Many of us who have traveled on flight have probably seen or experienced firsthand an awkward or unsavory airline situation at least once. Whether it’s the little boy behind you yelling because he’s not allowed his Nintendo below several thousand feet, or your neighbor who waits just until you hit REM sleep to ask for you let them through to use the restroom.
Having travelled internationally several times, I’ve been on some pretty long and occasionally uncomfortable flights in my life; some lasting 8, 10 and even 12 hours. My personal worst even though it was only 5 hrs was my experience being sandwiched between two strangers with the gentlemen on my right snoring/tilting his head on my shoulder while he napped and the other losing the battle with his deodorant. To add to the mix that both were of a “heavyset” build, this contributed to me losing the use of my armrests. So all things considered let’s just say I was never more happy to land than ever before.
But how would you handle it if for a 6 hr flight the passenger next to you took up 2/3 of your seat resulting in body to body contact for the duration of the flight? This is what Los Angeles’ Marsha St. Claire states happened during her flight in an article I read a while back in The Seattle Times titled “Dealing with overweight airline passengers.” A similar situation was reported by CNN last fall, A Travel Nightmare: Man Stands Throughout 7-Hr Flight in which case a man stood nearly his entire US Airways flight. If placed in a similar situation, is there a tactful (I use the term loosely) way for yourself and/or the airlines to handle it? I would personally hate to be the flight attendant who has to address the situation or be the PR person for the airlines—as the action of charging customers for seating according to their body size can never be handled gracefully. Just as interesting as the article comments was the author’s proposal on possible solutions, for example more thoughtful innovative plane designs that would consider the comfort of all passenger sizes.
“Each plane could have, say, one or two rows with two-by-two seating instead of the usual three-by-three configuration. Obese passengers could be pre-assigned these seats, either for the usual economy fare, or perhaps by paying a small premium. These seats wouldn’t enjoy any other special services or extra legroom, just extra width.”
While some airline companies already charge customers who will inhabit more than one seat, this new seat design idea is the most tactful and logical solution that would be a win-win-win (for the passenger, the airlines–who will get more $, and the neighbors who will get their full rightfully paid seat.
Pretending you are the CEO of an airline company, how would you handle the situation?