Um ... it sounds like you're quite outside the "normal" size range for females. Why shouldn't it be you that has to ante up for the extra seat? Or all three of you in that row?
Which plays right into my main complaint about this: Even if one were to concede that it's "fair" to charge more for "overweight" people, the fact is that the decisions are being made arbitrarily, and are thus discriminatory. This woman was merely eyeballed and then ordered to buy an extra ticket. And it appears in her case it wasn't even necessary: The person next to her was not inconvenienced. A different flight attendant would likely have not made the demand at all. To say nothing of the fact that the airlines make arbitrary decisions as to the size of the seats in the first place. There is no law, legal or physical, that says an airline seat must be so small. It's purely done to shoehorn in more cattle. And since the seats tend to be different from airline to airline, or even plane to plane, the "fat" standard shifts again. Arbitrary, and thus discriminatory.
This is stupid in other ways as well. What if two only slightly-overweight people end up sitting next to one another, because of random seat assignments? What if one fat guy ends up sitting next to someone with anorexia? Why don't tall people have to buy the seat in front or back of them all the time, in order not to subject "normal" passengers to the "inconvenience" of not being able to lean back in their seats? Why couldn't an overweight person inform the airline of their "disability" when making their reservation, so the airline could leave a seat open next to that person until/unless the plane gets filled up? People with other disabilities make special requests all the time.
(BTW, what about people who, for some reason, really DO need more space, such as people who can't get out of their wheelchairs easily? Aren't there laws preventing the airlines from gouging them?)
...with an infant in my lap in a middle seat...
A few years ago, the Clinton Administration attempted to force through a directive ordering that all children on commercial flights have to have their own seats - and thus their own tickets - for some of the same reasons given here: Too much human in too little space, also risk of injury during a crash landing or turbulence where the rugrat isn't belted in, etc. Luckily, this was one of the rare cases where science won out over emotions and photo ops proving "we care": Studies showed that the increased cost of extra tickets would spur so many families to drive instead that there would end up being more car accidents, and thus more dead kids, than if the government did nothing and just risked the rare in-flight incident. How would you have liked that, being discriminated against for being a mother? You obviously didn't want to spend extra to have more space on the flight you were on.
Flying on a private, low-cost airline is not a *right*; it's a convenience...
I'm not sure I agree it's not a right, as long as you have the cash to pay for it. Like it or not, we live in a society where, often, being denied the ability to fly can be a serious detriment to your quality of life. It can affect what jobs you can hold, etc. To just start pointing at people and saying, "Okay, YOU have to pay $250 more each way or you can't go," could mean your company won't let you travel as much, and thus you don't get the promotion, etc. Airlines are an integral part of our society, and the economy would fall apart tomorrow if they suddenly disappeared. If they weren't so important, there wouldn't be nearly as much regulation of them as there is.
This decision will be overturned on appeal, unless the woman's lawyer is a complete moron ... which he may be to have lost this in the first place.posted by aaron at 10:49 PM on December 14, 2000
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