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Man sues Delta for being seated next to obese passenger.

Man sues Delta for being seated next to obese passenger.

Old Mar 22, 05, 1:48 am
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Man sues Delta for being seated next to obese passenger.


Philip Shafer said that Delta breached its contract to provide him with a full seat and reasonable comfort. Shafer claims he suffered embarrassment, severe discomfort, mental anguish and severe emotional distress from the flight.

I'd comment, but I'm speechless.
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Old Mar 22, 05, 4:28 am
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Suing DL...

I love it!!! Wonder if I could get some money for having to sit next to that really hairy guy in the tank top and shorts....
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Old Mar 22, 05, 5:48 am
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Whenever I read about one of these legal actions I have to wonder why the person didn't complain when he was initially seated next to a person of this size?

In January I was on a full Song flight where there was a gentleman that weighed between 300-350 pounds that boarded. The FA's were moving him all over the place because nobody wanted to be next to him and they all voiced an objection. The FA's even attempted to convince a man who was about 6'6" to move to row one's window bulkhead seat by telling him that he would have more legroom. He took one look at the seat and laughed at the FA while politely refusing to move. We all know that the legroom in that first row is limited and that someone of that height would have been extremely uncomfortable for the entire flight.

IMHO, it is DL's obligation to either charge someone of this size for a second seat when he/she appears at the gate or refuse to board that person if it is a full flight.
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Old Mar 22, 05, 6:29 am
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This is a tough call. On first blush, it seems ludicrous and petty. However, let's assume that flight was a ATL - SEA or some such and it's sold out. You're comfortably seated in your favorite 13D. One of the last persons to board is this 328 lb man and guess what ..... he's in 13E (of all places). F/A attempts to reseat him in an aisle or exit row, but no one will give up their precious seats to him.

Lastly, the F/A walks him over to your aisle and tells you that the man will need to sit in his assigned seat at once so the a/c can push back. So, down he goes into 13E and you find that his legs and arms are both 8 to 10 inches over into your space --- even though he's trying his level best to keep it all sucked in. He's miserable, you're miserable. I certainly would be.

Do I feel somewhat sorry for the large man? Absolutely. It must be humiliating to be walked all over the cabin by the F/As trying to swap seats (can you imagine?!?). I mean, for all we know he's going to a family funeral or to see his sick Mom. Nevertheless, his presence presents a real problem for others on a sold out flight. Tough call.
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Old Mar 22, 05, 6:44 am
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What happened to the policy of having to buy two seats if you are a person of "weight" or is that just on Southwest.....
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Old Mar 22, 05, 6:56 am
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I agree that this is a touchy issue. I don't think one can reasonably claim severe emotional distress from being inconvenienced a bit. But clearly, it isn't fair for an airline not to protect each of us getting the seat that we paid for. Unless there is some significant risk of financial loss, an airline has little incentive to address situations such as this. In our litigious society, the lawsuit is the ultimate risk of financial loss that results when one doesn't act properly. I do feel sorry for the large passenger, but not so sorry that I want him sitting next to me.
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Old Mar 22, 05, 7:12 am
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Yeah, I'm generally against the principle of using lawsuits or the threat of lawsuits as a way of legislating stupidity, but as a last resort, it's what we do in this country.

The industry has already developed into cramming people into the smallest possible spaces for longer and longer periods of time.

There has to be some provision to deal with a pax whose size deprives another pax of even that small space. If the airlines won't voluntarily come up with a plan to address the problem (which will only grow over time, not shrink ) then maybe a lawsuit will get results.

Which also opens up the imagination to other future lawsuits-
Forcing them to enforce carry-on regs?
Forcing them to have CSRs who actually speak the language they are purporting to speak?
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Old Mar 22, 05, 7:20 am
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I believe that a seasoned "road warrior" type of traveler would object before the plane pushes back from the gate and demand action so that they are not inconvenienced for the duration of the trip. When I was on the Song flight, the vast majority of people were leisure type travelers and didn't have a clue.
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Old Mar 22, 05, 7:40 am
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I seem to remember a similar case against Delta a couple of years ago and I believe that they lost, or at least settled for something like $9K. I think it was in DTW or MSP. Don't have the exact details, but it does set some precedence.
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Old Mar 22, 05, 7:41 am
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Nope. I do not agree with you. I'm a frequent traveler and was sitted next to a huge guy. I did not make a fuss as I do not want to embarass the guy. However, I was extremely uncomfortable and wrote to the CSR. I was told that passengers "volunteer" the information (about their size) upfront and are required to buy two seats. If the passengers do not give this information, there is nothing Delta can do about it. I told Delta that clearly it can stop the customer from boarding and that the CSR at the gate should be able to "see" a passenger will not be able to fit into the seat. No replies from Delta after that.

If you are in a situation where the flight is full, you have no other choice but to bear with it if you want to go home. If not, you can always opt for other flights (Delta told me I have this option if I raised it to the CSR at that time). Hmmm....I wondered if I objected to the huge guy sitting next to me, who will be left to take another flight???
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Old Mar 22, 05, 7:43 am
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Definitely, most of us probably would have done something ourselves, but I don't think we should have to.

When reserving a seat, I think that there is an implicit agreement that we get the whole seat.

Definitely caveat emptor comes into play - they make it reasonably easy for us to do a little research andfind out what type of equipment it is, what the seat width and pitch is and even what refreshments will be served. There are terms and we can buy or not based on what they are offering.

Other tools like seatguru.com and airlinemeals.com let us take it even one step further.

But this is not "part of the deal" and drastically reduces the quality of the product.

Now if DL would sell reduced-width seats -kind of like obstructed view seats at the theater - at a discount, at least you know what you're getting...

or maybe they could cooperate with a third party and feed info to amisittingnexttoanobeseguy.com

Last edited by remyontheroad; Mar 22, 05 at 7:45 am
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Old Mar 22, 05, 7:50 am
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It's a ridiculous lawsuit, but it's a perfect reason for airlines to enact and enforce two-seat rules for pax over a certain size. maybe we need size-wise displays for people as well as carry-ons.
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Old Mar 22, 05, 7:52 am
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Can just see the chaos at the gate...

"Pardon me ma'am, would you kindly stand here and see if your rear-end will fit betwen these two posts...."
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Old Mar 22, 05, 8:02 am
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Look, we live in a free country. If someone wants to be "of size" it is their choice (I am not talking about the rare cases of a medical condition that can't be helped). Most of the time they're not bothering anyone but themselves. When their situation bothers me, then it becomes a problem. If the person can not fit into his or her assigned seat and spills into my seat, then this person should be reaccomodated.

It should not be MY responsibility to have to protest that I'm getting half the seat I paid for. It is the responsibility of the "person of size" to realize in advance that this will be a problem and act accordingly. I am sure that getting on an airplane is not the first time a "person of size" ran up against seat width issues.

The bottom line is that I wouldn't be so much pissed the guy was fat, but that knowing he was going to have an issue he wasn't considerate about it.

Last edited by sxpsxpsxp; Mar 22, 05 at 6:58 pm
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Old Mar 22, 05, 8:15 am
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What happens to these people when they need to use the Toilet, say in a CRJ?

The Mind Boggles!!
IRISHFLYER1 is offline  

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