Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Delta Incident: Fat Man in Two Seats

A few days ago a passenger arrived at their seat on a Delta flight, only to realize that she was sitting next to a man that was so fat that he was not only in his seat, but he was also in half of hers. Instead of Delta asking the large man to either purchase two seats or to take a later flight, the woman was asked to give up her seat. This incident made me furious! It seems like every other airline has a policy that if you are too large to fit into one seat, then you must buy two tickets. 

For example: Southwest Airlines requires obese passengers to purchase a second seat if they cannot lower the armrests between seats or if their body extends into any adjacent seating. If the flight has empty seats available, the passenger can request and receive a refund for the cost of the second seat; the airline reports that they refund the cost of the second seat 98% of the time.

Delta seems to be one of the few airlines who are attempting to be PC about the issue of obesity. However, just because the large person was in his seat first does not give him the right to take claim over another paying customer's space. I also don't believe that the woman  being asked to leave was the right thing for the airline to do just because they didn't want to deal with a potential discrimination lawsuit. If I was that woman, I would sue for being discriminated against for being healthy and in enough shape to fit in my seat. 

Fire Hazard?
While discussing this incident with a friend he brought up a very good point. If airline passengers are required to measure their carry-on bags before boarding the plane to ensure it will fit in the overhead compartments, than why aren't passengers who are on the large side not required to sit in a mock-seat to determine if they will fit? Sort of like you do with roller coasters at theme parks.

Test seat
The bigger problem I see is that Delta is treating obesity like it's a disability. Yes, these people are VERY unhealthy. However, it's not like they can't do anything about it. You aren't born obese. Even contestants on The Biggest Loser who claim that they have always been fat their entire life and nothing has worked for them thus far are proven wrong once they are put on a strict diet and exercise schedule.
Conclusion: I will start flying Southwest once their partnership is finalized with AirTran and they begin flying in and out of Atlanta. They seem to have the right idea about this issue: if you fit in one seat, you pay for one; if you fit in more than one seat, you pay for two. Seems logical to me!

 {Link to the CNN video on the Delta incident}

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