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UA To Charge Obese Fliers Twice On Full Jets

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Well-known member
Mar 3, 2006
United Air to Charge Obese Fliers Twice on Full Jets

By Mary Jane Credeur

April 15 (Bloomberg) -- United Airlines, the third-largest U.S. carrier, may force some obese travelers to buy a second seat when flights are full and other passengers complain about being cramped.

The policy brings practices at UAL Corp.’s United in line with those at the other five biggest U.S. carriers including Delta Air Lines Inc. The rule took effect today after being adopted in January, said Robin Urbanski, a United spokeswoman.

United passengers previously “had to share their seat with the oversized guest” on full planes, Urbanski said. Chicago- based United acted after receiving “hundreds” of public complaints each year, she said.

“It’s going to perpetuate that negative stigma that’s already associated with obesity,” said James Zervios, a spokesman for the Obesity Action Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group in Tampa, Florida. Airline seats already “could use a few extra inches of room on all sides,” he said.

Urbanski said obese passengers on United will be reassigned to a pair of empty seats and won’t be charged for an extra ticket on flights that aren’t full. Travelers must be able to put the arm rest between seats down to its normal position and buckle a seat belt with one extension belt, she said.

Fewer Than 2%

Delta, the world’s largest carrier, charges the lowest available fare for passengers who need a second ticket, said Betsy Talton, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based airline.

AMR Corp.’s American Airlines tries to “find another solution if at all possible” before charging for a second seat, said Tim Smith, a spokesman for the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier. US Airways Group Inc. has a similar policy.

Continental Airlines Inc. charges the same price as the original fare should overweight passengers need an extra seat, according to its Web site.

Southwest Airlines Co. has had similar guidelines since the 1980s, and it offers a refund on the additional seat if the flight isn’t sold out, said Whitney Eichinger, a spokeswoman for the Dallas-based carrier. Fewer than 2 percent of passengers buy an extra ticket, she said.

Zervios of the Obesity Action Coalition said cramped airline cabins cause many disruptions.

“What if the person in front of me puts back their seat and encroaches into my space, or if the person next to me has a puffy coat or leaves their light on when I want to take a nap?” he said. “We need to keep in mind that it’s just a form of transportation from Point A to Point B.”

U.S. Obesity Rate

About 34 percent of Americans are obese, double the rate from 30 years ago, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only one state, Colorado, has an obesity rate of less than 20 percent.

Obesity is defined as having a “body mass index,” a measure of body fat based on height and weight, of 30 or more. Using that calculation, a person who is 5 feet 9 inches tall (175 centimeters) and weighs at least 203 pounds (92 kilograms) would be considered obese, according to the CDC.

Chicago radio station WBBM previously reported United’s policy change.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Jane Credeur in Atlanta at [email protected].
So do they get two boarding passes? What about a convention of "persons of mass"? How many folks are included on the passenger count? What about average weights?

I say let the skinny folks suffer. If they want room, let 'em fly in first!
Clearly you have never been buried in someone elses sweaty lard for a 5 hour transcon. I'm not skinny, and it makes it worse.

Why not make folks over 350 or some number buy a first class or 2 seats? They are using the fuel. Extra weight costs more to fly if it's in a bag or a belly.
I can't wait to see all the fatties whine about yet another rule to force them to lose weight or pay their fare share of their freight.

Obesity/ fatness is an addition. No different than drugs. I'm tired of them failing to take responsibility for where they are in life.

And don't whine or flame to me, join a group.
So do they get two boarding passes? What about a convention of "persons of mass"? How many folks are included on the passenger count? What about average weights?

I say let the skinny folks suffer. If they want room, let 'em fly in first!

Let me guess? You're tipping the BMI scales too?

GMAFB. Hit the gym. Watch what you eat. It's not rocket science.
The airlines should have a a coach seat at the check in counter. Most airlines use a similar device at the counter to determine if a carry on bag is to big for the overhead bins. So, let's have a coach seat row at the check in counter. There the "larger" pax can sit in the middle seat, and a quick determination can be made by observing if their excess self encroaches across and under the armrest into the other seats space. Then there is no debate. if needed, buy another seat.
Personally, I have had the experience too many times. Each time, the flight was miserable due to the already reduced coach seat space made even smaller with the larger person spilling over into my seat.
I had a flight on aa when a fat man was seated next to me and asked if he could lift up the arm rest.I said no.I could only imagine that in a few minutes with the arm rest up,he would ooze upon my space and ruin my flight experience.

I tire of hearing of the plight of the obese.As many die from obesity as from tobacco.No fat acceptance organizations,no fat fashion shows on oprah,no overfeeding kids who sit in front of the tv or video games.

They can lose weight.

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