution. I don’t think weight should mean someone has to pay double (& it’s revealing of pro-2-seaters’ intent that this applies to fat people & not tall, elbow-y people) but when I’m next to someone who, for any reason, doesn’t fit in their seat, though I don’t feel it’s their fault it sucks that because I’m fairly small & can squeeze myself into the remaining space, I’ve spent quite a few flights hugging the window, in the middle with my knees squeezed together & elbows tucked in or hanging into the aisle getting banged by the beverage cart. (Why are flight attendants always pissed at YOU when that happens?) Though as I write this & think about it…it’s probably not like I’m any more uncomfortable than the bigger person. Perhaps the suckiness is evenly distributed?
    3–The idea that there’s a sexist aspect (hips=bad, elbows=no biggie?) here makes a lot of sense. I remember discussion about charging for tickets based on weight & it was always about FAT people—never mentioning that men would automatically pay more. Funny how that idea died out but this one hangs on.
    4—Honestly, I also think there’s an issue of entitlement. It rarely seems to me that fat people feel like they “deserve” the space they need, but I’ve had a lot of experiences sitting next to guys (sometimes tall ones, but almost as often not) who seem to think that as a small woman my space is his to take b/c he “needs” it more than I do. (& sometimes this is true, but a sorry-I-elbowed-your-boob-6-times-in-3-minutes acknowledgment would be nice. & I don’t care how big you are, ONE of those armrests is MINE.)

    Anyway…sorry this got so long, especially since I doubt I’ve said anything new…a complicated topic, no doubt.

  282. I don’ t think this has been mentioned – certainly not in the article anyway – but the more weight an aeroplane carries, the more fuel it burns. So the costs involved for the airline increase with the heavier load the plane carries. My dad is a pilot, thats why I know this. Maybe thats why you have to pay for excess baggage?

    Eitherway, the thought of being weighed to see how much I have to pay for my ticket is enough to make me NEVER fly again. Let alone purchasing two tickets because of my weight.

    I have flown all my life (as i mentioned, my father is a pilot so we have always had cheap fares) and i am always conscious not to impede in the space of the person sitting next to me. But as I get older and larger I am feeling increasingly claustrophic during flights. And its not just the small seat, it’s the lack of leg room and the lack of head space when the person infront reclines their chair.

    Regardless of the excess cost to airlines, I believe that targeting people because of their weight is an easy way for an already fatphobic society to blame us for all their insecurites and make money out of us at the same time.

    Travel used to seem like such an adventure. Now it feels like I’m a travelling freak show, from the minute i get on the plane to when i get off. My last holiday in Japan left me feeling like a giant.

    might just stay at home and reduce my carbon footprint.

  283. This is just plain offensive. Why don’t we charge handicap people for 3-4 bus fares because their wheelchairs take up 3-4 seats? Oh, that’s right. I forgot. They didn’t choose to be that way, but fat people did. (Never mind the fact that some people in wheelchairs are that way because of reckless driving or other hurtful stunts.)

    In summary, this is pretty stupid.

  284. Cute Bruiser, I see where you’re going, but be wary of making assumptions about other groups to show that we shouldn’t make assumptions about fat people. You end up digging yourself in pretty quickly, I’ve found.

  285. I was pointing out common assumptions and pointing out that you can’t always judge a book by its cover. You don’t know how someone came to require the use of a wheelchair just by looking at them. We wouldn’t expect them to pay more for the extra seats on the bus they require.

    However, if a fat person needs an extra seat on a plane, it’s suggested that they should pay more and this is acceptable because the common assumption is that we CHOOSE to be this way.

    And that’s just plain wrong.

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