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Dealing with the situation of an obese passenger on QF

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Old Dec 14, 17, 11:00 pm
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Dealing with the situation of an obese passenger on QF

Last week I was flying from SYD to MEL and had the misfortune to be wedged against the window by a morbidly obese passenger. He was spilling over the armrest and I had to endure the flight with his body pressed against mine. Not the thing you want.

​​​​​Is there a QF policy on this problem? Can you ask for the obese passenger to be reseated/removed? After all they know they don't fit and should book a second set at the time of booking.

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Old Dec 14, 17, 11:29 pm
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I believe Qantas doesn't has a specific policy on this as some airlines do, but they are supposed to (according to Qantas) move the obese passenger or the affected one if seats are available. And also I believe Australian airlines can't require an obese passenger to pay for an additional seat (something about obesity being a disability), so it's up to the passenger themselves whether they want to buy another seat.

Last edited by DragonSoul; Dec 14, 17 at 11:38 pm
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Old Dec 14, 17, 11:50 pm
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I had this situation on AS some months ago. Full flight. I sent an email complaining and in return got a US$100 voucher.
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Old Dec 15, 17, 1:07 am
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Originally Posted by og View Post
I had this situation on AS some months ago. Full flight. I sent an email complaining and in return got a US$100 voucher.
HA! I can't imagine Qantas doing that. I'll send an email to see what they say. I think I'll appeal under 10.1 in the Conditions of Carriage:
  • if carrying you or your Baggage may put the safety of the aircraft or the safety or health of any person in the aircraft in danger or at risk

I'm also tempted to do include this statement as well
  • if your mental or physical state is a danger or risk to you, the aircraft or any person in it
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Old Dec 15, 17, 1:48 am
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Did you say anything to an FA at the time?
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Old Dec 15, 17, 2:05 am
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That was why I stopped flying with QF and went to NZ. Had a nice exit row aisle seat ..was all settled for LAX-SYD. Got told they had a passenger "with a seating problem" and ended up with a behemoth of a man in the middle seat (his tiny wife in the window seat???) He flowed over the armrest convincingly...at which point I discovered MY armrest was broken.... No way I could sit like that for 14 hours. When I talked to the CC they could only offer me a Bulkhead seat (I know some folks like them...I don't)
If I had known then what I know now I would have said "fine..put him in the exit row..but I'm getting off...and I'll have my bags please"..... I didn't realise THEN they were breaking their own rules.... this guy could barely stand up without assistance... irritating situation all round.... Why didn't they just bump him up?
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Old Dec 15, 17, 2:06 am
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Originally Posted by DragonSoul View Post
Did you say anything to an FA at the time?
Yes, she apologised and said there was nothing that could be done (full flight) and to send an email complaining.
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Old Dec 15, 17, 3:31 am
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Originally Posted by trooper View Post
That was why I stopped flying with QF and went to NZ. Had a nice exit row aisle seat ..was all settled for LAX-SYD. Got told they had a passenger "with a seating problem" and ended up with a behemoth of a man in the middle seat (his tiny wife in the window seat???) He flowed over the armrest convincingly...at which point I discovered MY armrest was broken.... No way I could sit like that for 14 hours. When I talked to the CC they could only offer me a Bulkhead seat (I know some folks like them...I don't)
If I had known then what I know now I would have said "fine..put him in the exit row..but I'm getting off...and I'll have my bags please"..... I didn't realise THEN they were breaking their own rules.... this guy could barely stand up without assistance... irritating situation all round.... Why didn't they just bump him up?
This might sound unkind/discriminatory/politically incorrect, but there has to come a point whereby airlines have to refuse the severely morbidly obese as passengers. It becomes about the safety of the obese passenger themself and of other passengers. From watching certain reality TV programmes, I see that people are only getting fatter and fatter, while seats are getting smaller and smaller, and there's no room to increase aisle width. (Rhetorical) If, as in your case, the passenger requires assistance walking, what happens in an emergency?

Surely a line has to be drawn somewhere, preferably along where it's for the greater good, not because "rights".

And I do think QF should have a real policy in place. One that starts at the check-in desk. This tiptoeing about does no one any favours.
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Old Dec 15, 17, 5:04 am
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Originally Posted by DragonSoul View Post
(Rhetorical) If, as in your case, the passenger requires assistance walking, what happens in an emergency?
I think that's actually a fair point. If there was an emergency, there's likely no way I'm going to be able to get past a morbidly obese passenger that's trapping me in (for example) the window seat.
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Old Dec 15, 17, 7:46 am
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I like the policy of some airlines where they do charge the person who can't fit in one seat for an extra seat, but then they refund that extra charge if there were any open seats on the plane when it takes off.

The problem of encroaching into another's area is not limited to people who are overweight. I can't count how many times I have sat next to a man who will "spread" out and take the adjoining legroom as well. I have come to accept that for most flights I will be uncomfortably close to complete strangers.

I do so wish that airlines would stop making the available spaces smaller and smaller......
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Old Dec 15, 17, 11:36 am
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As long as the consumer keeps insisting on cheap fares, issues related to that will exist. Fares today are 50% cheaper than they were 30 years ago, in real money (that is, corrected for inflation). Less space per passenger is just one fallout from that. The people get what the people deserve is very true in terms of air travel today.

This article sees lower fares as a good thing, I disagree. https://www.theatlantic.com/business...oticed/273506/

Only recently, questions have finally started to be raised about the effects of reduced space per passenger and the possible ramifications.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/featu...more-miserable

What surprises me is that we constantly see references to airlines trying to reduce costs and increase profits as the reason for this. I've yet to see anyone writing about 'connecting the dots' on how the consumer's pushing for lower airfares is the ultimate reason for this.

Can anyone remember economy class when it had the kind of space shown in the following 1970s photo? Can anyone remember when the density of passengers was also often as shown in the photo?
http://www.aviationexplorer.com/vint...20interior.jpg

Also note the size of the overhead bins and the resulting feeling of openness in the cabin. I can remember when overhead bins were for hats, coats and briefcases, that's all. There were no cases of 'air rage' caused by people fighting over overhead bins, reclining seats and yes, obese passengers. They just go their own set of seats with no one beside them.
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Last edited by dulciusexasperis; Dec 15, 17 at 11:42 am
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Old Dec 15, 17, 12:37 pm
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I cannot see how cheaper fares is a bad thing

For those that are happy to pay double to pay equivalent fares of 30 years ago, cabins such as premium economy and business can be purchased to gjve something better than economy of 30 years ago

I am not sure though how that has anything to do with ending up sat next to a person who is unable to fit in the seating area of 1 seat
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Old Dec 15, 17, 2:03 pm
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Originally Posted by DragonSoul View Post
....I see that people are only getting fatter and fatter, while seats are getting smaller and smaller, and there's no room to increase aisle width. ..
The width (diameter) of B737, and its engineering predecessors B707 - B727, now and when it as first in service ~1968 has not changed (148 inches). A320 are a bigger diameter
Still has seats 3-3 now as then. Width was the OP's main problem
The seat pitch and seat thickness has reduced
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Old Dec 16, 17, 12:29 am
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Originally Posted by goback View Post
Last week I was flying from SYD to MEL and had the misfortune to be wedged against the window by a morbidly obese passenger. He was spilling over the armrest and I had to endure the flight with his body pressed against mine. Not the thing you want.

​​​​​Is there a QF policy on this problem? Can you ask for the obese passenger to be reseated/removed? After all they know they don't fit and should book a second set at the time of booking.

​​​​​​
It's a tricky situation.

I had a similar situation in the USA a couple of months ago. I appealed to the FA who cited there was nothing they could do on the grounds of the discrimination laws. We were sitting at a window exit row with fixed armrests, so the 'armrest-down' rule didn't apply. I appealed on safety grounds (reduced mobility) but under US law the only action the airline can take is to ask the (obese) passenger if they satisfy the exit row requirements and if they say 'yes', the airline can't question that. Unlike Australia there is no FAA avenue for crew to objectively assess pax seated at exit doors are able to assist in the event of an emergency.

This article from the Australian Consumer Advocate (airline) suggests there might not be much that can be done: Australian airlines cannot charge fat passengers more for seat space . There is no equivalent 'armrest rule' in Australia, but I'm not sure I buy the 'comfort is subjective' line. The ACA may have been treading lightly.

Obviously you might be able to disembark and catch another flight. If your seat is severely impacted there might not be grounds for the airline to punish you. But the inconvenience is yours (a later flight). Although the pax on board would have to wait while your bags were unloaded.

My main concern on the US domestic flight was that I was so contorted I could not adopt the brace position. It was impossible. In the end a first class passenger agreed to move so we could get out on time, but I don't know what would have happened if that hadn't been the case.
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Old Dec 16, 17, 6:08 am
  #15
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Originally Posted by DragonSoul View Post
This might sound unkind/discriminatory/politically incorrect, but there has to come a point whereby airlines have to refuse the severely morbidly obese as passengers. It becomes about the safety of the obese passenger themself and of other passengers. From watching certain reality TV programmes, I see that people are only getting fatter and fatter, while seats are getting smaller and smaller, and there's no room to increase aisle width. (Rhetorical) If, as in your case, the passenger requires assistance walking, what happens in an emergency?

Surely a line has to be drawn somewhere, preferably along where it's for the greater good, not because "rights".

And I do think QF should have a real policy in place. One that starts at the check-in desk. This tiptoeing about does no one any favours.
Yes, I agree completely. The body contact was just an invasion of personal space and plain yuck! Of course obese passengers who are in this situation should think of the common good in the first place and book two seats.
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