Should a truly obese person be REQUIRED to buy two seats?
This story raises a lot of questions. (I had a similar experience, but since I am a wide-bottom myself the situation spilled over onto the person on my left, also).
Some excerpts from the US Air story:
Liz Landau, a spokesperson for US Airways, confirmed that Berkowitz was inconvenienced by a passenger of size and told msnbc.com “it was his choice to stand.”
“His seatmate had the same right to his seat as Mr. Berkowitz did to his. So here’s where the diplomacy and cooperation of all passengers comes into play,” the airline said in a statement.
Berkowitz was unhappy with the $200 voucher the airline offered him for his experience, at which point he contacted (consumer advocate) Elliott. (NOTE: TICKET WAS $800)
"We have attempted to address this customer’s service concerns,” the airline statement said, “but offering increasing amounts of compensation based on a threat of a safety violation isn’t really fair — especially when the passenger himself said he didn’t follow crew members’ instructions and fasten his seatbelt.
“The way to ensure you have space available next to you — whether you are a person of size, or you would simply like to ensure you have more personal space to relax on a long flight — is to purchase that additional seat, or First Class, in advance.”
This is remarkable, even for the putzes who run US Airways. Each passenger has the same rights to his/her seat.... unless the person is fat, and then they get 1.5 seats or more. If you can't buckle your seatbelt, because El Gordo is flowing over onto your seat, then you are refusing to "follow crew members' instructions."
Finally, and most remarkably, the displaced man was at fault. US Airways suggests that HE should have purchased two seats, if he wanted "more personal space to relax."
Three parties here. Who is obliged to make accomodations? The jumbo? The displaced passenger? Or the airline?
And then what about tall people? If the guy behind me is very tall, does that mean that I can't put my seat back? Comments here, on same story and also tall issue, are interesting.
Can reputation solve this problem? For me it does. I would prefer either to drive, or just not go, if the only option is the pirates at US Airways. But US Airways is not bankrupt, so clearly this aggressive indifference to customer safety and comfort is not a threat. The airline can get away with imposing all the costs on the customers, because the customers are too sheeplike to fight back.
But clearly this was not a euvoluntary exchange, where the passenger agreed to give up his seat. His only choices were to stand up, or forfeit his $800 ticket completely.
The solution: one of those box things they use to check carry ons (only they don't, really).
But you could have a seat, with the armrests bolted down. If you don't fit in that seat, you have to buy two.
(nod to Mark Steckbeck)