Wrong Size Seat Or Wrong Size Airplane?

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With the news this weekend about movie director Kevin Smith being removed from a Southwest flight, I have my own personal story to share that addresses the issue of singling out individuals for their size.  Given that this blog is designed to help all individuals to Lose Weight, Feel Better, Live Life I welcome comments to address the issue of dealing with riding an airplane, no matter your size.

Last December, I boarded a Southwest flight and unfortunately was one of the last to board.  The plane was full to the point that every seat was occupied.   A few of the last people to be seated happened to be obese in size, and there were some problems arranging where they could sit.  Southwest does not have predetermined seats, so a flight attendant tried to accommodate for these passengers to sit in the aisle seats so that they may have more room.

However, the next issue was that few other passengers wanted to give up their aisle seat.  The flight attendant saw me looking for a seat (for those of you that know me, I am a petite woman) and directed me to the center seat to sit between two obese persons so that everyone would be seated and so that the passengers on my right and left had enough room.  On neither side did I have an armrest, nor could it be used.  Not only was the flight physically uncomfortable, but emotionally also, as I’m sure it was for the other passengers in my row.

First of all, how embarrassing that moment must have been for the two passengers to be singled out on a flight and directed specifically where to be seated.  Not only was I singled out for my size, but two other individuals were singled out for their size as well.

On a statement from the Southwest airline blog, Linda Rutherford explains that the Southwest flight that removed Kevin Smith made the “judgment call that he might have needed more than one seat for his comfort and those seated next to him.”  The post further explains how the policy of boarding passengers will be readdressed after the incident.

Is the issue here that airlines need bigger seats? Should airlines charge extra to larger individuals?  What needs to happen here is that the policy needs to be changed to address passengers before they board the plane so that no one person should be singled out, no matter their size. People don’t need to be infringed upon, especially during air travel, which for some can be an uncomfortable experience on an almost empty plane, let alone an overcrowded one.  A person may be overweight, but that does not mean their rights should be lost while flying on an airplane.

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Patrick Nemechek, D.O.

Patrick Nemechek, D.O.

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Neil Shirley
Neil Shirley
February 18, 2010 9:28 am

It’s not the size of the seats that are the problem. It’s the size of the people. I have traveled all over the world, including North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, over the past 20 years. Nowhere else do you see so many obese people than in the U.S. I am six feet two inches tall and 215 lbs. I’m no mini. And airlines seats are no problem for me. I use them a lot. Americans eat too much processed “food-less” food. Empty calories that are digested quickly and leave you craving more. Couple that with a sedentary lifestyle and… Read more »

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