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Old Jul 3, 12, 11:43 am   #1
 
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Opening a can of worms...why does this happen? (Customer of Size Issue)

A few days ago my husband and I boarded a UA flight MSY-LAX and sat in our exit row seats. A 400 hundred pound plus female passenger sat down next to me. While others were boarding she realizes she is in the wrong seat and out loud states to the flight attendant and anyone else that was listening. The actual seat holder approaches and states that seat is his but is willing to let her stay seated and will sit in her assigned seat instead. For the next four hours, I was miserable! This 400 plus pound female passenger oozed onto my seat the entire flight. The armrest between us would not stay in position due to her girth. I was sweating due to the fact I am not only sharing body contact with my husband but with the passenger that is oozing onto my seat. My husband and I shared 1 1/2 seats while the other passenger had 1 1/2 seats to herself. My husband and I both opted out of drink service due to the fact we did not want to have to get up during the flight as doing so would have been a major production. As we were seated in an exit row, I doubt this passenger could have properly assisted if an issue arose. I don't believe that I would not have enough room to maneuver to assist others as there simply would not have been the space to do so! I thought about asking to be reseated but I didn't want to make this person feel anymore uncomfortable than she had to have already been.
Now the second leg of the trip- LAX-SMX - the last leg- that same evening. Upon arrival at the gate we are made aware by other waiting passengers that that flight has been cancelled due to weather. Lots of confusion. Nobody seemed to know what was going on. The gate agent seemed to be working hard to figure out a plan. There was talk that we could possibly be booked on another flight to SBP (flights were departing at that time), our plane could be re-routed to SBP or that we could be "shuttled" to SMX. We were also told that we should perhaps make our way to the United Customer Service counter. I indicated to the gate agent that since this cancellation is due to so called weather, my husband and I would put ourselves up in a hotel for the night but would want a flight home the next day. I am told no and that we were going to be shuttled home. The 9 passengers that were scheduled to fly on flight UA 6483 followed the gate agent to baggage claim to collect our bags. That task took an hour before all luggage was located. The 9 of us then proceeded outside and loaded ourselves and our luggage into a Super Shuttle van....one Super Shuttle van...can you say sardines?... for a three hour trip to SMX. We departed LAX at midnight. We arrived at our final destination at 2:30am sharp due to the Super Shuttle's driver inability to obey the law, as he drove often at speeds between 80 and 90 miles per hour. The driver was very good at hitting more than his fair share of the white road dividers… kept all us passengers wondering if our driver was falling asleep behind the wheel. To say the ride was a quick one was nothing more than the scary truth! I would have never booked this flight had I known I would be driven on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride! How simple and how thoughtful it would have been to just re-route the flight to SBP, as that route had no weather factor, and shuttle us passengers a short distance as my husband and I had happen in October 2011.
...and now when I log into our United accounts and view our past itineraries I see that it looks as tho we were actually booked to fly out at noon the following day to SMX. UGH!
We have no status... just a couple that travels often from an area that has two airports nearby...serviced mainly by UA. Should I expect compensation? Thoughts? Comments? Stories? Humor ; )

UPDATED 7/7/2012:
I received an email from United Customer Care yesterday. My husband and I each received an ETC for $150.

Last edited by kingzwingz; Jul 7, 12 at 3:24 pm. Reason: updated information
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Old Jul 3, 12, 11:53 am   #2
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The best way to deal with a customer of size is this. you bought a seat, not part or most of a seat. IF he or she was oozing into your seat, then you were denied what you were purchased. I would stand and explain this to the GA.
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Old Jul 3, 12, 11:55 am   #3
 
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You should definitely write about both issues and you'll likely get something.

FYI, under the circumstances (especially since you were willing to pay for your own hotel) you should have called reservations and asked them to rebook you for the next day. Sounds like that's what happened anyway but in a case like that where your booked flight is cancelled or significantly delayed you can usually get satisfaction over the phone. The airport agent probably just didn't want to have to deal with taking the time to rebook you because she was busy.

As for the large woman next to you..most unfortunate..especially because the person who was supposed to sit there gave up his exit row seat! That's some bad luck... could this woman sit in the seat with the arm rest fully lowered? That is generally UA's requirement..if the answer is no then she should have been required to buy an extra seat. Also, did she need a seatbelt extender? I don't believe extenders are allowed in the exit row.

Finally..when posting, please type out the city names rather than just using airport codes when talking about obscure airports. I have no idea where SMX and SBP are because I didn't want to take the time to look them up.. just assuming they're in southern Cal.
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Old Jul 3, 12, 12:01 pm   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEA1K4EVR View Post
Finally..when posting, please type out the city names rather than just using airport codes when talking about obscure airports. I have no idea where SMX and SBP are because I didn't want to take the time to look them up.. just assuming they're in southern Cal.
Sorry. While I am not new to lurking FlyerTalk, I am new to posting.
SMX- Santa Maria, CA
SBP- San Luis Obispo, CA
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Old Jul 3, 12, 12:02 pm   #5
 
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I once wrote in for clarification on the oversized passenger issue (not seeking compensation) and got 7,000 miles as a gesture of goodwill. Now that i know the policy I will not surrender any of my seat if they cannot reasonably fit in theirs.

Weather delays usually get me about $200 in compensation as an e-certificate, but that often depends on status and circumstance. Check out this thread http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/unite...pensation.html to see what others have been given in compensation.
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Old Jul 3, 12, 12:06 pm   #6
 
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So the OP's primary concern is the COS issue?

Based on all the other things written, I wasn't sure how many issues she had.

COS are not allowed in the exit row, period. There are regulatons regarding that. If anyone needs a seat belt extender, they are not supposed to be in the exit row, at least that is what I have read and found out the hard way.

I had a similar experience in an exit row (the COS sneaked in her own seat belt extension so she could be buckled in), and I will not make the mistake of sitting silently if this occurs again.
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Old Jul 3, 12, 12:08 pm   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colpuck View Post
The best way to deal with a customer of size is this. you bought a seat, not part or most of a seat. IF he or she was oozing into your seat, then you were denied what you were purchased. I would stand and explain this to the GA.
That's true, but reality is cruel especially when the flight is full and you must take that flight. When you are on the flight, the pilot has almost full control on regulations. (Of course, he can't force you to eat broccoli if you dislike it.) The affected passenger may be asked to tolerate probably, and ask for compensation in miles or vouchers after your sardine flight.

If you don't want to be squeezed, considering the punctuality and tight schedule, there is 50% chance that the pilot will ask the complaining passenger to leave the plane, but not the passenger of size. It is solely because it is even more troublesome to ask a silent passenger to leave, provided that the only problem is the fat.
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Old Jul 3, 12, 12:15 pm   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samwkchan View Post
That's true, but reality is cruel especially when the flight is full and you must take that flight. When you are on the flight, the pilot has almost full control on regulations. (Of course, he can't force you to eat broccoli if you dislike it.) The affected passenger may be asked to tolerate probably, and ask for compensation in miles or vouchers after your sardine flight.

If you don't want to be squeezed, considering the punctuality and tight schedule, there is 50% chance that the pilot will ask the complaining passenger to leave the plane, but not the passenger of size. It is solely because it is even more troublesome to ask a silent passenger to leave, provided that the only problem is the fat.
The GA has control of the manifest, and should have addressed the COS issue before letting the passenger on board. If the pilot wants me off, then it is an IDB.
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Old Jul 3, 12, 12:25 pm   #9
 
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'murica.

this is actually something i've always wanted to know, is there official written policy on airlines for this?
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Old Jul 3, 12, 12:26 pm   #10
 
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a story.

I was flying CLT-ORD last year on a UAX flight (not a long flight or a big plane) and my fiance and I were were in 12ab (exit row). A person of size had a window seat 11(D) next to a man of no tact. The A$$ put up such a stink and flustered the FA it put the woman in 11D in tears.

As I am extra svelt I felt 11D and I were a Jack Sprat match made in heaven so I got up, placed the man formerly know as 11C into my seat and took his. The mans wife was appalled by his actions and spent the flight telling her husband there was a special place in hell for those who make strangers cry. My fiance may have added her 3cents too - I couldn't hear.

Ms. 11D and I had a lovely flight, and chatted all the way to ORD.
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Old Jul 3, 12, 12:35 pm   #11
 
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I had a similar situation occur on a CRJ200 in the exit row. Rather than fight about it when the FA asked if I was willing to assist in an emergency, I looked at the POS next to me and smiled and said no I would prefer not to help, full well knowing I would get moved. Then the FA another person who gladly offered to sit in the exit row since they thought you'd get more legroom (but not on the CRJ200) and once they saw the POS they wouldn't sit there either. Finally they found a 3rd person who sat next to the POS in the exit row.
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Old Jul 3, 12, 12:44 pm   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob_the_d View Post
'murica.

this is actually something i've always wanted to know, is there official written policy on airlines for this?
Not related to COS/POS, but in regards to exit row and seat belt extenders, (although not official as in FAR, but as an industry safety):

http://flightsafety.org/files/cabin_...compendium.pdf
See Section 2-2

On Qantas website, it gives restrictions:
http://www.qantas.com.au/travel/airl...eats/global/en
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Old Jul 3, 12, 12:47 pm   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingzwingz View Post
I don't believe that I would not have enough room to maneuver to assist others as there simply would not have been the space to do so! I thought about asking to be reseated but I didn't want to make this person feel anymore uncomfortable than she had to have already been.
1. People always say this, but if you truly didn't feel like you could assist in an emergency, you should have said something to the FA.

2. That's what happens when you put someone else's comfort about your own. You suffer.
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Old Jul 3, 12, 1:17 pm   #14
 
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It's best to stand (up for your rights) before the door closes. If the COS can't be moved, request an IDB. Once the door closes and you're off there's little the FA can do - they have to be alerted to the trouble while there's time to do something, like remove or reseat the COS.

Not sure if there's a prohibition on seat belt extenders in exit rows tho it seems this COS would have had difficulty the duties required in, and been a potential bottleneck of, the exit row. Someone old and frail and skinny is not good for the exit row, nor someone young and 400 lbs...

UA policy is pretty civilized - if someone can't fit in one and can't buy an extra seat, and can't fly until the next day, UA provides meals, lodging.

It's also clear from .bomb:

Customers requiring extra seating

A customer flying in the economy cabin who is not able to safely and comfortably fit in a single seat is required to purchase an additional seat for each leg of their itinerary. The second seat may be purchased for the same fare as the original seat, provided it is purchased at the same time. A customer who does not purchase an extra seat in advance may be required to do so on the day of departure for the fare level available on the day of departure. The customer may instead choose to purchase a ticket for United First®, United Business® or United BusinessFirst®, or elect to pay for an upgrade to a premium cabin if there is availability to do so. United Airlines is not required to provide additional seats or upgrades free of charge.

A customer is required to purchase an additional seat or upgrade if they do not meet one of the following criteria:

The customer must be able to properly attach, buckle and wear the seatbelt, with one extension if necessary, whenever the seatbelt sign is illuminated or as instructed by a crew member.*
The customer must be able to remain seated with the seat armrest(s) down for the entirety of the flight.
The customer must not significantly encroach upon the adjacent seating space. See our seat maps.
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Old Jul 3, 12, 1:17 pm   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob_the_d View Post
'murica.

this is actually something i've always wanted to know, is there official written policy on airlines for this?
UA's policy is to find the COS two seats. If not possible then deboard the COS and accomodate on a later flight. The GA can only force the COS to purchase a 2nd seat as a last resort.
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