Yesterday, United Airlines announced its plan to charge overweight passengers additional fees or bump them from their flights entirely.
It works like this. If two adjoining seats are available on the overweight passenger’s flight, they can fly with no additional fees. If there are extra seats in coach that are not adjoining, they are required to pay for a second ticket (presumably to compensate for the flight attendant’s having to undergo the laborious task of asking someone else to switch their seat to accommodate the overweight passenger) or they can pay to “upgrade” to business class. If the flight is completely full, then the overweight passenger gets bumped from the flight. But don’t worry! They get refunded. (Continental, Southwest, and Delta already have similar policies.)
The airline made the change after receiving nearly 700 complaints last year from passengers who claimed that the overweight person seated next to them on their flight “infringed on their seat.”
Perhaps the only thing shittier than this policy is the fact that, in several polls I’ve seen in the past couple days, the overwhelming majority of people seem to agree with it.
I mean, seriously. Do parents get fined when their babies cry throughout a flight, or when their kids kick the backs of seats? Do people get fined for bringing really smelly sandwiches on board that fill the entire coach section with smells of onions and vinegar, or for being really smelly themselves, or having loud, obnoxious conversations with their traveling companions? Cause I’d say all those things “infringe” on the other passenger’s comfort as much as not having a left armrest.
There has been so, so much research on biological causes for obesity, and on the ways the classic diet-and-exercise prescription does not work for many, many people. But no matter, cause our society really hates fat people, to the point that 75% of us say make the fatties pay, goddamn it, even when there are empty seats on the fucking plane, because the very presence of their oversized bodies is “infringing” on our comfort.
Seems like, as our society gets more and more “enlightened,” all it’s doing is creating new scapegoats for itself.