Thursday, April 16, 2009

Not sure this makes sense...

With so much attention focused on United Airlines' new policy requiring obese people to pay for two seats, I felt the need to weigh in (pun fully intended).

There's a reason I fly Midwest. Yes, a reason other than the fact that they offer several non-stop flights on a MKE-LGA route. Yes, other than the faboo chocolate chip cookies. My ass fits in the seats. It wouldn't if I flew any other airline, unless I paid many times the price to fly first class. If I take up two seats, I can see the need for me to purchase two seats.

I like Southwest's way of doing it - if the flight is not full, your second seat is refunded. That makes sense to me, because you could have just used one of the extra (empty) seats as your second seat. I've seen people use empty seats as workstations, purse holders, etc., with no extra charge, so why not a butt holder? ;)

The one thing that doesn't make sense to me about Southwest's policy is this: if two obese people are traveling together, they are each required to purchase an additional seat, despite the fact that except in the most extreme circumstances, they can sit side-by-side in the 3-seat block with the armrests up. The Q&A on their website lists the reason as "open seating cannot guarantee that there will be an entire row open for two Customers to sit together and share the middle seat on each leg of the trip." So then how do they know that with open seating, there will be two seats together for a "customer of size" traveling solo? Their answer to that question is "The Customer who has purchased two seats must be an active participant in preserving his/her additional seat. We encourage Customers of size to preboard to locate adequate seating..." So why exactly is it that two customers of size traveling together couldn't preboard so they could find 3 seats together?

Anyway, back to the original issue. If my body is larger than one seat, I don't have a problem paying a second fare. I'd be more comfortable anyway. The last time I was on a non-Midwest flight, I was incredibly uncomfortable, and highly embarassed - it's embarassing enough to have to ask for an extender (though I've gotten less embarassed about it as time has gone by - I mean, really, I'm not fooling anyone, so I doubt anyone is exactly floored when I ask). I'm uncomfortable enough as it is, anyway - the last time I flew, the woman sitting next to me texted a colleague not even 2 minutes after I sat down about how her greatest fear had been realized because she had this giant fat lady sitting next to her - and since it was Midwest, I didn't even come close to "spilling over into her seat," as some would put it (yes, I saw it. Yes, I'm nosy. So if you don't want the giant fat lady sitting next to you on your next flight to lean over and tell you to get over yourself because you're not so fabulous either, then don't bitch about her right in front of her face).

Now, if only I could get a refund when there's some free-footed toddler "invading my space" by kicking the back of my seat for the entire flight, that would be some progress.

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