Woman squashed by obese plane passenger

Discussion in 'Wasteland' started by medea, Oct 22, 2002.

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  1. macrumors 68030

    medea

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    #1
    LONDON, England -- A woman injured while squeezed next to an obese passenger on a trans-Atlantic flight has been given £13,000 ($20,000) by the airline.
    Barbara Hewson, 63, was offered damages by Virgin Atlantic after suffering a blood clot, torn leg muscles and sciatica following a flight to Los Angeles in January 2001, the UK's Press Association reported.
    She said the woman passenger was so large she had to sit with the arm rests up, but when she complained, the crew said there was nothing they could do as the plane was full.

    http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/europe/10/22/virgin.payout/index.html

    CNN followed up this story with a poll asking:
    If an obese passenger requires two seats on an aircraft, who should bear the cost?
    The airline or
    The passenger

    My personal vote is for the passenger, but airlanes should perhaps install a number of extra large seats for extra large people, and those seats would be required for obese people and maybe they would charge more if you needed one, kind of like a weight limit.
     
  2. macrumors 6502a

    ShaolinMiddleFinger

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    #2
    Is she's a fat cow, make her pay for the extra room. It's all her fault anyway.
     
  3. macrumors 6502a

    IndyGopher

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    #3
    Here's the problem as I see it. On one hand, a lot of people are obese because they don't practice restraint. I am one of those. Other people are obese for reasons truly beyond their control. (I think this is a damned small percentage, though) However, we both are the same size and take up the same amount of room.

    A person who is in a wheelchair because they ran their car into a tree while drunk off their butts requires the same assistance as someone who is in a wheelchair because some OTHER loser wrecked into them while drunk. Same idea. One is their fault, the other isn't.

    In both of the above examples, additional considerations are required. But if you suggested for an INSTANT that it would be ok to charge a person in a wheelchair extra because you had to expend extra resources/people/etc to help them, your business would be burned to the ground by irate liberals.

    Obese people are the last group it is socially acceptable to discriminate against... and straight white males, of course. Personally, I feel like if I needed two seats (I don't, and frankly can't imagine how people let themselves go enough to need two seats.. but again, some are not obese by choice, and don't get to do much about how many seats they need) it would be my responsibility to pay for them.. but I certainly do not advocate asking people if they are obese by choice. Tough call.
     
  4. macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    Yep. Air travel is not a right. If you need 2 seats, pay for them.
     
  5. macrumors 6502a

    IndyGopher

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    #5
    For every wheelchair spot in a movie theater, they have to take out 4 seats. Do we charge someone in a wheelchair $32 to see a movie?
     
  6. macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

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    #6

    (Edit: This part added)
    I think there is a difference though; this reckless driver you describe is wheelchair-bound for the rest of his/her life. Society will make accomodations for this person, but it will also punish this person for his/her stupidity by arresting them and charging them with a DUI offense, paralyzed or not, which is supposed to do justice. (We can't hold their paralysis against them for the rest of their life.) Someone who is fat as a result of eating too many Big Macs and not getting enough exercise has committed no crime; they're only being asked to pay extra for two seats on an airplane if that's what they need. I, a skinny person, would have to pay for two seats if I wanted to stretch out and be comfortable. Why should a person who is fat as a result of their own lifestyle choices be allowed to get the same two seats for the price of one? (I bring up medical-related fatness in the next para)
    I think what would work in this case is the institution of a policy whereby fat people (I use that term non-disparagingly, as I refuse to use the P.C. term "obese") who need more than one seat are charged for more than one seat by default, but the airline is legally required to pay for that second seat if the fat person can present proof that their fatness is the result of a medical condition. I agree that there is a clear distinction between being fat as a result of a metabolic disorder and being fat as a result of poor lifestyle choices.
     
  7. macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    #7
    Take the massive lard butt example one step further into insanity ;)

    1. Do these people really have the right to take the revenue for the second seat for free? It is after all a business your dealing with, with the right to collecting revenue for every seat filled.

    2. In the event of an emergency, one big butt wedged in the emergency window can cost everybody staring at that big stuck ass their lives.

    3. In the event of on emergency air lift, are you really going to place that lard butt into two seats, or four small children?

    4. How many bags of peanuts are these people entitled to?
     
  8. macrumors 6502a

    IndyGopher

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    #8
    first, there is a difference between "fat" and obese. Just as there is a difference between stupidity and idiocy. One has clinical definition, one is just a disparaging term. I personally don't mind.. I'm not blind, I know good and well I am fat. I also think your solution makes good sense.. but it would never work. It suffers the same problem most good ideas do.. it relies on people being forthright, honest, responsible... all those things people hate.
     
  9. macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

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    #9

    I disagree, but whatever.
    I think it could only be susceptible to fraud/abuse to the extent that people are skilled at forging doctors' notes or governmentally-recognized classifications. If you need two seats, for whatever reason, you pay for them, unless you can provide suitable proof that you need those two seats because you have a recognized disability / what have you.
     
  10. thread starter macrumors 68030

    medea

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    #10
    what if a plane has 250 seats but 125 "overweight" people buy tickets and at a price of $250 roundtrip, If the airline sold all seats on that trip they should make a total of $62,500 , but if they had to give these 125 people an extra seat that they dont have to pay for then the will lose $31,250. Since keeping an airplane running is expensive (ie. gas, maintenece, pilots and other staff,etc.) then the airlines would have to raise their ticket prices considerably to make up for the loss. yeah ok, I doubt there is going to be a plane full of just 125 big people at the same time but you get the picture. Is it really reasonable to make everyone else pay extra because some people cant control their weight? imagine the taxes!
     
  11. thread starter macrumors 68030

    medea

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    #11
    Ok I think there might have been some "mean-ness" in that last post and for that I apologize.
     
  12. macrumors member

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    #12
    The real question here is whether or not these Airlines are REQUIRING big people to purchase two seats in order to fly. We're not talking about people wanting a free seat just to make themselves more comfortable. If the airline sees it in their best interest to avoid injury to other passengers (like what happened in the news article that spawned this thread), or to improve general comfort on their flights, then they - the airline - should be the ones to pay for it because it is their own decision.

    Whether or not your size is a matter of choice or of birth isn't really an issue - no one would expect someone to have to pay for extra seats because they don't wear deodorant and smell really bad, or because they are obnoxiously talkative and will chew the ear off of whoever is seated next to them.

    If an airline wants to improve the safety and/or comfort of their own flights they should pay for it themselves - not charge the individuals they hold responsible.

    Of course they can do whatever they want - just be prepared for a justified backlash by an extremely overweight populace.

    Davis
     
  13. macrumors 68030

    Hemingray

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    #13
    Apples and oranges.

    I say if someone is that large that they require more than one seat, then they need to pay for it. The sad fact is that not too many people have a bona fide medical excuse for being that overweight. If they do... then I would accept some sort of compromise.
     
  14. macrumors 6502a

    zarathustra

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    #14
    Apples and oranges, man. Until the gov't declares obesity a disability, there is no basis for letting fat people sprawl into two seats for the price of one.

    I am very tall - 6'4" - and many transatlantic flights left me feeling like a sardine. It could have been my choice to purchase an extra seat to sit sideways (or buy first-class tickets), but I did not/would not ask the person next to me to skooch over so I can sit sideways.

    I have very little control over my height - almost like clinically obese people do over their weight. But rarely do these people grow to grotesque sizes. I have known many people who are just BIG - they work out more than I do, they can run longer and faster than me, but they are still big. They CAN'T loose weight. While they might feel uncomfortable in your standard airplane seat, they can fit in a single seat.

    Morbidly obese people, as a rule, have mental or psychological reason for being fat: satisfaction from food, depression, etc. You can argue that this is clinical as well, but I don't subscribe to it. With therapy and/or help their will to loose weight can be brought back and they CAN loose weight.

    It boils down to choice: if you want to remain fat, you will have to buy two plane tickets to accomodate your fat behind.
     
  15. macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

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    #15

    What the airlines should do is a matter of opinion. What they should be required to do is another matter.

    One's body odor or talkativeness can't injure another person. In those tiny aircraft seats, being greatly overweight can. Jet planes are already sufficiently safe and comfortable for the vast majority of people who fly on them, disabled or not. The bottom line is that the vast majority of the tiny "2-seat minority" require two seats because of an outcome (their size) that has been brought on by their own personal decisions in regards to their health. In effect, they are asking that a separate entity (the airlines) be required to front the cost for their decisions to eat a poor diet, not get enough exercise, and as a result, become pathologically overweight.
     
  16. macrumors 65816

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    #16
    That's a crippling condition and permanent. Obesity is not. They can not eat lunch and have enough money to pay for the extra ticket. Also, a plane isn't a movie theater, you can't sit on the floor. Also, in a movie theater you pay for the movie, in a plane you pay for the travel. If your fat ass can't fit in a seat buy 2.
     
  17. macrumors 6502

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    #17
    well most airlines that do charge for the extra seat make the person pay for it up front to make sure the plane doesnt get full and the situation from the news story doesnt occur. BUT, they usualy will refund the cost of the extra seat if the flight isnt full. Even with a plane thats not full i am not sure they should refund the extra seat.

    now i know that some people have a valid medical excuse for being obese, but most dont.For people who its not a medical issue, there is just no excuse, and for those for who it IS a medical excuse there are treatments available. Besides, in the end, your body cant store all those excess calories if you dont ingest them.

    I should also point out that i dont think obese people are bad people but all the same, i dont feel i should pay for them to get an extra seat in the movie theater (and YES, its happened in NYC) or on a plane flight. and yes, thats what it really amounts to, the extra cost gets spread out to the consumer.
     
  18. Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #18
    Might a profit-minded airline reduce the size of their seats by 5%, thereby increasing the number of people who have to pay for two seats?

    Do you judge whether a person needs to pay for two seats based on how many standard deviations over "normal width" they are?

    Is "normal width" defined based on world population, or only those people who fly, or people in the city/state/province/country of the flight's origin or destination? Are adjustments made for height, body mass index, pregnancy, etc.?

    Regulating this will certainly make the lawyers rich.
     
  19. macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    #19
    The standards for seat size were set years ago, but worldwide it's mostly the lard butt Americans that need the big seats.

    Check out the car sites, if they send over a new car for testing with euro-seats the comment will be - seats too narrow for comfort.

    While the airlines can accomodate the US passenger girth, why should they?

    The US portion control is out of hand - the typical US meal is super-sized. And the weak willed public cannot walk away and leave half the food on the plate.

    Remember - "Spoons didn't make Rosie FAT, Rosie made Rosie FAT"
     
  20. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

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    #20
    Obesity is the problem of the individual. If they're too big for one seat, they should pay for two. Its just rude if you have to spend hours with someone leaning against you the whole way, especially if its for a long period of time. I know, I've had to do it. Not fun.

    But its a delicate situation and at what point do you decide a person needs two seats?
     
  21. macrumors 68030

    Hemingray

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    #21
    Do us all a favor and don't drag nationality into this. That's all we need is another French iPod dB thread. Did you read where the article was from? Hint: It wasn't America. The point is, there are obese people in every country, not just the U.S.

    Just like we'll never stop smokers from smoking, that doesn't mean we have to encourage it. You'll always see smoking ads, and you'll always see McDonald's ads. But when it comes to sitting down in an airplane, you WILL pay.
     
  22. macrumors newbie

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    #22
    Being fat is a result of a slow metabolism. If you, the skinny person, and he, the fat person, eat the exact same fattening food for a year, the fat person will gain weight, and the skinny person will not.

    Now, you're saying it's the fat person's fault for being fat? Yes, they can control what they eat, and how much they exercise. But you don't have to worry about that, so it's easy for you to blame them for their obesity.
     
  23. macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    #23
    So are you saying it's not their fault they're fat, it's always metabolism?

    And if it's not the metabolism it's McDonald's fault for serving too much?

    And in your fattening food example, are you talking fat intake, or calories consumed?

    Remember - at some point people have to take responsibility for their own lives... if that doesn't work there's always Richard Simmons.

    [Edit: to increase the calorie content of the SPAM in this post...]
     
  24. thread starter macrumors 68030

    medea

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    #24
    um, off topic but you (uno123) registered in july and this is your first post? I've often wondered if some people register several names so they can get their point across as being 4-5 or more people with the same opinions. I'm not saying this is the case with you at all, your post just made me think about that again.

    Americans are fatter than most people overseas because we generally have worse eating habits and you'll notice I used the word "generally."
    Personally I do not feel that I should be made uncomfortable because of someone else's handicap (lets not even go into whether or not obsesity is a "handicap") and it is a horrible shame that this women in the article was injured because someone was too big for their seat. Should the airline have had to pay for damage caused by this other person, In this case I think it was very smart for them to do so. But if a passenger boards a plane that has some sort of schizophrenia and attacks the person next to them, who will to be blamed in that case? Honestly the overweight person should have known better.
    In the end I think the airline should now check passengers weight when they purchase a ticket and if the person exceeds the safe weight limit for the chairs then the person buying the ticket should then have to take what ever means needed for them to board the plane and keep the safty issue at check. This is about the safety of the passenegers as much as it is about the "fat" people wanting bigger chairs because they feel discriminated against. maybe the fat people should start up their own airline.
    Someone just brought up the fact that buisnesses are required to install handicap accessable ramps etc. under penalty of law, so why shouldnt airlines have to install handicap accessable seats (and they mean big seats)?
    My answer is that you have a choice on whether or not you want to fly and if you require any special means above what the other passengers need in order to fly you should have to pay for those means.
     
  25. macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

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    #25

    Being fat is a result of a metabolism that does not metabolize nutrients as fast as they are consumed. If all you do is practice for triathlons all day, every day, then you should be able to get by on as much greasy garbage as you want without having to worry about gaining weight (as long as what you eat provides the proper nutrients of course). On the other hand, if you eat at McDonald's four times per week and at other times eat moderately healthy, "average" American meals, but get absolutely NO exercise, you'll probably slowly gain weight. Some metabolisms work faster than others, to be sure, but this is the case in all countries, many of which have much lower percentages of obesity.
    As a skinny person, I don't know what being fat is like, but I'm sure it can't be all that great. I can imagine for some it must be quite awful. But as hard as it is to overcome, it is still that person's problem, as much as I or anyone else sympathizes. If you'd like to volunteer to allow someone else to smother you with their immense folds of fat on your next trans-oceanic flight in order to save them from having to pay for 2 seats, you should be welcome to.

    How much the airlines will sympathize, though, should be up to the airlines, and I for one hope they don't choose to pass the costs of someone else's lifestyle choice onto me. I pay enough to subsidize fat peoples' lifestyles already, from my college meal plan ($7 per crappy all-you-can-eat meal! Thanks fat people!) to my health insurance (which helps cover the staggering number of heart disease and diabetes cases amongst the overweight). It's not that I don't sympathize, it's just that I don't wish to subsidize other people's irresponsibility.

    Alex
     
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