Too Fat to Fly

February 17th, 2010

By Tom Carter

Movie actor and director Kevin Smith was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight on February 13 for being “too fat to fly” in one seat. He had previously purchased two seats, as many airlines require of passengers beyond a certain size. However, he was on standby for an earlier flight, and there was only one seat available on that aircraft. After he was already on board, the airline forced him to get off.

Smith was offended, and he’s making a stink about it via Twitter and in interviews.  In regard to being too large to fit in one seat, he said “I’m way fat, but I’m not there just yet.”  I sympathize with him because I can imagine how embarrassing it would be to be thrown off a flight for that reason.  With several more meals a day, that could be me.

I’ve flown by commercial airlines all my life.  The way I see it, I own my seat for the duration of the flight.  That includes all the space defined vertically by the centerlines of each armrest.  I don’t like it when parts of another passenger’s body violate that space.  Doesn’t matter whether the offending passenger is a rock-hard NFL lineman with three-meter shoulders or someone who’s adipose-challenged.  The result is the same — discomfort and denial of the space I paid for.

I suppose the airlines have other reasons, too.  Maybe it has to do with fitting through the emergency exits or sliding down the emergency exit chutes.  In any case, most airlines have policies regarding large passengers, and the comfort of other passengers is part of the reason.

All things considered, I support the airline policies regarding very large people who impinge upon the space of other passengers.  These days I frequently fly from Frankfurt to the U.S. and back, and I don’t want someone else’s body parts in my space and on me for nine to eleven hours.


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8 Responses to “Too Fat to Fly”



  1. d |

    Unless the body parts are female and beautiful? Then you will have to rethink your objections? I think the airlines need bigger seats to accomodate larger, fat Americans. No person should be humiliated by removal from a plane, due to their fattness. The struggle with weight is the hardest one anyone will ever fight,can’t go cold turkey.Food and food adds, are everywhere,you are constantly bombarded with food,it’s a real struggle. On my tombstone,I want it to say”She’s not on a diet,anymore!” I feel for those fat fliers.


  2. Tom |

    I remember long ago when airline seats were bigger and there was more legroom. Those days are gone and not likely to return. But even back then, a long flight with a very large person in the seat next to you wasn’t particularly pleasant. Now it’s just worse.

    Maybe it’s because I travel so much that I’m sensitive to this issue, but I think the rights of one person stop where the rights of another are violated. I can’t think of many things worse than spending 8-10-12 hours sitting in a cramped aluminum tube with some stranger’s elbows, arms, shoulders, and knees intruding into my space and pushing against me. I don’t care what the airlines have to do to prevent it from happening — require them to buy two seats or upgrade them to business class or first class, for all I care — just as long as they do something.


  3. Brian Bagent |

    “Then you will have to rethink your objections? I think the airlines need bigger seats to accomodate larger, fat Americans.”

    Then by all means, start your own airline that will accommodate fat people. But, you have not any right (and thankfully not any power) to inflict your idea of good business practice on the airlines.

    I’m not crazy about the small seats, as you know well. Try flying in coach from Houston to Amsterdam when the dingleberry in front of you wants to recline his seat and can’t figure out that what’s stopping his seat from reclining as far as his neighbor’s are my knees.

    But, it beats the crap out of the alternative of the government mandating things.


  4. d |

    Thankfully,I have no power,of any kind. I just had the opinion that the airlines shouldn’t humiliate their customers,by pulling them off the planes,in front of all,because they ended up being too fat.Maybe,you should have to buy the seat in front of you Brian,because you are too tall? The guy in front of you is uncomfortable,and if you have a child,or stink or are downright obnoxious,you should buy a whole row or two. Maybe, you just plain hate the ethnicity,sitting beside you? Why do you draw the line at fat people?Riding in tiny chairs,too close to others,with no personal space,well sucks. We all have to be willing to compromise. There is,a better solution to making a paying customer humiliated,and having to pay double for any reason. If I did have the power,you can bet,I would find a more reasonable solution,even if it cost my company more. Customer satisfaction is worth a whole lot. As a person who started, and ran a successful,customer satisfaction based business,that successfully sold at a profit,I was giving my opinion.


  5. Brian Bagent |

    Unfortunately, there are people that do have the power to do something about it. It’s why we have such a pervasive “nanny state.”

    I have no problem at all with business owners doing things like what you describe. If it will make them more money, or get them a more loyal customer base, more power to them. The bottom line is, in fact, the bottom line. You make money, or you go out of business.

    Just remember that EVERY regulation or stipulation by the government on business ends up directly costing you extra money, and the business indirectly because the more their products or services cost, the fewer people that there will be that are willing to pay the price of admission.


  6. d |

    Surely you jest? The American people won’t stop consuming,no matter the price. The huge price hike of gasoline,diesel,cigarrettes[o/k.with that one],food,stupid stuff,insurance,airplane tickets,etc.proves this. We are consumers,we will consume,no matter the cost. I was not talking about gov. regulations,I meant companies do this for their consumers. Why would a fat person pay for two seats?If they protested it,the airlines would change it. As stupid consumer,sheep we pay,pay pay. Grip about it ,but you can’t get three people to agree on anything long enough to protest it,a sad world our kids are inheriting. We used to stop shopping there,boycott things and they changed,but we are a people of spoiled brats who must have,must consume. Now we are allowing the airlines to charge exorbitant prices for luggage,why? Yup,comsume,consume.We are like zombies calling for brains,brains,we want what we want,and when we want it. The children of today are being trained to be greedy,spoiled ,rude,inept,brats. Sad to say,I contribute to that,we want our babies to have all the things we couldn’t,and we are ruining the nation,for it.


  7. Brianna |

    “We are like zombies calling for brains,brains,we want what we want,and when we want it.”

    Sounds like union members.


  8. d |

    L/O.L. so true,but don’t get me started on the union. Should be a great thing,but oh,so corrupt.


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