We have video!

And I really need to learn not to hold my tongue between my teeth when I’m listening!

Thanks so much to Petulant for grabbing this and getting it up so fast. Now, more than ever, tongue kisses to you, my friend!

219 thoughts on “We have video!

  1. Yaaaaaaaay Kate!

    I think, “No, it’s not fair, but I’m not responsible for it because of the size of my butt” is going to be my slogan of the week.

  2. You are so eloquent and fantastic. You held your own! Thanks so much for doing this. Your points speak for themselves, but you also looked incredible. I loved the purple.

    And I’m pretty sure she called you “Katie” at the end.

  3. They HAD to do the headless fatties, didn’t they?

    Oh, god, yeah, I almost forgot. I had no idea they were doing that (though I should have known) — I was just staring at a camera and listening to Kiran Chetry in my ear, no monitor anywhere I could see. Just watched the video, and was like OH OF COURSE YOU DID.

  4. you were great! you looked lovely – all those wardrobe fears were obviously exaggerated. ; ) you didn’t even seem nervous, but made your points well. btw, did she call you katie at the end? what do you think that means?

  5. Great job, “Katy” Harding! :P
    By the way, I loved your purple top. Or did it just seem purple on camera?

  6. Okay, what the hell? First with the phone calls (uh, yeah, you should have to pay extra for your kid because it is ANOTHER PERSON), and then with you being apparently the only author of the book, and all of a sudden you’re “Katie Harding”?

    You did great, but sheesh.

  7. Nicely done, Kate.

    Did you get to hear the gripy counterpoints to your message (the stuff before your interview) before speaking with the interviewer? I’d have love to have heard that stuff debunked; I wish the interviewer had steered the conversation that way.

    And I didn’t notice your tongue at all. Of course, I was watching the interviewer while she was talking. I bet most everyone else was too. ^_^

  8. Okay, what the hell? First with the phone calls (uh, yeah, you should have to pay extra for your kid because it is ANOTHER PERSON), and then with you being apparently the only author of the book, and all of a sudden you’re “Katie Harding”?

    Yeah, the phone calls bugged the hell out of me (as mentioned above).

    And I thought Marianne was going to be on with you this morning? What happened there?

  9. You were awesome! Very well spoken, and you’re so nice! I would totally have been shouting at her. Congrats!

  10. Great job, Kate! Wonderfully composed, even after listening to the obnoxious callers at the beginning of the piece!

    And thanks to Petulant for getting us the vid so quick – those of us time zone impaired appreciate that!

  11. The anchor seemed to have a problem looking you in the eye (so to speak), too. I mean, I learned that in English class in seventh grade: make eye connection with the audience, don’t stare at your notes. She seemed to spend at least 3/4 of the time staring down. Oye.

    TV “news” suxor.

  12. and then with you being apparently the only author of the book

    Oh, shit, seriously? I was so fucking deer-in-the-headlights, I didn’t pick up on that, doing it or watching it (which I’ve only done once). And that’s insult to injury because, to answer your question, Jo, they bumped Marianne at the last minute — segment ended up being shorter than anticipated, so they “couldn’t justify having 2 people with the same point of view.”

  13. Wow, my computer sucks. I was saying, I was distracted by the sheer prettiness of your hair!

  14. You were fantastic, Kate! You made your points so well and appeared so confident, and looked fabulous. I liked how you refused to let yourself be drawn off into making other arguments and stuck to the point that it’s the airlines who are responsible – I would have failed so utterly on that and tried to cram about thirty minutes’ worth of solid ranting into two minutes of calm discussion and ended up flailing and angry and frustrated. I’m glad you didn’t get to see their headless fatties at the start or I imagine you’d have found it somewhat harder to be so calm and articulate.
    I am slightly baffled as to why she suddenly decided your name was Katie, though. Also, I totally didn’t notice your tongue. I was busy looking at your miraculous shiny hair and your lovely top.

  15. A rant at the callers:

    To the claustrophobic dude who called in to CNN: TAKE THE FUCKING TRAIN. You’re gonna be claustrophobic on an airplane even if the seat next to you is occupied by the world’s smallest person, so don’t blame my genetic code for your phobia. Take the train. We’ll all feel better.

    And the lady saying because she has to pay for a seat for her kid because he weighs 25 pounds so I should have to pay extra for my “extra” 25 pounds:
    1) I am “over”weight by a lot more than 25 pounds
    b) Way to miss the point in an epic fashion
    iii) Cut the cord, already. That kid should be able to sit in a seat on his own and no longer be attached physically to your body at his age.

    Grr. Argh.
    DRST

    PS – Kate, you rocked and yes, we’re all going to be calling you “Katie” when we want to mock you now. ;)

  16. No, they did say “co-author,” but it wuld have been nice of them to mention Marianne as the other co-author.

  17. This was awesome!
    I’m so glad you used the word “fat” unapologetically. I could hear people all around the nation thinking “but she’s not fat.”
    Thank you so much for posting it, I was digging around for it before I went to work and I’m so glad I got to see it.
    In the process of looking, I found this web site:
    Fly Friendly Skies – Association for Airline Passenger Rights which looks to be a real ally in this fight.
    I’m going to join (it’s only $10). Digging a bit on the web site, it looks like it was incorporated as a 501(c)4 in September 2008. I’m not sure who is “behind” it — but it looks like it is trying to engage large employers. It’s billing itself as a lobby organization meant to represent passengers — there are organizations like this for every sector involved EXCEPT passengers.

    There’s this concept out there in health activism of “partnership math” of seeing who you can team up with to fight for a change in policy, and on the surface, at least, this organization looks like a good partner.

    Brandon M. Macsata, Executive Director of the Association for Airline Passenger Rights, appeared on CNN, too. Here’s a link (I hope it works) to that clip:
    ‘Fat Tax’ for Flying

  18. Kate, you looked gorgeous and you were composed and articulate, unlike the callers. I’m so glad we here in the fatosphere have a spokeswoman like you. Plus, I hope your book gets a lot of sales from the mention!

    I’ve used this CNN segment to mention fat acceptance to some of my friends. Also, I appreciate you using the word fat!

  19. I’m at work, so I can’t really hear the whole thing, but mad props to you for getting through that segment without going on a 20 minute diatribe. Because god knows I would’ve (btw, the seat policy is making rounds at LJ, so I pointed some people from there over here, as they were really upset/displeased with the fat hate comments on one article).

    And seriously with the headless fatties, people.

  20. I’m thinking that a “one soul, one fare” campaign might be in order to address the caller frustrated that her 25-pound child needs it’s own seat.
    Of course, if she wants to claim that her child doesn’t have a soul, it won’t need a seat.
    This policy will discriminate against the soulless, who will need to sit on top of each other (zombies don’t seem to mind this). I’m not an expert in which of the undead do or don’t have souls (I didn’t watch enough Buffy or read books on the subject) but I think the vampires will dislike being bumped from the Red Eye for the morning flight.

  21. Excellent job. I work with media a fair amount but lucky for me I never have to be on camera. You were great. As for “can’t have two people with the same opinion” crap: Not particularly well-honed argument when they had three people’s comments ahead of you saying why it’s a fair policy. But I am glad CNN bothered to spend some time on your/our point of view. That is one major audience you just reached!

  22. You were amazing!

    I find it hard to believe that no one would call in saying something about the policy being unfair. I also find it hard to believe that no one called in supporting it who didn’t sound like they took too many Righteous Panic vitamins with their morning coffee. And I wonder what the guy with claustrophobia would say if he was told he had to buy the seat next to him if he was uncomfortable with the one.

  23. When I heard the direction the nasty callers were taking I actually plugged my ears until it was over. I don’t need that crap taking up space inside my head. GAH!

  24. The anchor seemed totally disinterested in the subject. Either that, or they just handed her the questions with no prep.

    Great job, but I doubt the interview did anything to counteract the awfulness coming from the other side. :(

  25. “Katie,” heh. I thought you were awesome in that segment, and I *loved* that you brought up the Canadian policy when you got asked that stupid “compromise” question.

    I was pretty horrified by the headless fatties too; I think you should complain!

  26. I just reread my comment and gah, negativity! Sorry about that. I still think you were wonderful – calm and rational.

  27. Congrats on a job well done! I think that you were the only rational, coherent part of that segment! The callers…pssh, whatevah! But honestly, you looked and sounded great! :)

  28. You were GREAT. Way to go.

    I cannot repeat it often enough. If fat women have to pay extra for their thighs, I want the guys who can’t keep their HANDS out of my seat, or the guys who cannot sit with their legs together no matter where they are, to pay extra too.

    From now on, every time I fly United, when I get on the plane, if my seatmate is one of those tall blechy dudes (fairly easy to recognize on sight), I’m going to fuss. I’m going to complain to the flight attendant and asked to be moved next to any randomly available fat woman I can find on the plane, and bitch loudly that if United insists on letting men constantly take up my seat and personal space with their legs and arms and shoulders and imaginary giant penises, I’m going to fly NW only.

  29. fantastic job Kate,
    the purple dress with the cami DID NOT show off your boobs!! you looked great! Glad you went with your gut!

    (was that a facebook conversation?)

  30. punkrockhockeymom, “men… with their legs and arms and shoulders and imaginary giant penises” is my new favourite phrase!
    Kate, you were great, although I confess to being surprised that you weren’t a 2-D avatar like you normally are :)

  31. You composed yourself very well. I would have been scared shitless.

    I was super sad not to see Marianne, though.

  32. (uh, yeah, you should have to pay extra for your kid because it is ANOTHER PERSON)

    Yeah, especially because 25 pounds means it’s not young enough to be a lap baby. But anyone who uses the phrase “my child” in that exact tone repeatedly like that is probably a self-righteous douche. I’d bet money that she’d plow me down on the street with her $600 stroller because, well, where she needs to go is obviously more important. She’d probably let her child run screaming and rampant all over the lobby of my building and then bitch me out when my dog who is on a leash barks at her little 25-pound angel because she is freaked out by loud noises and sudden movement, especially when they come from obnoxious kids. She’d probably also fight for the free subway fare for a lap kid then led said obnoxious lap kid crawl all over the seat next to me and kick me/scream/touch my stuff without reprimand. Because her child is the most important thing in the universe ever and no one else’s shit matters at all in comparison. *

    *this rant is in honor of all the obnoxious self-righteous yuppie parents that do all of those things

    I’d rather have to share my seat with ass fat than be kicked by an annoying 3 year old, personally.

  33. You looked lovely and you presented yourself wonderfully.

    To the claustrophobic guy: Why is someone ELSE responsible for your phobia? Why is it okay to punish fatties but not phobics? See buddy, in a different world, you might be forced to buy a second ticket to accomodate your phobia and not interfere with the flight of fat people.

  34. P.S., now that i’m done ranting, excellent job staying rational and not cursing them out like I would have. Well done, Katie ;)

  35. @Deborah Lipp: Yes, this. Exactly. The claustrophobic guy might get to argue that he should get an aisle seat or be put next to an empty seat if there is one, based on his phobia. (Not sure a phobia is a disability per se, but if you can reasonably make accommodation for it, why not do so?) But there’s no reason to make another person responsible for his phobia. It’s just as reasonable to expect that if he wants breathing space, he should be the one to pay for the extra seat.

  36. Fabulous job, Kate – congrats! You looked just beautiful, too, for all the worry about what to wear.

    I’m with punkrockhockeymom. How about a surcharge on men who use the inadequate space on planes as a perfect milieu for sexual harassment, and who are allowed to do so by the airline staff even when we complain? Or maybe it should just be a dickhead tax also covering cell-phone-shouters, hair-pullers, and elbow-slammers, including in the holding pens. Or wait, Kate’s video gave me a shocking idea: airlines could provide adequate space and basic decency! They could even value the safety and comfort of their passengers who pay exorbitant amounts of money for at best erratic service! Wouldn’t that be neat?

    Sigh.

  37. It’s interesting how they consistently privilege the comfort of thin passengers over fat ones. It’s as though people assume fat people are PERFECTLY COMFORTABLE not fitting into seats, and as though we are just luxuriating in all the extra space we take up.

    Newsflash: it’s not comfortable for any of us. And oftentimes, when I’m technically fitting in my seat, I am so much more miserable than my thin flying companions because I’m crushed in there. Giving me an extra two inches shouldn’t be any reason to make a thinner person jealous — it would simply equalize our amounts of discomfort.

    And that’s not even getting into how stupid the policy is, as it’s set up — where you might arbitrarily be charged double, without knowing this beforehand, and it’s decided by (apparently) a gate agent at their discretion. The entire thing is stupid, top to bottom.

    Anyway, Kate, I’m glad you did this. It was great to see and hear you on air. You did a lovely job.

  38. Not to de-rail, but semi-related, there’s an actually DECENT and (mostly) non-wank filled discussion going on about this policy at SF_Drama on LJ here.

    Sparklepants is jorajo and I am cryfreedom. I was SHOCKED to see so many people in agreement that this plan is utterly bullshit. SHOCKED, I TELL YOU. And also heartened. Cause, dude, it’s not just the fat-o-sphere!

  39. Besides, Liza, anyone who has to use “my child” as a righteously indignant arguing point about airline seats needs to get a life.

    And I don’t get the impression she wants her kid to sit on her lap. Noooo — I think she wants her kid to sit in a seat for free because he’s only 25 lbs. And if we fatties get to have ourselves in our seat and our “extra person” riding for free, then her kid should ride free, too! So there! Because our “extra person” weighs way, way, waaaayyyy more than “my child.”

    I think if your kid cries on the plane you should have to move to an entirely empty row and pay for 3 seats instead of two. N.B. I have two kids, so no, I’m not an evil kid-hating fatty. Just a regular ol’ fatty.

    And: What the hell does an adajacent empty seat have to do with anything? Do they bump you from the flight if you’re subject to the fat tax and there aren’t any extra seats to accommodate you? Or do you, Fatty McFatterson, get to pay extra as a punishment for being so disgusting, and then not get your extra seat anyway?

    Finally, in my opinion fat people take up less space, because we have no heads, so that has to count for something.

  40. Brava!! You did an amazing job, Kate!!

    RE: the woman bitching about her 25-pound kid being charged full fare: last I knew, children under the age of 2 who could be relied upon to stay on their parent’s lap for the entire flight could ride free. Any child over the age of 2 (or particularly wiggly children under age 2), regardless of weight, would be charged full fare, for taking up a full seat. Because, just like Soylent Green, children are PEOPLE. (Okay, maybe not just like Soylent Green – mine are just making me extra crazy today. grin.)

    And man, the claustrophobic guy? Thank you for defining “privilege” for us so handily, dude!! “I’m claustrophobic, so YOU should be charged more to keep me comfortable.” WTF? Two can play that game – “Well I’m fat, so YOU should be charged more to keep ME comfortable! Nyah!!”

    Seriously though, Kate, you did a great job. Congratulations!!

  41. Yes, Kate, uh … you were AWESOME, and poised, and calm, and on point — everything was great.

    (sorry I ranted first and commented about your spectacular-ness second)

  42. Aw, you look fabulous and spoke eloquently. And I loved that you, by contrast, became the head for all the headless fatties who they decided to shame in the lead.

  43. Again, I’d like to thank you for the service you’re doing us. For every fat person that’s biting their nails for months before their trips, wondering if they are going to be ALLOWED to see their little sisters who live 2000 miles away, to attend a conference to present an important paper, to get to that mandatory business meeting, to run a summer school across an ocean — thank you. :) (those are all things I have done/will need to do in the future)

    I want to call attention, once more, to the fact that this policy is NOT going to be applied only to hugely fat people. This policy applies to anyone who cannot get the armrest down — from previous threads, we know that this can be any tall-enough, pear-shaped-enough individual, likely a woman, regardless of her fatness. That being so, we’re looking at at least 30% of all American women being subject to this policy and in danger of being singled out. The number is likely much lower for men (I don’t know what the average male hip size is, but since most fatter men carry their weight in their stomachs, it’s definitely smaller).

    1 in 3 women can ostensibly be singled out and bumped from their flight at the whim of the poor gate or flight attendants. This is AFTER they’ve purchased their fare, AFTER they’ve packed and planned and promised to meet such and such and do such and such when they arrive, and also AFTER they’ve arrived in a (possibly foreign) destination, implying they could be stranded for days in a strange airport, and so forth.

    I point that out because, as usual, the “headless fatty” lead-in footage before Kate’s segment was heavily (no pun) skewed towards people who were reasonably larger on the fatness scale, a much smaller percentage of people who could actually be singled out by this policy.

  44. omg, Kate, I completely love your speaking voice! Seriously, you could be on NPR or something. (I realize that might be a strange thing to say, but it’s what I was thinking the first time I watched the clip.)

    Dear Fellow Mother, The One With The 25 Pound Baby:

    Gosh, you’re so right. It’s totally reasonable to equate any kind of poundage with any other kind of poundage — no matter if it’s an entire human body, a part of a human body, or even an inanimate object. There’s simply no need to consideration safety or bodily integrity or a range of human embodied needs; it’s really just weight, volume, and money for the fare. (But we don’t consider whether the same fare might be more costly for one person than for another based on income differences because, well, I don’t know… somehow those differences aren’t noticeable to the people who aren’t used to having to notice people with less money than themselves. WEIRD, RIGHT?)

    Too bad you can’t just stow your baby in the overhead, right? And heck, you know… I mean, babies are so small, they should really just cram ALL the babies on a flight into some sort of seated-grown-up sized soundproof container (with air holes! I’m not inhumane) until they reach the weight of the average American adult male, and then charge the whole lot of babies ONE adult fare, which the parents would then split, according to what percentage of the total weight their own child took up. That Would Be Fair.

    Oh, except it WOULDN’T. It would be unsafe and cruel. And, also, *you* probably get dirty looks when *you* travel with your baby, about something that *you* can’t help either, unless you were to declare your baby unworthy of air travel. But by no means should you trouble yourself with empathy; truly, the best strategy is to deflect that injustice so that it affects others and not yourself. “But… but… LOOK OVER THERE!” has really proven itself, as a strategy. Only losers actually try to address problems in a way that benefits everyone. The important thing is that you got yours, right? Who cares what happens to someone else?

    /rant

  45. Also, I want to specifically appreciate how well you handled that. In a similar situation I’d be so tongue tied with trying to cram Everything I Ever Learned About Fat into the slot that I’d lose the thread…. Her Obeesity Epidemic stats would have been a flag to a bull, and I would have ended up muttering irrelevancies that confused everyone.

  46. ^ meant either “to consider” or “for a consideration of”. Apparently I wasn’t sure which one I liked better, so I made a hybrid! I’m so smart.

  47. You know, I don’t care what anyone says. If I have to buy an extra seat for my 25-pound child, then ANYONE who’s two people should have to buy an extra seat. Sorry.

  48. bigliberty, I am trying not to take your comment personally but, frankly, I am a hugely fat person. I deserve respect and equal treatment as a consumer, too. You make it sound as though it is perfectly acceptable to target those headless fatties – my body looks a hell of a lot like their bodies, actually.

    The policy is discriminatory, flat-out, regardless of how fat or not a person is. The price of tickets are not calculated based on how many cubic inches of space we take up. It isn’t based on what percentage of a tank of fuel it takes to move our mass. The price is to transport us from point A to point B. There is no promise of exceptional comfort and there is no pretense of there being a lot of dignity left in the experience either (they don’t call it cattle call seating for nothing).

    And, also for the record, I use a seat belt extender on some airlines, but just barely. I can put the arm rest down but if you put a lot of pressure on it, it digs into my hips and it hurts so I prefer to have them up. I weigh 300+ pounds. So I AM at risk of being targeted by this policy. But people also have no idea how much I weigh when they look at me. Because people are horrible at judging how much space a person takes up. There’s no way to even enforce this without basing it on humiliation and subjective judgment.

  49. Too bad you can’t just stow your baby in the overhead, right? And heck, you know… I mean, babies are so small, they should really just cram ALL the babies on a flight into some sort of seated-grown-up sized soundproof container (with air holes! I’m not inhumane) until they reach the weight of the average American adult male, and then charge the whole lot of babies ONE adult fare, which the parents would then split, according to what percentage of the total weight their own child took up. That Would Be Fair.

    When Mr Machine and I flew with cats, we put their carriers under the seats in front of us, and we only had to pay an extra $80 and show proof of a rabies vaccine! Surely that can work for babies.

  50. Finally, in my opinion fat people take up less space, because we have no heads, so that has to count for something.

    Okay, even though I have only rarely commented here (HUGE LURKER), and I am not exactly in a place of authority from which I can dictate THREAD WINNER, I hereby declare that this thread is OVER, Tinfoil Hattie has won, and nothing more can possibly be said, and one free internets to you.

  51. ^The Rotund, I’m 300+ lbs, I’m certainly not targeting hugely fat people (in a previous comment I mentioned that of course it isn’t okay to discriminate against hugely fat people either, it’s just that the perception of individuals affected is much more alarming when you consider what it really means – NOT that discriminating against even a few fat people is okay).

    I’m also trying to show how gender-discriminatory this is. I’m sorry if I got that point across poorly.

  52. You know, I don’t care what anyone says. If I have to buy an extra seat for my 25-pound child, then ANYONE who’s two people should have to buy an extra seat. Sorry.

    But… sputter… rage… THE POUNDAGE, fillyjonk. WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE POUNDAGE?!?!

  53. Kate and BigLiberty both brought up what seems to be a more important point than the (still ridiculous) possiblity of having to pay more for one person’s fare. The likelihood that a fat person will be bumped from an already-full flight, and then have to wait until a flight that’s not full is available (which is to say, almost never), that’s the bigger problem. As described, this means that fat passengers on United no longer have assigned reservations. Every fat passenger will be forced to, in essence, fly standby, at double the regular fare!

    I haven’t flown United in decades, and try to avoid Southwest, but the way these sort of bullshit policies are spreading really scares me. I travel for work, and my family lives halfway across the country. Not being able to reliably reserve a ticket would really impact me. And I know there are plenty of fatties who fly more than I do, for whom it would be still worse.

  54. When Mr Machine and I flew with cats, we put their carriers under the seats in front of us, and we only had to pay an extra $80 and show proof of a rabies vaccine! Surely that can work for babies.

    When we had to fly with our dog, we still had to pay a full fare and then crate him and then send him with the LUGGAGE.

    Maybe THAT will work for toddlers.

  55. DOUBLE PLUS BAD STANDBY, that is, since you’d be waiting to fly standby on a plane with two adjacent empty seats.

    GAH.

  56. bigliberty, I think part of it, honestly, rests in your usage of “hugely” fat. That gets tossed around by a lot of people who have no idea what morbid obesity looks like (not what they think it does, surprise!) so I think your usage harkened back to that a lot for me.

  57. Uh, Liza, the parents are ridiculous and obnoxious, but the kids are just being kids.

    Also: FJ hates chimeras. And SM, if someone with an earlier reservation or higher need had a pet to bring on board, one or both of yours could have been bumped to the luggage compartment, and I don’t see why we can’t just do that with babies!

  58. Sorry, I just re-read my comment and I can see where The Rotund is coming from. I think my descriptive terms aren’t really well thought-out — I say “hugely fat” and it’s just a description, like “somewhat fat” and so forth. I don’t usually categorize levels of fat at all, but in my attempt to myth-bust the average person’s idea of what fat people “look like” (which is best myth-busted with the awesome BMI project), and therefore the sheer numbers of who would be effected (not that there is a moral difference between 2 and 2000, but rather in an attempt to make the point “come home” to more people), I came across as insensitive.

    For anyone who was offended, I apologize! I know I have persistent foot-in-mouth, but I take responsibility for it and try carefully to avoid it.

  59. Kate,

    The trolls are stupid.

    I’m new to your blog, and had never seen you before – but looking at that clip, you are beautiful and healthy looking.

    Thanks for speaking out on behalf of women of all sizes

  60. Kate, you were amazing! Cool, coherent and professional and you really rocked the purple. That, and I thought you sounded a bit like Joy Nash. :)

  61. I have a question!! I’m directing people at LJ to information on how to complain about this policy, and most of the info I’ve gotten has been from these last few blog posts… but I THINK I remember someone requesting that we tell a certain person/blog if we filed a complaint so that they could keep track of the number of complaints that United received compared to the 700 that “instigated” this policy change. Does anyone remember where that was? Because I cannot for the life of me seem to find it.

    Thanks in advance, Shapelings! You make my life AMAZING!

  62. Just saw you on the show, and you were AMAZING. You looked gorgeous and were so eloquent and smart. Great job!

  63. Every fat passenger will be forced to, in essence, fly standby, at double the regular fare!

    Damn, that is a perfect way of putting it, and I wish you’d said it/I’d thought of it before this morning. (Also, excellent point about it being double plus bad standby, but the first one-liner is killer for these purposes.)

  64. Sorry Meggie – I think it is mentioned to highlight how ridiculous that sort of thing is which illuminates how ridiculous stuff like this United thing is. That 25-pound get gets treated like a person – why don’t the rest of us?

  65. Kate, AMAZING JOB. You are so very eloquent.

    I agree with Meggie, please less talk about shoving kids into overhead bins, etc.

  66. While her point was obnoxious and she totally missed the point, I can somewhat relate to the annoyance the mother of the 25-pound child felt. It is quite frustrating when you are planning a trip and realize that you have to pay full-fare for your 2-year-old child, who would happily sit in your lap for the flight. In most other settings–restaurants, hotels, museums, movies, often trains and busses–small children don’t pay full price. Planes seem to be one of the few exceptions, and given how outrageously expensive plane fare is, it can be frustrating.

    But, again, to somehow be annoyed at fat people for this, rather than the airlines, makes no sense. The outrage should be at the fact that the same airline making you pay full price for a person who only weighs a fraction of what the average person weighs is now saying that somebody who is larger than average might need to pay twice as much. That makes NO sense. It’s not about the amount of space you take up. Clearly, when it comes to anybody over the age of 2, airlines have the policy that one person pays for one seat, regardless of whether or not they take up the entire seat or if they use it at all (I flew with my son right after he turned 2, and he spent the flight on my lap, even though we had to pay full fare for him). And yet, when it comes to fat people, the policy suddenly changes and it’s not a matter of one ticket for one person no matter how much space they take up, but each person paying for however much space they need.

    So, yeah, she was an idiot, but I can relate to being annoyed by having to pay $300 for a 2-year-old who is going to spend the whole flight on your lap anyway to fly 600 miles. Airlines are one of the few businesses out there that consider “2 and up” to be the definition of “adult.” If they want their “one person, one seat” policy, that’s fine, just be consistent about it. But don’t tell me I need to pay full price for a seat for my child even though he takes up about 1/2 of it because each passenger must pay for a seat and then turn around and tell a fat passenger who can’t put down the armrests that they need to pay for two seats.

  67. Thanks, Kate! But I wouldn’t have thought of it without your impetus. :-)

    Oh, hey, and here’s a gentle reminder to please post about the exploratory committee for the summer camp, when you get a chance! Thanks!

  68. Ha, thanks, indiegoddess – I just hate how every “news” item about size and weight just coincidentally happens to be shame-based. I fight enough of my own shame at being fat.

    This is just public humiliation, sanctioned by a large percentage of the population.

  69. Lori, I think you might have hit upon a sort of initial solution to the problem of small children being charged an adult rate, and fat people charged double. Why not retool just a single row or two to have some smaller-than average, and some larger-than average seats? You can have a couple of kid-sized seats at a kid-sized fare, and a few larger seats.

    It doesn’t solve the problem in the long run, but it contradicts the bugaboo of “oh we have to retool our ENTIRE FLEET to make the complaining obese happy!”

  70. Also, and then I’ll get back to work: am I now forced to call my clients or colleagues and say, “I should be able to make the meeting in Idaho on the 25th, unless I get bumped from my plane for being too fat, which I won’t know until I get to the flight gate and find out whether I pass some airline clerk’s definition of “Fatty, fatty, 2×4.”

  71. It is quite frustrating when you are planning a trip and realize that you have to pay full-fare for your 2-year-old child, who would happily sit in your lap for the flight. In most other settings–restaurants, hotels, museums, movies, often trains and busses–small children don’t pay full price. Planes seem to be one of the few exceptions, and given how outrageously expensive plane fare is, it can be frustrating.

    But it’s because it’s really unsafe to have a child in your lap. I really do support requiring seats (and fares) for each person regardless of size – requiring a seat guarantees access to a seatbelt. It’s nice that you were on a flight where it was safe enough for your child to be out of his seat and in your lap during the flight, but at least if there had been turbulence he had a place to buckle up.

  72. I’d like to point out that they already DO have mechanisms for changing out the seats. Most charter airlines change their seat configurations to accomodate different needs.

  73. Kate, you came across very well – very calm and articulate and coherent, and I couldn’t stop looking at your pretty pretty hair!

    A Sarah, your satire is like an iron hand in a velvet glove. Intelligent and soft and funny and biting to the heart of things all at the same time. I wish I could write like you.

  74. I’m new here–hello, hello–but I have to say that I agree with all your Brilliances, and want to add that Kate, you looked absolutely amazing and kept your cool (even as a new Shapeling, I was shouting at Youtube this morning after the anchor read those statistics, and the callers, and the ridiculous headless fatties.) It’s one thing to read things like this on a blog and feel uplifted and amazing, but quite another to see FA on CNN and now that nationwide, fat-hating is being challenged, if only for a few minutes.

    I have to add, also, that when my husband and I fly, we’re always uncomfortable because we’re both broad-shouldered, and so are many thin people. But we’re most uncomfortable when we’re next to people who *clearly* have not bathed recently and/or have been hitting the Hangar Bar hard for the entirety of their 6-hour layover. Maybe the airlines could let us pick our own seats, and us fatties could sit together, and the stinkies/babymommas/drunks could do the same?

  75. I thought that you did an excellent job. The reporter’s bit about ‘obese activists’ at the beginning made me do a little eyeroll (because obese is SO much better than fat), as well as pretty much the entire lead-in to the interview, but I really enjoyed your interview, and thought you made all your points quite well. Also, you looked fabulous!

  76. also on the children on lap thing-

    if you only have ONE seat for a guardian and child, guess how many ventilators, seat belts, life vests you get? I know these are rarely used, but if there is a loss of cabin pressure AND turbulence, it would be very hard to hold onto your child, put on the air mask, and switch the air mask between the both of you. It’s not safe, and its not a helpful comparison anyways…

  77. Those phone calls really irritated me. If you’re claustrophobic and must fly, buy a business or first class ticket or take anxiety meds before flying. I’m not claustrophobic, but sometimes those sardine seats make me feel a little invaded and anxious!

    A 25 lb. child is not even remotely comparable to a person weighs 25 lbs. more than they are “supposed” to. A separate person is totally different from weight. Of course, at 5’4″ and just shy of 170 lbs, I’m technically 25 lbs. over what the medical world says I should weigh, and I’ve never had problems with airplane seats.

    Kate, you did a great job! I’m sure it’s hard to think quickly on your feet like that, and you were coherent and well spoken.

  78. Hey, so I got a response to my email. It’s generally boilerplate, but this particular passage stood out as particularly odious:

    Please understand that we sincerely care about the comfort and well-being of all of our guests and have implemented this policy with best intentions, to help ensure that everyone’s travel experiences with United are safe and pleasant.

    Um. By “all of our guests” they clearly mean “the guests who managed to gin up 700 complaints about fat passengers,” and not, you know, all of their guests. Grrr.

  79. I just had to leave a drive-by post and say how absolutely beautiful you look (despite the blue dress!). Seriously stunning!!! GO KATE!

  80. You were great!

    I didn’t love the segment as a whole (what with the clear bias of the network shining through), but I’m going to count it as a win because a) Fat Activism made CNN at all, and b) you were great!

    “Because, just like Soylent Green, children are PEOPLE”

    I’m totally stealing this.

  81. I understand that they don’t want to “retro-fit” the whole plane. Why can’t they just add a small section with bigger seats and reserve that area for overweight passengers?
    If they did this, they could make that option available and no one would have to be overcharged, and more importantly, made to feel like a freak.
    The first time I flew after losing 170 pounds, I was still petrified that i wouldn’t be able to fit in the seat. I was able to fit, and was mostly comfortable, but it wasn’t a loose fit by any means. I would have never made it before the weight loss and it would have been completely himiliating to have to ask for the seat belt extender. To have someone be publically flooged (in my opinion) by having to pay more is horrendous. It’s just another way to punish us if we’re “less than”.

  82. Kate – you were brilliant and the purple really suited you. I think you got your points across incredibly well – you were smart, succint and rational.

    Every fat passenger will be forced to, in essence, fly standby, at double the regular fare! […] Not being able to reliably reserve a ticket would really impact me. And I know there are plenty of fatties who fly more than I do, for whom it would be still worse.

    O.C. puts it brilliantly. But I suspect that the final point (not being able to reliably reserve a ticket is a problem for most people) is the reason the airline is doing it – people who have to catch a certain flight will have no choice but to reserve two seats to make sure they don’t get bumped for being too fat. Maybe there will be fewer complaints from the rather minuscule number of passengers who get het up about this (700 people? Isn’t that like only three or four flights’ worth of people?), but significantly more money for the airline if everyone who is concerned that they might be bumped is forced to buy two seats instead of one as insurance.

  83. Why can’t they just add a small section with bigger seats and reserve that area for overweight passengers?

    What if it’s full? What if someone sits there because they want more room instead of because they’re fat — would you require a doctor’s note when the reservation is made? What if nobody on the plane is fat and those seats have to go unsold? What if the fat person is traveling with a child who would then have to be seated in another row? What if they just paid attention to the comfort of ALL passengers by making the seats less criminally tiny?

  84. Gah, I was accidentally logged in for another blog – the comment from “criminal_reviewer” above is actually by me…

  85. Loved it, Kate. You were fab. And so absolutely right to put the responsibility where it belongs.

    How do airlines justify their seat sizes and spacing? In most Western countries, better nutrition has meant that people on average are getting taller, broader and yes, fatter. Whereas airlines have not increased their seat width and have reduced the amount of legroom available. There have been so many cases of Deep Vein Thrombosis resulting from restricted conditions on long flights, it’s downright irresponsible of airlines to continue to inflict these conditions on ANYONE.

    I’ve been on a long haul flight next to an obese woman, and yes, she needed her armrest up, and yes, she also encroached onto my seat a bit. But she was a nice friendly woman and helped me keep my mind off my claustrophobia (here’s a hint to the nervous man: make some friends). I was a little bit uncomfortable, but not nearly as much as she was. She was equally tolerant of my continuous fidgeting and my tendency to drool when sleeping. 5 rows down a 25lb child was yelling its head off. I know who I prefer next to me on a flight.

    Perhaps we can suggest to airlines that we have tickboxes? I would prefer to be annoyed by a) an overweight person b) a bony person c) an infant d) a claustophobe e) a lay preacher with halitosis f) a giant invisible penis.

  86. As I’m in moderation at the moment thanks to my lack of ability to check who I’m logged in as before posting, I’ll repost:

    Kate – you were brilliant and the purple really suited you. I think you got your points across incredibly well – you were smart, succint and rational.

    Every fat passenger will be forced to, in essence, fly standby, at double the regular fare! […] Not being able to reliably reserve a ticket would really impact me. And I know there are plenty of fatties who fly more than I do, for whom it would be still worse.

    O.C. puts it brilliantly. But I suspect that the final point (not being able to reliably reserve a ticket is a problem for most people) is the reason the airline is doing it – people who have to catch a certain flight will have no choice but to reserve two seats to make sure they don’t get bumped for being too fat. Maybe there will be fewer complaints from the rather minuscule number of passengers who get het up about this (700 people? Isn’t that like only three or four flights’ worth of people?), but significantly more money for the airline if everyone who is concerned that they might be bumped is forced to buy two seats instead of one as insurance.

  87. thegirlfrommarz, I just let your earlier comment out of moderation but you make a good point so I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be said twice. :)

  88. Okay, now that means I’ve posted the same thing twice. I should have my internet proficiency badge taken away.

    I am sorry.

    *hangs head in shame*

  89. Thanks, fillyjonk. I will stop posting about this now before I derail the whole thread. :)

    I feel like the Inspector Clouseau of Shapely Prose…

  90. I would prefer to be annoyed by a) an overweight person b) a bony person c) an infant d) a claustophobe e) a lay preacher with halitosis f) a giant invisible penis.

    Ha-ha, KARIN for the win.

  91. Here’s something I don’t get. Say you are bumped from one flight for being “too” fat. Ostensibly, you have to wait for the next flight going to your destination that has two unsold, adjacent seats, and you have to by both seats.

    However, suppose you were a “too” fat person on that *second* flight. Then you would have been allowed to in those two adjacent unsold seats without paying for the second seat.

    So you get kicked off one flight and, since you didn’t *originally* book the second flight with the available seats you have to pay for both, but if you’d booked the second flight originally, you’d only have to pay for one. ???? Am I missing something, here?

  92. Am I a bad feminist if the first thing I say is you looked great? Because you did! You did a really great job too, you made your points really well. I hope it got through to some people.

  93. Great job! Watch the Complaining Obese keep their cool on national TV! Excellent points well-made.

    I loved hearing from the woman who was so put upon that when she traveled with a second person she had to actually pay TWICE! That she should pay two fares for two people is outrageous, but that my partner should have to pay two fares cuz he’s all ass (and thank heaven for that!) is “only fair.” The America we live in…

    I bet that kid eats its own meals and sleeps in its own bed, too. Dang, even two year olds are inconsiderate. Where will it all end?

    (Just briefly, from a Safety Professional’s point of view: if you let your kid run amok in the car with no car seat or seat belt, then by all means, encourage them to do the same on an airplane. But if you don’t, then you need to at least have the seat available to buckle them up in turbulence and for Frig’s Sake for take-off and landing. I have way too many friends who have suffered serious injuries in turbulence — including two friends who were severely injured on a Narita-Honolulu flight on which one passenger not in a seatbelt died as a result of her injuries — to take anything other than a serious hard line on seatbelts and turbulence. My sister hates it, cuz I cost her so much money when her kids were under 2, but it beats the heck out of the possible alternative. Safety Lecture over.)

  94. I bet that kid eats its own meals and sleeps in its own bed, too. Dang, even two year olds are inconsiderate. Where will it all end?

    WINNER

  95. Um, yeah, add me to the “OMG you looked fantastic” list. Your arguments were pretty darn good too.

  96. @bigliberty: if I can be excused a brief re-post, what you are basically “missing” is that million-dollar executive bonuses don’t rain down from the sky, and it is illegal for the airline to direct its cabin crew to steal all the cash out of your purse while you are in the restroom. That money has to come from somewhere (country club memberships are expensive, girl) and so the airline has instituted this policy (and others like it, I must say), where they basically reserve the right to screw you out of $500 if the opportunity presents itself.

    You may or may not know that UA has what they call “economy plus” seats in the front of the coach cabin with 5 extra inches (!!) of legroom. If you are not a Premier member of the frequent flier program and you wish to be assigned a seat in economy plus to be assured of the extra legroom, you must pay a premium (based on mileage) for the advance seat assignment. However, if you just see an empty seat in economy plus and you self-upgrade, F/As are instructed not to intervene and to allow the move. It’s the same (infuriating) principle: if you luck into the space, good for you, but if they can screw you out of $39 first, they do it.

    They took my pension away in a similar move; I feel your pain.

  97. You looked and sounded great! You’re a good spokesperson against this discriminatory policy and I hope you’re given more opportunities to speak on the issue.

  98. (uh, yeah, you should have to pay extra for your kid because it is ANOTHER PERSON)

    Yeah, especially because 25 pounds means it’s not young enough to be a lap baby. But anyone who uses the phrase “my child” in that exact tone repeatedly like that is probably a self-righteous douche. I’d bet money that she’d plow me down on the street with her $600 stroller because, well, where she needs to go is obviously more important. She’d probably let her child run screaming and rampant all over the lobby of my building and then bitch me out when my dog who is on a leash barks at her little 25-pound angel because she is freaked out by loud noises and sudden movement, especially when they come from obnoxious kids. She’d probably also fight for the free subway fare for a lap kid then led said obnoxious lap kid crawl all over the seat next to me and kick me/scream/touch my stuff without reprimand. Because her child is the most important thing in the universe ever and no one else’s shit matters at all in comparison. *

    *this rant is in honor of all the obnoxious self-righteous yuppie parents that do all of those things

    I’d rather have to share my seat with ass fat than be kicked by an annoying 3 year old, personally.

    Agreed. Not a fan of kids to begin with but I’m not in the camp of saying they should probably have their own seat for safety precautions just because I’m pissed off at mothers for daring to reproduce, I’m in the camp of saying they should have their own seat for, uh, you know – safety precautions.

    And I agree that as Lori pointed out, the woman’s comment completely missed the point. With kids it’s “one person, one fare” but when you’re fat it suddenly becomes a space issue. Gee, that wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that airline companies just want moar moneyz, would it? Also, the woman’s taking this and twisting it around as someone else said truly is just a case of “but LOOKA OVER THERE!” in an attempt to make for advancement for one group without giving a crap over whether or not you’re making things harder for others instead of just saying straight up “this is bogus, fix it”.

    Lastly, I know this is also repetition of what others have said, but I just wanted to say that I thought you did great and the purple was a nice choice :) You really kept your cool but managed to be funny as well, all in under 5 minutes!

  99. Y’all, I forgot to say I thought Kate look gawjeous! *lowers to whisper* Do you think she noticed?

  100. Kate, you were fantastic! Thanks for speaking out on this issue.

    Aside from the obvious ‘lets target fat people, again!’ issue, really this all comes down to how airlines have been refusing to put the comfort of ALL their passengers first since pretty much forever. We’ve been so indoctrinated to believe that economy/coach just sucks and that we should suck it up, that people really seem to think charging a fat person double for two seats is acceptable. It’s not.

    I’ve been told over and over again that airlines make most of their money from first class, so all of us economy fliers aren’t worth their time. I don’t know how true this is but with economy ticket prices growing ever higher, more people are paying higher prices for what is steadily becoming less and less service.

    I’m so tired of how, instead of targeting airlines for putting our comfort last on their list of priorities, we’re encouraged to target each other. As usual, ‘fat’ is the cause of all our ills, as opposed to tiny seats in a cramped environment.

    If the airlines are so committed to ALL our comfort, does that mean I can get an extra seat for free if the person next to me keeps jabbing me with their elbow; or sleeps leaning across into my space? Or is it only if someone is visibly ‘in the way’ (read: being fat in public) that we get to ridicule them? What a crock of shit.

    Ranting aside. . . Kate, you looked really composed and professional. Good stuff! Thanks again.

  101. so they “couldn’t justify having 2 people with the same point of view.”

    And yet they could air three separate hatin’-the-fatties messages right beforehand.

    Cut the cord, already. That kid should be able to sit in a seat on his own and no longer be attached physically to your body at his age.

    DRST, Liza:

    Apologies if this has been dealt with, but my 22-lb-four-weeks-ago child is not quite 8 mos. old. It is entirely possible that zie will weigh more than 25 lbs. before hir first birthday, which is still a lap-baby eligible age. Just because many children are already 2 before they reach 25 lbs. doesn’t mean all children are. (And for reference, I’m 5’10” and the huz is 5’9″, so we’re not even exceedingly tall people, to have such a long and weighty baby).

    Calling the mom on her makes-no-sense objections to fatties is one thing; shaming her for her parenting, not so good, IMO/E.

    I can somewhat relate to the annoyance the mother of the 25-pound child felt. It is quite frustrating when you are planning a trip and realize that you have to pay full-fare for your 2-year-old child, who would happily sit in your lap for the flight.

    I agree with this, although it’s still no excuse to be hatin’ on the fatties. Kids used to be able to fly cheaper, IIRC, although that’s no longer the case (if it actually was, and my brain’s not just making that up).

    Part of me says kids should fly cheaper; they weigh less, less fuel, etc.; and then part of me agrees with counting them as people in ‘one person, one ticket’.

  102. Sorry, that should have been formatted thusly:

    DRST (and Liza, and others who agreed with this):

    Meant to go back and fix that so it cited the correct person.

  103. This:
    Every fat passenger will be forced to, in essence, fly standby, at double the regular fare!

    and this:

    I bet that kid eats its own meals and sleeps in its own bed, too. Dang, even two year olds are inconsiderate. Where will it all end?

    are made of WIN. Brilliant, y’all. Absolutely brilliant!

    (okay, I’m done spamming the comments now. Promise!)

  104. Y’all, I forgot to say I thought Kate look gawjeous! *lowers to whisper* Do you think she noticed?

    On the downside, I hate you. On the upside, you didn’t threaten your feminist cred. Well, until now.

    Seriously, everybody, thanks for the compliments both on how I looked and more substantive stuff. As for the former, I need to give a shout-out to the hair and make-up artist, Cindy, who was a hundred kinds of awesome. She greeted me with, “I checked out your blog, and you’re hilarious” (!!), she let me run all my talking points past her and cheered as I hit each one (adding that despite being superthin, flying is uncomfortable for her, so seriously, WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO KID?), and she made me look better than I ever could have imagined. (Well, on TV. In person, it was a little dramatic for 7 a.m.)

    Anyway, she put me completely at ease and really helped me feel confident in front of the camera. Somebody needs to give Cindy a raise.

  105. You were indeed great! And looked so, too, as has both been mentioned by many before.
    I was especially impressed with the fact that you didn’t seem to work a list of bullet points, but talked completely freely, while still hitting those points. It was very obvious you knew your facts and arguments. That made you seem very eloquent, I felt. (Which I knew you are before, of course, you beeing Kate Harding, my wakeup-call, and all ;))
    But what was wrong with that woman? I haven’t watched TV in years, but is it normal that those people don’t listen at all? She didn’t seem to react to anything you said, just kept going on with her (very biased) “questions”. That came across as very dismissive to me. Which was topped, of course, in her calling you “Katie” in the end…
    Well, again, you were great, and I don’t think I ever thanked you for what you are doing here, so thank you! (FJ and SM too, of course)

  106. Kids used to be able to fly cheaper, IIRC, although that’s no longer the case (if it actually was, and my brain’s not just making that up).

    My parents remember paying kids’ fares for me and my sister when we’d fly, so I do think having reduced fare for children used to be something that did happen.

    And, just to add, I’m not sure the kid issue and the fat issue are totally separate, since in statistics I’ve seen, women who’ve had children are more likely to be fat than women who haven’t had children, and women who’ve had more children are more likely to be fat than women who’ve had fewer children. It seems ridiculous to me that a woman who has already paid full fare for a child (or several children) who is only going to take up a fraction of a seat now has to worry that she might need to buy an extra seat because her armrests don’t go all the way down, but under this policy the airlines could indeed do that.

  107. Kids used to be able to fly cheaper, IIRC, although that’s no longer the case (if it actually was, and my brain’s not just making that up).

    This is still the case on the international flights I’ve taken – bargain-basement domestic ones may vary! When we flew back from the UK last May, my son’s ticket was cheaper (he was almost two at the time).

    So, so not looking forward to my flight in July. I hate being paranoid about whether or not my seatmate is resenting being next to the fat lady.

  108. I want People Express back. At least they were honest about treating us like cattle. AND you KNEW you’d get charged once on the plane. AND it was the price of a bus ticket.

  109. I just… why is everyone beating up on kids? (And thin “bony” people and the rest of it?) Didn’t we just talk about this at length, like, yesterday? The antsy child is not to blame for being stuck sitting on the plane, and the parents certainly aren’t to blame for it being a difficult time for their kids. I can understand not wanting to be near a screaming baby or kicking child in a tight space, but the blaming tones are really bothering me a bit.

    And Jo, I’m not in favor of children having lower fares, for the same reasons that fat people shouldn’t have to pay higher ones. The weight of any individual person is just negligible compared to the weight of a jet. There’s no reason that it would cost the airline more in expenses to transport one heavier person than one lighter one. So scaling the ticket price by weight makes no logical sense. It just amounts to a way to assign people and their travel relative worth, which within one seating class is equal.

    The question of a person’s volume or body dimensions, instead of weight, is really the only size issue that makes sense here. And the seats being inaccessible to so many people are a problem the airlines need to fix because it’s effectively discriminatory against a large portion of the population, for the range of reasons people have listed here. So if it’s about accessibility + passage, the number of inches you take up on a bench are also irrelevant to pricing. I could more easily get behind the argument that children should cost less because they are dependents, because that’s a pretty valid social and financial reason.

    Comments about how only children fit in the seats, and the unfairness of pricing when it comes to children paying full fare despite being small (as opposed to dependents), are coming across to me as kind of inconsiderate of little people, who are adults paying for passage just like average-sized and fat people.

  110. OH HEY: crazy idea for engineers. [Comfy] benches with laterally adjustable armrests. That can come off or be folded completely out of sight, so you can switch from 2 people to 3 in a row if necessary.

  111. I’m not in favor of children having lower fares, for the same reasons that fat people shouldn’t have to pay higher ones.

    I do think children should have lower fares, but not because they are small. I don’t think people should pay based on weight. Now, because that’s the rationale for why fat people need to pay more, and because I’ve actually heard the argument that plane fares need to go up because people are so much fatter than it costs so much more to fly the planes, I do think it’s a valid point to bring up in those discussions (since the airlines’ policy regarding children shows that they are not basing fares on weight), but I don’t think it’s the reason why there should be discounted fares for children.

    I think there should be discounted fares for children because, just like fat people, parents need to travel sometimes, too. Or, they might just want to. And I don’t like the idea of flying being out of reach to most people because they have children and can’t afford to travel with them. I don’t know, I feel like there are a lot of class issues around that.

  112. I have NOT seen convincing statistics that people are just SO much fatter that the weight difference is costing the airlines a statistically significant amount of extra fuel. I’m VERY skeptical that that could possibly be true. As made evident by my liberal use of CAPS in this comment.

    And I totally agree about the class issues, which is why I can get behind cheaper fares for dependents.

  113. volcanista, I just noticed that someone had commented on an earlier post saying “every pound costs engineers a million dollars!” and somehow none of us had said “um, says the fuck WHO?” That’s on the same post where I rant about how passenger weight is about 9% of the aircraft’s weight, so… yeah. I agree with you. Not to mention that you have to average the fat people on the flight with the children and so forth.

  114. Right! I imagine that the downsizing of seats and squishage of rows so that more seats fit in the cabin mean that that could go up by, I don’t know, a percent or something. But it’s still just miniscule.

  115. I think the pile-on for the children is because it’s the easiest comparison to make as to how the whole policy is unfair. Children don’t choose to be small and don’t get a discount because they’re not taking up a whole seat; fat people don’t choose to be big yet get penalized for taking up more than one seat. Plus, it goes along with the fat people are evil and eat babies theme. I don’t think it’s maliciousness towards children in general.

    Another reason this policy is so absurd is because it is entirely at the whim of the attendants at the gate. Plenty of people who are technically too large according to the policy rules will be let through (since you can’t judge whose ass will spread while sitting when they’re standing in line), and plenty of those will “get away” with having one seat if they’re next to an obliging person. The only way this can possibly play out is “gate attendant picks out the person they think is being the most fat at everyone else”.

  116. Oh, I get that, car. It’s the “why should kids have to pay only one fare when they’re uncontrolled brats” comments that were surprising me a little.

    Yeah, it’s really subjective, and will lead to nasty people tattling on half the people they sit next to for daring to touch them, and just seems all-around disastrous. Particularly with the potential never-ending double standby situation!

  117. Well, and the miniaturization of seats is much more to blame for more weight — as in MORE PEOPLE — on the plane than any individual person’s weight is.

  118. Ugh! My extra 25 pounds is not a sentient being the way a CHILD is!! How nuts is that woman to compare her child to my extra fluff. o.0

    Plus my extra 25 pounds doesn’t kick, scream or cry on a flight.

    I hate flying so much because of FEAR of this shit. I fly on days when supposedly less people fly to try to avoid this shit.

    Thankfully most people are cool, though sometimes people will look at my like my fat is contagious.

    This is the kind of shit that makes me try dieting then I get fed up and end up binge eating and the crazy cycle starts up again. I wish my butt was smaller, but going on 34 years here and it hasn’t happened yet. Every time I do try dieting I end up gaining it all back PLUS a bunch more. I wouldn’t be so damn fat if it wasn’t for trying to be something I’m not in the first place!!! Ugh!!!

    Thank you for standing up for me/all of us, Kate. I have such a hard time dealing with this shit. My honey keeps telling me to remind myself that “I’m a child of the universe no less than the tree’s and the stars and I have a right to be here”. I pretty much think that to myself over and over while I’m on a plane. It’s from the Desiderata.

    I may not be perfect but I have rights too!

    Also your hair looked awesome. :D

  119. Oh, I get it, volcanista.

    I wonder if there’s info anywhere on how many people are piled on planes now than in the past? It might be hard to do the comparison based on changes in plane size, etc. , but we know it’s more.

    I’m becoming convinced that I never want to fly anywhere again.

  120. When she pulled out the statistics from the 60’s until now, nobody pointed out that we’ve been getting taller on average since the 60’s. If airlines haven’t changed their seating and the average passenger has a dramatically different body than 50 years ago, it’s not the body that’s the problem.

    My husband pointed out on the “retrofit” thing: What about the planes they are building now? It wouldn’t cost much more to have new planes accommodate the way people’s bodies are changing. You’d lose a couple seats per flight, you could make that up with a marginally higher ticket price and use your newer, more comfortable planes as a selling point.

    Also, I know you probably didn’t have time, but another solution for the “what’s fair” question is to have accurate seat measurements, and make sure customers know when they purchase their fare that if they don’t fit they’ll need a second seat. Having people show up at the gate and having someone eyeball them and arbitrarily judge who has to pay more is asinine. What about fliers who don’t have the disposable income to make a last minute ticket purchase?

    They could also quit over-booking flights, but that would be, you know, sane.

  121. Concerning the weight of the passengers versus charging more, I found this article (it’s a bit old). I’m glad that they had another perspective on it, because they just arbitrarily took that “average” weight gain and then multiplied it, which isn’t fair or accurate. The second opinion addresses why, even if weight of the passengers did increase jet fuel use, you still can’t charge for it, because it’s discrimination. Plus, they neglect to point out that modern advances have made some jets *lighter*, so I’m pretty sure that a paltry average 24 pound weight gain doesn’t equal that large of an increase in fuel costs as is presented in the article…

    Anyway, here it is- it’s also linked to another U.A. discussion, but I haven’t read that one over there.

    http://current.newsweek.com/budgettravel/2008/08/overweight_passengers_cost_the.html

  122. All the seats should be bigger. Simple as that.

    How on earth can you really have a policy based on ‘luck’ that you will get an extra adjacent seat?

    Kate you were awesome…

  123. I bet that kid eats its own meals and sleeps in its own bed, too.

    Just like my hip fat! Which eats newborn babies, and lurks under beds at night waiting to seize children and infect them with The Obesity.

    (You were great, Kate. SO poised and confident!)

  124. but another solution for the “what’s fair” question is to have accurate seat measurements, and make sure customers know when they purchase their fare that if they don’t fit they’ll need a second seat. Having people show up at the gate and having someone eyeball them and arbitrarily judge who has to pay more is asinine. What about fliers who don’t have the disposable income to make a last minute ticket purchase?

    Well, the reason is that if they did it that way, it would impact so many people there would be mass uprising against United. This way all the marginally fat get to slide right on through the system and only the fattest get singled out, so the airline gets to tout that they care about your comfort (unless you’re fat) and few enough people get the short end of the ticket that there isn’t an upwelling of protest. It’s a win-win for them.

  125. Yay Kate! Cool, poised, and articulate as usual.

    Spoken like a true person who’s never met me! :) (Thanks!)

    When she pulled out the statistics from the 60’s until now, nobody pointed out that we’ve been getting taller on average since the 60’s.

    If you look closely, you can see me open my mouth to do just that as soon as she mentions the average weight gain, but she took the question in a different direction, so I took my answer there, too.

  126. Kate! That was so awesome! You did a great job. I was really impressed with how you kept so calm and cool (not that I would have expected anything less, I just know that I have such a hard time keeping calm when I’m talking about issues that are important to me).
    So in summation:
    You totally rocked!!!

  127. I thought you did a fantastic job (and there was the bonus of what 2 or 3 book plugs). You got your main views across and you didn’t get angry doing it.

    I can’t believe some of the comments on youtube–rude, obnoxious and totally without merit. I can only imagine some of the garbage you have been getting in your inbox.

  128. Yes, they DID used to have half-fares for kids. I know, because the cutoff used to be 12 years old, and when I was 12 and flew with my parents, they begged me not to wear any makeup or jewelry so I would look like I was under 12 and they could get me on cheaper. (I refused.)

    And here is the dirty little secret you won’t find out from paid media (because it would cost them their airline advertising bucks): Coach airline seats are NOT the same size as they were in 1960. They are SMALLER. And they’ve been making them smaller and smaller for at least a decade. Looking at the Size Guru site, almost all coach seats on domestic flights are 17.0 inches or 17.2 inches, with the exception of Jet Blue’s 17.8 inches; my copy of Size Wise (copyright 1997) says “airline seats vary from 18.5″ to 23″ wide, depending on the aircraft and its configuration” and that 727, 737, and 757 jets (the ones most commonly used for domestic flights, with 3 seats on each side) had 19″ seats.

    So now they are flying planes with the same seat configuration with seats that are TWO INCHES SMALLER. So all this bullshit over WAAAH WE’D HAVE TO RETROFIT ALL THE PLANES FOR ALL THE FATASSES WAAAH is a huge steaming pile of bandini. THEY ALREADY DID IT IN THE OTHER DIRECTION. (And yeah, I’ll be blogging this later.)

    Oh, and Kate, that was brilliant. I trust we’ll all be seeing a lot more of you before the cameras.

  129. I finally got to watch the clip, and I think you did a great job, Kate. I thought it was great that there was a side bar with info on the book and the website. Well, except for the likely influx of horribly unfunny trolls.

  130. Since all the good points have already been made, I intend to spend the rest of the day wondering whether every ‘extra’ 25 pounds on my frame REALLY MIGHT BE a tiny, sentient person!

    A tiny, devious, sentient person…?

  131. I, too, finally got to watch the clip! Kate, you were great! And I’ll bet that it had never dawned on a lot of people that the airlines should just make the seats fit their passengers.

    I’m glad that Meowser brought up that the airlines have been making the seats smaller since the 60’s.

    I haven’t flown in about 15 years, but it wasn’t so bad to fly back then. I’d hate to have to fly now.

  132. Way to go Kate! Thanks for taking the time to go on national TV and represent us all so well . . . and you looked great too!

  133. It was so lovely to “meet” you, Kate! I think you did the best you could with the time they gave you– it really does boil down to, “It’s the airlines’ fault that NO ONE is comfortable.” Of course I was disappointed that you didn’t get a chance to explore more of the dimensions of fatphobia as it plays out in public policy– particularly in response to that woman who essentially said, “I’ve been thin and I’ve been fat, and I hated my fat self so much I would have charged her for 4 seats.”

  134. Glad I actually got to watch the clip now, after being furious at airlines for even longer.

    1) I was so impressed with you totally. Your delivery, your demeanor, just everything. And it’s absolutely not un-feminist to call another woman beautiful if she is. You looked gorgeous and (to me) absolutely not fat. Which I think is an interesting eye-opener to most people watching, who may have been expecting something very different when they heard the words “fat” and “activist.” Like something along the lines of, “Hmm… this beautiful, healthy-looking woman is a FAT activist? What’s our definition of fat again?” (Except for the occasional dumb troll, but it’s clear you totally don’t even care about them, so.)

    2) The claustrophobic guy made me sick. As another poster said, he’s privilege personified. He’s also OCD personified. He sounds like the kind of labial man who would probably also take offense to a woman breastfeeding in his eyeline, or to people talking too loudly. He may not think that he deserves to sit next to somebody fat because it might kick off his claustrophobia. However, regardless of my body shape at any given time, as someone who frequently flies for work and actually still does get very nervous on flights too but sucks it up, I don’t deserve to be on a flight with a John Lithgow in The Twilight Zone Movie lunatic having an anxiety attack next to me. That kind of thing IS immediately fixable with tranquilizers; fat, not so much.

    3) The woman with the 25-pound kid irritated the hell out of me too. I totally second everything that Liza and Lori said many posts up, about how not only did she totally miss the point of the policy being discriminatory, but she uses her child as a kind of status symbol prop. Again, the kind of person who probably would tell a disabled person to “go somewhere else, because you’re scaring my child,” or who would tearfully yell at the actors in Colonial Shrewsbury, MA about why they wouldn’t possibly have anything for children to drink except 100-degree unpasteurized milk and alcohol, and not something like apple juice or PediaSure, even though it’s supposed to be the 18th century. (Witnessed both, no lie.) Which leads me to another semi-unrelated but synthesized question:

    Overweight children. There are far more prepubescent children who weigh the same as or more than some adults now than ever. Is a particularly overweight child traveling with a parent going to be subject to the same kind of humiliation as an overweight adult passenger? Because newsflash, self-righteous lady with a kid: if you’re pissed about having to pay extra for your kid to have his own seat, imagine for a second that puberty isn’t nice to your kid and he ends up being big enough as a young teenager to be charged for two seats by himself, so the two of you will actually end up having to pay for THREE seats. You’d raise a shitstorm about the policy then, wouldn’t you?

  135. Kate, you were fantastic. Thank you for being such a superb representative for our point of view. I hope to see more from you on video in the future (although too bad there’s a need for it). You’re a natural.

  136. The second opinion addresses why, even if weight of the passengers did increase jet fuel use, you still can’t charge for it, because it’s discrimination. Plus, they neglect to point out that modern advances have made some jets *lighter*, so I’m pretty sure that a paltry average 24 pound weight gain doesn’t equal that large of an increase in fuel costs as is presented in the article…

    Sounds like something for the Mythbusters to find out and I’m almost positive that they would not find an increase in fuel costs due to having more fat people on a flight. One thing that their airplane episodes have taught me is that the airline industry does not take risks. In fact, they so do not want to risk losing money that they are willing to discriminate against teh fatties, so that they can get MORE money!

  137. Kate – you rock!

    You looked awesome on TV.

    And you did a great job of getting your point across.

    A couple of things – there is a HUGE difference between having to pay a fare for your child (a separate person who is not part of your body) and having to pay an extra fare for part of your body.

    The real issue is tiny seats on airliners and the airlines being too cheap to put adult sized seats on their aircraft!

  138. Kate, loved seeing you on CNN. Well spoken and a positive voice for our cause.
    That said, I’ve been wondering something as I’ve been reading this whole thread: I live in MIchigan. Michigan has a law preventing discrimation based on size (weight and height) along with more standard anti-discrimation legislation such as race, religion, etc. So, can United have this policy in place when flying out of the Michigan airports. It would seem to me that it violates Michigan state law. Does anyone think we will see this in court?

  139. kate-
    1st of all, congratulations on looking absolutely wonderful!
    2nd of all, thank you for being so articulate and thoughtful. fat people so rarely have a well-respected voice in the media, and you should be proud to be this voice yet again, on tv.
    you rock!!!

  140. Kate, I thought you looked great and sounded wonderful – very articulate and reasonable. The douchery is pure, unfounded spite.

  141. So, can United have this policy in place when flying out of the Michigan airports. It would seem to me that it violates Michigan state law.

    Ooh, VERY good question. Lawyers?

  142. Michigan has a law preventing discrimation based on size (weight and height) along with more standard anti-discrimation legislation such as race, religion, etc. So, can United have this policy in place when flying out of the Michigan airports. It would seem to me that it violates Michigan state law. Does anyone think we will see this in court?

    Yes, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see it in court. No, I don’t think it’s a slam-dunk win. I think that airline regulations may preempt state laws. Didn’t this come up recently when someone got thrown off a plane (before it took off!) for breastfeeding, in a state where breastfeeding is protected?

    It would be a worthwhile argument, but I’m not sure it would work. I would have to do more research to confirm.

  143. For what it’s worth, UA was forced to offer its employees domestic partner benefits because the City of San Francisco has a law requiring that all companies doing business with the City do so. (I was SFO-based at the time, and in those days, UA was the largest employer in the Bay Area). United fought it in court tooth and nail, but they lost. I’m sure Elizabeth is right, it’s probably no slam dunk, but it’s a fight worth picking.

  144. Hm – that might be helpful, but laws about how to treat employees are on a little bit different footing from laws about how to treat customers, so that might not be direct precedent. Hard to say, really. Maybe someone should call the ACLU of Michigan and see if they’re interested.

  145. Kate – was finally able to have both the right computer and the time to watch the video. You rock. Thanks for being our voice out there. :)

  146. Lucy — I’m glad you’re able to “suck it up” when you’re nervous on a plane. I’m not, and the medication that I take does not, in fact, magically make all the symptoms of a panic attack go away. It lessens them somewhat, to the point that most of the time I can appear calm from the outside. I know it’s annoying to sit next to someone who’s freaking out, and if you’re ever stuck next to me, I’m sorry, but please remember that I can’t help having a mental illness any more than I can having a wide ass.

  147. Elsajeni- I apologize for sounding insensitive to anxiety disorders, especially since I’m prone to panic attacks at times too. That totally wasn’t my intention, even though it came out as kind of brusque. The point I was trying to make is that while, like you say, medication can’t totally choke down ALL your anxiety, it’s at least available as a provision to be taken so that you can manage some of your anxiety before you get on the plane. There’s not really a ton of short-term preparation one can do before a flight when they’re overweight that isn’t life-threateningly dangerous. The issue I took with the man’s comment was his implication that because of his (individual) claustrophobia, he personally shouldn’t be subjected to an unavoidable part of air travel. In my mind, someone who knows they have an anxiety disorder but hasn’t adequately prepped themselves using whatever means necessary to curb their anxiety before a flight (be it medication, meditation, deep breathing, whatever) and has a huge loud heaving panic attack that freaks out all the other passengers is much more objectionable than one overweight person touching one other non-overweight person. As it’s been said, though, it comes down to individuals wanting to blame other individuals and not the airline companies- marginalizing fat people for being fat, and abdicating any responsibility for not properly coping with their anxiety disorders. (And of course, I’m not talking about someone like you, who clearly makes a conscious effort to control anxiety. I’m talking about narcissists like that commenter, who only see issues like this as an extension of what would be best or worst for them.)

  148. Lucy, I totally agree that it’s not un-feminist to tell people (women and men) that they’re beautiful, of course! But I feel a little weird about you saying Kate looked gorgeous and “absolutely not fat,” as though those things are… related, I guess? Maybe it just came out that way. (The shot was basically neck-up, so no one could see what Kate’s body really looked like.)

    But more seriously, not everyone can safely/successfully medicate anxiety and phobias. It’s really unfair to say that should be expected. The man calling in was a total asshole for suggesting everyone else is responsible for not being too fat next to him, yes. But people sometimes have panic attacks, even if they have attempted to prepare themselves, and it definitely sucks more for the person with anxiety than everyone else. The blaming is just not fair. Especially the references to hyperventilation and “OCD personified” (whatever that means).

    Oh, and there are NOT far more fatter children than there used to be. Slightly more, yes. Otherwise, it’s all distorted statistics. But yeah, fat kids could be just as affected by this as fat adults.

  149. Uh, Liza, the parents are ridiculous and obnoxious, but the kids are just being kids.

    Perhaps, but it’s up to the parents to teach the kids about proper behavior in public. If the kid is running screaming through a public building (or the public space of a private building like a condo lobby) it’s on the parent to calm them down and get them out of the way of other people. If the kid is squirming around on the subway seat it’s on the parent to get them to sit still. If they didn’t pay for the kid, it’s on the parent to keep them in their lap. And so on. It’s up to the parents to make sure that their kid being a kid doesn’t infringe on someone else doing what they have to do without disruption.

  150. Liza, parents try their best. They prepare out the wazoo. But sometimes kids get overtired or overstimulated or overdosed on sitting on their parent’s lap while waiting for what? They don’t know, they’re a kid! And they just want out!

    When flying with my son when he was younger, I really did try to keep him entertained, quiet, and relatively immobile (thank you makers of the Sit-n-Stroll! One of the only airplane-approved carseats!), but there’s only so much one can do.

    The point of all this is that the airlines are the ones that a)have made all the spaces between and among passengers too small (and still shrinking them) and b) made flying so unpleasant in general that the flying public is less willing to cut their fellow passengers a break.

    We are all stuck in that flying sardine can. Let’s try to make the best of it, shall we?

  151. Speaking of the Sit-n-Stroll, I want to remind y’all that the airlines will refuse to let you bring on a child-safety seat unless it is FAA-approved for airplanes. If it’s FAA-approved, it will have a little airplane symbol on a sticker on the side or back.

    The Sit-n-Stroll, btw, requires a seat-belt extender AND in my experience has required the arm-rest be up to fit properly.

  152. Wow, Liza, I’m going to assume you don’t have children, or that you do but your children are ridiculously easier than most people’s, AND that you haven’t been around here long enough to read one single comment on the subject of parenting written by the brilliant and insightful A Sarah. Because that’s awfully easy to say if you’ve never had to deal with a tired or sick or anxious or angry or just difficult child, and simultaneously really insulting to every parent or caretaker who has.

    It’s just so entitled to suggest that any child that isn’t perfectly behaved at all times is an uncontrolled brat, which isn’t a word you used but it’s pretty heavily implied by your complaints.

  153. I so want to feed my kids a carful of Coke and ketchup and set them loose in Liza’s neighbourhood. I should totally have my parenting license revoked.

    (I would also like to share this gem from My Friend Eric: The proper, reasonable response to being stuck in a modern supermarket against one’s will is to lie down on the floor and scream uncontrollably. I think his logic is impeccable.)

  154. it’s on the parent to calm them down and get them out of the way of other people.

    How exactly do you suggest that parents forcibly calm their children down? I find yelling “CALM DOWN!” at kids tends to have the opposite effect (contrary little bastards), and unfortunately slipping them a few tranquilisers is frowned upon by most authorities. Please advise.

  155. Caitlin: Traditionally, never going anywhere, doing anything, or speaking to anyone is the recommended way of making sure one’s tedious offspring don’t impinge on the lives of Real People With Actual Rights.

  156. WELL YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE HAD THEM IF YOU WEREN’T PREPARED TO LOCK YOURSELF AWAY FROM THE WORLD FOR AT LEAST 18 YEARS. I’M TRYING TO GET MY HAIR DONE OVER HERE.

  157. Also, having a kid with an autistic spectrum disorder = they kind of can’t calm down sometimes no matter what the parents do. And I really don’t think I should have to elaborate on that.

    (substitute any other neurological issue as needed)

  158. I DON’T KNOW WHY IT DOESN’T WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU CAN’T YOU SEE SOME WOMAN OVER THERE IS MILDLY INCONVENIENCED BY YOUR CHILD’S EXISTENCE? BAD MOTHER BAD MOTHER! CAN’T WOMEN DO ANYTHING RIGHT?

  159. Oh, great. We were trying to have a nice conversation until you all came in here YELLING ABOUT THE CHILDREN and then RUINED IT. WHY CAN’T I EVER HAVE NICE THINGS?

  160. Okay everyone: stop with the mom-bashing and the phobia-bashing. Parents are responsible for their kids, yes, but that doesn’t mean they control them like puppets. And people who have phobias, anxiety disorders, and the like have just as many rights as people who don’t, and are often discriminated against, to boot. As is the case with physical disabilities, the airlines should provide reasonable accommodation to those people. (Please note: reasonable accommodation != making sure there are no fat people on the plane.)

  161. Aibhe: My Friend Eric: The proper, reasonable response to being stuck in a modern supermarket against one’s will is to lie down on the floor and scream uncontrollably.

    YES. Your friend Eric is truly wise. It’s bad enough to go to Tesco’s of my own free will. If I hear a toddler expressing the quite natural rage and despair of being there under duress and not even allowed to put cakes in the trolley, I’m more envious than annoyed.

  162. Just seeing this now, Kate. The first thing that hit me, like many others, was the headless fatties. On the one hand I’d almost suggest fat activists make it a requirement that they don’t show that footage if we are in a segment, but at the same time I wonder if we would ever be heard on tv if we made that a requirement.

    Great job, even though the segment got cut down and the reporter wasn’t very much of a reporter.

  163. “These charges, if introduced, might also act as an incentive to some of our very large passengers to lose a little weight and hopefully feel a little lighter and healthier.”

    Gosh, so public-spirited! Clearly airlines don’t want to actually have passengers anymore, but it’s nice that they’re willing to try passing on that business to the diet industry.

  164. About this whole policy, I would like to reap the benefits of two seats if I have to pay for it.

    I want two headsets, two little bags of peanuts, two pillows, two blankets and so on and so forth. If there is an included meal, I want two of those too.

    Also I most definitely do not want ANYONE infringing upon my second seat that I most likely will not be taking up 100% of. Don’t touch my armrest!

    My solution to the whole problem:
    I think if the airlines are so *concerned* with the comfort of its thin cranky passengers and not cash that perhaps they should stop overbooking. If there were always rows of three and they only seated two people per row, everyone would get a seat and a half and they wouldn’t need to replace their seats (which probably is legitimately costly). I’m sure thin people wouldn’t mind having extra room.

  165. You know, I still don’t get the business sense of these policies. Do grouchy thin people really look at the news, notice these stories, and then decide to fly on the airlines that are meanest to fat people? Do these decisions really draw in new business? I find it hard to believe they do. So why bother being cruel?

    I tell you, between this and some of the other bizarro stories swirling around these days, sometimes I just don’t understand the world.

  166. I don’t want to come across as negative, but I don’t agree with your view that the airlines should give an extra seat for free. Wanting a bigger seat instead of an extra seat is reasonable. But I believe in the market solution — if there’s really a need for larger seats, the airlines will add them in and give you that option. If one airline doesn’t, then their competitor will and will get that business. As a person who eats more than other people, I have to buy more food. If someone takes up more room, they should have to pay the cost of that extra seat (again, I’m not trying to be negative, just saying what I think is a fair way). I hope you’ll agree with me, but also recognize that the larger seats if added will have to cost more, and I don’t think that’s unfair at all – while forcing the airlines to give fat people an extra seat for free will result in the costs being passed on to others. In a buffet, those who eat less are compensating for those who eat more, but that’s done by the business freely, the business shouldn’t be forced to do something like that.

  167. I haven’t read the comments yet, but I wanted to ask something that *has* to have come up before, but I haven’t seen much of it. On the clip, the reporter kept claiming that people are 20-25 lbs heavier today on average than they were 25 years ago.

    BUT! Aren’t we also several inches TALLER on average than 25 years ago? SHOULDN’T we be heavier in parallel, then??

    I know I’m heavier than my grandma. I’m also five inches taller. She’s fatter than me. I just happen to weigh more.

    It’s a false dichotomy. We have (relatively) better nutrition with every generation, children mature faster, and people are taller. Heck, go to any museum and look at the size of an average person from 100 years ago–I’d tower over a medieval knight and probably outweigh one by a hundred pounds. Yet we keep hearing “people are heavier! people are heavier!”

    Well, duh. We’re just plain taller, too. Therefore, airlines need to keep in mind that the average flier isn’t going to be a 5’4″ man and a shorter woman. It’s going to be a 5’8″ woman and men over 6′ tall!

  168. I don’t usually comment here, but just wanted to say, Kate, you were really articulate, kept your cool, and looked absolutely great doing it. :)

    I think that if it was really about people taking up too much room, they’d be charging tall people, people with broad shoulders, bodybuilders, men who spread out WAY too far, people who insist on wearing bulky coats… but since they’re not, its fairly safe to assume that its not about the space being taken up. They know that they can overcharge fat people and nobody will speak up. Its horrible and they’re just taking advantage of the prejudice of the moment.

  169. I’m quite late and must admit to being somewhat against you at first. I thought that instead of firing off randomly and making an arse out of myself, I should find out more about you and your P.O.V. I must say, I respect you for standing firm! Keep doing what you’re doing out there.

  170. It is an excellent point that what these policies enforce is the idea that fat people have no right to travel. When I was a teenager and my BMI of under 18 allowed me to sit comfortably in an airline seat, and even (wait for it) *crosslegged* in an airline seat, flying was a piece of cake and I actually enjoyed it. Since then the only thing that has changed is my size, which is at last shop a 10 US (and the addition of those super-cool personal entertainment systems that never work and when they do work prevent me from reading my intellectually rewarding book because of oooo pretty colours), and flying is *awful*. Just unbearable.

    I exactly fit into the seats. My bum is exactly the right shape for the built-in bum-depression in the cushion. One would think that this would be more comfortable than when I was far too small. Alas, no. I wriggle constantly, trying to – just – let – me- argh, ok, move my foot a *bit* to the left and – no – argh – wedgie – shift up and surreptitiously pick my skirt and knickers out of my bum and – there, no wait – argh – scoot bum forwards – wedgie again, well shit, vodka please. Let me tell you, six hours of wriggling exhausts me, gives me aches and pains behind my knees and all along my back, gives me shadowed eyes and frizzy hair (because I catch it constantly on the head rest), makes my skin dry from stress, and fills my clothes with static.

    I arrive at my destination looking like someone put me in a polyester bag and left me on the floor of a tube station for five hours. I can’t even imagine what a very tall person must be going through, but from their pained faces and tight smiles when I glance across the aisle I’m not sure I want to.

    I understand that putting fewer passengers in an airplane will increase fuel expenditure. I understand that a person weighing 150 kilos takes up more of the airplane’s weight capacity. I also understand, however, how being such frugal pricks allows airlines to fit in those heavy-as-all-fuck luxury beds and the glass staircases and the chic bar in first class, making everyone in economy who is equal to or larger than a size 8 US and 5’7″ miserable in the process.

    Private company has a right to offer whatever services they want to their customers my lovely rounded arse. Where’s regulation in all this? Beyond that: where’s the chomping-at-the-bit new entrepreneurial spirit that is a fat-and-tall-and-normal-friendly airline? Charge us all a bit more for lovely comfy seating that even MeMeMeMe can appreciate, do away with first-class, and you’ll make so much fucking money you’ll be able to make a papier-maché 747 out of Ben Franklins. WITH WIDER SEATS, GODDAMMIT.

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