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April 1, 2010
Posted: 1521 GMT

Obese passengers who require a second adjoining seat to fly will no longer be charged by Air France if the flight is not full, the airline announced today.

Should obese people be given a second airplane seat for free?

Since 2005, the airline has charged larger customers for an extra seat (with a discount of 20-25%) if they cannot adequately fit in their designated space.

Similar policies have been adopted by other airlines but authorities in the U.S. and Europe are now planning on harmonising their plans.

The FAA has specific rules on obese people and requires that all passengers use FAA required restraint devices and that no aisle may be blocked by any passenger or bags in case of an emergency.

Currently nearly 73 million U.S. adults are classified as obese and the World Health Organization predicts that the global figure will be greater than 700 million by 2015.

We’d like to know what you think.

Should overweight passengers be forced to buy a second seat? Should the airlines give them a second seat for free? Have you ever been uncomfortable next to an overweight passenger?

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Filed under: Business •Quest Means Business

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Alexander   April 1st, 2010 3:29 pm ET

It's a safety issue, isn't it? Safety and practicality.

Innocent people shouldn't be subjected to a uncomfortable long flight caused by being squeezed in next to an obese person. They look out for smelly people too, pulling them out of lines and ask them politely to change clothes and a quick clean up if necessary. It's just not fair to other passengers.

I'd like to ban babies from certain flights too, please.

Theresa   April 1st, 2010 3:45 pm ET

I hate racist, arrogant, loud, chatty, presumptuous, fools who think I should be honored and damned thankful to be sitting next to them – anywhere.


Unfortunately, if someone needs an extra seat – for any reason – the price of their flight should be increased. Perhaps, in cases such as this one where there is a physical/medical reason, rather than paying full price for the extra seat, a discount could be offered.

Theresa   April 1st, 2010 3:47 pm ET

That reminds me.

Full headers should be displayed by people seding comments to sites such as this one, so we have an idea where the information is coming from.

Theresa   April 1st, 2010 3:48 pm ET

SENDING. Sorry again. God thig Im not working in a tattoo shop.

George   April 1st, 2010 4:07 pm ET

The reality is that people are different sizes and shapes with different needs. If airlines start treating one group differently then they have to consider the possibility of opening a pandoras box of 'special requests' from travelers.
You can't play favorites depending on the trends of the time. What about infants? people with handicaps, physical or otherwise? People travelling with pets? Its a delicate issue I believe and if airlines start looking seriously at 'customized travelling' then maybe their is a whole market for them to compete on.

I go everywhere with my dog, if there was an airline that had special conditions for travelers taking their pets with them I would definitely opt for that airline like an overweight person will opt for an airline that doesn't charge an extra seat for people who could use the extra space.

nchy   April 1st, 2010 4:14 pm ET

Of course obese people should pay for the extra seat – if the flight is full. It's not just for the safety of the other passengers who might not see the window (or might not get off the window seat). It's for their good as well. I heard that in other places, "obese" isn't as good to use as "horizontally challenged". Is there a difference?

ana petrov   April 1st, 2010 9:37 pm ET

It´s depends, same as a mostly things in a life, from which point of view you look at. From my point of view, they should be buy a second seat because I also pay a ticket and I demand a some kind of the comfort for my money. But if we look the same thing from their point of view, things look a much more different. Which is their solution? To buy a second seat – if they have money for that or maybe they´ll decide to canceled the flight. To get an another seat for free – it isn´t so easy to achieve – that will bring a one problem more for AIR companies. Frankly, I think that they have enough problems without problem with obese passangers!

Alecia   April 2nd, 2010 4:22 am ET

I think we need to remember there is a difference between "fat" and "obese". I'm fat, but I can fit in my seat, fasten my seat belt without an extender and without "spilling" over onto my neighbors (in fact I am paranoid about it, I almost scrunch into a ball to make sure I don't crowd anyone beside me). If you are obese then you are spilling over and should pay for a second seat. I just hope that the airlines don't decide that if you are more than 25 pounds overweight they can charge you a second seat.

Trevor in istanbul   April 2nd, 2010 4:45 am ET

what is don't get i weigh 115 kilos and my girlfriend is 50 kilos......both luggage and people need to be flown by the same engines and fuel...but the turkish airlines check in representative made my girlfriend remove 1 kilo from her checked bag before tagging it on a recent flight....why not throw the baggage plus a person's weight in the two seats required discussion.....

Jessie from Auckland, NZ   April 2nd, 2010 10:13 am ET

@nchy April 1st, 2010 4:14 pm ET

Yes, "horizontally challenged" is more politically correct and obese is a horrible word anyway, I think. I would prefer larger than obese or overweight.

Well, I suppose "horizontally challenged" people should pay for the extra seat, afterall they are taking up another seat that could have gone to somebody. Unless the plane isn't full, then they shouldn't I guess. Poor people, they would probably feel discriminated against.

The airlines could probably have a different section especially for them?

Theresa   April 2nd, 2010 2:26 pm ET

I've been big enough that I couldn't bend over and touch my toes without losing my balance. Got the marks to prove it. Eating problems/personality change preceded by a serious concussion.

rashidjon   April 2nd, 2010 3:15 pm ET

We are all human beings. I personally think that everyone should be treated equally.

It should be up to companies to charge for extra seat or give it for free.

May be it would be better for airline companies if they will rearrange usual seats for the needy passengers. at least 4 or 5. Of course there are some strict and specific rules regarding safety.

According to statistics nearly 73 million U.S. adults are classified as obese, so i think airline companies should start from now to reconsider their policy.

Anthony Smith-Chaigneau   April 5th, 2010 1:18 pm ET

Then I will demand the same for Me and my children because between us when we travel we weigh less than most of these "obese exceptions". What is this world coming to? Wall E comes to mind...

Ruth Hirt   April 6th, 2010 8:42 pm ET

Passengers under predicaments apparently have not been generally considered by airlines. The overall built-up of the plane, one can determine, passengers of special physical "constraints" have not been regarded at all. Time to re-think, re-design planes' features, revise fares and charge passengers accordingly.

freqflyr   April 9th, 2010 2:22 am ET

As a frequent flyer, I feel I have paid for my entire seat, and I should not have to share part of it with an obese person who is sitting next to me. I have a permanent neck and shoulder injury, and if I am forced to sit in a contorted posture for log periods because the obese person next to me is squishing me to one side of my seat, I suffer intense pain for about two weeks.

Obese people should take responsibility for their girth and purchase an extra seat, or purchase a first class ticket. The airlines should be forgiving of the additional fare if the plane isn't full and there is room to give them an extra seat. By the same token, if the flight is full, the airline should kick the obese person off the plane before allowing him or her to encroach on the seat of another passenger.

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