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Politically Incorrect: The "fat" pax policy

Politically Incorrect: The "fat" pax policy

 

Old Nov 9, 04, 10:51 am
  #1  
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Politically Incorrect: The "fat" pax policy

I may get flamed for this, but I am seriously and sincerely interested in the FT general opinion on this issue. I, for one, value the opinions I find on this board -- and I'd like to know how some of you would have reacted in the same situation.

Late last week flying CO 11 from CDG - IAH in BusinessFirst, I was approached by the concierge AFTER boarding, stowing my things, and settling in for the crossing with my Diet Coke and a boring brief I was drafting. The concierge told me that BizFirst was oversold and two elderly people on their 60th anniversary trip were the last to arrive because of a late connection from Lyon. They didn't want to be split up, and the wife was having "memory problems;" the wife had already boarded because she had been separated from the husband at security (?), and she was already sitting by me, staring blankly, like a child.

The concierge was asking for volunteers to take a seat in Coach, with the compensation of (1) full refund of BizFirst fare and (2) no charge for the coach seat at all and (3) a free int'l BF roundtrip ticket for later use. The old lady (with the kindest face and eyes I've ever seen) couldn't really speak well, but her eyes said it all. She needed her husband probably more than I needed the seat I was in.

There were NO takers in either BF cabin on the 777. The concierge was exasperated, and I finally spoke up. I asked which Coach seat I would be moved to if I took the deal. The concierge said "Row 17 A, B, and C were all empty, so you'll have the seats all to yourself on the left side -- so you can actually lay down, etc." Well, if two elderly people could now (1) fly on the same flight (2) sitting together, and (3) I get free crossing PLUS a free J ticket to Europe later, well OK...

I agreed. I got the J roundtrip voucher, plus the refund docs signed by the concierge and his card. He took me to 17 ABC, and I settled in there. (Truth be told: this is where I always sit if I am flying on my own dime: Row 16 or 17, so it's not THAT big a deal, right?) And now comes the horror story:

Boarding was NOT completed, which I did not know (and the concierge did not explain!). Apparently (so says CO), a VERY, VERY, VERY large woman walked up to the counter at CDG and bought a roundtrip ticket to IAH to visit a sick friend who had suddenly taken ill; thus, she had no reservation and no seat assignment. She just showed up at CDG a few hours before the flight. She was assigned Row 17 B. But when she arrived and saw me in 17 A, she politely took 17 C, leaving a seat free between us. HOWEVER, she did not actually fit in seat C, and she took up ALL of 17 B and C, having to sort of sit at an angle to get herself in the seats at all, lifting armrests in between.

The FA brought her a seatbelt extension to go around her enormous girth. I've just never seen anything quite like this. I would think she must have a true medical problem, glandular or otherwise. Simply "overeating" just could NOT get you to this point! Needless to say, I was now miffed about the change of seats. But things got even worse when yet ANOTHER last-minute passenger boarded and demanded his assigned seat: 17C, which the fat lady had taken. She could not unbuckle her seatbelt herself (because she could not reach around her sides to the clasp), so the FA comes over, releases her, helps her up by literally pulling and pushing on her, then plants her in 16B.

Even WORSE: she won't fit. She demands (meanly) that I lift the armrest between us so she can fit her rear into the seat. I refuse -- no way. She plops down, lifting the armrest between 17B and C, and she sits by taking up all of 17 B and C -- just like she had before!! Except now, her center of gravity was in the center seat, not the aisle seat, but she still took up both seats. So, the guy assigned to 17 C STILL has nowhere to actually put his body, even though the enormous woman had technically "moved" to 17 B. The FA then asks ME to lift my armrest "so that all our passengers can be accommodated." This was just stupid, and I refused.

The FA gets the ISM (int'l service mgr) to come over, and then HE asked me to lift the armrest. I told him that I was in Coach at CO's request in the FIRST PLACE, that I had actually paid for a J ticket on this flight, etc. He said, "Yes, but you've been compensated for that switch. Now please lift your armrest so that all our passengers can be accommodated."

I asked whether the entire 777 was sold out, and yes it was; not ONE single seat left. In the end, I did NOT raise my armrest so that the huge woman could then spill herself all over me. Sorry friends -- I love women dearly, and I love them in most shapes and sizes -- but this just grossed me out to have a perfect stranger literally piling slabs of fat into my leg, shoulder, side....it's just disgusting. She was hot, sweaty, panting...and literally pinning me to the wall. Luckily, most of the "extra" weight spilling over onto me was supported by the infamous armrest that I refused to raise.

After we were at cruise, I got up and literally hurdled over this enormous person -- figuring I'd just STAND the rest of the way to the USA!! Of course, some FA starting quoting regulations at me (yeah, yeah, I'm a lawyer...) telling me to take my seat immediately or she'd call the pilot. I showed her my seat, and I asked her precisely HOW to take my seat that was now the repository for the REST of the woman -- who had immediately lifted the armrest and spilled across into my seat!! Just so you'll understand: there WAS NO SEAT LEFT!

A ridiculous, petty, undertrained FA said I would just have to "find a way to work it out" saying that I should be more "understanding" of other people's feelings!! What?? She INSISTED that I sit down....so, I did!! I simply crawled over her, and sat down on her leg fat that was spilling into my seat. The woman HOWLED and squirmed, and I thought the entire row of three seats was going to come loose from its floor screws and fling us around the cabin. You can imagine the spectacle. THe FA just stared, said that I should be more considerate, and marched off.

After another hour or so, my body was in torture from sitting half on this woman's leg (to my great disgust) and half on the OTHER ARMREST near the window at a cartoonish angle. Suddenly: I had an idea. I decided that I was going to commandeer one of the crew rest seats, whether they liked it or not. So, from my perch on top of the woman's leg and the other armrest, I again rang for the ISM, he finally arrived and couldn't believe what was going on. I told him I would now be moving to a crew rest seat.

He agreed, moved my things, and I took my "new seat." Nevertheless, I STILL got dirty looks from some FAs. Yet other FAs were obviously howling with laughter about the whole ordeal. I think both those approaches are out of line. I can't believe that only the ISM had the presence of mind to allow me to try my solution. And why didn't they think of that SOONER??

So here's my question for the beloved FT community. What would you have done? Remember, I'd already changed my BF ticket for Coach and accepted the reasonable deal the offered -- but I would NOT have if I'd known the Concierege was totally wrong about the seats I'd have. Even if you had paid for a coach ticket, booked your seat, boarded...and then SHE arrived, what is the PROPER thing to do? I must say, CO totally left me to my own devices, and I do not think that was fair at all. I think that CO should have come up with a solution rather than leaving me to think of one. Still...in your experience, what IS the solution to this problem?

For the record, I am 5'11" and 155 pounds and a marathon runner -- and this I do to keep in shape because of all the traveling I have to do. And, would you believe that the mean FA actually said, "You're skinny, you can take it." WHy should I be punished for keeping myself in shape? You can believe that CO is gonna hear about this, but my call to "WE CARE 2" was a joke, as you can imagine. What should I do? What would YOU do?

Last edited by LawFlyer; Nov 9, 04 at 11:00 am
LawFlyer is offline  
Old Nov 9, 04, 10:58 am
  #2  
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I'm surprised they didn't just put you on AF in Biz.
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Old Nov 9, 04, 11:09 am
  #3  
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As Johnny Cochroach once said in a famous trial "If the butt dont fit, you must double remit"
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Old Nov 9, 04, 11:16 am
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Good lord - keep calling back and demanding more compensation. You should not be penalized for being a good guy and giving up your seat. At 6"4" I realize that I might intrude a bit on my seat mates and do everything possible to minimize the impact. This story, however, is amazing. They should have addressed this at the gate. Period.
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Old Nov 9, 04, 11:34 am
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I'm on your side. CO made a fair deal with you and perhaps you aren't entitled to more than a coach seat, but you certainly shouldn't have to endure less than a coach seat. The ISM should be reprimanded for not doing his/her job properly.
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Old Nov 9, 04, 11:56 am
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My husband and I had a similar experience on a Continental flight domestically. Boarding in coach in LAS, we had A and C seats, hoping for a free B seat between us. Unfortunately,America West had equipment problems and their passengers were reaccomodated on our flight to IAH. We boarded a little late and found a very large woman with the famous seatbelt extender in the B seat, grinning like a fool. She was spilling into both seats, with both armrests up. There was NO WAY we were going to fit into our seats.

God bless my darling husband, he marched right to front of the plane and demanded that CO rectify the situation. They told us to "deal with it" and "be more understanding," but he would not budge. The FAs were adamant that we sit in our assigned seats. My husband refused to move unless something was done. He started on about "what happens if there's an emergency?" Finally they brought a red coat on board who muttered "oh my god" and quickly escorted us off that flight. After profuse apologies and many explanations from the red coat, we flew FC back to IAH on the redeye.

If it ever happens again, DO NOT LET THE PLANE TAKE OFF WITH THE SITUATION UNRESOLVED. I would have been at the front of the cabin demanding to be reaccomodated (or standing next to my husband while he demanded a resolution, he's British and very good at complaining politely but firmly). Once you're airborne, you're stuck.
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Old Nov 9, 04, 12:06 pm
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Thumbs down

Originally Posted by LawFlyer
... And, would you believe that the mean FA actually said, "You're skinny, you can take it."
This would be funny on a TV show... but not in real life!
I think the airlines need to stop being so P.C. Just as they have devices at the gate to check whether your carry-on fits or not, they should have a similar way of objectively measuring passengers and then have them pay for two or three tix, if necessary. And also be ready to deny them boarding if there's no way they can be safely accommodated without inconveniencing the rest of us.
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Old Nov 9, 04, 12:16 pm
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I think you got a raw deal. This should have been rectified before departure and you should have been offered to keep all compensation and offered different flight of the neext day's with a hotel room.

If a person can not sit in a seat with the arm rest down they should be charged for more than one seat.

FA's should never demand that you be more accomadating than other passengers. In this case, they were asking you to more that the other passenger. Sure they can ask for favors and you can respond as you see fit.

You should write and call until you get someone who gives [email protected]#n. You were offered an arrangement based on the information available at the time ( a full row of seats in coach). If that information changes so does the deal.

I am sure you wouldn't have complained if two normal size people took the seats.

I bet that they have had complaints from overweight people in the past who have felt discrinated against or other things so are on extra laret to be accomadating. That;s fine all should be treated equally and fairly and that includes you.

I would demanded thye take me off the flight.
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Old Nov 9, 04, 1:33 pm
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Wow, I gotta come back to the CO board more often... funny stuff!

But seriously, I agree you got a raw deal. Being downgraded from BF is irrelevant here because as the ISM stated you were compensated for that, and while you were told by the FA you would have 3 seats (a bonus), you cant realistically expect to be entitled to three seats looking at it from a compensation point of view. But still, you had the same rights as any other coach passenger and you are entitled to your 1 seat with the armrests down. If the person next to you cant fit into his/her seat then its theirs and the airlines problem, not yours. If I were in your position I think given the circumstances I would have gotten off the plane and taken another flight back. IMO its still worth the free J ticket you received (but maybe not to you).

It's been a while since I've been on the CO board since I moved to UA, but I remember some people here have email addresses and phone numbers for some supprisingly high people who actually care what you have to say. I'd suggest digging those out and trying that.

A similar (although nowhere near as bad) thing happened to me on a UA flight before FRA > IAD. I was stuck in a middle seat and the guy next to me was pretty big, and his shoulders were just too wide for the seat and I had to sit on a slant. This got painfull after a few hours so I ended up standing at the back chatting to the FA's for about 4 hours. Worked out OK for me, the one FA ended up giving me a 'tour' of the plane including letting me try out the C seats and the first suites for a few minutes. She showed me how the IFE and the FA's passenger info screen works.
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Old Nov 9, 04, 2:42 pm
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One butt per coach seat and the area in front of it. Seat arm is yours to put down. I would've asked to be reaccomodated in J on another flight/carrier. A free int'l J ticket in exchange for a later flight still kicks butt.

Sorry to hear about the incident.

- Pat
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Old Nov 9, 04, 3:44 pm
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Originally Posted by LawFlyer
....So here's my question for the beloved FT community. What would you have done? ....
I would have insisted on a subsequent flight if they had not taken off yet. I would have told them that not only could I not breathe with that seating arrangement, but that I would need medical attention somewhere in mid-flight. I was smashed between two very large people once and never want that experience again. Back then I never complained. As a lawyer, you can argue that you never got what you bargained for! I think you experienced some outrageous behavior by some of the FAs on that flight. After reading about your incident, I am now less inclined to want to accommodate others by giving up my seat in the future.

Too bad you didn't take a photo of the seat row with the passengers in it.
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Old Nov 9, 04, 4:09 pm
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Fat people are fat because they eat like pigs and don't exercise. Enough of this "I have a glandular condition" crap. If there are any fat people that are reading this you should put the donut down and go take a walk. It's time we all stopped being so PC to "people of size" and start making them pay for their gluttony and their lack of discipline and self control. They infringe on my personal space, they smell from not being able to properly clean themselves and they put all of us at risk by flying. My mother was over a hundred pounds overweight and now she's dead because her size. She could have cared less about her health and her size and just wanted to eat all the time. She flew all the time and I know for a fact that didn't give a rat's ... about the guy sitting next to her in 17A.

I cannot believe the number of people I see everyday that weigh 300, 400, 500, even 600 pounds. And many of them are young kids. Kids who have been brought up on processed foods and 64oz cokes and "all you can eat buffets". I think CO should institute a fat tax for any passenger that cannot fit under a standard seat belt. Perhaps $100 per inch for every inch of the seat belt extender. Maybe that'll discourage them from "supersizing" their next meal from Micky D's.
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Old Nov 9, 04, 4:52 pm
  #13  
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BBW on my flight today

There was quite a large one on my AA flight today (she had to be three times my width at a minimum without any exageration.. AA may have MRTC, but there isn't enough room on any plane for her), We were on an M80 (seating 2/3) from DFW to IAD and she got on with her kid and sits on the two side in front of me. I saw her on the jet way and wanted to see (praying it wasn't next to me) where she was sitting. She sits on the two side and immediately puts the armrest up and she took up 1 and say 3/4 seats.. since this was an empty flight it didn't really matter.. her kid though had to sit in the aisle on the 3 side (which was empty).. it was amazing and since I was in the Exit row which have immovable arm rests, there is no way she would have ever fit in one of those seats. When she walked up the aisle, no matter what angle she turned she would hit me going by with her backyard.. and yes, I leaned towards the window too in order to attempt not to get sideswiped

to the OP,I'm with you, no way do I move the arm rest.. it was her problem not yours.. good move on the switch to the crew rest seat, if it was not a big deal to the FA's then they wouldnt' mind sitting next to the seat spiller.
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Old Nov 9, 04, 5:12 pm
  #14  
 
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About a year or so ago on HKG-ORD FA's were milling about the coach cabin after we hit cruise altitude to spread out into empty seats unfortunates who got wedged into middle seats on the 747.

The FA's were actually coming into the Premier Zone/Economy+, and spotting that I had a row to myself (4 across), one came over and 'assertively' asked that I yield space to another pax.

I motioned the FA to come in closer, and in a hushed tone asked her if she wouldn't mind finding other seats so that this 1K (myself) could enjoy the extra space.

After a quick wink from the FA, she went elsewhere to locate better seating for the otherwise hapless.

As we were on approach about 15 hours later, the same FA came back with a bottle of wine wrapped in a napkin, and said, "Thanks for your business..."

Oh wait this is the CO bulletin board.
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Old Nov 9, 04, 6:01 pm
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Originally Posted by Elite Nomore


Fat people are fat because they eat like pigs and don't exercise. Enough of this "I have a glandular condition" crap. If there are any fat people that are reading this you should put the donut down and go take a walk. It's time we all stopped being so PC to "people of size" and start making them pay for their gluttony and their lack of discipline and self control. They infringe on my personal space, they smell from not being able to properly clean themselves and they put all of us at risk by flying. My mother was over a hundred pounds overweight and now she's dead because her size. She could have cared less about her health and her size and just wanted to eat all the time. She flew all the time and I know for a fact that didn't give a rat's ... about the guy sitting next to her in 17A.

I cannot believe the number of people I see everyday that weigh 300, 400, 500, even 600 pounds. And many of them are young kids. Kids who have been brought up on processed foods and 64oz cokes and "all you can eat buffets". I think CO should institute a fat tax for any passenger that cannot fit under a standard seat belt. Perhaps $100 per inch for every inch of the seat belt extender. Maybe that'll discourage them from "supersizing" their next meal from Micky D's.

ROTFL...I agree completely...it's amazing how much people try to blame things on everything else but themselves...
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