Should Obese People Buy Two Airline Tickets?

On November 20th, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that obese people have the right to two seats for the price of one on flights within Canada.  Apparently, an appeal made by Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and WestJet was declined and as a result, the one-person-one-fare-two seat policy will go into effect January 2009.  The policy “stipulates that people who are too large to fit in one chair should be given two seats, so as to avoid unpleasant situations during the flight.”

As a frequent air traveler, I have witnessed the cases where extremely obese people take up not only their seat, but the seats next to them. As harsh as this may sound, I am surprised that they don’t get charged for two seats.  The passengers sitting in the adjacent seats, barely have a half of a seat to call their own…and they surely cannot be comfortable.  Unfortunately, they have absolutely no control over the situation.  It is pure luck of the draw: Seats are assigned, and if the flight is full they can’t move, leaving them stuck in a very uncomfortable seat for several hours.  However, they paid the same amount of money as the encroaching obese passenger next to them.

Ironically, the Canadian Court ‘agreed that this was a very delicate situation that could not be resolved without hurting either the feelings of people with extra pounds, or the benefits of the airlines.’  Forgive me, but the truth is that if every business had to worry about the feelings of consumers, there is a good chance a lot of companies would be out of business.  When we think of the actual ‘costs’ for airlines, extremely obese people (I’m not speaking about overweight individuals, I’m speaking of individuals who have several extra hundreds of pounds on them) directly impact Airlines’ bottom lines: extra weight means extra fuel.  Guess who will inevitably be making up the extra cost on this one?  You guessed it…the average weighted passengers.

This ruling really has me confused.  In a day when we are being charged for everything from the weight of our baggage to water to headphones for a B-Rated movie, how is it possible that a 450 pound individual can pay the same price for a ticket as a 150 pound individual?  The 450 pound person is 3 TIMES the weight of the 150 pound person.  Further, that 150 pound individual most likely will take up 1/3 of the space as the 450 pound person.  Call me crazy, but this just doesn’t fly (pardon the pun).

I realize that this is a very sensitive issue and probably hits a raw nerve for a lot of people, but I can’t help but put this out there.  I feel for those individuals who are extremely obese.  But the fact that they are so overweight shouldn’t be anyone else’s problem but their own.  Most obese people have a choice.  It is extremely rare that a person who is hundreds of pounds overweight has absolutely NO control over their weight, and as a result, it seems extremely unfair that average weighted individuals should have to pay for another individual’s choice.  Further, no one should have to give up their personal space for someone else’s ‘medical disability’.  Granted, airlines could afford to increase the alloted space per seat in the main cabin, but regardless, if an obese person wants to fly and is so large that they take up two seats do you think average individuals should subsidize the extra seat?  Or do you think that it is only fair that the obese person should pay for the space that they use. First Class and Business Class passengers pay for the extra space, why shouldn’t people who require two seats due to their size?

Personally, I feel that giving an additional seat to an obese person for free is enabling obese people to stay the way they are and to not take responsibility for their condition.  The more people are coddled, the more they won’t change.  Where will it end?

We are already paying higher insurance premiums because of obese people, does it make sense that we should now pay for their ‘right’ to a second seat on public transportation?  Do you think that average sized individuals should subsidize free seats for extremely obese passengers or do you think obese passengers should be required to purchase two seats?


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  • I’mOnaplane

    If you’re too fat for one seat, you buy two. I’d have a front butt if I had the diet and lifestyle that goes along with being obese, but I make sure my weight is down because I gain weight really easily. No, it’s not easy to keep trim, but if a very large person can’t keep their health in check, I don’t feel like I have to be pinned against the window by them because they’re too inconsiderate to buy enough room for their cargo.
    And don’t get me started on the people who use me, actually, usually use my boob as a way to steady themselves on their way to the bathroom.

  • Frenchfry

    Wow, you guys are harsh and insensitive. I became overweight in the past few years due to hardship. Yes, I have made it so and yes, I am trying to deal with it, but it is like anything; it is hard so stop overeating, as it is hard to stop smoking or to stop any kind of addiction.
    Now this said, I do agree that I would have to pay for two seats if I take more than one; I totally agree. But you know what? It’s not that easy to get two seats plus another one for your ‘thin’ kid who is travelling with you. I am not asking special favours; I just want to be able to be as comfortable as anybody else travelling; just like you skinnies. No need to be so insulting; especially when you don’t know what you are talking about.

  • Helen

    Why not have everyone pay a flat rate for the total weight they bring on board? Themselves, baggage, water… you can make choices about all these things.

    Over-consumption and waste is costing us all massively – it’s time we made changes.

  • Susan Diane

    As I happened upon this discussion by chance, I could not believe what I was reading. Are these real people writing this disturbing array of ignoble commentaries, or some kind of joke? The practical issues are should we give larger people twice the food for the same price, or the clothing for the same price for a size 2 and a size 48? Of course not. It is not practice to do that in business. Airlines are a business last I looked. In the medicare system each individual gets what they need, and weight is a deciding factor in amount of medication. In government, the large as well as the small get what they need for quality of life. So is the flight you are on for business or pleasure or is it for medical reasons. Because now you can force car manufacturers to sell larger cars for the same price, and the endless repercussions are so ridiculous that I cannot believe anyone would have a conversation about this let alone bringing it to supreme court. On what planet are they living? I love art. Are they going to force the airlines to provide me with an art studio on the plane to make me more comfortable? Really! Every one is an individual and gets to live life as they chose to with the cards they are dealt. But there are more importance injustices than seats on a plane to deal with. Like why the government has seen fit to tax women from age 10 or 11 and until their 50′s for being healthy and bleeding every month. Yes, folks, we are taxed for our menstral pads and tampons by our government every month for our entire fertile years. Why? That is what the supreme court should be dealing with. Women should have a bleed-in in Parliament to stop this discrimination of our having wombs. Forget the obese traveller. They can afford to pay for whatever they consume and that includes seats. I like to read more than eat but the airline is not buying my books for me! If it is a medical issue, then the medicare system should take care of their needs.
    I am very sorry to see people talking about others in a mean hearted way. No one is perfect and being obese for whatever reason is not any different than a hundred other imperfections one might have. Like lack of empathy, selfishness, and rudeness, and frankly I think the people that slam others for any of their disabilities or weaknesses are unhappy miserable individuals who enjoy hurting others. I would rather be obese than mean. Honestly, grow a conscience and shut the seal up!

  • Jonathan

    They should have to pay more. The whole thing about “I dont want to hurt some feelings” is just ridiculous. They ate there way to there condition and I am already paying more for health care for these land whales and lets all remind ourselves, there is no fat gene so it is by choice you over eat. Keep your nasty uncontrolled self on your side of the seat and pay the money. If I broke your cholesterol riddled shitty heart i am not sorry.

  • Jessica

    This is definitely a difficult debate to resolve. My questions to you all are these: Why does a person with an impairment not get a free seat for the personal support worker accompanying them? They didn’t ask to have a handicap. Yet in some cases, persons with weight issues do not always as for it either. Within reason, we must be sensitive to others and have as much accessibility so that everyone can benefit and be happy. Again, within reason, because if we went making exceptions for every issue a person may come across, the airlines would be broke and so would we. But who pays for it, is it the other consumers? Who pays for guide-dogs, or accessible ramps and doors, and so forth? We all do through taxes or in the case of airlines, a higher priced ticket. We do because ethically it is the right thing to do. What if it were us in that persons position with an impairment or limitation?

  • Intrigued and Confused

    I don’t want anyone to feel that I am insensitive to someone who has a medical problem that causes them to be overweight. What I do want to be open about is the fact that overweight people anger me. A reason that is extremely applicable to this time of year, is that the fitness centers are now flooded with the “New Year’s Resolution Crowd”. This is the same group that comes in year after year, who don’t know how to use the equipment, or how to workout properly, or even understand basic gym etiquette.

    I do appreciate you paying for a membership that you won’t use after 6 weeks; it allows my gym to take your money, not worry about providing equipment you will ever use, but instead improve the facilities that I will use on a regular basis. Besides, who are you kidding? Are you really going to completely change your entire lifestyle just because you made some irrational resolution because it was the end of December? You are going to completely alter the way you eat, sleep, workout, and basically everything else about your life so you can join the ranks of the physically fit?

    Get real. It is a lifestyle. See the word: LIFE-style. It is how you have to live your entire life. From the time you get up, until the time you go to bed. The lifestyle relies on the choices you make. It requires self control, which if you are fat, you obviously lack. If you can look in the mirror and not do something about it before it becomes a problem, then you have answered the question on your own.

    Another issue I have with overweight people is that they feel it as discrimination if they have to pay for two seats on a plane. Really? What is your defense? What are you using as your platform for disagreeing with something that is so easily argued?

    So, you can’t fit your fatass into a seat that is made to accommodate the average size of the rest of the other 7 billion people on the planet. You can’t physically slide your disgusting body into just one seat slot, and you spill over the arm rests onto the other passengers? So now you are getting charged for another seat so you can finally fit your fatass in the plane without impeding the comfort and space of the other passengers.

    Exactly where did you find your argument against this? I am having a hard time with it. It’s no different than my outrage at legislation that outlaws smoking in public businesses. That’s a different topic, but…even though you can choose not to frequent the smoking establishment just as easy as you can choose to frequent the smoking establishment, all of a sudden smoking shouldn’t occur? Wow. How narcissistic.

    I guess I could go on and on, but it angers me that someone could infringe upon someone else’s comfort, private space, or intrude in their life, but yet they feel they are the one who is being wronged. That is awfully selfish.

  • Brittani Blacknall

    I believe obese people shouldn’t pay for extra airline tickets simply because they’re people just like us and not all obese people are obese because they chose to be but simply because of health related issues. I also would like to comment on the person who said obese people doesn’t always bathe but how dare you sterotype. Different people whom come from different sizes and shapes doesn’t always bathe speaking from experiences from being around people with odors.

  • Sherry

    No, airlines should begin thinking about sections for different sized people. Why should tall or overweight people have to cram themselves into sardine-can constrained seats? Even a small person cannot feel comfortable with the ridiculous pitch and seat widths everyone is forced to fit into nowadays. So we’re going to blame the big people now because airlines have decided to reduce seating size to pack on more and more passengers? If the airlines arrange the plane seating to suit their operation costs, why don’t they have a policy to offer larger seating, for extra money, for bigger people? Flying has become a mode of torture these days. Especially with all the airlines falsely advertising their super, duper low fares, only to discover the prices are for super, duper, tiny seats!!! Totally shameful.

  • JoSe

    I hate people being close to me because some of them don’t bathe often, so I would pay for an extra seat just to be alone and not have to smell them during the whole trip.

  • JoSe

    They should pay for two seats because how would you like to have to sit on half your seat, while some obese person takes up one and one half seat, which includes half of your seat.

  • tyler

    to barb im not what you would call fat or obese but because of ma shoulder with i was charged for twwo seats its not my faul i only weigh 170.5lbs at birth ma shoulder were 12 and 1/2 inches wide i dont even fit in a normal school chair comfortabley i have nearly both of ma shoulder blades past the sides of the chair