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back to article Spillover from 400lb man squeezed fellow flier into galley

Americans struggling home from Thanksgiving have yet another etiquette nightmare to deal with: what to do when the gargantuan passenger next to you spills over and annexes most of your seat. The dilemma has been highlighted by the case of Arthur Berkowitz, who was forced to stand for seven hours on a flight from Anchorage, …

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@AC

It is not discrimination to ask an obese person to pay extra if they are going to require 2 seats, it is geometry: You do not fit in 1 seat. If you take up the space of 2 passengers, expect to pay more.

My mum is tiny, yet even she was squashed when she was forced to sit next to one overweight american who hadn't bought an extra seat (and she was only sat their because my dad couldnt fit at all next to this inconsiderate b***h!)

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Flame

It is apparently also still OK to take the piss out of well-off well-educated people for the way they speak, but not to do the same to plebs who couldn't be bovvered with going to school.

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Mushroom

The only one?

I think you'll find that the most reviled group in the USA these days is those who don't feel the need to subscribe to the folly of religion. Discrimination against non-believers is not only acceptable, it's encouraged.

By comparison, Americans are entirely comfortable with fat people.

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socially acceptable discrimination

It is also OK to treat people who smoke like nonhumans, too. Not that I smoke -- just that I object to treating people like garbage. Quitting smoking isn't easy, and there's no call to be cruel, when lung cancer will dish out enough of that on its own.

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Mushroom

Not halfway soon enough

Sitting opposite someone who's been barfing his lungs out for the past four years if he's not outside glueing the remaining bits back in with tar gets more than a bit irritating, I can tell you.

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Anonymous Coward

Why the hell did he let them put the arms up?

My tactic is to stuff the inflight magazines between the chair arm and my thigh.

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excess baggage?

About time your bags and your self in total were used to decide how much you pay. if you're a small light person, you can be permitted larger baggage. If you're a larger person with a small bag, same. Huge persons who take up the allowance of body and baggage alone should pay for the excess 'weight'....

and the compensation offer is pathetic, but probably standard for them, they probably expect most people to accept it first hand and go off quietly. Of course the airline will say although he stood, he was on the plane and took up both weight and fuel.... anything to get out of paying for inconvenience

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"I'm sorry but I can't raise my armrest for medical reasons" then engage the bullshit generator.

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FAIL

There's always the cargo bay

Couldn't the airline pressurise and heat the cargo bay for extra large passengers who haven't purchased 2 seats? :-)

I'm surprised the plane was allowed to take off if a passenger is standing up. If the pilot knew of this I bet he wouldn't have taken off.

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Bronze badge

Put them in the cargo bay

Yes, make them fly steerage. There are added benefits to wit: improved aircraft stability with more ballast in the belly of the bird; no more fiddling with trim at the cockpit to compensate for poorly distributed ham hocks.

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Why heat the cargo bay? Shivering for eight hours is probably the most exercise the lard mountain has done in the last twenty years.

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Silver badge

Why heat indeed

Blubber is a pretty good insulator. Ask any whale or seal.

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Happy

There's always the cargo bay

Nope...Put them in the treadmill / exercise room:

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/airplane_layout

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Pirate

It is essentially illegal to not wear your seatbelt now days

There is no law that says that you can have 'standing room only' passengers (yet - look up Ryan Air on that), so likely the airline would face fines that would make a voucher look pretty small.

So the guy that was standing was at an excess risk of being clobbered by galley parts and flying stewards.

He should definitely phone the FAA about it. What it means is that they cannot fill a plane until they see how many 'two seaters' they have on board. So thats about 2 tickets less sold per 100 - a 2% fare rise to pay for the obese passengers who choose not to buy two seats.

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Flight Safety?

I mean the guy who was pinned between the man/hippo cross-breed and the window would have been shit out of luck if they'd had to evacuate the aircraft. As would anyone stuck behind him trying to get down the aisle to the exit.

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@Flight Safety?

IIRC to get the requisite certificate to carry a set number of passengers, the manufacturers have to demonstrate that the aeroplane can be evacuated in 90 seconds.

Perhaps there should be a requirement that the passenger manifest should contain at least two lard-arses to block seat rows and aisles which should ensure that there's adequate space for everyone!

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Anonymous Coward

<payback> in a modest way

So, Berkowitz, you didn't like somebody occupying a bit of your territory huh, how's that feel, huh ?

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Devil

ROFL!!

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Happy

I had this problem

I boarded a BA flight from SFO to LHR and was faced with a row full of fried chicken eaters spilling into my seat. Cabin staff were very sympathetic and said they would move me to the jump seat once we'd taken off as the cabin was full. They they returned to say that they had been authorised to move me and led me to the cabin in front.

Ten hours next to some fatties would not have ended well for the fatties but a big well done to BA for taking decisive action to resolve the problem.

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Silver badge

If you wanna be fat, be fat. I'm not gonna stop you enjoying life while it happens. But if you're gonna be fat, accept the inconveniences that come with it. The simple solution is to have a couple of rows on the plane with wider seats - a pair instead of a three between the aisles, for example. You pay a little more, you get a little more. Tall folks already have the option of paying for increased legroom, so why not?

That said, I think the minimum space regs should be looked at again. I don't care how thin profit margins are (and I doubt they are) - economy class seats are criminally small and cramped. As one other commenter has already mentioned, if nothing else they're bloody unsafe. I sure as hell couldn't get out of one in a hurry.

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You mean?

"The simple solution is to have a couple of rows on the plane with wider seats"

You mean First Class/Business Class?

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First Class/Business Class come with different meals, different service, etc. I'm just talking about seats that are a bit wider. You'd still get the same shit orange juice.

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Vic
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> I'm just talking about seats that are a bit wider.

Virgin used to do a "premium economy" service when I was working in the US: first-class seat but cattle-class service. I always booked it.

I don't know if it's still available (haven't been in that job for some years).

Vic.

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Orange Juice?

Luxury.

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Orange

Is descriptive of the colour, not to be associated with the fruit of the same name.

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@Vic

Yes, Premium Economy is still available and an increasing number of competitors have copied it - BA call theirs World Traveller Plus - even some 'bucket and spade' lines are offering it on longer flights, eg Cancun (from UK). It's a reasonable deal (particularly on longer flights), but you can still expect to pay roughly double the price of an economy ticket (which is reasonable, since you're occupying double the space). Service is slightly better than economy, but (obviously) much less than Club to avoid cannibalising those tickets (which cost roughly twice as much again).

FWIW unless you really can't fit in an economy seat, I don't consider these upgrades value for money (if I'm paying from my own pocket). If you can burn otherwise useless air miles or blag a free upgrade then fine, but I'd much rather spend a grand (or several) upgrading my hotel at destination, where I'm going to be staying several days rather than several hours. But YMMV.

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Vic
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> you can still expect to pay roughly double the price of an economy ticket

Ah, right. We used to pay something like £100 extra for a flight to the US; that was definitely reasonable.

> unless you really can't fit in an economy seat, I don't consider these upgrades value for money

It certainly was when I used to fly Reno within California. Reno charged for *everything* if you were in cattle class, but First Class got free alcohol etc. An upgrade was a flat-fee $20. Yes, I can drink $20 worth of gin on a single flight. And a bit more to boot :-)

Vic.

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Reclining seats

We flew Cathay Pacific UK to Oz this year and their seats reclined in a slidey-forward manner so the seat back rear face didn't move at all (the bottom of the front of the seat back moved forward). Excellent idea, it meant that the seat in front didn't move backwards at the expense of a bit less leg-room when you recline your own seat.

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Not the most comfortable seat for a near 13 hour flight to Hong Kong from the U.K

I would disagree that the seat is a good idea because I've flown to Hong Kong and back on one of CX 747-400's and the seat base is so thinly padded that it's like sitting on a thin Ikea budget seat pad plus when the seat base moves forward so that you recline there is a big gap near the base of your spine and the seat back so you end up with no support in that area unless they gave you an extra cushion.

Ironically the DragonAir Airbus A330-300 aeroplane I took for a domestic flight after I arrived in Hong Kong had more comfortable seating even though the much more substantially padded seats did not recline.

Cheers,

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WTF?

Discrimination?

"The only discrimination that's still socially acceptable"

I don't care how overweight someone is. However if they *require* 1/2 of my available seating space in order to fit then that is simply not acceptable. They must either buy more space (a second seat) or don't travel. It's that simple. Whether or not second seats should be discounted is a completely different topic. Personally each seat is worth €X to the airline so they should charge €X for every seat sold. Children don't get a discount, why should overweight people?

Discrimination? No. It's just how things normally work.

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rav
Thumb Up

It's all about the arm rest.

When I take my seat the arm rest goes down and never goes back up. If they can not fit then too bad.

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Yes

surely you can simply refuse to raise the armrest: "I've paid for all of this seat and if you cannot fit in yours then it is your problem"?

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As a fattie and longie,..

I would love to buy 2 seats but I AM NOT ALLOWED TO!

All airlines flying out of the UK require a passport number for each seat.

I only have one passport, so can only book one seat.

I have always tried my damndest to not infringe on other peoples space but at 6'4" and 360lbs it's not easy in a seat designed for a 5' tall size zero waif. Yes I could diet but the width of my shoulders and my height would not change much so I would still struggle to fit.

My solution is to avoid flying if at all possible as I don't want to pay to be uncomfortable, bored and stuck in a stinky tin-can full of selfish arseholes.

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Natural allies

"I would love to buy 2 seats but I AM NOT ALLOWED TO!"

Choose a middle seat and then tell your companions how the airline won't allow you to buy two seats. Soon you'll have *three* people telling the airline that's wrong. A couple more flights and you'll be guaranteed the publicity you need over the issue.

Or I could wonder if you've talked to anyone about this... :/

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Stop

rubbish

Ryanair allow you to, so there is no legal ruling stopping you.

http://www.ryanair.com/en/questions/can-i-purchase-an-extra-seat-for-a-large-person

and it's a bit rich calling these people selfish arseholes, they have paid for a seat and the person next to them is encroaching on it.

I don't agree with anger and venom in a lot of these posts but be fair if we have both paid for the same seat why should you get half of mine

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Pint

An 8-foot tall man from India

Nice chap, very pleasant. I would have preferred to stay and chat.

But due to the intersecting spacial requirements, I relocated to an empty seat in First Class.

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IT Angle

So wrong on so many levels...

First, you can't sit in the jump seat unless you are air crew.

Second the obese passenger should have been refused his seat. He should have alerted the airline of his weight and should have this in his flight profile, also his request for a lap belt extender. His size should be considered a handicap.

Third you can also blame the airlines for trying to squeeze as many seats on the plane. Sorry I'm not obese, but 6' 2" and I don't fit in some of the seats... No leg room, and my shoulders are at least 3" wider than the seat itself.

Sorry but you don't have to be obese just larger than 5' 10" and you will have trouble fitting in a seat.

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Can't sit in the jump seats?

I'm 6'6" which meant that on a flight to Guernsey - admittedly a short flight in a smallish jet - my knees were pushed so far into the seat in front that the woman due to sit there was unable to sit.

So the stewardess sat in my seat and I used her jumpseat for the flight. It worked very well.

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Happy

Reminds me....

......of an ex-colleague who got bounced when his plane went technical. The only other plane available was half the size.

When he reached the front of the queue to re-check-in, the girl on the other side said: "Sorry sir, we only have the female seat left.". He looked behind him and then looked very pointedly back at the check-in girl. Nothing was said, but a boarding card was handed over.

He's about 5' 6" and skinny as a rake. Next in the queue behind him was a woman of about 5' 10", who looked like she was personally responsible for keeping Ginsters in business......

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WTF is a "female seat"?

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Gold badge

That's how it was related to me. The bloke concerned happens to be a bit of an aircraft nut. The plane was a "Shorts Shed".

Since the average passenger weight figure used to perform the takeoff weight calculations was revised recently, the aircraft has ended up with one seat that cannot contain a "full-size" passenger without taking the plane over the limit, if fully fuelled and freighted.

Such is often referred to in the industry as a "female seat", as a standard trick is only to allow women (who are on average lighter than men) to use 'em. Presumably that's not something usually trotted out to the public, given the number of po-faced, PC-fixated wankers around these days.

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Silver badge

Large != Fat, at least not always

Not all large passengers are fat.

I might weigh more than I would like at 13st but it doesn't in anyway impact how wide I am.

In the case of many blokes, the widest point is across the shoulders and not across the backside.

The cattle class seats on most airlines are now pretty marginal for seating 6 foot blokes. They have completely failed to take note of the increase in average sizes of people over the last few decades. On a good day I'm 6', when I was twenty that counted as tall, but certainly not unusual. These days 6' is pretty average, one of my 12 year old kids younger friends is already taller than me, OK not yet wider across the shoulders but give him a couple of years and he will be.

On BA long distance flights they normally have 4 classes, my customers will only pay cattle class, most are like that. I can often afford to pay the uplift to cattle+ class where there is plenty of space for me. The difference between cattle & business class is often more than a factor of 5, well I ain't that rich it would normally consume all or more of my fees.

I used to try and get exit row seats to get more legroom, but these days the exit row is normally full of larger than average blokes, most of whom aren't large due to eating too much. So putting three of us into a row of those 3 seats is a tight fit.

Airlines should be forced to have a minimum seat size which at least bares some resemblance of the expected size of healthy passengers.

On the other hand, I've refused to have my arm rest raised before now.

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Go

Armrests...

I am not a "fitness Nazi", have a few (single digit #) kilos extra myself, and prefer women with a few kilos too much rather than 5 kilos too less. But I have little pity with people that let their overweight become a impediment, especially to others. They have no right to expect acceptance, let alone special treatment, for their lack of discipline.

You can usually see if overweight is caused by a medical condition or a "lifestyle failure" by the way someone moves about. "Genetically" or otherwise medically huge people tend (as far as my experience goes) to move quite agile and are surprisingly fit due to their best effort to deal with their condition.

The exact opposite attitude that "lifestyle-fat" people display. And there is nothing discriminative in asking those people to deal with the consequences of their choices.

An argument that always HAS to be taken serious regarding the armrests is to claim you suffer from tense neck and shoulders and need the armrest to place your elbows on else you get muscle pain, headache and might even faint. Such condition exist, even problems in the lower back can bring this as a side effect. A disc prolapse is another reason to keep them down (both!) as you will need to release the weight on your lower spine as much as you can. Been there.

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MJI
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Sort of both

Nasty fall a few years ago, stopped me moving around so much, weight went on. Foot problem weight went on.

Trying to lower it - time is now the issue - I don't actually eat that much.

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Anonymous Coward

Not just weight

One thing people seem to forget is that it's not only weight that can cause issues. My arse fits quite comfortably into an airline seat, the armrests come down and everything is fine per their rules. The exception is my shoulders. At 23in from shoulder to shoulder I overhang the 17in wide seats by quite a margin, however no amount of weight loss or exercising is going to make those bones get closer to one another.

Generally I just always book and aisle seat and pray that nobody is going to sat next to me on the flight, I generally don't bother sleeping as I'll get rammed in the shoulder by a stewardess and her trolley many times during the flight.

People are getting bigger in almost every way, even the most fit people can easily outsize an airline seat. I think it's time airlines started offering a few wider seats in economy for an extra 10-20% of the ticket price.

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There are already plenty of extra large seats...

It's called first class, business class etc etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Welcome to the future

On the one hand, we have a slow moving adipose wall of fat-fucks and on the other, predictions of massive increases needed in food production to feed the world. Hey, fatties. Put the fork down and make some room.

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Arm rests

If you can't fit in a single seat with the arm rests down then either pay for two or stand, don't steal the seat of another paying passenger. I wonder what would have happened if Berkowitz had made a point and insisted on the arm rest being down? I guess he'd have been thrown off instead :-(

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The arm rests are your friends

Under no circumstances allow the fat man to raise them. When he calls the steward remind the steward that the arm rests must be down for take off. If the fat man cannot sit down with the arm rest up, that's his problem. Safety first!

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Silver badge

At a minimum this passenger should have asked the person who "spilled over" into his seat to reimburse him for the appropriated seat and the airline should also comp him for not providing the service he was entitled to with his purchase.

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