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Should Obese People Buy Two Airline Tickets?

On November 20th, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that obese people have the right to two seats for the price of one on flights within Canada.  Apparently, an appeal made by Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and WestJet was declined and as a result, the one-person-one-fare-two seat policy will go into effect January 2009.  The policy “stipulates that people who are too large to fit in one chair should be given two seats, so as to avoid unpleasant situations during the flight.”

As a frequent air traveler, I have witnessed the cases where extremely obese people take up not only their seat, but the seats next to them. As harsh as this may sound, I am surprised that they don’t get charged for two seats.  The passengers sitting in the adjacent seats, barely have a half of a seat to call their own…and they surely cannot be comfortable.  Unfortunately, they have absolutely no control over the situation.  It is pure luck of the draw: Seats are assigned, and if the flight is full they can’t move, leaving them stuck in a very uncomfortable seat for several hours.  However, they paid the same amount of money as the encroaching obese passenger next to them.

Ironically, the Canadian Court ‘agreed that this was a very delicate situation that could not be resolved without hurting either the feelings of people with extra pounds, or the benefits of the airlines.’  Forgive me, but the truth is that if every business had to worry about the feelings of consumers, there is a good chance a lot of companies would be out of business.  When we think of the actual ‘costs’ for airlines, extremely obese people (I’m not speaking about overweight individuals, I’m speaking of individuals who have several extra hundreds of pounds on them) directly impact Airlines’ bottom lines: extra weight means extra fuel.  Guess who will inevitably be making up the extra cost on this one?  You guessed it…the average weighted passengers.

This ruling really has me confused.  In a day when we are being charged for everything from the weight of our baggage to water to headphones for a B-Rated movie, how is it possible that a 450 pound individual can pay the same price for a ticket as a 150 pound individual?  The 450 pound person is 3 TIMES the weight of the 150 pound person.  Further, that 150 pound individual most likely will take up 1/3 of the space as the 450 pound person.  Call me crazy, but this just doesn’t fly (pardon the pun).

I realize that this is a very sensitive issue and probably hits a raw nerve for a lot of people, but I can’t help but put this out there.  I feel for those individuals who are extremely obese.  But the fact that they are so overweight shouldn’t be anyone else’s problem but their own.  Most obese people have a choice.  It is extremely rare that a person who is hundreds of pounds overweight has absolutely NO control over their weight, and as a result, it seems extremely unfair that average weighted individuals should have to pay for another individual’s choice.  Further, no one should have to give up their personal space for someone else’s ‘medical disability’.  Granted, airlines could afford to increase the alloted space per seat in the main cabin, but regardless, if an obese person wants to fly and is so large that they take up two seats do you think average individuals should subsidize the extra seat?  Or do you think that it is only fair that the obese person should pay for the space that they use. First Class and Business Class passengers pay for the extra space, why shouldn’t people who require two seats due to their size?

Personally, I feel that giving an additional seat to an obese person for free is enabling obese people to stay the way they are and to not take responsibility for their condition.  The more people are coddled, the more they won’t change.  Where will it end?

We are already paying higher insurance premiums because of obese people, does it make sense that we should now pay for their ‘right’ to a second seat on public transportation?  Do you think that average sized individuals should subsidize free seats for extremely obese passengers or do you think obese passengers should be required to purchase two seats?

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Posted in Brett's Blog, Mind-Body, Travel Tagged with: , , , ,