My Seat, Your Seat, His Seat, Their Seat

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

I’m a fatass, but I have skinny partner privilege. If you are a fat woman with a thin partner, you probably have some inkling of what I’m talking about. The fact that C. is thin (and yes, neurotypical, albeit geeky) means there are probably a lot of people who think better of me on first meeting than they would if my partner was also fat. If he likes her, maybe she’s not so bad, I can hear Nice People thinking. (I suppose there are some douchehoses who wonder what’s wrong with him that he has to “settle” for me, but I put them in a separate phylum of dungbrain.)

And nowhere am I more acutely aware of skinny partner privilege than I am on an airplane. When I fly with C., I don’t have to worry that I will get stuck next to Fatphobius jerkwadius who will howl to the flight attendants that OMG HER FRIGHTENING SADDLEBAGS ARE TOUCHING MY SUPERIOR LEG MAKE IT STOP MAKE IT STOP. Only now, I’m planning my first trip on a plane without him in about eight years, at a weight about 20 pounds higher than it was the last time I did it. (I’m going to Pittsburgh to scout out locations for a possible move; he’d be moving, too, but he’s been there already and figured it would be cheaper if only I went out this time.) And all this BS with United’s “fatties pay double and wait endlessly on standby for the privilege maybe for days, and you’ll have to book a hotel room at your own expense too if you’re stranded overnight, fatass” policy has me quaking in my 18-inch-calf boots, lemme tell ya. Even if I avoid booking United, which I plan on doing unless this meatheaded nonsense gets chucked out the window in the next week, I’ve been to Seatguru and checked it against my vintage 1997 copy of Judy Sullivan’s Size Wise. And guess what?

ALL OF THE AIRLINES’ COACH SEATS HAVE GOTTEN SMALLER.

Yes, that’s correct. If you encounter any paid media news accounts of this story, they will tell you that airline seats have stayed the same size since 1960, while we’ve just been snarfing our way into bigger and bigger sizes. (Okay, they haven’t worded it quite that way, but you know they want to.) The paid media won’t tell you this lest the lose their airline ad business, but unless they had eensy-beansy seats in 1960, which was before my time — in which case they got bigger by my first flight in 1972 before getting smaller again — I can tell you that the statement that airline seats haven’t gotten any smaller over the years is hooo-eeeee. From Size Wise:

Airline seats vary from 18.5″ to 23″ wide, depending on the aircraft and its configuration….the 727, 737, and 757s have a 3/3 configuration with 19″ seats. Airlines with 3/3/3 or 3/4/3 configurations use an 18.5″ seat.

According to Seatguru, all the major domestic carriers today use planes with 17.0″ or 17.2″ coach seat, with the exception of Jet Blue, whose seats seem positively generous at 17.8″. In other words, the chances are good that in just the last 12 years, your seat got an entire 2″ smaller. And as commenter liz said on the SP “FUnited” thread, “And it further allows them to make the seats even smaller because the problem will always be the fat ass (no matter how skinny) and not the seat.”

Exactly. I want to say to all these people who think this plan is such a hot idea: “What on earth makes you think you won’t be next?” They’ve already chopped 2″ off the seats, what’s stopping them from chopping even more and then getting to double-charge even more people? (And almost all of them female people, as Kate astutely put it, since a woman needs only wear an average pants size to be in danger of not fitting, whereas a man of average height usually needs to be going on about 400 pounds in order to have any part of his body not fit in a single seat.) All this dribbledrool of YOU CAN’T EXPECT US TO RETROFIT THE PLANES WITH BIGGER SEATS FOR THE FATASSES BLAAARGH MONEY MONEY MONEY is exactly that — dribbledrool. They already did it in the other direction. (Newsflash: Some planes already have bigger seats in them, and they could easily fly those aircraft instead. They know this. They are pulling everyone’s superior legs.)

And once again, this is coming down to — hiss, boo, groan — the very idea of the alleged “choice” involved in being a horizontally gifted individual. I personally don’t think civil or social rights have jackall to do with “choice” — I don’t give a damn if you were born Jewish or you converted, we both get to stay out of the pogrom. But unfortunately, a lot of people who have a lot of clout do use that standard for determining people’s rights, and I’m beyond certain that that is the dynamic that is happening here. Elsewhere on the “FUnited” thread (over 400 comments and counting! way to go, Shapelings!), commenter Sue reports calling up United and asking some more questions about the two-seats-for-fatties policy:

I am so angry. I just called United and politely asked if I had to have two seats and how would they know it… They said yes blah blah blah. Then I asked what about a person in a wheel chair that takes up a lot of space…would they have to buy two seats as well? He said no. I then went on to say if I got a wheelchair, then I would not have to pay for two seats? He said that was correct. I then lost it. I am shaking with rage right now.

Right. Because if you are a wheelchair user, or you have other medical equipment that causes you not to fit into a single seat, the airlines’ official stance is that it’s not your fault and you shouldn’t be punished. If they see you with an assistive device at the gate, they don’t ask if you need it because you started a barfight, or because you huffed a couple of spray cans of Aqua Net and plowed your Harley into a giant redwood; most assistive-device users need their equipment for reasons other than that, so the few with self-inflicted injuries aren’t separated out and treated unequally. (Although, of course, fatasses with assistive devices routinely get accused of having eaten their way into disability, most airline personnel will keep schtum about such thoughts even if they have them.) Probably a lot of this has not so much to do with them having the utmost respect for PWD so much as recognition that U.S. law will not be on the airlines’ side if they deny a medical equipment user equal access.

But bottom line is, people feel okay about punishing us fatasses who don’t have medical equipment, because the default assumption is that we chose to ascend to the highest possible BMI category by being oh-so-careless with our diet and oh-so-slothful with our movement. Like choosing the fries over the salad makes a difference of a hundred freaking pounds or more. Even if you are the kind of extreme binge eater who did put on serious weight bingeing, it’s still not a matter of conscious choice, for cat’s sake. You still have to have the genetic capacity to become the size you are, fries or no fries, binge or no binge. (Not to mention that you also have to have the genetic capacity to binge.) And as with the medical equipment, you can’t tell by looking who needs it because they just do and who needs it because they fucked themselves up horribly, and frankly, it shouldn’t matter anyway.

O Canada, why do you have to keep proving again and again how much smarter you are than your blowhard egotistical neighbor to the south? One person, one fare — no, that does NOT mean a 600-pound person gets to sit on you for five hours, what it means is that someone whose width, or other reason for not fitting in a single seat, is sussed out ahead of time and comped the extra seat. Yeah, that’s right. They just give it to them, pending presentation of official documentation of said physical condition at check-in. None of this mix-in-a-salad-if-you-don’t-like-it crap, which always seems to come from people who mix in a fuckload less salad than I do anyway. And anyone who thinks a second seat is just the ginchiest gift from God should be forced to be strapped against a seat divider on a cross-country trip and feel that thing digging into their back the whole time. Ow, ow, owwww. Nobody wants to be crunched up against that seat divider, trust me. It’s just that sometimes shit happens and it’s necessary.

But it’s just bewildering that people would choose to hate on us instead of unloading their frustrations on the airlines for being so incommodious. Speaking of which, that woman on Kate’s segment, who complained about her 2-year-old paying full fare? Does she know that they used to only charge kids 2-11 half fare? I know this, because when I was 12 years old circa 1975 (probably before this woman was born), my parents begged me not to wear any jewelry or makeup to the airport so I’d look younger than 12 and they could save some money. I refused. (Does any 12-year-old girl want to be mistaken for 11?) But undigressing, why would they resent us so, unless we thought we could Do Something About It? Yeah, I’ll tell you what I could do about it. I could go off my meds again, and eventually fit into one 17″ seat with canola-oil ease. That is, if I didn’t commit suicide before becoming appreciably smaller. If someone got stuck next to me when I was seriously depressed and having screaming/crying jags, even if I got to be a size 8 they’d still be lodging complaints.

And no, I’m NOT just going to stay home, either. Not all the time. Add that to the list of things I don’t owe Fatphobius jerkwadius.

43 Responses to “My Seat, Your Seat, His Seat, Their Seat”

  1. lilacsigil Says:

    Hmm, interesting. And by “interesting”, I mean “horrible” and “infuriating”. I gained a huge amount of weight with cancer – I wonder if that counts as a disability? I wonder if pregnant women will have to provide pre-pregnancy weights in order not to be charged extra? I think an email is in order!

    (and I was charged half-fare at the age of 11 in 1985, so there’s another 10 years on THAT policy!)

  2. vesta44 Says:

    I’ll tell ya what, even somewhat fat men don’t fit those airline seats. DH was in the Navy for 20 years and had to be flown from one ship assignment to another one a few times when his new ship assignment wasn’t in its home port. At the time, he was 5′ 10″ and 210 lbs and was cramped in the seats (and he’s been out of the Navy for 15 years now, so that’s been 20 to 30 years ago). If he was cramped in the seats back then, he’d be really SOL now, since he’s about 50 lbs heavier (and he has his insulin therapy for type 2 diabetes to thank for part of that additional weight). Which is why we aren’t flying to VA when his ship’s reunion comes up in 2010. For us to be comfortable in airplane seats (I’m 5′ 8″ and 390 lbs) we’d have to purchase 3 tickets/seats. It’s going to be cheaper to rent a vehicle and drive from MN to VA. Yeah, it will take longer to get there, but we’ll get to stop and see family and friends in other states along the way, and will get to do some sightseeing as well, not to mention not having to deal with the possibility of the airlines losing our luggage and all the other hassles of flying nowadays.

  3. bigliberty Says:

    You’re right, Meowser – I absolutely think there is a real market incentive for the airlines to make their seats smaller and smaller if they can successfully pull off the fat-passengers-automatically-on-standby-whilst-paying-double policy.

    Let’s do a little myth-busting. There exists the assumption when you listen to the anchor on Kate’s segment, that this fat-double-fare thing would have not been kosher (or even an issue) back in the 60s. Breaking out a few numbers, I’ll show how the physical composition of the population is *exactly the same* as during the 60s, adjusted to our — drastically improved general health. Yes, better health is the cause of the “obesity epidemic” — which is intuitive, since dieting doesn’t work to do much except make a person feel ill, and sometimes itself triggers an eating disorder which has a high likelihood of resulting in death, depending on the severity.

    People have gotten about 25 lbs heavier and 2″ taller since the 1960s. 2″ would account for about 10-15 lbs just by itself – when one gets taller, the frame gets larger, hence more lean tissue, bone, and an extension of the fat layer into new territory.

    Prenatal nutrition has improved drastically, as has early-childhood nutrition, meaning that children are much more likely to trigger their genetically-determined highest weights and heights. Mental health has made leaps and bounds, producing many life-saving and quality-of-life-saving medications, many of which have the side effect of weight gain. Smoking, on average, has greatly decreased, which as we know brings one from an abnormally low weight back up to their natural weight. Given those three facts, we can easily make up the rest of the 25 lbs we’ve all “gained.”

    So due to our better general health profile as a people, the height and weight gain of the past 50 years can be easily accounted for. Ultimately, it’s *better health* which has led to the obesity handwringing! It’s sad, like we’re a nation of masochists who can’t even enjoy a good thing and instead have to twist it around on ourselves. :P

    At any rate, airline seats – as you’ve observed – have gotten about 2″ smaller, on average. Nowhere during this interim 50 years since the 1960s has the idea come up that a population with larger frames will need larger seats with more leg room. Instead, seats have gotten smaller, and leg room has been diminished. What would that tend to do? To make the average person horrifically cramped and uncomfortable flying, which would raise their irritation level at their seat-mates, whose asses have benefited from 50 years of excellent health and no longer fit in the even-tinier seats.

    It’s not fat person next to you that’s taking up “part of the seat I paid for!!”, dude. It’s the AIRLINE that has taken 4″ total off your two seats, and a few inches off your legroom, and squeeze another seat in your row and another row of seats into the plane. So if you want to get mad, get mad at that extra seat they squeezed in, it’s *that* person who is encroaching! Try to figure out which seat it was, though, that’s a peach.

    The very simple point of it is that the airlines have refused to keep up with the size of the humans it serves, and has delightedly found a popular scapegoat – the larger amongst us – so that it can continue to blissfully bury its head in the sand, dreaming of dollars as ridership wanes year after year.

    It’s only a matter of time before a smart entrepreneur will catch on to the growing market of fat people who want to pay a reasonable fare for reasonable transport. But unfortunately, most of us don’t have time to wait for the market response – my job’s on the line, my honeymoon is in May, and that’s just me. Fat people have jobs, families, interests, and wanderlust, too.

  4. peggynature Says:

    I want to say to all these people who think this plan is such a hot idea: “What on earth makes you think you won’t be next?” They’ve already chopped 2″ off the seats, what’s stopping them from chopping even more and then getting to double-charge even more people?

    Precisely. I’m actually sure the airlines would love to be able to do this. And because people are so inured to fat hatred, they would put up with it and feel guilty about not being able to fit in the seat.

    NEWSFLASH: seats were built to accommodate humans. Not the other way around. And humans come in different sizes. Therefore, if a seat does not accommodate a large segment of the human population, that seat sucks. Not the human.

    I will be flying soon, too, and luckily, I also have thin-partner privilege. Unfortunately, though, I do usually fly without him. So I have experienced, first-hand, a lot of the anxiety about “God, what if they throw me off the plane? What if I don’t fit?” and the terror of asking for a seatbelt extender. So this issue really, really hits close to home for me. I’m glad people are pissed at United.

    I, personally, will boycott United until they address this issue in a more appropriate way. I hope other people will, too. And I’m not just making it up when I say that United used to be my airline of choice. For someone whose family lives 3,000 miles away and who travels to see them, to attend funerals, etc., this airline bullshit is totally not okay.

  5. angrygrayrainbows Says:

    The ignorant bigotry of these airlines makes me wanna beat my head into a wall…
    Whenever I have flown, I have either been at a normal weight or a little overweight. Guess what? Coach seats have always been EXTREMELY uncomfortable… I remember this being the case even when I was a 12 yr old and not fully grown into the 5’9″ body I have today. God forbid you have hips and those seats will punish you the whole trip for the offense!
    It’s not just obese and bigger people who suffer. Those seats are extremely crappy for people of all kinds of weights.
    I never thought before of the sexist aspect that men can fit more easily into those seats (often) than women. Men, of course, are less likely to have the god-forsaken hips after all. Oooo… that makes me mad!
    One person – one fare!!!!

  6. liz Says:

    Yes!! Yes!! THIS! This is it exactly!!!

    And, SQUEEE!!! You used my comment!!!

  7. peggynature Says:

    I would also like to point out that bigliberty’s comment is freaking brilliant.

  8. wellroundedtype2 Says:

    Hi Meowser,

    Thank you for hanging out with us on Sunday. The train ride back was a little difficult. We were sitting across from a perfectly behaved four-and-a-half year old girl who made my little one seem like she was raised by wolves. But we survived, and I can’t thank you enough for a wonderful adventure.

    Now, before I get ready for work, thank you for this post. And thank you to the commenters here. When compared to riding on the train, with isles plenty big and seats luxuriously large and the armrests flush with the seat so they don’t bang my hips (which are sort of on the small side for someone my size, but my weight is largely in front), riding on an airplane is exceedingly painful.

    Does anyone remember how we (the U.S. taxpayers) bailed out the airlines after 9-11? And has anyone noticed that gas prices have gone waaaaaaay down? True, fewer people are flying than before, but that could mean more seats, not fewer. You would think that they would want to treat the customers they have with greater dignity.

    My head keeps banging against the same wall here — this is a issue of fairness, and is what government is supposed to do is to make things fair (or closer to fair). The airlines are given permission to exist by the government. They are a giant industry, true, but there are more of us than there are of them. The name calling and fat shaming and general lothing and disgust is meant to keep us in our place.

    Sometimes my guilt gets going and I think, there are many bad things happening in the world, why do I care about this one? But then I remember that the people impacted by this policy are disproportunatly poorer, female, of color and disabled (whether visible or not). That freedom of movement is being denied to some people for the comfort of others, and that it’s business playing us against one another. Then I get back to thinking, “I have to do something.”

  9. Katia Says:

    I was thinking about airline seats compared to theater seats. It sounds like today’s airline seats are smaller than the cheap (nosebleed) seats installed in my town’s theaters in the 1920′s. Those cheap theater seats aren’t the greatest — and the more expensive seats are larger — but even in the 1920′s they knew not to try to cram people in like the airlines do today. (I should measure the seats the next time I go to a show.)

    And when they renovate the theaters the seats get wider. The only reason I know about the old seats is because they haven’t renovated them yet.

    And new theaters, with new seats — ah, such comfortable, wide seats!

    And flying wasn’t always so awful. I used to fly coach in the mid 70′s and there was so much room that people could recline their seats without causing a problem for the people behind them.

  10. James Says:

    If you book the two seats ahead of time, you won’t have to deplane and wait for standby, right? So, the trick is to beat them to it and book two seats, if I get it. Or not?

  11. richie79 Says:

    “I personally don’t think civil or social rights have jackall to do with “choice” — I don’t give a damn if you were born Jewish or you converted, we both get to stay out of the pogrom. But unfortunately, a lot of people who have a lot of clout do use that standard for determining people’s rights, and I’m beyond certain that that is the dynamic that is happening here.”

    Oh yes, this, and beautifully explained. I just wish that other people would understand that being a ‘human’ should be the sole prerequisite for ‘human respect’. It’s not conditional on ‘being a human that looks / thinks / acts just like the humans who for whatever reason, fair or foul, get to make the rules’.

  12. JupiterPluvius Says:

    My husband is really tall, and he’s in my space all the time when we fly. I’ve had the same experience with strangers who were 6’2″ and above–their shoulders jutting into my seat’s airspace, their legs, jammed into the tiny space, splaying diagonally into my legroom, etc., etc.

    Of course airlines aren’t going to charge TALL passengers more. Because they can’t help being tall {/sarcasm}.

  13. Stephanie Says:

    And, in addition to the things that bigliberty mentioned above, more women than ever (definitely more than 1960) are on hormonal birth control, which brings with it — ta da! — a ten-lb average weight gain. (Or more.)

    So medical advances are responsible for us being larger. Yay!

  14. GeekGirlsRule Says:

    I just want to know when they’re going to start charging more for the asshole men I always wind up sitting next to who seem to feel that it’s their right to sprawl into my space. Not fat guys, not even necessarily tall guys. Sprawly guys who think I owe them part of my space because I’m female.

    • Joyce koppenheffer Says:

      Yeah, and the ones who stink because they drink the entire flight, or reek of smoke as soon as they sit next to you, or go to sleep and snore the entire flight! Buying 2 seats eliminates the entire ordeal!

  15. fillyjonk Says:

    You are amazing as always.

  16. Eve Says:

    The woman who talked about paying for her child to fly really sounded like an idiot. A child is a whole separate person. My fat is not.

    Though, I didn’t even know they’d bumped children up to full price. My fares were only ever 1/2 price when I was young enough to take advantage of it.

  17. CassandraSays Says:

    Yes yes yes! Back in high school I used to be able to sit cross-legged in airplane seats (for reference, my inseam is just over 30 inches). Now? Um, no, not unless I want to risk turning the dude next to me into a eunuch. The seats are freaking tiny. I feel squished in them, and I’m kind of small. This whole charge-fatties-more thing is just a way for the airlines to distract people from the actual problem. Sad thing is, it seems to be working. I’m still not sure how the airlines got passengers to accept the hobbitification of the seats in the first place.

  18. Integgy Says:

    You are fabulous, and I am in complete agreement with everything you wrote (and Bigliberty’s comment, as well! Y’all are awesome). Their seatbelt policy is wrong, and I wish more news outlets were spreading the fact that airlines have reduced seat size, instead of pinning it on the fatties (though sadly, it’s to be expected, at this point).

    This whole situation pisses me off to no end, because, even though I carry most of my weight in front, it still is difficult for me to get that armrest down, and I just know, that if the person next to me complains, I could be kicked off a plane headed back to school from a break, or something, and potentially miss my first few days of class. And if that happens, oh man, United does not KNOW wrath until they’ve fucked with this fatty.

  19. meowser Says:

    To the anti-fat trolls whose comments I’m not approving on account of I don’t have to: YOU book the first-class seats if you don’t want to be stuck next to my saddlebags. YOU do it. First class seats cost three to four times what coach seats cost. You want the extra comfort, YOU do it. It’s not reasonable to bump my fat ass from a flight, put me on standby until they have one of the rare flights with two contiguous empty seats, which could take DAYS, at which time I will have to pay DOUBLE the price I agreed to in order to get on the plane, and if I have a connecting flight (or more than one, which is not uncommon), I have to go through this entire ritual AT EVERY SINGLE AIRPORT. And paying extra for hotel rooms on each leg of the trip, too, on top of that, while I wait for an opening, along with all the other fatasses who might be waiting ahead of me. If you think I deserve to be treated like I’m LOWER THAN AN ANIMAL, since animals at least get the cargo area, you don’t get to post here. Sorry.

    Also, currently there is no way to book more than one seat for a single passenger other than through special arrangements with the airline. You can’t do it online, not in the U.S. Since they are not giving any kind of discount for the second seat, that means paying full coach fare, with no discounts such as on Expedia, for two seats. That means my flight probably already costs more than double what thin people pay if I go that route.

    And if you think my being a size 20 is completely voluntary, you haven’t read ANYTHING else I’ve posted here, and I’ve explained way more about my neurobiology on this blog over the last (going on) two years than anyone should have to in order to be treated like a first-class citizen. You don’t know anyone just from staring at their ass, capisce?

    If there’s a policy that could announce in bolder neon that they don’t want fat asses (note I’m not using the compound word this time) on their planes at all, ever, I can’t think of one. I’m happy for them they’re doing so well that they can afford to lose the business of women who wear an average-sized pair of pants. Because that’s where this is going. A size 14 or 16 woman is right on the borderline of being double-charged, the way seat sizes are now, and they’re only going to keep making them smaller. And smaller. And smaller. Why is this okay with people? Why??

    • Joyce koppenheffer Says:

      I buy 2 seats on line all the time! I have never had a problem! I buy 2 tickets in my name, then when I get to the airport to pick them up, I explain why I purchased the 2 tickets, that they are both for my comfort. At the boarding gate, I get on with the first class and “those that may need alittle extra time to board” announcement. I get my seats, get out my own personal seatbelt extender and life is good! Since I purchased that seat, I will not give it up for anyone! No matter how much the stewardess begs that the flight is full and they need an extra seat! I purchased that seat, I have room for my coat, book, purse, etc. Let the thin people stare! They are just jealous that I have more room than they do!

    • Joyce koppenheffer Says:

      Oh, I’d much rather explain ahead of time, than just buy one seat then be embarrassed at the airport and probably forced into buying another ticket anyway, or bumped from my flight. And if you have to call the airline ahead of time and purchase your ticket that way, so what! They don’t know you, so who cares that you have to tell them you are portly and need two seats! Be sure to let them know it is for YOUR comfort!

  20. meowser Says:

    Oh, and not that I’m approving your post anyway if you’re a member of F. jerkwadius, but I’m pretty sure most of you wouldn’t say that someone with medical equipment should have to buy a second seat, that you should just be comped for it. I have medical reasons for being the size I am, and I could bring documentation of that if I had to. But really, making that the dividing line is just stupid. The larger someone is, the less likely it is that it’s because of Bad Eating Habits. Ordinary, common garden variety Bad Eating Habits (not extreme bingeing, which applies to a small minority of fat people) might account for 20 extra pounds give or take, not 75 or 100 or 150. And I don’t even think the bingers should pay extra. We don’t charge alcoholics or bulimics double, do we?

  21. meowser Says:

    And to my readers who are decidedly NOT members of F. jerkwadius — THANK YOU. You are my rocks.

    Funny thing, part of the reason we’re considering a move to Pittsburgh is so that I don’t have to undertake a cross-country flight to see my family. They’re all in the New York City area now (which we can’t afford to live anywhere near), and even if my dad moves to Florida like he’s been threatening to, that trip could be made by train or car if need be.

    WRT2, it was fantastic to see you! I’m sorry the trip was so stressful for WRT2 junior.

  22. wellroundedtype2 Says:

    Meowser, I don’t think the trip was actually all that stressful for the little princess (I mean that in the best and worst possible connotations) — she got toys, books, ice cream, gummy bears and Cinderella crayons (which she pronounces “krons”) at the train station before we left, a huge amount of one-on-one time with mom, which is in short supply, usually, swings, a small yellow plastic smiley face ball, and an adventure. We were both quite relaxed, actually. You should see what stress looks like for us.
    I think the main problem was that she’s used to being able to veg out for part of the day, not being shelpped from place to place. I’m more of an “on the go” person than either she or her dad is. They are more of homebodies. They like to be around other people, they just prefer to be in a home — theirs or someone else’s.
    I’m going to plan more day trips this spring and summer so she will adapt to them because, like it or not, I’m her mom and I love to travel, so she will develop some sort of mechanism for being comfortable while she is out of the house. Many other kids her age still have a “lovie” of some kind, and she hasn’t ever had one, or an imaginary friend for more than a day or two, and those tend to provide comfort for kids when they are outside of their comfort zone. Or, it could be that, unfortunately for her and for us, watching DVDs at home *is* her version of a lovie.
    I would love to come down again, and when we do so, we’ll probably stay in a hotel and we can break up excurtions with TV watching (as much as she watches movies and programs, it’s not commercials she’s watching unless we are in a hotel or at someone else’s house) to ground her and give her parents a break, too.

    Someday, she will go to summer camp and then she’ll REALLY miss the TV. Ha ha!

  23. G Says:

    Great post. I’ve flown back and forth from my University in Texas to my parents homes in California and Washington for the last several years. I’ve been between 300+lbs and my current weight of 228. Even when I was larger I never had a “problem” with fitting in the seat. Its ridiculous. How are they determining who is to large and when? I was discussing this with my roommate and she was tiffed. She said, “So they don’t have to accommdate people? What about the disabled, will they suddenly be bump someone because they have bad knees and take up “too much space?” She admitted that she has a hard time fitting in to the seat at her weight which is 118lbs.

  24. acapnotic Says:

    @BigLiberty
    “Smoking, on average, has greatly decreased, which as we know brings one from an abnormally low weight back up to their natural weight.”

    Do you have any sources on this? I’d love to post it at my quit smoking message board since weight gain is a major worry for quitters.

    I actually came to this conclusion just from reading books on fat research, the ‘Sphere, et cetera. But I’d love to have something to back it up and be able to pass on to others.

  25. Not thin any more due to handicap Says:

    Of all the horrible comments I’ve read on other blogs, one person complained that another person next to him had an OXYGEN TANK and it touched his actual legs. The insensitivity of people – the “I’m so much better than you”-ism. The bigotry. And this is the kind of passenger United wants to encourage? Don’t forget to sign the “no to United” petition on this issue – http://www.petitiononline.com/cgi-bin/petition_html.cgi?NoUNITED Pass the Word

  26. daisydeadhead Says:

    Not to mention that you also have to have the genetic capacity to binge

    Yes, I am thinking this MUST be a poverty-related gene, because why would rich people need it? They had plenty available all the time, and never needed to shovel it in, quickly, or starve.

    Seriously.

    I am interested also, in how FAST people eat, relating to these various genetic factors…

  27. meowser Says:

    Yes, I am thinking this MUST be a poverty-related gene, because why would rich people need it? They had plenty available all the time, and never needed to shovel it in, quickly, or starve.

    Wow, Daisy, I bet you’re right.

  28. Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Open Tabs, Open Thread Says:

    [...] Meowser’s post on airlines charging fat people extra is the best I’ve read on the subject. Go read this is you have any interest in the issue at all. She also brings up a factor that I haven’t seen any news reports mention: this is an issue in part because the airlines have been making the seats narrower and narrower in recent years. [...]

  29. FilthyGrandeur Says:

    i can’t believe this shit. my body weight and shape are in the “normal” category, which means i’m just barely overweight according to the stupid BMI scale. since i’m of average shape and size, you would think that a range of industries would appeal to me, since most women are similarly shaped and sized. however, it is difficult to find clothing that fits properly, since my hips are bigger than the rest of me (nice pear shape going on) and so certain cuts of jeans and dresses look just awful on me. also, as for airline seats, being of average size you’d think i would fit comfortably in one–but i do not. i an average woman cannot be comfortable on a plane. i can only imagine the level of discomfort for someone larger than me. it’s just ridiculous fat shaming. i am not going to change the way i look to fly. i love my body and i love my curves. some airline is not going to change that.

  30. Dani Says:

    17.2″? Holy CRAP, no wonder I was so uncomfortable on my last flight!

    As a UMichigan alum, I’m well familiar with the seats in the Big House at a cozy 18″ wide means you stand for the entire game whether you want to or not – because everybody else is, because nobody can fit in the damn seats. That the airlines apparently also want to cram me in with 141,000 of my closest friends is annoying at best.

    Pretty soon the only people who will be able to fly in just one seat are kids aged 2-11. Who will suddenly again be being charged half-fare, given that the rest of us will be paying for two seats. (Have the airlines realized this?)

  31. Unree Says:

    I agree with Alas–much good posting has been done on this subject, but Meowser’s is the best.
    Not to derail on the sexism theme, but a physiatrist (who is NOT a feminist) once explained to me that airline seats are more comfortable for men than women. The seats are built low to the ground, making them a better fit for the male torso-leg ratio than the female: apparently men have relatively long torsos and short legs, compared to women. Add that to the hip-size criterion, and women are getting hurt on all sides when they fly. Especially in coach–and I’m sure we’ve all noticed the surfeit of men up front in business and first classes.

  32. YumaMamaLama Says:

    Yes, I’m a fattie, too. So is my hubby. When we fly together, we do buy three seat — always on SW, since it’s the cheapest. We’ve taken our little granddaughter on trips, since we had the extra space, the seat already being paid for. Fair, no. Nice for us all, her being able to go with us, yes. Saving a bit of face? Yes.

    Among comments on another site, someone suggested that there be a section in coach that has two larger seats, where two fat people would fit instead of three seats. They’d have to pay 1/2 more, rather than the full price of an extra seat. And, if those seats weren’t all taken up by us fatties, some “normal-sized” people could pay the 1/2 extra to have comfortable, roomy seating. That would be better for everyone, right? Even the airline who would not lose any money. At least then, all of us fatties would be seated together, and the other passengers could give us ugly looks, comments, and thoughts all at once and not have to do it to us individually. That would put a lot fewer bad vibes out into the ethers, right?

    I live in AZ, and sometimes we’ve gone over to Phoenix to watch a baseball game. Their stadium, The BOB, has come up with a bizzare solution to this problem of littler seats — and if you’ve been to ball games of any kind lately, you’ve noticed that they’re getting smaller. At The BOB, they have the seats in the nosebleed sections all at a slight diagonal angle. This way, shoulders don’t rub, and you have a tich more knee space. However, to look at the game or to talk with the person next to you, you need to have good neck muscles so that you can turn your head far enough in the right direction.

    This whole deal of punishing and hating fatties does appear to be arrogance, but I think that deep down, it’s actually fear. While a “normal-sized” or skinny person — and most teenagers — would say out loud, “That could never happen to me. I’d never let myself go like that.” — they secretly fear that it might happen to them. They’d lose that tenuous grasp on not having to be a person who deals with a nitty grittier life.

    Peace

  33. Robert Says:

    The relevant expense for the airline is the plane’s limited capacity for people and cargo. Rather than pricing by the seat, why not simply charge by the pound? Set the per-pound charge for the flight and then weigh people and their chattels in at check-in. If the rate is $1/lb, and you and your luggage together weigh 150 pounds, you pay $150. If you and your luggage together weigh 500 pounds, you pay $500. Nothing could be fairer. Want to pay less? Take less stuff with you.

  34. meowser Says:

    Robert, a policy like that would favor me — I’m a light traveler — but I generally don’t favor punishing people for inheriting the wrong DNA strands. You have a lot more choice about whether you take 10 pairs of shoes and a blow dryer than whether you carry the equivalent weight of an extra suitcase in your pants.

    Besides, it will never happen, for one reason: Tall, muscle-bound dudes would complain vociferously, and them, the airlines listen to.

  35. Robert Says:

    You’re not punishing people for their DNA strands (or their inborn tendency to pack seventeen outfits for a two-day trip). You’re charging people for using a resource, proportional to their use of the resource.

    I agree it’ll never happen, though.

  36. bigliberty Says:

    The arguments that this policy is fair as pay-by-weight (use) are fallacious and simplistic. Human weight makes up less than 10% of total plane weight. Plus, there are all sorts of ways one could argue people “use” the flight — the weight-impacting-fuel is a only a part of that, and very popular because it rewards thin people and punishes fat people. It’s just another extension (hah) of the pay-for-your-ass-real-estate argument.

    Besides, if we adopted a policy like Canada’s, the fuel costs would GO DOWN because suitably wide people would be taking up two seats, which would mean the unoccupied seat next to them doesn’t have the weight of an extra person in addition to the seat seating the fat person.

    So the fat passengers = higher fuel costs is a red herring.

  37. Who LOOKS Fat vs. Who IS Fat « I AM in shape. ROUND is a shape. Says:

    [...] ELSE who is destroying the world one blobby, headless, SUV driving, McDonald’s snarfing, seat-overflowing, thigh-jiggling step at a time.  It is SOMEONE ELSE that is “teh fatty mc fatterson” [...]

  38. Joyce koppenheffer Says:

    I get so tired of people ranting and raving about the seats on the airplanes! Fact of the matter is, they are too small. Period. I am fat. I budget in 2 seats when I purchase my airline tickets. I tell them why upfront when I purchase the tickets. Once I am on the plane, with my own seatbelt extender as well, I will not give up my extra seat for ANYBODY no matter how crowded the flight, no matter how the stewardess begs me to let someone sit by me! I bought the seat, it is my seat until I arrive at my destination! Problem solved!

  39. Molly Says:

    I instantly identified with you when you introduced yourself as a “fatass” with “skinny partner privilege”.

    I’m a fat woman with a male partner who is not “skinny”, but muscular. He is over 6 feet tall, has little body fat but broad shoulders and a large build (and he’s a martial artist). I am 5’3″, have small bones, and lots of fat! Guess who has more trouble fitting in plane seats? Not me, it’s him! (Although at the end of the day we both fit into our own respective seats quite comfortably… for now).

    The problem of plane seat sizing should not be confined to ‘fatasses’ or ‘obese people’. It’s just people born large, who get larger through the accumulation of muscle via participation in sports.

    Plane seats are not comfortable for ANYBODY. Not even 5 foot tall anorexics could get comfortable in a plane seat. It’s just the sitting-in-one-spot-for-hours factor, really. Human bodies and psyches were not meant to be stationary and confined for long periods of time. So naturally, in this environment, emotions will run high.

    Airlines do what they can with the space and facilities that they are able to provide whilst remaining airborne, as per the laws of physics, safety and fuel efficiency. They are in the business of making money and maximising profits. Anti-obesity people demonise McDonalds, but McDonalds is just an easy target, and not the real issue. Same with airlines and ‘fat people’. Until airlines figure out a way of allowing people to move around on planes (without having to squeeze past refreshments trolleys), people will be irritable and moody from having to sit still for too long.


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