Passenger forced to stand for a seven-hour airline flight

At nearly seven hours, US Airways flight 901 is one of the longest domestic nonstop airline flights. And Arthur Berkowitz knows how long it takes to get from Anchorage to Philadelphia down to the minute. That’s because he says he had to stand for most of the flight when he returned to Philly last July.

Why would anyone stand for that long? Because he says a morbidly obese passenger seated next to him was spilling into his personal space, making it impossibly to sit in his assigned seat, and the flight was completely full.

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“I didn’t fly from Alaska to Philadelphia on flight 901,” he says. “I stood.”

Telling an airline passenger who can’t fit into a seat to stand is pretty unusual. But it happens. The question is, what should the airline do about it?

Before answering, let’s review some of the specifics of Berkowitz’s complaint. He boarded the flight on July 29, and was grateful to find an empty middle seat next to him. But that gratitude turned to horror when the airline sent a late-boarding passenger who weighed more than 400 pounds to the seat. It was the last empty one on the plane.

“His size required both armrests to be raised up and allowed for his body to cover half of my seat,” he says.

Berkowitz immediately notified the flight attendants about the passenger. He recalls,

They were sympathetic, but could not do anything. No other seats existed on plane. They would not permit me to sit in their jump seats, and fully acknowledged the mistake by their gate agent, in allowing this individual on plane without requiring him to purchase and occupy two seats.

That wasn’t just a comfort issue, according to Berkowitz. It was also a safety problem.

“It did not allow me to use my seatbelt during takeoff and landing as well as required me to stand in the aisle and galley area for most of the seven-hour plus flight,” he says.

After he returned, he wrote a brief, polite email to the airline, asking it to refund his fare or for a voucher for the full amount. He also reported the incident to authorities, citing his safety concerns.

US Airways responded with an email that described his travel experience as “regrettable” and apologizing for the “difficulties” he encountered.

“Our intention is to offer the best travel experience possible,” it added. “The details you have provided indicate that we have failed to meet our intentions.”

The airline offered a $200 voucher for Berkowitz’s trouble. It didn’t address any of his safety issues.

He wasn’t happy with that, so he contacted me. I reviewed his case and agreed with him that US Airways might want to take another look at his complaint. I mean, leaving a passenger with no alternative but to stand for almost seven hours — if that’s true, then this might be one of those rare cases when a full refund is in order.

I contacted US Airways on his behalf. A representative told me US Airways had made its last, best offer. It didn’t say anything about the safety concerns this case raises.

Berkowitz says the airline is missing the point. It is glossing over the safety problems created by allowing overweight passengers to buy one seat.

“The $200 is inappropriate,” he adds. “I paid more than $800 for the ticket.”

506 thoughts on “Passenger forced to stand for a seven-hour airline flight

  1. This is absolutely ridiculous.  If there were not two seats for the obese passenger to sit in, he should have been sent off the plane…regardless of what the gate agent did.  It isn’t as if it would be a surprise to him that he needed extra space.

    The air crew is NOT supposed to take off until everyone is safely buckled in – obviously they did take off.  The air crew should therefore be disciplined and the airline fined. 

    I am a big person myself, but I can fit in a seat with both armrests down and can do up the seatbelt without an extension.

    The rights and safety of Mr. Berkowitz were severely compromised.

    The obese passenger’s “rights” end at the other passengers’ seat rests.  If you can’t fit in, you don’t have a right to take someone else’s space.
    (The same should be said about these jerks that put their seat backs down when there’s a tall person behind them).

    I have never flown on US Airways and I hope I never do (I flew 55,000 miles last year – all of them in MY seat).

    1. Putting your seat down is part of your own space, not the space of the person behind you.
      You obviously don’t fly long-haul very often if you think it is reasonable to expect other people not to put their seats down for an entire flight. It’s designed to go down and you have a right to have it down, except during take-off, landing and meals.

      1. While in general I don’t like Europe’s Ryanair (for obvious reasons – see every scam the US airlines work, and double them) I very much like the fact that the seats on their planes don’t recline *at all*. Which, for a short-to-medium-haul flight, is ideal: I want to read, work or play computer games, not randomly nap at lunchtime, and the lack of a recline button cements the etiquette. For a 5hr-plus flight, especially an overnighter, obviously the rules are different.

        1. Come on seats recline at most 1-2 inches. I found a long time ago that the gained comfort was not worth the lost comfort of the person behind and stopped reclining seat a long time ago.

          1. Same here. Airlines need to make double seating mandatory. I pay the same price although I’m half the size? Don’t think so.
            Main point of my reply: I’m also all legs, so thank for not reclining when I’m behind you going from Toronto to Amsterdam for like 11 hours.

          2. It is interesting that you think that you think that airlines and other passengers should deal with your height, but you don’t think that airlines and other passengers should deal with people’s fatness. Please don’t point out that you can’t help being tall – not all fat people can help being fat either, and it’s certainly not up to airlines to make that call.

          3. Not all fat people can help being fat?  What world do you live in?  99.999999999% of fat people did it to themselves!

          4. Um, the world in which science and doctors says – no, you often can’t help it if you are obese, especially extremely obese. 

            I’m sorry you can’t be bothered to find out the latest on this, but hey, we can’t all be responsible people.

          5. Science says nothing aboutthat !! Look around theworld,no countries have anythingnear theObesity rate of theUnited States!! Obese is NOTNORMALand results from takingin more calories than calories used!!!  Wake up!!

          6. Caitlin, I agree that some people are naturally more on the “chubby” side by genetics and not everyone is slim-trim. However, the type of obesity that makes you not fit in your airplane seat and crush your neighbor to the point it is going to break his hips, almost always, is a product of excessive eating, not a mere genetic “chubyness” (sic). 

          7. I know a very slim girl turned to an obese girl within 3 months due to a medication that she had to take to fight some sort of kidney problem. Sometimes, we human tend to conclude too soon before gathering and analyzing all data.

          8. Regardless of how the person came to be obese, the fact remains that the obese person can’t do anything about his or her weight *on the day of the flight*.

          9. So tall people should pay more for more leg room? No one had to stand because my legs ‘spilled’ over into the next seat. If the only way I could  fly was to purchase 2 seats, I’d save until I can buy 2 seats or I’d find another way to travel. 

          10. Yeah you can. It’s call the exit row. Many airlines charge a little extra for it, but you can reserve that seat.

        1. I used to take great joy in asking passengers to put their seats up during meal time. Nothing like a firm voice, polite words, and a smile to get people to be nice. Well, that and a uniform. 

        2. It is the job of flight attendants to enforce this rule. It’s a shame that the erosion of service means that this doesn’t always happen. It is my experience that it certainly happens on the better airlines on long haul flights. 

          I agree that you don’t really need to put the seat back on a short commuter flight anyway. However, I do find that it is a must if I am flying long haul and need to get some sleep. I regard the few inches of seat recline as part of the seat that I have paid for. I try to be polite and recline only when I need to and to give warning when it’s about to happen. However, I’m unlikely to not do it all as that doesn’t seem fair to me either.

          I would hope that airlines would help accommodate taller passengers in exit rows and bulkhead seats. I think the trend to charge people to sit in exit rows is very unfair when there are people like you who really need it. For those with the money or points, there is also premium economy as an option.

      2. Caitin, using your argument, one could say the arm rest is designed to go up and if people don’t fit into the seat, it is their right to put that arm rest up and use whatever extra space there is.

        Yes, I do fly long haul and no, I didn’t put my seat down.  Long haul, on non-American airlines, they actually do have enough room to do it. However, on United Express, they surely don’t.

        1. Wrong, it is NOT OK to put up the armrest just because you don’t quite fit in a seat. That’s purely selfish on your part and inconsiderate to those sitting next to you. The armrests come up to ease access to the seats furthest from the aisle. They can also be up when someone is lucky enough to have an empty seat next to them, to maybe stretch out a little.  

          1. Good call,  Caitlin.  I have flown many,  many thousands of miles in my travels,  mostly on our national airlines often as an employee.  But,  when I discovered Virgin America/Virgin Atlantic airlines I try to use them.  Every thing form the service,  food and on board friendliness is worth the trip.  Air India was the WORST I had ever experienced!

      3. While I agree that technically putting your seat back is part of your own space, I wonder why there is a need for the seats to recline. I am over 6′ tall, and prefer for the seat in front of my not to recline back into my knees – if everyone reclines their seat, you do end up with the same amount of space anyway… I try to avoid reclining my seat (following the golden rule) but if the seat in front of me reclines, I am more likely to go ahead and recline my seat to recover the lost space.

        1. Exactly – I’m a flight attendant, and that’s what I tell people who complain about the person infront of them putting the seat down.  It’s a chain reaction, if I told those people to put it up, they’re gonna complain too, and I’d be going through the entire plane asking people to sit up straight – then everyone would be unhappy on a long haul flight.   

          1. So like most flight attendants these days, you never extend yourself.  When I was a kid, I marveled at how young, beautiful and nice the flight attendants were on American Airlines. the problem is, now I’m 25 years older and those SAME flight attendants are on the planes, and now their old, wrinkled and jaded. Vjackie32, sound like you?

          2. Holy smokes, OC.  What a bitter old crank you are.  She didn’t say anything at all to merit your pathetic response.

      4. Only the rudest of fliers would believe you. I am 6-4 and always compromise with the passenger in front of me. If you were there, then you could go half way back or expect an incredibly long flight of kicking the bottom of you seat, wiggling the back of your chair and every other legal irritation that I could conceive. Most fliers, thaough are nice and respect the passenger behind them.

        1. Hear, hear. Some airlines—some very nice airlines that I try and fly whenever I can, like Virgin America and JetBlue—have seats that are pitched far enough apart that I can make a bargain with the person in front of me. It’s not that I want people to be uncomfortable, but I’ve gotten off planes with bruised knees before (NO LOVE AT ALL FOR YOU, UNITED AIRLINES) and that’s not OK either.

        2. Travelling man,  if you were to do that to me, you might find your drink in your lap or your food tray on the floor, or any other legal irritation I could conceive of…..just because I could.
          Unlike most, I take into consideration the person behind me. I recline as minimally as I can to be comfortable, and it doesn’t take much to do it. However, I don’t HAVE to show you that courtesy. Respect is earned, and just because you are tall doesn’t mean you have any more rights than the rest of us.  If a person is rude to me, I give it right back. If a person shows me courtesy, I show them the same.  Luckily, it has never been an issue, and most are grateful that I don’t recline all the way.
          Maybe instead of being a jerk about it, you might consider asking the person if they could move their seat up a little.  You would be surprised at how nice people can be when shown a little courtesy.

        3. Stop complaining. Tall people get paid more than shorter people. So unless you are willing to give me part of your salary, you’ll just have to put up with me leaning back. Or use the excess salary you get for being tall to buy a seat in first class.

          1. And all the extra money goes towards the extra cost for shoes, suits, shirts, ties, cars, light bulbs, etc. I beat you didn’t know that being tall cost more? 

        4. I am nice and I do respect the passengers behind me. That is why I always bring the seat up during meal times and I always give due warning whenever I am going to recline it, so that no one gets a tray table shoved in their middle. It is my seat so ultimately I decide when it goes back and how far it goes, but I would always do so with consideration for the person behind me. Based on your statement, you are the one without courtesy.

          Deliberately and repeatedly kicking and jiggling the seat of the person in front of you is arguably assault and would certainly warrant being publicly called out for such rude behaviour and a complaint to the flight crew. 

          Such discourtesy is never the way to get what you want. It only provokes tit for tat behaviour. If the person in front of you was as rude as you claim to be they could easily retaliate by bringing the seat forward and then shoving it back as far as it would go over and over again. 

      5. Caitlin, I do fly long haul all the time (coast-to-coast US, plus 3+ trips across the Pacific to China per year).  Bill’s point is that people on flights often ignore everyone around them for their own comfort.  I am always very cautious (especially when I’m in Coach) to be sure that if I’m reclining my seat that it won’t be too much of an imposition to the person behind me. For example if they are using their laptop I leave my seat unreclined (unless I’m in International Business Class). Common Courtesy Caitlin. Just because you may fly a lot doesn’t mean you have it.

        1. This is a straw man argument. I pointed out that the seats are designed to go back and that it was unreasonable to expect the people in front of you to leave their seats upright for an entire long-haul flight. I did not say that I would shove the seat back as far as it would go without even looking behind me first just because I could. I’m sure there are people who do this, but I think you’ll find that this wasn’t my argument.

        2. You know what?  I pay for my space and if you need more than you paid for you should consider purchasing larger amounts of space for your laptop or whatever you think you need to utilize on a flight.  There is no reasonable expectation that you will have more space in your seat than you actually paid for so being irritated that you only get what you were willing to pay for is unreasonable.  I fly frequently and people who whine to the crew or other passangers that they can’t work on their computer in coach should do it before or after the flight.

      6. I can’t tell you the number of times people have sat in front of me and complained of “broken seats” to the flight attendants. The flight attendant looks behind and discovers an over-six-foot guy sitting behind and the passenger trying to move their seat into my knees. Then the person in front gets angry at me. Sorry—I don’t have status and so don’t get the “Economy Plus” or whatever they’re called seats, and I can’t make myself shorter.

        You don’t have the rights you think you do.

        1. I am over 6’6″.  The person in front of me usually cannot physically put their seat backs.  They can feel free to try, it’s not my back hammering into my knees.  There is nothing I can do about the lack of leg space on the plane. 

        2. “You don’t have the rights you think you do.”

          And neither do you Dave.  Just because you are tall, doesn’t mean that the person in front of you should have to fly in discomfort any more than you.  It is extremely painful for me to sit completely upright for a long flight (due to scoliosis surgery as a teenager), so reclining just a little can be of great relief to me.  I am considerate to others around me, and won’t fully recline, because that is the kind of person I am. However, with an attitude like yours, I probably would be angry with you as well.     

          1. Julie, I don’t go out of my way to make things uncomfortable. There simply isn’t space. I cannot shorten my legs. I’ve had sone success putting my carryons up so I can extend my legs under the seat. Sometimes it doesn’t work.

            I’ve tried everything to get seats with more pitch; I’m pleasant and joke with checkin agents, desk agents, ask the FAs fit help, rtc. Flights are fuller and it’s harder to do.

            I’m not a villain; if you turned around and explained I’d try to get out of your way (trade seats within the row, etc.). But if you don’t say something and I’m just seated normally, physics takes over.

          2. You could buy two seats like the obese guy – just buy them one in front of the other. I don’t really see how this is different, if you really don’t fit in the seat. 

            Come on, it’s an inch and it makes sleeping much more comfortable. I can’t believe there are so many people here complaining – I’d never dream of trying to stop someone from putting his seat back. 

          3. Don’t lump us into the same crowd – tall people have literally NO control over their height. If you’re in coach, you’re in coach and you know it because you’re stuffed in there like a sardine unless the flight is not full. Get used to it. If you weigh over 360, you weigh for two people and you should pay for it.

          4. The odds are that the obese person is solely responsible for their obesity… the percentage of people who are obese due to a thyroid condition is marginal, and even that can be controlled with medication; however, a person’s height is COMPLETELY out of his or her control.  

          5. Not so much. In addition to thyroid disorders there are myriad other medical conditions that cause obesity and there are obesigenic drugs that are routinely prescribed. Even for thyroid: the current estimate from the professional American Thyroid Association is that 20 million Americans, including 1 in 8 women, have thyroid problems, and thyroid conditions are notoriously hard to treat because of the normal fluctuations in hormones. Add in the fact that prednisone and anti-depressants are statistically some of the most prescribed drugs in the USA, as per the CDC, and both of those can ratchet weight way, WAY up…it’s not as simple as saying “oh, it’s always someone’s fault.” There are a lot of medical and socioeconomic factors that go into weight, so unless you are a nutritionist, endocrinologist, or someone else who is actually educated on the science behind obesity, don’t presume.

          6. The only thing that’s very controllable in obesity, is the people who are only somewhat fat.  I’m sorry, but science and medicine totally disagrees with you.  Go talk to a real doctor and stop handing out medical advice when you don’t have a clue what you are talking about.

          7. How tall are you? If you don’t know the pain in your knees from being squashed by the seat in front of you, yes even 1″ makes a difference. I always try to get the aisle seat so I can put one leg in the aisle. I envy the people who can sit by the window. 

          8. Lol, your sense of self entitlement is so cute! If you ever find yourself sitting in front of me I hope you enjoy the back pain as much as I enjoy the pain of my knees pressed up against the back of your upright seat.

          9. Awwwwww D, so cute of you to troll the forum.  I would greatly enjoy hurting your knees by ramming my seat into them over and over. I would take great pleasure in hearing you yelp in pain. And when you remove your knees to have your lunch, put your laptop on the tray, or set your drink on, I would enjoy knocking that stuff into your lap.
            Trolls gonna troll I guess.

          10. Wow!  Julie, you come across as a nas,ty self-absorbed piece of work.  Here’s the thing, all the apssengers are in a pressurized tube, hurtling through the sky in a confined space.  You have no rights, apart from to shut up and comply with the instructions of the crew. It’s not all about *you*airways.  If you want to have your own space charter your own aircraft.  You will still to comply with FAA regulations though.  You have no rights on an aircraft, you obey the crew and comply with regualations, what you need to do is try common courtesy and manners, but then again that missive would be lost on you.  As a commercial pilot and passenger  i have never had problem or conflict with reclining my seat by turning and asking the person behin if they mind if i recline the seat a bit and that if they need a little more room just to let me know.
            You that there, being polite and courtesous to fellow passengers goes a lot further than stamping your feet like a spoilt child.
            Incidentally in terms of the obese passenger, several FAA violations were  incurred by allowing this situation to occur.
            Have a nice day y’all.

          11. Actually Pilot, I was responding to a troll.  If you’d read some of my previous posts, you would see that I take the person behind me into great consideration when I recline back.  If I were to recline to far, and they were to ask politely to raise my seat up a little, I would do so.  The person who had made a post to me said they would enjoy putting his knees into the back of my seat to cause pain. I responded in kind.

            Regardless of the fact that I am a considerate person when it comes to reclining my seat back, I know that not everyone is.  I don’t have an entitlement complex, but I do have the right (just as the tall person does) have the right to fly comfortably. Work with me and I’ll work with you.

          12. Yeah but that works both ways, the person behind can just as easily kick your seat to the tune of “The final Countdown”.

          13. How about maybe swapping seats Julie and Dave? It may relieve the problems depending on the next two passengers (in front of Julie and behind Dave). If you’re traveling with a spouse or a friend then that needs to be taken into consideration.   

          14. And you would find yourself in jail, and a lawsuit filed against you.

            Now run along troll, I’m sure it’s past your bedtime and your mommy probably wants her computer back.

          15. magistrate would throw out the case as you smashed my knees first, then I would counter-sue for damages whether there were any or not 🙂

          16. Magistrate? Where are you from?  I don’t like to play with children, so please run along.  And I never said anything about smashing your knees.

          17. in Australia. No one would tolerate your crap down here.
            you said it here:

            “I would greatly enjoy hurting your knees by ramming my seat into them over and over.”

            Feel free to apologise any time. 

          18. Unless you were the person I was speaking to last night, I never said I was going to smash YOUR knees. The person I was responding to was rude, and I gave it back to him as he gave it to me.  And if I recall, he said he was going to enjoy hurting MY back first, so if anyone needs to apologize it would be him.  If you would have read ANY of my previous posts, you would find I stated that I do not recline my seat very far back, and I take into consideration the person behind me.  If a person is polite, I am just as polite. IF you want to be rude to me and threaten PHYSICAL violence against me, then you are going to get it back tenfold. And since I live in the United States, you would be appearing before a judge, not a magistrate. And considering you/he made the threat first I highly doubt you would get anywhere with a countersuit.

          19. I’ll give you 10/10 for your backflip. I’m not the same person as last night, but your attitude and chip on your shoulder make it very clear that your a selfish bitch (not a selfish human being cause that would be insulting to other humans).
            I don’t care where you live, just don’t come here cause you would be put back in your place very quickly.

            However, given that you are very self-opinionated, I would love to hear your thoughts about the man taking up two seats 🙂

          20. Julie has repeatedly stated she only reclines partially in deference to the person behind her. I don’t recall her resorting to name calling in any of her post and yet you attack her personally. 

          21. And you’re a troll with an entitlement complex, tit for tat, who the hell cares.  I did not backflip, again unless you were the person who I made the original comments too, then you were the one who made the threat of physical violence against me.  As far as going to Australia, I have no intentions of ever going there so that’s a moot point.

            Now to answer your question, I think it’s wrong that the obese gentleman was even permitted to be on the flight without paying for a second seat.  Since that would not have been an option, the ticket agent should have told him that he would have to wait for the next flight.  The gentleman should not have had to stand up for an entire flight putting himself in danger and/or discomfort because someone wanted to be selfish.

            I don’t know what your problem is with me, I had no interractions with you until YOU threatened ME with physical violence.  I hope that this ends it.

          22. I’m short. In addition to cervical vertebrae problems, my head pitches forward due to the headrest. I recline because I’ll be in pain otherwise.

          23. To those with a tough-luck attitude towards tall people being crushed at the knees and shins:  We didn’t change or make demands about needing more leg space.  To the contrary, most airlines have drastically reduced the amount of legroom long considered *just humane enough* for someone 6’2″ or over to fly across country without permanent nerve loss.  To Julie with a case of the shorts… sorry you can’t see in concerts or at the movies.

          24. Actually Steve, I’m just over 5’8″ tall, not short by any means.  If I am in heels, I am at least 5’10’.  I have stated REPEATEDLY that I recline just enough so I am not straight up. Having 2 rods in your back makes flying like that very painful. I am mindful of the person behind me, but when I see someone who posts that we don’t have the rights we think we do, makes me think that person has an entitlement complex. I don’t think I’m anymore important than the next person, but their rights are no more important than mine are. I’m just willing to work with someone rather than being a bitch about it.

        3. Economy Plus costs 49 dollars each way between ORD and LAX. It’s a little more or less depending on where you are flying. Not a lot of money. Since being tall gets you a higher salary than a shorter person, I suggest you stop complaining and just pay for the space you need.

      7. I’m 5’7″ and I do lean my seat back, and so everyone else in economy on board the international flight. However, if you choose to fly with “el cheapo” airline that barely has a legroom in the first place, then you should blame yourself and not the person in front of you.

      8. As someone who flies often and has an immediate family member working as a pilot, I have to say that I agree with Bill (to a certain degree). It is true that putting your seat back is something that is almost necessary on a long flight, but how far you put the seat back is another issue. I’ve not met someone yet, including those who work for the airline, who find it rude when the person in front of you puts his/her seat as far back as they can when the flight is the middle of the day for 2 hours, or those who put it back while your trying to eat. It is just rude. Of course, I have no problem with those who put it back as far as it goes when its 3 AM and their half way to Europe.

      9. I fly between Atlanta and Seoul frequently–about 14 hours–and I have yet to lower my seat back because I’d rather not inconvenience the person behind me. Aqpparently, you’re a very important person and other people’s comfort is of no concern to you.

      10. Whether obese, tall, smelly, loud, or otherwise incurring an inconvenience to the people around you (within reasonable limits), no one has the right to intrude on another’s paid-for space. 

        If someone’s physical condition or grooming or interpersonal choice knowingly inconveniences others, it’s their responsibilty to remedy it by complaining to the service provider, or getting a bulkhead or exit aisle seat, or whatever it takes.

        It is NOT the responsibility of the other person to have to do anything for what they paid for or should expect as common courtesy.

        Inconveniencing others knowingly is a cop out and and imposition, and quite often, downright arrogant.

        Of course, as with screaming babies, etc. we all have to be tolerant of our fellow humans when it is called for.

      11. Dear Caitlin.

        If you want more space, book “economy extra” or “first class”. You may be a very nice person, but I do not want you on my lap and hurting my knees seriosly during an intercontinetal flight.

        1. Sorry Axel, but if you do not like the seat in front of you being reclined then it is YOUR responsibility to book economy extra or first class. 

          I’m all for people being polite and taking the person behind them into consideration. All of that is fine but just on a very strict factual basis, you need to be aware that that space belongs to the seat in front of you. They might let you use it for the entire flight or they might be willing to share it with you but it is not actually your space.

          If the seat in front of you goes back that does NOT mean that the person in front of you has taken your space. It means that the person in front of you has taken the maximum of their own space. You are free to do the same and put your own seat back.

          I think there was a flight attendant further up thread who said the same thing.

          Hopefully 99% of the time the two people involved can work out something fair and equitable between then. It’s just important that you realise that if the person in front does not put their seat back that they are doing you a massive favour. You are not entitled to demand they don’t take full use of their seat.

          If you don’t like the way the system works then take it up with the airline. 

      12. Hey Caitlin, I’m 6’4″, let me assure you that if my knees are in the back of your seat you will not be utilizing your “Own space” with regard to reclining!!!  The simple fact is that as hard as you want to push, you will not recline past my knees!!  
        I have over 200K miles, mostly overseas flights, I always ask for front row or exit row, but often the airlines don’t save them for the most needy customers.  Don’t blame the tall person, blame the closeness of the seats and airlines who don’t prioritize the comfort of it’s passengers by putting the right customers in the best seat locations..

    2. Bill,
      I can sympathize with you as I am a fairly tall person myself, being 5’8″ and by some accounts I am on the “thicker” side of the spectrum (but not even close to obese).  However, I had scoliosis surgery as a teenager and as such have 2 titanium rods fused to my spine.  This makes long flights especially uncomfortable if I have to sit with my seat back up all the way the entire time.  I realize that there might be a tall person behind me, so I only recline it enough so that I have a little bit of lean back. I never recline it all the way.  I heard one person complain at first when he realized I was leaning back, but shut up mid-sentence when he found I wasn’t going to fully recline.  He thanked me after for being considerate enough to not fully recline.

      While I realize that not everyone is as thoughtful, please keep in mind that some people do have medical conditions that make it uncomfortable to sit straight up on an 8 hour flight.

      1. Julie,
        Thank you for your comments.  I can sympathize with your plight.  However, I expect that most people who think it is their God-given right to fully recline aren’t like you.  For one thing, most people in front of me either don’t recline or try to fully recline. There’s not usually any thought or consideration that I’ve seen from those that do recline.  They put the seat back before they’re allowed to.  They don’t put the seat up during meals.  They “forget” to put the seat up when landing.

        On smaller craft, they do bang my knees, and it hurts.   I don’t think it is right.  The airlines should have reduced the seat recline when they reduced the distance between seats.  What often happens is I can’t get up to go to the bathroom because I wouldn’t be able to get my knees back into my seat.

        As to the various actions that happen to those why do put their seats back all the way, I have absolutely, positively no sympathy for them at all.

        1. Bill,

          I appreciate that.  I don’t think that people should fully recline either, and I know that if I go back to far I end up just as uncomfortable. I will click it just enough that it’s not straight up, maybe 1/2 an inch at most and sometimes not that much.  I know that not everyone is as considerate, but I’ve read some comments where the tall person is just as rude.  If I am to far back, and the person were to ask me politely to lessen the recline, I would happily do it.  If they are rude, they would get the same treatment.

          I tend to fall asleep while flying, so I sleep through the lunch and drink cart.  However, I’ve never interfered with someone being able to eat, play on their laptop, or get up to go to the bathroom because the recline is barely noticeable. 

          My problem is the kids who kick the back of my seat.  I’ve switched places with a mom so she could sit with her 2 kids, and sure enough her kid constantly kicked the back of my seat.  I asked the mom politely at first to stop her child, but it didn’t stop.  I finally yelled at the kid to KNOCK IT OFF, which made the kid cry, which brought over the flight attendant.  I told her how I asked the mom to get her child to stop, and she couldn’t. As the mom yelled at me, I showed the flight attendant my ticket and said I would like to have my seat back.  Long story short, I got my original seat and the 2 little kids had to deal without their mommy.  If the mom had not been so rude, I might have felt bad.  The mom tried to apologize and say it would not happen again, but I told her too bad, and she had her chance, but it was too late.

        2. Sorry Bill, but you are the one with self-entitlement issues.
           You’ve got no more rights to extra space for your knees than the fat guy does for his blubber. If you don’t fit in a regular seat – that INCLUDES having the seat in front of you reclined- then just like the obese, you buy a BIGGER SEAT. The overweight have to buy 2 seats(usually) in order to fit their body size .
           What makes you so special that you don’t have to buy extra room to accommodate YOUR  body size?!

    3. If the man was able to fit into the seat by the assist of a seat belt extension, the crew did their part…please don’t talk about discipline when you don’t know the whole story.  Mr Elliott tends to be a sensationalist, who would have written a whole different entry on this blog had the passenger been removed, it would have read “US Airways discriminates against portly passenger” or something to that effect.   Honestly I think most passengers absolutely deserve the spite from crew and from the industry in itself.  You don’t want to pay fair market for transportation, but you’re still expecting the 60’s Pan Am.  Seriously, get real.

    4. Going to have to agree. If you didn’t pay for two seats, you don’t get two seats. Not really sure why the flight crew left the gate without all passengers in their seats.

      As for “armrests”, I don’t really care. All the flights I’ve ever been on have been 5+ hour types, and the worst I’ve had was the window seat when a larger couple had the aisle and middle seat. I just didn’t bother to leave the seat. I’ve more frequently have been on flights where the middle seat was vacant (Alaska and Westjet.)

      The other argument in the comments is the reclining seats. I never recline my seat unless actually trying to sleep, but being a short-to-average person I don’t care if the person in front reclines theirs. 

      Typically I prefer the window seat because I tend to want to close the window if I want to sleep, but most flights have been at night anyway.

    5. Thank you Bill, for bringing this up. I am a tall man, 198 cm, I very often experience that the passenger in front of me wants to put his seat back down.
      When you book a fligt on economy class, you can not expect a lot of space, but you have every right to occupy the space, you have paid for, no other passenger have the right to to take up your space!!
      When some other passenger puts his seat back down on my lap, I allways ask one of the crew politely to ask the other passenger to raise his seatback, untill now this has worked ok for me. If the seatbacks and armrests in economy class were fixed durin the flight, this would never be a problem that other passengers takie up the space you have paid for.

      1. Actually the space they have paid for includes the ability to put their seat down. If they don’t put their seat down or if they put it back up at your request then they are doing you a big favour and you should be extremely grateful. It’s nice of them to do this for you. They don’t have to – even if the flight attendant asks them. It’s THEIR space and they are sharing it with you out of consideration for your height. Be a little more gracious about it!

        1. Caitlin,

          I 100% agree with you.  It seems that if you disagree with people, they tell you that YOU are the one with the entitlement complex.  If I pay for a plane ticket, I should be able to recline my seat.  However, I am pretty accomodating to others who are flying behind me. I realize that I could recline fully, and if there is no one behind me I will recline farther than I  normally would. If someone reclines their seat in front of me, I don’t say anything because I realize they are using the seat they paid for to the fullest.  I’m fairly tall, but I’ve never had an issue with someone reclining.

    6. Sorry but anyone has the right to put their seat back. It is not as if anyone is comfortable in their own seat and the recline position is there for a reason. The person who finds the person in front of them who is reclining to be a problem should try to buy a seat in the first row of coach where there is no seat in front of them or buy a first class seat.

  2. I would not have stood. Arm bar down & I always use my seat belt. I am a big guy too, 225 lbs, but I fit into one seat.  I would have made the flight attendants move the other passenger.  Why should I lose my seat? If he can’t fit into the seat with the arm bar down tough luck on his part. 

    I thought the plane & FAA requires all passengers to use their seat belt.  I would have demanded they figure out some way for me to use my seat belt or the plane does not take off.

    1. “Obese people” are quickly becoming a protected class. Airlines don’t want to mess with the threat of bad press because they asked a person who needs two seats to purchase them. They also don’t want to sound “mean” for making the large person stand up. So, the average Joe gets screwed, and since he’s not a protected class, they throw airline funny money at him in the hopes he’ll go away.

      1. Raven, I frequently find myself agreeing with you, but saying obese people are a “protected” class is just not correct. Gain 20 or 30 pounds over the perceived “ideal” weight and you’ll see what I mean.
        This is not about people in a protected class. This is about consideration for others. The obese man should have purchased two seats. That’s a fact. The gate agent should not have allowed him on the plane in one seat. That is a fact. The OP should have been able to sit in his seat as comfortably as anyone can on a plane these days. Again, a fact.
        The parents on my flight from DEN-BHM should have kept an eye on their seven-year-old daughter who kicked my seat for three solid hours, instead of falling asleep across the aisle and allowing their teen son to supervise her. Standing actually would have been preferable.
        The idiot on my flight from DFW to RNO should have been kicked off the plane for refusing to turn off his blasted cell phone until the very last second, so the FA could close the doors and we could push back from the gate.
        The nitwit mom on an IAH-HSV flight should have been told her daughter, 6, could NOT go to the bathroom after we started taxiing to the runway, necessitating a hold on takeoff until the FA took her to the bathroom. They were, incidentally, in the terminal bathroom at the same time I was and she went then. She wanted to see what the bathroom on the airplane looked like. She was sitting across the aisle from me and I heard her repeatedly express an interest in said bathroom, but her mom was preoccupied with her screaming 8-month-old brother (lap child) and wasn’t paying attention. We were late taking off, obviously, and as we banked back around, I could see probably 20 planes backed up, waiting to take off, their departures delayed because a six year old said she had to pee.
        Frankly, considering the amount of perfume I’ve had to endure from some people sitting next to me, standing would be a pleasant option. I could at least look out the window at the door and stretch when I needed to.
        The obese guy should have bought two seats and the OP should have received a better offer from USAir. Bottom line, IMHO.
        I’m a big girl, but I don’t need two seats. However, if I needed two seats, I’d buy them. I do not want to overflow on to anyone, for their comfort, as well as for mine. It’s all about being considerate. 

        1. That six year old would’ve been told to sit down and shut up five years ago. But then we had the breeder parents and their idiot toddler who delayed take off because the child wouldn’t “consent” to being placed in a seat.

          They made the talk show circuit and felt they had been “discriminated” against because they had a fussy child. Airlines took a PR hit on that one–an undeserved one–and now we kowtow to children.

          Raven is right. Fatties are now a protected class. Don’t mess with them or you’ll find yourself being hammered by the public, the blogsphere, and the news whores.

          1. Aww, cute, someone is a sweaty hambeast. Fat is Fat. They should have made lardboy stand; it would have been more of a work out than he’d done… well, ever.

          2. Being fat is a huge disadvantage, economically and socially.  So-called “fatties” do not choose to be fat.  And there is certainly no “protected” status.  Fat people are one of the last groups that are easily (and continuously) discriminated against.

          3. And they should be! Only a small percentage of obesity is due to genetic reasons. The rest is to due to Americans just shoving cheeseburgers down their throats and sitting on their couches.

            Why should I be inconveinced by giving up part of my seat for someone else’s flab? I take care of myself so that my size is “normal.”

          4. You’re a real piece of work. Where are your statistics for only a small percentage of obesity being genetic? You’re full of crap. Also if the parents are fat it’s likely the kids will be fat because the parents are feeding them. So you’re telling me it’s the kids fault they’re fat when that’s how their parents raise them?? You obviously have no idea how hard it is to lose weight as a larger person and you show your ignorance with comments like that. If only you were as smart as you were thin..

          5. as a medical professional, I can attest that only a small percentage of obesity is genetic the rest is due to bad eating habits.

          6. Genetics versus bad eating habits are not the only two reasons why someone might be fat. There is often an underlying health issue that is not genetic but can make it difficult for people to shift the pounds.

          7. Please cite your sources and explain how you reconcile that position with the activity of leptin and FTO genes on metabolism and weight; the high statistical rate of Dx for thyroid conditions and other conditions that cause weight gain, such as Addison’s, and then please remind us all how many drugs list weight gain as a side effect. Also, please explain how there are “fit and fat” individuals who maintain a high level of physical activity without being bone-thin. Olympic gymnast Eileen Diaz, basketball player Charles Barkley and baseball player Fernando Valenzuela spring to mind. Surely as a medical professional you’re up on all of that, right?

          8. Then you are a poor medical professional and far far behind current medicine.  I don’t know of a single md that agrees with you.

          9. Like my sister always says when someone is whining, “suck it up”! Btw, the big guy should’ve stood

          10. Well, I DO know hoe hard it is to lose weight. Stop with the victim mentality either on behalf of yourself or on behalf of overweight people.

            Truth is truth.

            Some obesity is genetic (but can still be overcome with decent habits and discipline and hard work, but yes it is much harder to overcome that. Still, I have seen it done) and some is due to things like thyroid and what not (medicine helps, but you still have to do things to take the weight off). But there are a great many people who have terrible eating habits and who don’t take care of themselves. Coddling them and  lying to them, telling them it’s ok, they can’t help it is akin to putting a loaded gun in a homicidal maniac’s hand.

            What is wrong with people that they cannot hear or tell the truth to anyone anymore because oh dear, it might offend?

          11. I think it’s the generalizations that get to people, rather than the truth. We’d never look at…for instance, a car crash…and immediately assume that the driver was drunk. We’d understand that there are a lot of reasons that car might have gone off the road. When we judge people for their religion (which is a choice), ethnicity, city, etc. there’s always a chorus of “don’t be a bigot! You can’t judge EVERYONE and we’re not all like that!”

            Yet, with obesity, there is a MOUNTAIN of scientific research and analysis that confirms that there are a lot of different reasons people become overweight. The sociologists can confirm that quality access to food is also a socioeconomic issue. And we ignore all of that and feel free to assume we’re all experts on the eating habits and lifestyle of every single fat person.

            Do some people have 1000% responsibility for their obesity through lack of proper eating and exercise habits? Sure. To overlook all of those other mitigating factors, and to pretend that obesity is simple, is short-sighted. We will NEVER get people healthy if we keep telling them “okay, fatass, stop eating.” If it were that simple, it would be a lot easier to solve.

            So compassion can go a long way, and so can refraining from judging. Everyone turns into a MD when they talk about obesity, why is that? A random person is now an expert for millions of people’s physical condition?

            if you’re next to an obese person on a plane and they are encroaching on your space, no, that is NOT fair. It shouldn’t happen. If you know you can’t sit in one seat, you need two. That’s how it is. All of this judgment is

          12. What it’s the fault of, is the airline.  The US has a large percentage of obese people and seats should be available for them that fit.  It’s not humane that there isn’t and it’s not humane that the only person that can be completely comfortable in the average airline seat is a skinny 10 year old kid.

          13. Yes, they do choose to be fat. Maybe unwillingly, By not doing what is necessary to be not fat, they choose to be fat. Yes, it is a struggle to lose weight but it can be done.

          14. Not always.  Sometimes other health issues can crop up that result in ballooning weight, and no matter what you do, short of having the extra cut off that weight stays on. 

          15. There are genetic, and physiological disorders that can cause a person to be overweight, and in extreme instances even obese. These are RARE, the majority that the BMI crowd place into the “Obese” category are one of two things. Bigger people who are athletic (including me), or people who intake far more calories than they use. I am 6′ tall 220lbs, and have less than 15% body fat. I am muscular, but according to the BMI I am overweight.

            Yes Americans are larger than people in other countries in general, but we are not less healthy. These people who stereotypically fit that mold are an embarrassment, and as such are becoming a protected class by the touchy-feely crowd.

          16. An embarrassment? My, my. I suppose then, we who are over the ideal weight, regardless of the reason, had better go ahead and die and decrease the surplus population — to say nothing of saving our fellow humans from the unimaginable humiliation of claiming to be members of the same species.
            And another quote from Dickens in consideration of the upcoming holiday season: “A good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
            I’d say we could all use a dose of compassion.

          17. Yes you do see fat people in concentration camps. They would be the Survivors. Yah know, the ones who went into those camps overweight or had metabolisims efficient enough to make the best of whatever calories they managed to scrape together while there. What you don’t see are the ones who went in skinny or ‘fit’ (normal bodyweight / metabolisims). Generally you’d have to look in the MASS GRAVES to find them because that’s how STARVATION works.
            So basically your husband is:
            A) An idiot & B) an offensive bafoon for trivializing an atrocity

          18. Actually in Island communities, where historically they often had regular starvation cycles, obesity is overwhelming in the percentage of those that survived those famines.
            That’s because people who respond to famines by packing it back on, were more likely to survive.
            And this what you are pushing fat people to do – trigger the famine response by severe dieting and therefore, guess what – they now become super obese and basically, it’s more your fault then theirs, because you were abusing people and you didn’t know what you were talking about.

          19. I don’t choose be fat, but medications, heart issues that come up during exercise and severe asthma prevent me from being anything less. I could never participate in gym class throughout school. It sucks in a severe way. People just assume it’s laziness, when in fact I’m anything but.

          20. And being the responsible person that you are, you voluntarily and willingly pay for your medications as part of the costs of having an unavoidable condition.  In that same vein, a person’s obesity (whether voluntary or involuntary) should require the purchasing of a second seat, particularly if it results in another passenger losing his or hers.

          21. Who said they weren’t?

            And why should anyone have to put up with the abuse of people like you who jump to stupid conclusions?

          22. That’s all understandable, and I sympathise. 

            But if it affects others, it is YOUR issue which you are making OTHER’s issue.

          23. actually, if you lose a lot of weight, you will find out that after about 6 months, you will start regaining it on the same calorie diet that you lost it on in the first place.

            This is the latest on obesity studies and was reported in the New York Times as well as many other places.

            It’s not as simple calorie in/calorie spent as the vast majority of thin people would like to believe.  You don’t have better will power, as a matter of fact, you have less.  You have a far easier time with your weight than an obese person does and they go through far greater deprivation and hunger than you ever had to deal with to lose weight.

            I  know you all want to feel superior and stuff, but hey.  Life is rough.  Roll with it.

          24. (Actually, I am mostly arguing this way since I weigh about 450 pounds myself, but don’t judge me)

          25. Some do not. THe ones who have endocrine disorders.

            But many do. Don’t hand me that victim crap. Having gained and lost close to a hundred pounds because I got motivated and disciplined myself to do what was necessary to lose the weight (and have kept it off for two years), that is a load of bull. A large (pardon the pun) protion of obese people are simply too darned lazy and unmotivated to do anything about it like changing their diet and getting some exercise. That is the fact of my experience.

          26. Congrats – only about 2 percent of all obese people are able to do this and as of now, that’s about 40 percent of the entire population of the United States.

            Now, can you think about what that probably means, or are you stupid?

          27.  dude, you’re the f***ing idiot. it is their f***ing faults for being fat asses. they need to learn the discipline to live a healthier life. it’s not like they got there eating healthy and exercising daily. they are damn lazy and apathetic about their consequences. also, you are f***ing stupid for saying that you’ll gain the weight right back. what the f**k kind of studies are you reading? obviously you need to learn how to read… or you need to throw away these false publications.

          28. Regardless of the terminology, the meaning is the same. The obese are a protected class, in the context in which this was initially noted. Being overweight marginalizes you in this culture, and makes it hard for you to support yourself. That is unquestionable. Still, the initial statement was about how airlines react to the obese. Given two people who each bought one seat, one of whom can’t be confined to the purchased space, the airline will avoid the more viral and emotionally charged PR by  putting pressure on the person who was able to fit in the seat he or she paid for. Why?  . . . because so many people are overweight that is is an emotionally charged issue. Look at how many comments the issue generated here, as an example.

        2. I’ve had a guy kicked off a flight because of his overwhelming B.O..
          All it took was a quiet word with a steward – but that was a Canadian airline.
          The weird part was that even though everyone around this fellow was gagging and complaining under their breath – I was the only one willing to say something.

      2. I’m a larger person, who has never needed two seats but i have to wonder what was going through this larger person’s mind to allow this. to let this other man lose his seat due to his large size. I would NEVER allow that to happen if i got so big that i needed two seats, i would never allow my issue to effect someone else. I think the way they treat overweight passengers in the past has been disgraceful, but there is a line and this far and beyond crosses it. 

        1. Not everyone knows the rules, knows what size the seats are or is sophisticated at all.  Very obese people rarely fly.  Seat sizes change, so does your backside.  And frankly, I have a hard time believing this dude’s story is exactly the way it was reported.  No fat person is going to tell a stranger how much he weighs.

          1. Actually, seat widths don’t change and haven’t changed since the start of jet travel (40+ years) by more than an inch or so. It really is the people varying (growing) in size rather than seats changing. Of course, buying a first class ticket would solve all of this.

      3. i don’t always agree with Raven, but in this case, i do. he did not say that overweight folks are legally a protected class. he said that they are quickly becoming one by the way they get special treatment.

        i am one of those agents who, by job definition, is required to approach the obese passengers and inquire about purchasing a 2nd seat. i am a young-looking (look at least a decade younger than i actually am) female on the thin side. i am the LAST person these folks want to be approached by. i’ve been called names and given such horrible attitudes all because i want to ensure the comfort (and of course, SAFETY) of the other passengers on the plane around them. they don’t want to buy a 2nd seat and yell “discrimination!” when i try. it’s gotten to the point where i don’t want the confrontation at all. i can’t be the only so-called PYT who feels this way. 
        so Raven is right, the average Joe is screwed.

    2. Mr Berkowitz needed to stand up for himself (no pun intended) and tell the fat passenger he needs to fit in his seat or he’s not sitting. I’ve done it before. I’m not a small guy, but I fit comfortably in an airline seat. I had the 350 pound guy try and raise the armrest to sit down and I put the kibosh on that quick. “I’m sorry you need to leave this down, we need to make sure we share this space” is exactly what I said to him. He was really annoyed but too freaking bad. 

  3. I’m not usually sympathetic to people whining about fat people being next to them, just as I’m not sympathetic to the people who think that children should never fly. I’ve written about this before:

    That said, this sounds like an extreme case where the other passenger’s comfort was compromised too much – and safety concerns should have prevailed and prevented the flight from taking off.

  4. This really needs to be dealt with BEFORE the airplane takes off – by waiting and asking for compensation later the damage has already been done and you aren’t going to get much.

    1. Agreed.  One thing the passenger could have done before takeoff (before leaving the gate, really), is refused to sit down.  Had the passenger been standing the flight attendants couldn’t possibly ignore the situation and allow the flight to take off.  The problem with this is that if you get too disruptive, they will try to have you arrested for disobeying the order of a flight crew, or something like this.  But if you can calmly escalate it to the Captain, which it sounds like wasn’t done here, they tend to be more reasonable than the flight attendants (especially on US Airways where the F/As are stereotypically old and cranky).

  5. Perhaps, given the potential hostility of aircrew towards passengers, this passenger might have feared being removed from the aircraft if he objected too much?  It sounds like he did not expect the ‘non-solution’ to his situation that he was imposed.  Revinue over safety & comfort?  Why am I not surprised?

    1. With the crop of aircrew these days, they would have had him arrested, saying he “interfered” with the operation of the aircraft.   That’s what happens when you complain about them one too many times.

  6. It’s US Airways.  Is ANYONE surprised by this?  They would be my very LAST choice of an airline. I would have taken video of the takeoff and landing and sent it to CNN, and then the FAA.  That way the airline can’t deny it happened.  Hopefully, the airline would get a huge fine.

    1. This can and does happen on any other airline just as easily – Southwest is also notoriously bad with this despite their policies for dealing with large customers.

          1. it say he was “forced”. that means they made the decision for him. no airline will FORCE a passenger to stand the whole way. it was his choice to continue the trip.
            and NO, Southwest is not “notoriously bad” with this. they are always in the news precisely for enforcing their 2-seat rules.

            while i am concerned about the hyperbole being used and details exaggerated, i definitely think USAirways did NOT do right by this guy.

  7. My understanding is that when you purchase an airline ticket, you are purchasing rights to a whole seat.  As the passenger next to him, took up part of his seat, Arthur Berkowitz did not get what he paid for so to speak and should get a refund of his ticket. 

      Nowhere does US Airways Contract of Carriage guarantee a full seat to any passenger. In fact there is a section stating they make no guarantee about the amount of room or space a seat will provide.
      I did find this in US Air’s Contract of Carriage:
      US Airways may refuse to transport, or remove from any flight, any passenger for the following reasons:
      6. Any passenger who may pose a threat to the comfort and/or safety of other passengers or employees including (but not limited to) passengers who:
      – Are unable or unwilling to sit in a seat with the armrest down and the seat belt fastened;
      So they really should have removed the passenger who didn’t fit, but by their own rules, they could have removed the OP as well.  I really feel like the OP is due a full refund and an apology and US airways is due a fine.

  8. IMO when this guy started approaching, the armrest would go down and stay down.  Who pulled it up?  That’s when the trouble started.  And what about the pax on the other side?

  9. I had a situation where a large man approached my aisle to take the window seat next to me.  His first move was to lift the armrest, but I told him that if he couldn’t buckle in without it down, we would call the flight attendant and ask for one of us to be reseated.  That escalated into a woman across the aisle berating me for picking on him.  She ended up switching seats with him, and he then took over half of my sister’s seat (she is more accommodating than me.)

    This shouldn’t have happened at all–the flight attendant or gate agent should have checked before putting me in the bad guy position.  I tried to be polite, but there really is no nice way to have that conversation.

    1. Damn right. You have to cope with overspill, despite the eww factor; that’s a reflection on people’s sizes these days; but if the dude can’t get in the seat with the armrest down, then the plane isn’t safe to take off.

    2. Your sister should have switched with him instead, then the both of you could have been comfortable and the bleeding heart could have suffered since she seemed willing to. Wonder how well that would have gone over. That or you and the bleeding heart could have switched.   Same result, then on who would have got stuck with the invasion of space.

  10. If the airlines can’t be trusted to monitor their own safety procedures, they’re opening the door to more government regulation. Think things are bad now? Wait until every flight requires a TSA employee to walk the aisles to make sure everyone is buckled properly before take-off! 

    Airlines – get your ducks in a row!

  11. The crew should’ve removed the oversized PAX when it was obvious s/he was causing a safety issue.

    End of story.

    USCrapways deserves to refund this man’s plane ticket. Standing up for 7 hours including during taxi and takeoff is ridiculous. 

  12. In Chris’ post he inserted a small, almost unnoticeable comment, “If its true”.

    Suggesting Chris might be concerned that the OP might be engaging in hyperbole. Chris has a right to be concerned

     A little math, a little guesswork.  A coach seat is rarely less than 17 inches,plus another inch for the armrest.  To spill halfway into the OPs seat means that the passenger is taking up at 27 inches.  A passenger that size would be ginormous, far beyond 400lbs.  Given even the largest person seems to be able to fit into a first class seat of 20-21 inches

    A little more guesswork.  His waist would be 81 inches

    ALso, the OP claimed he couldn’t sit down.  What did he do when the plane was taking off  Also I don’t understand why he couldnt use his seatbelts.

    1. Couple of small points about your math:
      I went to High School with a guy that weighed 300lbs.  He was about 5-4 with a 52 inch waist.  I can tell you that there is no way this guy would’ve fit into a Coach Seat.
      You also need to remember that Waist Size does not equal Butt Size.  I personally, as a big guy screwed by the genetics of both my parents, have to size up my pants to account for the “junk in my trunk”.  But “Husky Pants” tend to allow for more back with a smaller waist.
      Also, Muscle weighs more then Fat.  The people that this article refers too tend to be on the “Fatter Side” of things.  That leads to more Body volume then a person of equal weight with more muscle mass.
      Lastly, you have to consider the fact that when you sit down, all the flab in your butt spreads out, hence the roll-over effect.  So while your measurements may be true of a person standing, you have to ajust for the spread when they sit down.  The large the person, the larger the spread…
      There are a few people in the building I work in that I’m sure are pushing 350-400lbs, and I’m equally as sure that if they flew coach, they would need a second seat because they would take up over half of the second seat. 

      The biggest problem with the airline rules is there is no Non-Embarrassing way of enforcing this rule.  There are no mock-up airline seats for the gate agents to have passengers sit in to see if they’ll fit ahead of time.  So now you are asking a gate agent to potentially offend and profile a passenger who may otherwise fit into a seat…So instead, the gate agents pass the buck along to the flight crew, where the passenger has to physically sit in the seat.  If the flight crew is doing their job, then the passenger is ask to leave the plane.  Or if the passenger is aware of him or herself, they would buy 2 tickets ahead of time and save everyone the hassle…

      1. Muscle doesn’t weigh more than fat… they both weigh the same (A pound of anything is still a pound). Muscle is denser than fat yes so the volume of muscle is smaller than the volume of fat. So you could have a guy who is 6′ and weighs 225 and have a 32 inch waist next to another guy who is 6’ weighing 225 and have a 42 inch waist.

        1. by your rationale, everything weighs the same amount. Does one cubic cm of muscle weigh more than one cubic cm of fat? Of course it does. You heard something once, adopted it as your own, and show yourself to be a moron every time you use it trying to be smart. America has become so fat and stupid.

          1. “Muscle doesn’t weigh more than fat…” . . . “Muscle is denser than fat yes so the volume of muscle is smaller than the volume of fat.” QED. Shaun, Justintime: STFO.

    2. I’m 250 pounds, however, sitting in a standard airline seat is an extremely tight fit.  The individual might not covered an entire half, but I could see that individual as having covered a fair portion of the seat preventing him from sitting.

      1. I am 290 pounds and fit in a Jet Blue seat with the arm rest down, I feel that the airlines may be making the seat width smaller to get more seats per plane.

        1. Seat width depends on the airplane, not airline. With a few exceptions (such as 10-abreast 777s on Air France or Emirates), seat widths have been constant within an inch or so for the past 30+ years.
          Passengers are getting wider rather than seats getting narrower.

        2. No, seats are not gettig narrower.  If they were, we would see 7 seats wide on aircraft such as the 737 and they are still 6 wide.

          What is getting smaller is the legroom.

          Airlines are reducing the legroom in order to get more rows of seats on the plane.  CO even has seats that are 1 or 2 inches closer together than the absolute minimum allowed by the manufactuer. 

          On planes with more legroom, the seat is more comfortable and may feel wider simply because you have somewhere to stretch out. 

    3. Im in the 400+ club and I -can- and do fit, with belt on and armrests down. My problem is leg-room since I am tall.   Body types vary.

  13. I thought the poster’s story was a little fishy too. When he said it was about safety, not money, I thought it was really just about money. The safety angle is only a way to push his imagined compensation beyond a full refund. If he were really concerned about his safety, he would have gotten off the plane.

    Every flight these days some overweight people. More than half of Americans are overweight and many more are just tall and big so your chances of having skin to skin contact with another human, not your spouse, is good.

    But most flights also include babes, rambunctios kids, frail elderly, type-A business people, weirdos, and cranky-pants whiners etc. If you don’t want to fly with us Americans, get your own plane.

    1. I think you’re totally missing the point. If seats were three feet wide, there’d be no issue here. They’re not, though. We all have to work within the parameters the airlines give us. Small seats mean that large people take up more than one seat. Mr. Berkowitz paid for a seat. He didn’t get to use it, through no fault of his own. He’s entitled to compensations. AS far as the basis for his complaint; have you ever  heard of a lawsuit wherein the plaintiff states that he’s suing because he wants money?

      1. Good post. We always need to remind people that passengers (like Mr. Berkowitz) paid good money and they did NOT get what they paid for. So they should get their money back. It really should be that simple.

    2. Why should the OP be the one to get off the plane? He didn’t create the problem. Also I didn’t see any thing in hism post to suggest that he wanted anything more than a full refund. In fact, hre was even willing to accept a voucher, which is usually useless. And what’s with the “fly with us Americans” line? Does nationality or trace have anything to do with this issue?

    3. This is exactly correct.  If it were a safety issue report them to the FTA or whichever agency monitors safety issues.

      If it truly were a safety issue, the passenger should have exited the plane and confronted the airline.  This was an inconvenience at best, and the passenger should be content with the voucher.

      1. Per the article, the OP did report the the issue to the authorities.  And as Joelw says above, why should the OP be the one to exit the plane?  What if he couldn’t get on another flight to his destination for several hours or the next day?  He wasn’t causing the problem.  Having to stand for 7 hours seems a little more than “an inconvenience at best”.  It really seems to be a violation of saftey regulations, and the OP should not have been the one inconvienenced by the airline’s refusal to take those regulations seriously. 

  14. I wonder where the complaint is of the person who had to sit on the other side of this big man. Did he or she have to stand too?

    1. Plus once Mr. Berkowitz spent most of the flight standing, the pax on the other side of the big guy had their seat to themselves. The big guy had his seat and Mr. B’s seat so they were probably perfectly fine.

    2. He may have been seated towards the aisle rather than the window, leaving just enough space on that side.  I know, I’ve been stuck in that same situation, and if I didn’t lean into the aisle and walk around a lot, I would NEVER have been able to sit the entire time.

  15. Sorry I may be a jerk for saying this but no one is raising the arm rest between me and them unless they happen to share my last name. If you can’t fit in the seat you bought, you need to purchase another and shame on the person who sat next to him. You know you won’t fit so purchase a second seat.

    Your waist size is not my problem.

    1. And that is the bottom line – the arm rest stays down. And the US Airway stooge who offered $200 needs to stand next to his desk for 7 hours for a quarter of his day’s pay.  Nitwit.

    2. Two issues..  The 290lbs person who fits in JEtblue just fine might be surprised when flying SW.

      2.  Booking two tickets is amazingly difficult.  The often cannot be purchased online, requiring a phone call resulting in additional time and money, and the computer may still cancel both tickets as a duplicate.

      1. 1. Took me two google searches and 1min to find a chart of seat widths and compare it to the aircraft assigned to US 901 (757 seat width 17.1″). which compares to LUV. Why couldn’t the obese passenger do the same thing (accept his would take half the time since he knows the aircraft type from US air. I had to go find it)?

        2. How does this effect the OP? Sorry the obese guy  knew, or should have known, he was too fat to fly in a single seat. He needs to call the airline and make the appropriate arrangements.

      2. Booking two seats together is not amazing difficult. I should know as I used to routinely do it when I was heavier than I am now. (On-Line) Granted, you need to do this in advance so you can select the seats together so if it is a last minute flight, you need to call.

        And when I booked two seats for myself you wouldn’t believe the number of people that wanted to sit in my second seat just so they could talk to their friend. Screw that, I bought that second seat so I wouldn’t impinge on anyone’s space and so that I would be comfortable. If you want to sit there, reimburse me for my ticket.

        1. Carver, here are the 2 simple steps:
          (1) Enter you name twice, but the second time enter EXST as your given name.
          (2) Enter a SSR message EXST with the explanation OVERSIZE.
          Note: this is very much like requesting a wheelchair (WHCR code).

          Since there are 2 passengers, then you can get adjoining seats for them. Note the SSR message will alert the airline agent to make sure the seats are always beside each other.

          That’s it. It’s that simple.

          1. So Sorry Ann, the message was intended for Carver.
            BTW Carver, if you cannot enter the SSR request online, just book as I said in step one. Then call the airline and tell them to add the SSR message. That’s a free call.

          2. just an FYI, Roomie says SWA is different for booking (i think it’s XS as middle name), but to call in and they’ll do it right, or they’ll change your online booking for you so that it’s right.

      3. Ask to speak to the airline’s medical desk – they can not only ensure the proper seatbelt, but will ensure that the 2nd seat is blanked out for you, and the record is notated correctly.  🙂

      4. No, it is NOT amazingly difficult.

        1.  The airline generally waives the ticketing fee if you have to call in for special ticketing accomodations like this.

        2.  You can purchase the seat online.  The proper way to do it is to book for two passengers, using your last name and EXTRA SEAT or EXST in the first name box.  The system will not tag this as a duplicate.

        Now, calling in might save you a little money – it would have saved me $20 in PFC charges for my most recent ticket.  I didn’t bother.

      5. it’s really not that hard. and i didn’t realize that calling in takes more money than online when trying to get the 2nd seat booked. and SWA’s computer does NOT cancel dupe reservations (roomie worked for SWA for over a decade). especially if it’s booked as an extra seat, no employee will cancel it, either.

  16. Usually someone who weight 400 lbs sweat a lot and stink. I speculate that the reason he remain stand. I have lot of sympathy for him but he should got off the plane for the next flights.
    By the way I never even dream of flying US Air. I hear more complaints  about US Air than others Airlines combined, and, like John Baker said, nobody raising the arm rest between me and them.

      1. Because you weigh 400 lbs yourself? No wonder, since he and many other sensible people would get off.
        It is perfectly reasonable for you to leave if you aren’t comfortable or safe.

        1. No, because insulting someone by calling them sweaty and stinky based on their physical appearance is not the type of discourse that well-mannered, respectful people engage in. Unlike yourself as an example.

    1. Personal hygiene has nothing to do with size. If the person doesn’t shower they are going to stink whether they weight 100lbs or 400lbs. Apparently you’re a bad driver, good at math and eat cats too.

  17. US Airways did not provide the OP with a full seat.  They failed in enforcing federally-mandated safety procedures.  Their own employees are on record as stating that a mistake was made.  While he should have filmed this for media evidence, 1)- Contact the FAA and make a formal complaint; 2)- Send notice to their General Counsel (not the bureaucratic mandarins in Customer Relations) of intent to take them to Small Claims Court.  Since no airline ever shows up in SCC because it requires an employee, and not a lawyer, to attend (i.e. who are they going to send, the PHL Station Manager?), this will be quickly settled out of court….or….verdict to the plaintiff by default.  They didn’t provide him with a full seat….full refund will be the verdict by the judge.  

  18. When I sit with family we like the arm bar up.  But when I have sat next to someone I don’t know….I’ve had people sit down next to me and immediately put up two arm bars, claiming rites to do as they liked with them both.  I have always then put the bar between me and the other person down.  I have been reprimanded for doing that but have been able to say, no that’s my arm bar because it has my seat back control in it.  (I have not had the experience of being at the other end of the row, where ‘you just lifted up MY seat back control’ would not apply). 

    I have told people to get up off my seat belt.  I have called a flight attendant to get someone off my seatbelt.

    I don’t understand Arthur and the usually vigilant flight attendant allowing an obese person to remain planted on someone else’s safety device. 

    I have also found that if one sitting next to someone encroaching on a second, perhaps a third, seat puts one’s seat back the person encroaching realizes his elbow is now on his neighbor’s stomach and perhaps other body parts more controversial than touching someone’s upper arm.  He usually then pulls back his arm into his own territory.  If not, a quick exclamation and a “get your hand off my ..” generally works. 

    You have to be careful though.  The additionally frustrating thing about flying is if you say something too loudly you, the victim, could get kicked off.

  19. There is a lot of blame to pass around on this one. The gate attendant for allowing the obese passenger to board with a single seat. The flight attendant for not properly addressing the issue. The passenger for not forcing the flight attendants to address the issue at the gate. And finally the current state of air travel causing passengers to fear being arrested if they insist the issue is properly addressed.

    Bottom line is US Airways owes a 100% refund plus a little extra.

      1. It is the airlines responsibility to say the obese person needs to purchase two seats. That is why I included the gate attendant that did not take care of that in the first place. Is it inconsiderate of the obese person to think it is acceptable for them to spread out over multiple seats? Yes. Blame? No.

        1. It is a truly clueless individual who, with a 60+-inch waist size doesn’t consider that he/she will need more than one airline seat. After all, this person probably deals with this situation daily – movie theatre seating, bus seating, heck, just finding a comfortable chair anywhere – and should, therefore, be used to having to consider how his/her size affects others, assuming he/she gives a rat’s butt about others. So, yes, the obese person in this situation does indeed share the responsibility.  What’s the thought process here? “I know I’m going to spill over my seat into my neighbor’s lap, but, so what? I’m entitled to my “extra” space, the heck with anyone else.” I can’t believe that that’s the case all of the time. Mostly, I bet, it’s just an unwillingness to confront the issue until it’s right in front of you. After all, I would be willing to bet that the majority of folks in Mr. Berkowitz’s shoes would just suck it up and suffer.

          1. You right in what you write. But there are people that only care about themselves. There are people that know they need two seats but do not care and think it is an airline issue. Or they did not care because they had to get home right now even if there was only one seat available. I would hope those people are in the small minority, but people like that are out there. Plus I see that same attitude in other areas of life.

          2. Also remember my bottom line is US Airways owes a 100% refund plus they should give a bit more (as an apology for the poor way they handled the situation).

    1. This times 100. I don’t care if the guy is looking for money.  US doesn’t appear to think this matter is serious.  Well, DOT takes safety issues very seriously. When the airline refuses to handle this type of matter appropriately, a DOT complaint is necessary.

  20. Given I have serious health issues that caused my weight to skyrocket over two years, I empathize with the overweight passenger and his/her embarrassment.  However, the passenger who comfortably (?) fits in their seat was treated shabbily in the interest of being politically correct.

    I realize we are all supposed to pretend a negative situation doesn’t exist when it involves the disability of another in order to prevent them discomfort.  However, sometimes a you have to call it like you see it.  The ticketing agent should have caught this and had them buy a second seat.  For the airline to acknowledge their mistake and then offer a token amount equal to roughly 1/4 of the value lost is a slap in the face to the OP.

    1. Well said Nancy. I am in a similar position. Along with that weight gain came facial hair.  Highly embarrassing.   Since I am also agoraphobic, flying is and always has been a harrowing experience for me. 

      Even before my weight gain I would purchase the whole row of seats in order to have added leg room when in flight. I usually will put my legs up on the seats, sit sideways or seat swap to change positions throughout a flight because of chronic back pain.   I never am willing to give any of them up without a full refund of the seat.  This is both for my comfort and peace of mind.  The bonus is, since I have multiple tickets I always ask that I be allowed the carry on allotment for each seat I have purchased.  Generally I get it. I travel light, but I also never have to check a bag.  Which to me is an added bonus since it lessens the time I have to be around people in strange open places and lowers my risk of having a full blown panic attack rather than being just highly strung out with general anxiety. 

  21. I have flown US Air twice (internationally) in the past 3 months and I hope to find alternate air service in the future. I had a complaint (not as serious as Mr. Berkowitz’s) and I received a voucher, which is not what I requested. I then emailed the VP of customer relations and that email was bounced back to the people with whom I first spoke.  I hope that Mr. Berkowitz pursues this issue with the FAA. Maybe US Air will respond to a “higher authority”.

  22. “After he returned, he wrote a brief, polite email to the airline…”

    I’m wondering whether the OP got shafted to the degree that he has, because he’s too polite?  The squeaky wheel gets the grease, you know?  I’m not suggesting that he should have got into a shouting match with the grinches–er, I mean flight attendants on US Air, because they would have inevitably decided that their own “personal safety was at risk” and had the OP tossed off the plane or some such thing!  But rather, if he had firmly, FIRMLY kept insisting that this had to be resolved before the plane took off, I wonder whether the captain eventually would’ve come out and addressed the situation on-the-spot?  (I’m not criticizing, just observing.  It’s easy to be a Monday-morning quarterback on this one.)

    It’s almost incredible that US Air won’t budge, except that it’s US Air so it’s credible.  Can you imagine if there had been horrific turbulence and the standing OP had been injured?!  Are they really begging to be fined for safety reasons over this?  Or are they thinking that the OP is too nice to push it that far? 

    “Nice” should never have to morph into “nasty.”  But courtesy should NOT be interpreted as weakness.  Just keep smiling nicely at them, OP, and as another poster here noted, take this right to the DOT–please don’t let it go!   

    1. I don’t know if it was being too nice or being too polite but he should have stood up (literally) for his rights before the flight left he gate. 

      For the future if this happens to someone, if the flight attendants can’t or won’t help, then you stay standing (do NOT sit down in the seat because they can’t close the door with you still standing) and demand to see the gate agent.  You tell the gate agent they either reseat the individual or remove that individual from the plane if reseating is not an option. If they won’t do either then you tell them that you want your Involuntarily Denied Boarding (IDB) compensation in cash because you are being denied your seat. Of course then you have to be willing to take a later flight but if it is that big of a problem, then a later flight should be worth it.  In all of this though, be careful to use calm, polite language so that they can’t come back and say that you were threatening them.

  23. Same thing happened to me on a flight from Anchorage to MSP – just over five hour flight – flight attendants offered nothing but sympathy but Delta gave me a voucher equal to the value of that leg of my flight – a fair compensation, in my mind, though I agree with your poster that the “larger” safety issues still weren’t addressed….

    what is is with Anchorage and oversized flyers anyway?

  24. US Airways has really gone down hill.  I use to fly them as my main airline, but ceased that several years ago.  Now, it is so sad that a human being would allow himself to become so large but safety should not be compromised for another person due to this situation.  Refund the money, yes, I say, refund the entire amount of the ticket!

  25. Yes, the FAA should be brought in. The airline violated flight regs and deserves a substantial fine. Maybe that will get the airline’s attention.

  26. OK, wait a minute here.

    If the OP had the window seat and abandoned it when Mr/Ms Big showed up, where did he sit during takeoff and landing?

    Or, if the OP had the aisle seat and abandoned it after takeoff, has anyone heard from the poor person who had the window seat?

    Snarky, I know. But I have to agree with those who lay claim to the seat they bought – all of it.  Just because the airlines won’t/can’t make seats big enough to fit super-sizers doesn’t mean that other passengers should be made to bear the burden.  That issue is between the airline and the oversized person.

  27. Lets face it there are several problems here.  Americans are overweight and the food industry isn’t helping with “supersize” this and that.   I am a slim woman and have no problem fitting in an airline seat, but can’t count the number of times my personal space has been invaded.  Additionally, the seats are TOO small in coach.  Even those that fit with armrests down have shoulders that push me aside.  Not everyone is bold enough to point out a stranger’s obesity and instead suffer through it.  The safety issue of the seat belt is way over the top and the flight attendant was neglectful not to address it.  A letter to the DOT is in order, maybe a fine will make things clearer for USAir.  As for the compensation, USAir should have just given the OP what he asked for.  After all, it is only fair IMHO.

  28. Also, there’s no requirement that one HAS to raise the armrest, is there? I would have refused to do so and let the people responsible (airline staff and other passenger) solve THEIR problem.

    1. as a nurse I can tell you that characterization is very much true for at least 50-75%  of the morbidly obese population.   

      PS-No need to bash-I’m far from skinny.

      1. As a nurse you probably are in contact with fat people who are sick and who may smell bad for many reasons.  As a friend to many fat people, I know only one who smells bad, and I’m guessing his sense of smell may not work correctly.

    2. I know several people who are on the larger side, and it sometimes is true.
      Larger people do tend to sweat more, but personal hygiene varies, which is what matters.

  29. This is an obvious no brainer…   look at the “No” votes which speaks for volumes!!!  US Airways should have known better without any qualms or fanfare!!!

  30. If anybody had to stand it should have been the obese passenger…or they
    could have taken turns, 1 stand each hour-this is totally ridiculous.  The
    flight crew must have all been brand new, they needed help in handling
    this.  Or the attendants could have alternated w/him.
    It’s a crazy situation of nobody thinking.

  31. I’ve often wondered about the safety issues around large passengers.  If I’m in a window seat, and a 400 pound person sits in the middle seat, needs a seat belt extender, and has to put the arm rests up to be able to fit – what happens in the event of an emergency?  I am effectively trapped in my seat, unable to escape.  Doesn’t this seem like a problem??

  32. US Airways is generally the most direct way for me to travel (I’m from Philadelphia).  But I will NEVER use this airline.  I fly more than 100 thousand miles a year, and learned my lesson a long time ago.  US Airways reputation for poor service is well-deserved

  33. As an attorney, I think the airline is *at least* obligated to refund the full fee because they compromised the passenger’s safety.  Moreover, they were negligent, because they have many years to develop a proper plan to deal with extra large passengers.  They need to retrofit the planes for seats to accommodate these passengers, just as other businesses have retrofitted to accommodate wheelchairs.  Yes, it costs money.  Too bad.

  34. I also think it’s an issue of ‘passing the buck’…the gate agents in ANC didn’t want to be responsible for getting this guy home if they didn’t allow him on the flight; there weren’t two seats available; and, that’s the only flight between ANC-PHL, so they’d have to reroute him (meaning more work for them) and most likely have to pay him for getting him home late.  Get him on the plane so it becomes someone else’s problem.

  35. more “fat” to the fire (the fodder for bad jokes seems almost endless) – the woman next to me put the arm rest down, but her butt spilled over into about half my seat.  I was in the middle seat – she was in the window.  I was lucky enough to be sitting by my husband who raised his armrest and let me share his seat…

    the woman in front of me also fully reclined, even after i politely asked her not to do so – if i was a claustrophobic person i would have come unglued….it was bad and there wasn’t enough bloody marys anywhere in the world to make it better….

    1. with the ones that lean all the way back I lean in and intently read over their shoulder in an effort to make them expressly uncomfortable. if they complain, I say ‘sorry,  I couldnt help but do it with you in my lap and all’  My husband on the other hand will tell the excessively reclined of either gender that they are giving him an erection.   

  36. Hmm… I don’t hear any senator or congressperson coming to the aid of this man. Where’s the outrage? Why is it okay for someone to stand for 7 hours during a flight and NOT OK to get stuck on a tarmac for 3 hours?

    Why can’t the FAA simply make a safety rule (or DOT expand 14 CFR Part 382) – if you cannot sit completely inside your chair with the armrests down, then you are a passenger with reduce mobility and the airline must make every effort to accommodate you accordingly; including the purchase and blocking of the seat beside you for 50% of the fare you paid.

  37. Everyone passed the buck and Mr. Berkowitz was the one left holding the bag.  The gate agent wasn’t about to tell the overwight passenger he needed to buy two tickets.  It would have been embarassing and uncomfortable for the gate agent and the passenger who may have then caused a scene in the airport.  So they let him on the plane.

    The flight attendant knew of the issue but again chose to avoid it because they didn’t want to have an embarassing and uncomfortable converstation which could have resulted in a scene on the plane. 

    So that left Mr. Berkowitz holding the bag.  He could have caused a scene himself and risked being arrested which is never a good option.  Is US Airways getting bad publicity from this?  On this blog yes, but in the greater world?  No.  They could have gotten a lot more bad publicity had they denied the overweight guy and he caused a scene.  Discrimination based on size, that would have gotten in the paper and on the news sites on a slow day. 
    The airlines went the route of least bad publicity and unfortunately that means Mr. Berkowitz got screwed.  It’s not right at all. 

    1. Least bad publicity would have been to give him a full refund or voucher and said, “we’re sorry, we were wrong”.  Coincidentally, that would have been the right thing to do too.

  38. Caitlin has NO IDEA of how uncomfortable it is with someone else’s head  in your lap.  My husband (he’s 6’3″) and I flew from Paris to Washington Dulles on Air France a few years ago.  The man in front of him leaned his seat all the way back, wouldn’t raise it even a little bit.  The flight attendant had to ask him to raise it so my husband could eat.  He will never fly Air France again, and anyone who reclines their seat all the way is a jerk!

    1. And, I don’t understand why they don’t make this announcement  – “Hello folks, in just a few minutes, we will begin serving your meals. Kindly return to your seat and place your seat in its upright position so that the person behind you can safely unfold their tray and eat. Thank you.”

    2. One thing to do is to wet your fingers just a little and sneeze and sprinkle water on their face.  Don’t even apologize, as they didn’t for being in your lap.  Also cross your legs and get up to use the bathroom and move to look in your floor bag…creates a lot of bumpy movement.

      1. For women, rest your arms on the top of their seat, and pick and peal nail polish and sprinkle the bits on their shoulder. When and if they say something apologize about it being a nervous habit when you feel crowded, stop for alittle while then start up again like you are doing it unconciously.  Repeat until they get fed up and sit up or you run out of peelable paint.

    3. reclining fully, and then ignoring requests to adjust it for the comfort of the person behind you is rude, and to me it is an open invitation for the person behind the reclined to be as much of a smartarse as they want.  Keep it within using the space the other has commandeered and it adds to the fun.  Vicious, but effective. The recliner has the option to sit up after all.  

    4. why won’t he ever fly Air France again? sounds like it was a customer issue, not an airline problem. and the airline employee even tried to help your husband. what am i missing? why is Air France getting his blame?

  39. I thought that might have been enough compensation, since they did get him to his destination even if it wasn’t exactly the way he wanted it to turn out.

    I have one experience with a morbidly obese passenger, although I was the one who got on the plane at the last minute.  It was at the back end of a 767 where it tapers down to only two seats at each window instead of three.  As soon as I saw my newly assigned seat, he looked at me and then said that it probably wasn’t going to work out for either of us and it was a no-brainer for me to look to sit elsewhere.  The flight was almost full, but almost was good enough for me to find another seat.

    He was pretty apologetic about it too.  When I couldn’t find my ride home at the baggage claim, he even offered to give me a ride home.  I declined since I wasn’t going to leave someone just looking for me for hours.  This was also at a time when cell phones were expensive and most people didn’t have them.

  40. This is totally unacceptable!!
    The plane should never have taken off!!
    FAT people should pay and that is that. The rest of us should not have to give up our seats or be uncomfortable because they want to be FAT and can not control their eating. 
    Bad PR for the airlines!

    1. I look forward to hearing you spout that nonsense when your hairline is making a break for the back of your neck and your waistline is expanding while you diet and exercise to no avail.  That is a special sort of hell for anyone as weight-phobic as you appear. Karma is a stern mistress.

  41. I would complain or threaten to contact the FAA as they may penalize USAir much more than the cost of his ticket if they find out about it!  A small claims suit may be in order too!

  42. Can a person leave an armrest down?  I would not have raised it when the person tried to sit and left it up to the flight attendant to get him into the seat.  I would feel harrassed if someone’s body parts were overflowing onto me.  I would have taken a  phone photo to show the problem and because of my injuries from serving our country as a firefighter, I can not stand for long periods of time.  What if he could not have stood that long?  The airlines owe him more than full refund but fore safety it needs to be investegated.

    1. I am not replying directly to you, Lindale, but I can’t use the post box above.

      This situation is RIDICULOUS.  Speaking as an obese American, I understand how much it sucks to buy two airplane seats.  However, I do it when I fly.  I do it because flying is uncomfortable, at best, for slender people.  For the overweight, it’s at times unbearable.  Invading the space of a person next to me is not acceptable – they don’t deserve that.  I am and have always been very conscious of that.  So when I travel, I buy two seats because it’s the right thing to do for myself, and those traveling around me.  I’m making significant changes in my life so that by next year, this won’t be an issue for me anymore.  I know that it is an uncomfortable subject for airline reps, gate agents, and flight attendants.  However, it needs to be broached sensitively and privately with the passenger who has 1 seat and obviously needs 2.  This is a rare case where I voted NO on this poll.  Chris, I’d very much like to see you advocate with fervor for this man who had to stand for the duration of his flight.  He deserves a full refund and a lengthy apology.  US air needs to take accountability.

  43. Sounds like airlines, in addition to those “bag boxes” that checks if your bag fits the measurements, should also place an airline seat next to it by the check-in counters to test if a passenger can safely fit into a single seat..

    1. i know we’ve been asking for that for years. all the head honchos say flat-out NO. maybe if passengers started writing in letters requesting “sizing seats”, they’d listen more.

  44. Well, at 250 pounds, I’m one of the ‘big’ guys who flies and ENJOYS USAirways. I just passed 150 flights for this year and will hit 170 before the year is over. However, I fit fine in my seat and don’t need an extender, nor do I put the arm up. On CRJs and other puddle jumpers, I do, however, pop up the armrest that is against the window to gain a couple of inches. This is for my and my seat companion’s comfort.
    Yes, US screwed up by allowing the larger pax to board. It sounds as though the GA may have been holding back on letting the guy on in hopes that there would be a no-show to allow for a two-seater. After all, how does the airline know your size when you book? Perhaps we need seat templates in the gate area like they have for luggage sizing.
    I agree with the statement that the offended pax should have just stood prior to backing out of the gate to force the issue, but sometimes circumstances dictate that you HAVE to take a particular flight.
    As for having the bigger pax stand for the flight? Well, he probably would have been more of an interference to the operation of the flight. Also, the possibility of injury during such an extended stand probably would have resulted in a lawsuit.

  45. This is exactly why choose to fly …..cry …..cry ….cry. This is as bad as the TSA horror stories, long tarmak delays, and horrible car rental bills put together. I believe that USair should be cited and would go to the DOT and initiate a full scale investigation. As the boarding crew was aware of the situation, they too should be dissaplined. This was definitely a case that a 2 seat purchase was required and they did not have the extra seat, so they let thte crew get stuck with the mess. I also am under the impression that a flight may not take off or land unless each person is in a seatbelt, so now the crew may be cited as well. DOT …DOT…..DOT

  46. I hope he complained to the FAA, and in very strong terms about the safety issues.

    It is clear that this was a known issue before the door was closed.  Even if USAirways “…fully acknowledged the mistake by their gate agent…” this was a known issue that could have and should have been corrected as soon at the situation was recognized.

    If the FAA is going to get all up tight about weather related delays on the tarmac, this should prompt far more hefty penalties and compensation to the passenger if they allow it to happen.  In sports, this is called an ‘unforced error.’

  47. I have an ex-football player build. While I do not spill over into the next seat, I do take up the full amount of a coach seat.

    I work for an airline. I fly standby, hanging around the gate…seeing if a seat opens up so I can get to work…or home. Just as Berkowitz described…you are grateful for that empty middle seat…until you see me heading for it. (Of course I could be of smaller stature and you would STILL not be happy about losing the middle seat at the last minute.)

    I have been cursed at, had people mutter insults at me under their breath, mocked for “being late” to board and had people roll their eyes at me as I board. I have even had someone ask the flight attendant why someone who flys “for free” gets to take “their” middle seat. (Her answer…”I’m sorry, we weren’t informed you purchased an extra seat…did you?”…of course he didn’t.) I once saw a guy text “Ughh…fat guy next to me.” before takeoff. I don’t smell , as Asiansm Dan would assume. What difference does it make who is next to you? (Again, I don’t spill over to the next seat.)

    While if the allegation that the “middle seat guy” truly needed two seats is true, the gate agents should not have boarded him. I am pointing out that I sense a bit of frustration from Berkowitz that the middle seat did not go empty, regardless of who sat there.

    1. Come to think of it, it did seem like the USAir agents boarded the OVERSIZED gentleman LAST. This makes me think they were looking for an extra seat for him and could not find one. 

      I would like to repeat, the only way to deal with this issue humanely is to recognize the problem and to accept (for airline travel) that extreme obesity is a disability of some sort. If one can take a service dog on board or a cello as cabin baggage occupying an extra seat, then why can’t we have a clearer policy for people needing an extra seat? 

      1. Even a wheelchair bound passenger has to check in the wheelchair, accept an airport wheelchair for transpotation to the gate, and sit in an assigned seat.  It’s a little bit difficult for a morbidly obese person to check in the extra pounds.

    2. And honestly, the worst part sometimes is not butt space but shoulder space. A colleague of mine is built like you—an ex-football player and an ex-rugger next to each other is “rubbing shoulders” quite the wrong way.

      1. Ah….but then you have TWO people of above average shoulder size. If I’m in the middle between two people of average size it is really not an issue for any of us. But you’re right, my shoulders are the widest part of me when seated. While I don’t really spread over to the other seat, if someone of my build is next to me we may rub shoulders for the flight.

        At least we don’t smell, as Asian Dan suggests!

  48. This is definitely a safety issue. A complaint should be sent to FAA, NTSB, and any other appropriate agency.   Also, he should have insisted that the arm rest was lowered.

  49. As an Alaskan I feel truly awful for Berkowitz.  I NEVER, EVER fly US Airways for this – and many other reasons.  They are – in my mind – the worst when it comes to consideration of passenger safety in flight (among US airlines) and they are the only airlines where I’ve actually heard the pilot swear when giving his announcements to passengers.  A full refund of the ticket price is the least they can do for him and I would actually push for a fine against US Airways for a safety violation. 

  50. This is one of those horrible catch-22’s.  When the airlines require the passenger to buy 2 seats, he cries discrimination!  But what the gate agent SHOULD have done, was just declare the flight full, and flown him on the next available flight.  That would have eliminated the problem.  He should contact the FAA regarding this situation, as it was CLEARLY a safety issue, and the airlines is not even addressing that! 

    1. eliminated the problem? uh…no.  if the large man had a reservation and the gate agent declared the flight full, he would’ve been considered involuntarily denied boarding, and they would’ve had to give him CASH in addition to placing him on the next flight. so in your world, they should pay the large guy for failing to buy 2 seats???

  51. What irks me here is the voucher.  If I am complaining, I don’t want you to essentially hand me a coupon to force me to use your company again.  I want my money back.  Period.

  52. Strangely enough, I once stood of my  own free will on a flight from Tel Aviv to London.I had an aisle seat with a very large (though not 400-pound!) lady next to me. When I stood up to let her go to the lavatory, I realized that I might be in for a lot of ups-and-downs, so I kept standing. I got into conversation with a man who was also standing, he because of back trouble, and we had a very pleasant time chatting  while upright, although sitting down for lunch (this was some time ago!). But I  don’t think this was seven hours. 

  53. How about a polite letter to the FAA so they can fine USScare for illegal operation of an aircraft?  “It is an FAA requirement that all passengers are seated with their seatbelts on…yadda yadda yadda…”, right?

  54. Can you say?, AZ State’s Attorney Generals Office, Consumer Fraud Division. How about a DOT Complaint? Small Claims? No such thing as a “Final” Offer.

    I knew you could boys and girls! I would think our gentle customer could file a criminal complaint for Theft of Services since he was denied a seat he paid for. IMO, this customer needs to go balls to the wall on this one.

  55. Whether the obese have a handicap that must be accomodated by public carriers is an issue that I leave to lawyers and the airline regulators. If accomodation is called for, then the airlines can provide double-wide seating for these people. It is not the fare-paying passenger seated next to an obese traveler who should pay the price. US Airways tried to dodge the aggrieved passenger’s complaint. Frankly, I’d take them to small claims court and see what a judge has to say about the matter. Alternately (or additionally), I’d call my home town newspaper and tell them my story. A dose of bad publicity seems appropriate here. 

  56. The first comment by Bill is absolutely on the mark.  The aircraft should not have departed with such a situation.   How about the FAA looking into this and levying a fat, big fine on US Air for such a gross violation of the rules.   That is why we have rules, is it not?

  57. if a carry-on bag needs to adhere to predefined size requirements, your ass should also be required to adhere to predefined size requirements.

  58. USAIR  CONTRACT OF CARRIAGE PAGE 5REV 15 08−23−113.0 ACCEPTANCE OF CUSTOMERS3.1 REFUSAL TO TRANSPORTUS Airways may refuse to transport, or remove from any flight, any passenger for the following reasons:Are unable or unwilling to sit in a seat with the armrest down and the seat belt fastened;We are not liable for the refusal to transport any passenger or for the removal of any passenger inaccordance with the preceding paragraphs of this rule, but we will, at the request of the passenger,refund in accordance with Section 8.2 of this Contract of Carriage. As an express precondition to issuanceof any ticket or granting of passage hereunder, we shall not be responsible for compensatoryor punitive damages. The passenger’s sole and exclusive remedy shall be in accordance with Section8.2 of this Contract of Carriage.8.2 INVOLUNTARY (REFUNDS PROVIDED WHEN US AIRWAYS IS UNABLE TOACCOMMODATE THE CUSTOMER)In the event that US Airways is unable to provide a previously confirmed seat and is unable to reroutethe customer either over the routes of US Airways or another airline, US Airways will refund as indicatedbelow:If no portion of the ticket has been used, the refund will be the amount equal to that paid in fareand charges (for example, TSA Security fees and airport facility charges) minus any associatedticketing fees.and charges (for example, TSA Security fees and airport facility charges) minus any associatedticketing fees.

  59. fly Southwest and you won’t have these problems.  They make customer of sizes by and extra seat so regular people aren’t screwed.

      1. The US Air flight is seasonal
        Southwest doesn’t fly to Anchorage at all because it would cost too much and be too difficult to fit into their business plan.

  60. I had the same problem on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. NW gave me a $350 voucher and extra miles. I approached the flight attendant when I saw this huge man sitting on his and my seat, but they didn’t have any empty seats for me, as the flight was full. I stood most of the time, except for take off and landing. It was the most miserable flight of my life.

  61. US AIR…how can you spend a million on advertising and let a thing like this go viral on the web…and virtually negate the whole million…over a few dollars….Fire the office that handled this complaint or fire your advertising company…

  62. This is not limited to US Airways. I fly 60k+ miles a year and I’ve had my run-ins with American, United, Southwest and of course US Airways over the years.  In no case have ANY of them ever issued a full refund no matter how egregious the error.

  63. I used to weigh over 400 lb., but whenever I flew, I paid for two seats. I didn’t fly a lot, but it was just common sense at the time. I don’t see why it should be different for anyone who fits poorly into an airline seat. 

  64. I think Mr. Elliott concocted a fabulous viral scam here with this story. Too many sloppy details were overlooked or ignored. But congrats on the comment fights you will generate.

  65. Bunch of nitwits. Simple solution would be to give the two smaller people the middle seat and the window seat. The fat dude gets the aisle seat thus getting to spill out without much problem. Assuming the food cart can’t go by, the fat dude can just go stand for a bit out of the way by the cockpit door. Yes I know blah blah fatty bo batty *insert insults* but sometimes you just got to deal with a situation like an adult instead of being a moron that stands for hours.

  66. If I’m US Airways, and the dunce who can’t proofread their own article before publishing it on their own website contacted me on someone’s behalf, I’d probably ignore any complaints they were making as well.

    “making it impossibly to sit in his assigned seat”

    “a late-boarding passenger who weighed more than 400 pounds to the seat.”

    “stand for almost seven hours — it that’s true”

  67. They weight bags, but not passengers.  Why not a pay by the pound fee for those over a set weight.  If overweight bags cost more, then so should overweight passengers.

  68. the airlines should have a metered opening that people of questionable size have to fit through, just like they have to determine if your carry-ons are too large.

  69. We are giving the wrong person a bad time it is the airlines that should be getting ALL of our noise as it is they that forced so many seats into that space.

  70. Call the FAA. You must be strapped in during takeoff and landing. I guarantee the fine they get will make a ticket refund look like chump change. (Well, in an ideal world, anyway.)

  71. He paid over $800 for a SEAT, not just a ticket.  So he is due a full refund, plus punitive damages for having his safety in jeopardy. 

  72. He should sue the airline for placing him in a dangerous situation. If the plane encountered bad turbulence how would he have not been hurt or even killed?

  73. I’d be livid if this happened to me.  In a perfect world, large people who know they will spill over into the seat next to them would do the right thing and buy two tickets, but it’s the rare person that does it voluntarily – to those commenters that say that they have in fact done that, a weary traveler thanks you.

    The larger passenger should have been escorted off the plane.  I know that sounds harsh, but if he can’t fit in his seat,(thus not complying with the terms of service) and a row with two available seats cannot be found, he is doing so at the expense of another passenger. Therefore, he should not get a spot on that flight.  I’ve had several experiences with larger passengers occupying half of my seat, so I’m a little sensitive to this I guess.  Once or twice had them get annoyed with me because I accentally bumped their arm when I went to get something out of the seat pocket.  The arm, that was of course, attached to the side of their body that was taking up half of the space I paid for.

  74. I have had this happen to me before but thankfully it was only about a two hour flight. I was in a window seat and a morbidly obese woman took the middle seat next to me, both arm rests up, spilling over onto HALF of the seats on either side of her. I couldn’t fasten my seat belt either. Full flight, so the flight attendants couldn’t move one of us. I’m a fairly small woman so I didn’t quite have to stand but the fixed arm rest under the window dug into my hip the entire flight, leaving an impressive bruise. I know in the past “large” people have complained that airlines charging them for two seats is “unfair” but how is it fair that I paid full price for a seat which I only got to use half of? Not to mention the impact on my comfort and safety. People that big need to shut up and buy the extra seat to accommodate their mass or take a hint that 400 lbs. is not a healthy weight.

  75. Arthur needs to tell the FAA about the flight crew’s failure to follow FAA safety rules.

    It won’t get him any more compensation, but it will get the airline in hot water, and address the problem going forward.

  76. Pretty sure the heavy guy was supposed to buy two tickets, in this case the airline overbooked the the flight. On a more personal note, if some one told me to stand for 7 hours straight, I should be getting paid, not paying and thats ignoring the safety issues.

  77. What about the concern of possible blood clots from standing so long? You take the same risk from sitting too long! Way too many irresponsible safety violations!

  78. Sorry, I have no sympathy for those who are too tall and can’t seam to fit in these ecconomical seats. You can either book an airline with larger legroom, or upgrade to a seat class that fits your size.  You know these small seats won’t fit you, why complain and point the finger to those around you?

  79. Should have told the obese person to wait.  I would have instantly started an uproar if that were to happen to me.  No way would I have let them take off.  I would have made them take fatty off the plane where he/she could have waited for the next flight at the Subway restaruant and lost weight like Jared did.

  80. it would be nice if my commented were not moderated away. its exactly how i felt and how many other americans felt.  If you are obese you deal with your situation, not make others deal with it for you.  Accountability is the number one thing this nation needs to work on.  No one takes responsibility for their actions anymore, just look at where our economy it.  Make the obese person purchase two seats, clearly if you can afford yourself to 400 pounds you can afford two seats if you NEED to fly.

    1. Morbid obesity can be a medical condition to some degree.  Many morbidly obese people can eat as much as others who weigh less, but maintain or gain weight because of low metabolism.

      Besides that, food is cheap in this country – especially food with lots of empty calories.

  81. I’m supposed to fly for the first time in about 10 years on Thanksgiving morning.  I am not looking forward to it because of all this crap that is going on with the airlines and security.

  82. I think there is an easy solution here. If the airline is willing to make a traveler stand for the duration of a seven hour flight, why not take an extra 20 people at the gate who have been told that there are no seats available and have them stand in the aisle for the flight?

  83. I’ve had similar experiences on US Airways… one of the absolute worst airlines I have ever had the misfortune fly with and I have not booked a flight with them in over 5 years now… even being forced to transfer at 3 airports when it’s possible to book a direct flight with them is the better choice.

  84. I am so glad I no longer fly.  Between the freaking TSA, screeching and kicking kids; fat people, uncomfortable seats; rudeness, smells…. *gaaaah*  I stopped flying right before 9/11 and am glad I did.  I’m getting older now, but I remember flying United and American airlines back in the 60’s and 70’s and it was A LOVELY EXPERIENCE!!!  This is all cattle car stuff nowadays.  I pity you guys, truly I do. As for Mr. Berkowitz, that man suffered and I hope he gets every penny he spent back.  Good lord!!!!

  85. Sems like a simple rule of thumb could clear this all up. If you need to use a seatbelt extension then you need to buy an extra seat or one in first class…

  86. This is really an untenable position for the airline and both passengers.

    Can anyone imagine if Mr. Berkowitz had been a little more vocal to the crew and had the obese passenger forced off the plane?  I could imagine that passenger feeling abused by the system and coming to Chris for help.  I’d think there might be some more compassion for him if we heard his side.

    As for me, I’m not obese (size 30 waist actually although I’m getting a bit soft in the middle now) but I can sympathize with all sides.  I’ve actually been in a similar situation and am glad it worked out in my case.

  87. Your luggage has to fit in the overhead, why doesn’t the passenger have to fit in their assigned seat?  I’ve had this happen several times.  Once, I couldn’t even buckle my seatbelt, because the person spilled into my seat.  It was unsafe and disgusting.  REFUND HIS MONEY, USAIR.  And, teach your agents to book morbidly obese people into two seats.  

  88. I have experienced exactly the same scenario on a Hawaii > Seattle flight, on United. When it came time to land I was ordered to return to my seat by the head F/A, when I pointed out that I had no seat, I was finally allowed to ride a crew jump seat for the landing. They didn’t offer ANY compensation.

  89. This happened to me from Chicago to Newark once on United.  A similarly morbidly obese passenger was planted in the window seat in the EMERGENCY EXIT ROW!  I also could not use my seat belt during the boarding process.  In fact, I could not even fit into the seat as parts of him spilled over into my seat.  It was as though I purchased 70% of a seat instead of a full seat.  The flight was also full, and the United crew did absolutely nothing to accommodate me.  Finally, after a stalemate (which I was clearly going to lose), a very very petite woman (5’4″ 95# max) volunteered to wedge herself in there and free up her other seat.  

    Again, no seat belt.  Exit Row.  No help whatsoever. 
    Given airlines’ incredible ease in charging for everything, this would seem to be a no-brainer.
    I wish there was an FAA hotline to call every time these things occur.

  90. Mr. Berkowitz should file a formal complaint with the FAA.  The airline knowingly violated several Federal Aviation Regulations by not ensuring that he was seated and his belt properly fastened before takeoff and landing.  The arm rests are supposed to be down, as well.

  91. Why wouldn’t the obese man have been forced to stand? That sure would have taught him a lesson about manners. But instead, someone innocent is punished. This is a call for a boycott if I have ever seen one.

  92. If you can’t fit in a seat, then you should be required to buy 2, period!  As per compensation, $200 is no where close to the suffering that he had to go through.

  93. Why wasn’t the 400 lb guy required to stand?  Took up too much aisle space I presume.  Can’t get the beverage cart past him.  What about the fuel costs to fly this guy?  Not only should he pay for his “space” but also his weight.  He is two people  – possibly 3 depending how you divide him up.  I have to pay extra if my luggage goes over 50lbs or my carry on goes over 15 lbs (Pacific Air’s requirements) and I weigh only 140.  Hmmm…. maybe I should design a garment with multiple, large, reinforced pockets to haul my stuff for cheap.

  94. I’m sorry this gentleman had to stand because he was seated next to an extremely large person but let’s be honest. Americans in general are not small people and I read somewhere that the average airline seat is 17 inches wide… the same as a child’s booster seat. I think airlines in general are not focused on the consumer at all but how many seats they can fit and fill on a plane.

    Now to all the folks calling for the bigger person to buy an extra seat (and as a larger person myself) I totally agree. The problem with this scenario, is that I know of two separate occasions where plus sized people I know personally bought the extra seat but the airline overbooked the flight and sandwiched them in a single seat anyway. So not only did they pay for two seats and only get one, they were put into a shameful position with other passengers wanting to know why this “horrible fat person” only got one seat knowing just how fat they were. The airlines answer was again, worthless credits for a future flight.

    1. If you think credits are worthless I’ll gladly take them from you or whoever gets them…

      Credits aren’t worthless if you actually remember to use them.

  95. I recently flew from Houston to LAX on US Airways with a man who was not at all obese but he was very, very large.  He sat in the middle, next to his friend / sister who was at the window while I was at the aisle.  He promptly fell asleep and and his hand on my knee and his knees leaning far over into the space in front of my seat.  I pushed his hand & his knee back over several times – he never woke up.  I spent the entire flight leaning out into the aisle getting whacked by the cart & people walking by. Pissed me off and I guess I should have said something earlier (full flight) but it wasn’t until he fell asleep that he really began to invade my space.  As I exited the aircraft I complained to the attendant who said she noticed my issue and I wrote a letter that was ignored.  I do so freaking hate that airline but it could have been any. 

    If they were going to let the obese man on, then HE should have been the one to stand back in the galley with the attendants.  While this man might should have complained, it was the attendants’ job to ensure safety and comfort.  If it was as bad as described – they knew it and should have done something.  (Heck, they knew it when he was sold the ticket in the first place or when he checked in or when he came to the gate . . . .)

    I totally believe that if you take up 2 seats, you pay for 2 seats.  Period.

  96. I think this is the most-commented post ever… and I HOPE that the folks at US Airways are looking at this website and reeling at the negative postings… maybe a tad bit too late for them to rectify the situation, but a lesson learned for them.

    1. I think that US Airways would be laughing too much at half the posts here to care… It’s hard to take many of them seriously, and US Airways isn’t the only party to blame.

  97. KRISTOF: The face of modern slavery   I read both of these. I really hate it when someone has to stand 7 hours, but if needs be it can be tolerated. But in the other story, it starts with a 6 (SIX) year old baby girl was sold to a brothel. They sold her virginity (then, at 6,) to the highest bidding, in this case a Western Pedophile. They tied her to the bed, arms, legs so he could rape this baby. she did not know about sex, but she learned. she was raped (same position) about 20 times—-every single night, because she was so young and desirable. Please God, tell me that it can’t be true that we as human being just don’t care anymore. Take me now, cause I can’t live in this world…….

  98. There are a lot of situations which are tricky to navigate.  Who likes paying extra if they theoretically don’t have to?  I can understand paying for two seats, but it’s been explained that sometimes airlines overbook, while for most flights there probably is enough space to accommodate someone with a little extra space.

    It gets tricky if you’re talking about an infant.  I’ve yet to take my little one on a plane, but there are several ways to go about it.  One way is to buy a seat for the infant and car seat.  I think there have been reports from Chris that sometimes they’ve ended up costing more than airfare for a parent.  Another is to simply bring the infant as a lap-child (on some airlines this is free while others charge a minimal fare), haul along a car seat, and hope that there’s a place for the seat.  Otherwise the car seat gets checked and you’re stuck with the baby in the lap.

    Personally I don’t know why the FAA allows infants to be carried on laps, but it sounds similar to having someone in the cabin unrestrained during takeoff and landing.

  99. I am sick and tired of these fat slobs doing this. You know you’re obese, buy two tickets, don’t make the rest of us suffer.

  100. I recently flew US Airways from Charlotte to Jamaica with return and on to Vegas.  I think I can safely say that it is the least organized, most dysfunctional, and disorganized airline I’ve ever flown.  The nice thing is that I won’t ever have to worry about their “quality service” again.

  101. On a flight to Aus one time they were letting people sleep in the aisle, all stretched out on the floor. It was great but probably not too safe. Seriously though, the fatty should have been made to stand instead.

  102. To the guy who said a 400lb man can fit in a 17 inch seat, no. You are incorrect.

    I know a 385lb man whose waist circumference is 61 inches. No, that is not hyperbole; I have done the measurement myself.

    Across the back at his widest point, the man I know personally measures approximately 24 and a half inches. That is more than seven inches wider than the average airline seat. It leaves the passenger next to him ten inches on which to sit. Or, if he’s in a middle seat it leaves the passengers to either side of him 12 inches each. I’m a small woman with hips that are 34 inches in circumference and I fit very comfortably in a normal-sized airline seat with plenty of room on either side of me with the armrests down. But do you suppose 10-12 inches is comfortable for me over a cross-country flight? (Hint: it’s not.)

    And yes, he does get deeply offended whenever an airline insists he pay for two seats. He feels it is discriminatory. My answer to him is that unless he has an endocrine disorder (he doesn’t), it is his choice to remain that way. I lost close to 100lbs because I didn’t like the way I looked and felt when I was obese. So no, I do not have pity for those who choose to remain overweight and unhealthy. I do have compassion on those for whom it is not a choice, but a medical condition. Choosing to overeat, eat the wrong foods, and be sedentary is not a disability and should not be treated as such – and yes, I felt this way when I was 230 lbs.

  103. As a morbidly obese person myself, you buy two tickets or (as I normally do) fly business class where it isn’t an issue. Common courtesy. On empty flights I’ve had airlines inform me that it won’t be necessary bur on a full (or even almost full) flight? The airline dropped the ball. I’d rather not fly than create -literally- uncomfortable situations. These stories always make me cringe because they rightfully create those looks of ‘I hope he’s not seated next to me on the flight’ at airports. Keep to the rules people.

    1. I think there lies the rub.  Does one start off by buying two seats or perhaps buy one (hoping not to need another).  If it’s a full flight, will another seat be available?  If it’s a half-empty flight, will that extra paid seat be wasted?  I understand what some obese passengers want.  They just want a little bit of dignity in a world of people who are disgusted by them and who mostly wish they didn’t exist.

      I’m also wondering how airlines handle it when it’s one passenger with two tickets.  It was mentioned before that on overbooked flights, the airline personnel might sometimes “bump” one of two seats and an obese passenger is stuck paying for two seats but only getting one.  That’s coupled with other stuff.

      1. Different airlines have different policies.  AA has the best.  You can always purchase a second seat at the price paid for the first seat.  If the flight is not full or overbooked you get a refund.

        Virgin allows you to book a second seat at the then costs.  You get a refund at the gate if the plane is not full.

      2. Southwest has the same policy. You can buy the seats for the same price (even an internet sale fare). If the flight does not oversell, or if a single standby passenger is put on the plane, you get a refund for the 2nd seat. Period.

  104. “I didn’t fly from Alaska to Philadelphia on flight 901,” he says. “I stood.”

    Actually, you still flew.

    If he had time to talk to the FA’s about it, he had time to get off the flight if he was *that* concerned about his safety.

    Yes US mucked up, but yet again we have more customer hyperbole.

  105. This is unacceptable by US Airways; He deserves a full refund. US Airways is lucky that they are not being sued. In my opinion, this needs to be investigated by the FAA, with possible fines levied. As for the obese passenger, he should have known that he needs two or three seats. If he could not buy or afford two or three seats, then maybe he should be shipped via a cargo plane. I hear the C-17 is a nice way to travel for extra large people.

  106. the 4% that voted yes to fair compensation are probably morbidly obese.  I had this happen to me at a concert this past summer.  This woman’s lap took up half of my seat and was laying in my lap, her stuff was spilling over the sides of the arm rests AND was pressed up against the row of seats in front of us!  I had no choice but to sit there because security will not allow you to sit or stand in the aisles or anywhere else other than the seat u purchased.  And these were great seats as far as the view.  I am not a 100 lb runway model, but I am also not a disgustingly overweight heffer either.  Sorry, but lets face it, fat asses need to stay home or buy an extra ticket.

  107. as a flight attendant this is just appalling. if someone was taking up an excessive amount of another passenger’s space, i’m sorry but the gate agent will be addressed immediately and made to resolve this issue because no passenger of mine will be made to stand for 7 hours or sit pressed up against a window. and yes, i can do that. and i will. and i have. i’m not knocking fat people, to each his own, but if you take up two seats, you pay for two seats. end of story.

  108. Everyone seems to be overlooking the fact that while the gate agent, flight attendants, etc. dropped the ball, no one seems to place the blame where it started.  The ticket agent should have clearly seen that this person would need two seats.  To sell said person a single seat shows not only gross negligence, it shows a complete failure to do their job.  As to all the other comments about tall people, fat people and the respective rights both have;  Get over it.  I’m very similar to someone described in an earlier post.  I’m 6’3, 215 and work out several days a week.  Not a small person by any means.  Life is only as rough as you let it get.  I think a lot of us need to take a lesson from the older generations and just suck it up.  Stop suing over hot coffee, discrimination over size, McDonald’s making you fat, and numerous other frivolous suits.  Show some personal responsibility.  Don’t put steaming hot coffee by your danglies.  Stop super sizing that triple bypass.  Just move on. 

    1. so if he bought the ticket online (as the vast majority of people do nowadays), then we should blame Expedia or Orbitz or Travelocity? blame the internet???

    1. I’m having some difficulty moderating these comments because of the volume. I’ve already deleted a number of patently offensive comments that violate our terms, but if you see any that contain profanity or are outright ad hominem attacks, please let me know.

  109. these fat asses should take grayhound with the “undocumented workers” and be required to eat only salad for six months
    i have had to deal with slobs like this and it is not right

  110. I used to be a flight attendant with Singapore Airlines. Our safety training was very clear on this; all passengers and crew must be seated with seat belts fastened and seats upright on take off and landing. In the event that the passenger’s seat belt is not functioning and there are no other available seats IN THE WHOLE PLANE, they will take a crew seat (of which there are usually two to three spare ones near the doors). It’s a sad day when profit is more important than safety. If the plane had hit turbulence at some point in its flight, Mr Berkowitz might have been badly injured; people have been known to hit the ceiling when planes hit air pockets. 

    1. You’re assuming that this story and all the details are true.  There is no way that a flight crew would allow anyone to be standing during taxi, take-off, landing and during times of turbulence.  When have you ever seen that?  To the contrary, US crews are usually adamant about FAA regulations.  The passenger who chose to stand due to the discomfort, did so on his own.  However, the obese passenger should not have been allowed to take the very last seat.  It sounds like this all happened at the last minute and the door closed before the crew realized that the situation was unacceptable. So Sidhena, get off your high horse.  Safety is the main priority with US crews, on all airlines.

      1. Oh, and I love the comment, “passenger was FORCED to stand for the seven hour flight”.  Really.  Who did this enforcement?  The flight attendants?  “Sir, you MUST stand for the duration of the flight due to the obese man seated next to you requiring both seats”.  Seriously.

      2. Well, if they’re lying about the story, then I think that’s another law suit waiting to happen. I’ve never seen flight crew allow passengers to stand at any of the times mentioned; I didn’t say anything to the contrary. And yes, US flight crew are infamous for being so safety conscious that service takes a hit at times, which is why this particular piece of news is surprising. I’m not on a high horse, just pointing out that yes, this is irregular behaviour. Chillax, stella. 

  111. US Airways is clearly at fault in this case and what they offered in compensation is a complete insult. The only way the travelling public will ever force change on lousy airlines such as US Air is to vote with their pocket book. Simply don’t fly them. Soon enough they will either get the message and change or fold. In the case of US Air it would be not great loss.

  112. I think we are overlooking a huge element – what is wrong with the obese person who let this guy stand for 7 hrs!?!  How could he, in good consciousness, let a man be denied his seat and endanger his safety? What is wrong with people these days!?!  How could they be so discourteous? This fat man should have gotten off the plan of his own volition and found another flight, even if he did have someone where he needed to be!   

    1. I really doubt that our anonymous obese passenger wasn’t self-conscious about the situation.  I’ve actually seen such a situation where there were fortunately a smattering of empty seats where I could choose to relocate.  I’ve also personally been in similar situations where I or someone else was holding up a line with a special request that was taking a while to service.  Just last week I was in line behind someone who picked up an item (several actually) with a missing tag, and the checkout clerk had to bring someone in the check the price at the product display.  Few people feel good about causing severe inconvenience for others.

      Most people who are severely overweight are very cognizant of that fact.  It’s embarassing to know that it’s causing a problem for someone else, and sometimes that embarassment is dealt with by simply shutting up and not trying to draw any additional attention.  It’s sort of like the Southwest Airlines ads where someone terribly embarassed thinks “Wanna get away?”  Maybe this person has family eagerly waiting for him in Philly (“What – daddy isn’t going to be home for my birthday?”).  Maybe there’s important business to attend to.  I know a lot of people are simply disgusted that (and I say this in the context of all the petty insults that have been thrown around in these comments) “fatso won’t give up his seat”.  It’s a complicated world we live in.  Since the flight was full, he wouldn’t have been able to purchase another seat if he’d wanted to do so.

  113. Out of sheer curiosity (and maybe this has been asked)…since this obese passenger filled the middle seat – what did the person on the other side do?

  114. if they had all the intention to do the right thing US Air would offer him a free round trip ticket to anywhere they fly and make it first class

  115. This story just makes me rage.  I have family and friends who are fat and I used to be fairly overweight myself.  The difference between myself and the man in this story, however, is that I recognized the path I was going down and made a conscious change.  There is no excuse for this.  When you are in excess of 400 lbs, it is not because of a medical condition.  Your body works largely the same as the person next to you and the person next to him.  If I can lose 60 lbs in a year, then surely a 400 lb man can do something to change his habits.  If he is happy at his weight, that is his prerogative, but it is not discriminating in the least to make a person who is 400 lbs because of a personal choice (or, should I say a culmination of a number of personal choices every time they sat down behind a plate of food), then they should have to pay the consequences.  If you need two seats, pay for two seats.  End of story.  The fact that the man who was forced to stand is not even given a full refund is absolutely and unforgivably sickening and I question whether I would even give this airline my business in the future.

  116. There are flight attendants seats available fore and aft in the cabin. I would think that one of those would be offered to Berkowitz during the flight since the attendants are up and busy serving the passengers. Also, if there is a safety issue due to the fact that Berkowitz couldn’t strap in I would think I the airline would put an attendant in jeopardy before a paying passenger by giving one of the attendant seats to him.  Berkowitz should get a full refund. Terrible customer service.

  117. He could have taken one of the crew seats.

    He could have summoned the captain and complaint resolution officer for a conference before departure. At that time the airline could have reseated him, asking for volunteers to take a later flight if need be. Or the airline could have had the larger passenger take a later flight and no compensation would be due.

    He could have sat in one of the rest rooms.

    He could try to dispute the charge for the airfare on his credit care bill.

  118. Same thing happened to me on a flight from Vegas to Detroit.  I only weigh 100 pounds, but had to hang over my arm rest into the aisle and put both legs in the aisle.  Delta only gave me a $150 voucher.  It was a nightmare trip.

  119. if you read the federal air reg ( fars) the air line would be fined and the flight crew can also be find the faa has rules covering pass with no seat belts for take off and landing

  120. Just put my son on a flight & his snowboard bag was 10 overweight. I had to pay an extra $50.00. Then he text me that the lady was so big sitting next to him that she required the selt belt extension. He was smashed against the window. Why doen’s she not have to pay anything extra, because she was probably 100lb overweight.

  121. If USAirways does not offer a more just compensation to him, he should sue them so they get serious about how they deal with this type of situation. 

  122. I am a lawyer.  It seems to me that an argument could be made that the fat passenger was either trespassing upon the space that the passenger who had to stand had rented (this is not a perfect analogy because we are not dealing with real property but I would argue it to a court) or, in effect, by touching the smaller passenger against his will he was committing a battery.  Both of these are torts, for which damages in excess of the contracted for price of the ticket might be recoverable against the fat passenger.  I would sue the airline not merely for refund of the ticket price but for emotional distress in having to stand during takeoff, landing and any turbulence.  I would demand reports of any turbulence encounter during the flight and flight logs to determine when and for how long the pilot had the fasten seat belt sign illuminated.  The longer the better, as far as potential damages.  I can’t imagine an American jury not awarding this passenger punitive damages in order to stop this kind of behavior by airlines. 

  123. USAirways is the worst airlines in the US if not the world and Philadelphia airport is undeniable the woret airport in the country!!!
    Now USAirway is sacrificing the safety of their passengers to get an additional fare. Some how I think this a clear violation of FAA rules.


  124. This guy needs to get the full refund! Seriously, this is not fair! Standing in the airplane is very risky and dangerous. I have seen people fall down on the hallway of the plane and it’s not happy. 

    Also the fact that they did not allow him to seat at their jump seat is also not acceptable. They should think about the passengers first and then themselves or come up with the best solution instead of having him stand for seven hours! 

    I know it’s not unfair but if a certain person is overweight than they should pay for another seat instead of getting only one and having this kind of an issue. 
    Today I took a plane and a person who was sitting next to me was slightly cubby. He also was in my private space but not as much and plus it was an hour plane ride so it was not much of a big deal. 

    But having to let him just stand there for seven hours is really unexceptable and the guy should get the full refund!

    1. Paying for another seat wouldn’t have been an option. It was described as the last empty seat on the plane.  One alternative would have been to let the guy buy two fares and bump someone else off the plane.

      I am wondering if it is airline or FAA policy that passengers aren’t allowed to be strapped into the jump seats even if there exists some sort of unforeseen circumstance such as this one.

  125. Fun fact of the day:

    An aldehyde is an organic compound containing a formyl group. This functional group, with the structure R-CHO, consists of a carbonyl center bonded to hydrogen and an R group.

  126. US Airways should have given the passenger a full refund and more.  Their commitment to customer service has always been weak point.   

  127. Are you kidding me?  I am NEVER flying US Airways EVER again.  The worst part of all this is that they didn’t even admit any fault.  It’s the guy’s “choice” to stand for 7 hours on a plane?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  Either the Airline is lying or making ridiculous assumptions about the passenger OR…they are calling the passenger mentally handicapped and unable to make a distinction between the comfort of sitting vs standing.

  128. He should have simply refused to raise the arm rest.

    Of course US Airways are a bunch of thieving scumbags but if they turned down the fat guy he would gotten an even scummier lawyer and sued the airline.

    Fat people are gross but if it was me I would have refused to raise the arm rest.

    Seats are designed to fit between the armrests and that would have been my arguement.

    If you want my sympathy in this case, forget it.

  129. Experience tells us that there are always more to stories than printed.  But, having had a similar experience I would have to say that the airlines reasoning and explanation lacks logic and is irresponsbile.

    Upon check in it should have been obvious and noted by airline staff that there would be an issue with the obese passenger fitting into standard seating.  The #1 priority of the airlines is passenger safety, no way could this situation as discribed be considered safe.  The airlines is at fault on this point alone.

    Frankly, the obese passenger should have brought this to the attention of the airlines themselves.  Obvously they had to double buckle and knew that unless they have never flown before, in which case the airlines should print standard seat measurerments and have policies that cover this.

    But … if I can not fit my carry-on in the overhead, they take my carry on and put it below in cargo.  If you can’t fit your butt on a seat and take half of the passengers next to you, ???  Do you offer to pay half of the unlucky passengers airfare?  Maybe.

    I’m not saying the obese passenger should have been put below in cargo, but if their dimensions do not fit with the standard width of the seating, they create a unsafe enviornment for fellow passengers.  They should; #1 be requred to purchase two seats, #2 or purchase wider business or first class seats, #3 If they don’t fit in those … they are in the “no fly zone”.  Simple. 

  130. Not only should the guy who had to stand get a full refund, they should give him free airfare for a year for being stupid, careless and violating safety regulations.  The FAA should get involved with this, as well.

  131. I’ve sat next to slobs like that on planes.  It’s disgusting to have their rolls of fat pushing against you for an entire flight. If I pay for a seat, I want to be able to use 100% of it, not 50%.

    They way they treated this guy is outrageous, but unfortunately typical

  132. Please provide for me the logic here.  If it is unsafe to sit in the bathroom when the plane is taking off and landing (a place that is confining to say the least); please tell me how safe it was for this man to stand and the flight attendants were safely belted in????  Mr. Berkowitz should be fully compensated for his ENTIRE airfare paid.  His safety was compromised and the airline should be fined for this one. 

  133. My husband and family travel quite a bit.  We won’t be traveling on US Airways-EVER.  I plan on telling everyone I know about their pathetic and apathetic response to a real concern by one of their customers

  134. That happened to me on a flight from San Francisco to New York many years ago.  At the time I wasn’t the smallest of people, either, but I could fit into my seat.  What upset me the most was that they guy who crowded me out didn’t seem to care.  If you’re too big for one seat, then you need to make some sort of accomodation; if you’ve ever flown coach before, you know darned well how small the space is.  I was a heavy person, and I’m no stick now, but I wouldn’t have done that to someone else.  I guess I should have complained and got my $200 voucher.

    1. I mentioned my experience.  Mine was actually New York to San Francisco, the obese passenger was really embarrassed/apologetic about it, and there were a few seats left for relocation.  He even offered me a ride home, although I declined because I was waiting for someone to show up.

  135. This is the thing…you have to complain before your in the air.  If airlines charge someone for two seats before a complaint then they are charged with being prejedice against fat people.  Only when the pax beside them complain can they take someone off and request them to buy two seats if the armrest won’t go down.  Mr. Berkowitz should have complained before the door was closed.   I mean honestly what can you do with a pax after the door is closed and your in the air (put them on the wing).  Don’t wait to complain do it right away.

  136. I had the same thing happen to me on crappy US Airways. The flight crew acted like it was my problem that a morbidly obese woman was literally spilling over the armrest and taking up my seat. I also had to stand the whole way. I never got a refund or an apology. Hopefully this crappy airline will go our of business soon.

  137. Whitney Houston nearly tossed from Delta flight when she REFUSED TO BUCKLE HER SEAT!
    According to the reports, a flight attendant asked Houston to buckle her
    seat belt, and she “got diva.” A second crewmember told the singer that
    if she did not fasten her seat belt, the plane would not leave.

    Well why did this USAir flight leave if the OP could not get seated and buckled up?

  138. The oversize passenger should have purchased 2 seats.  He didn’t.  BOTH the airline and the passenger not wearing his seatbelt violated FAA regulations (121.311).  I strongly suspect had Berkowitz not concealed the fact he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, the plane wouldn’t have taken off.  If the flight was 100% full, chances are there were also passengers left at the gate without seats.  Their compensation would have been $0 (Rebook/next available flight) or a full refund (and the choice not to travel).  Berkowitz made choices – concealing not wearing his seatbelt, not getting off the plane and not bringing to the attention of the crew the problem (until the plane was in route).  While I don’t like the airlines offer of $200 for a $800 ticket – it’s actually more than the legal obligation.  Airline industries (average) load factor above about 80-85% make it between difficult and impossible to recover from weather, mechanical created disruptions or even something like this.  Load factors above 95% should be illegal, except for justified (FAA issued) waivers.   

  139. Unless there is a fundamental shift in how the world works I’m never flying again. Seats jammed so tightly together there is no leg room, fat people acting as space heaters jammed next to you (or stealing your seat), general lack of civility and a “I’ll get mine by damn!” attitude from other fliers, bratty kids, jackass adults, rude airline employees, dirty airplanes, and the rape experience at the security checkpoint have made it clear to me – I can drive, I can take a train, I can teleconference, or I can get a new job. To hell with flying. As far as I am concerned flying is now officially the new Greyhound.

  140. so why wasn’t the other person in the row complaining or standing? Was the middle seat occupant only fat on one side? I smell a fish tale here.

  141. The airline should have never taken off, the gate agent may have made the mistake, but the flight crew is responsible for the flight. If a passenger could not fasten their seat belt they were unsafe. The larger person should have been taken off the flight.

  142. I guess I won’t be flying US Airway.  And if I have to, I’ll check to see if the person next to me is going to crush me.

  143. Fat people file suit against airlines for making them buy two seats – thin people file suits against airlines for being overflowed by fat people. Airlines can’t win.

    Society needs to wake up to the reality that fat people are selfish, over-use the health care system through diabetes and other gross diseases, and cost society more than they contribute. They should be shunned socially, forced to pay more for their use of healthcare, denied food stamps, refused Social Security compensation for fat-related disability, and denied handicapped status for being overweight. Ever see these people riding around stores on electric carts? If you have a strong stomach, go to a Wal-Mart . . .

    Yeah, I know – there’s always an excuse “it’s glandular” or “I’m depressed” or  “I stopped smoking!” Horse-puckey – 95% of overweight people simply eat more than they need, find exercise too challenging, and don’t give a damn about others.

  144. I travel for living and refuse to fly USAIR. It took me 20 hours to get from denver to stl, because they forgot to have a fligt crew booked and then did not offer a same day flight. They are a strictly profit not a customer service organization. What happend to the Travelers Bill of Rights? They should pay for their faults, for our time and their incompetence.

  145. Another example of the big corporations treating the little guy like cattle, US Airways pay the man his ticket purchase and be men about it ok?

  146. I can only imagine that, here in the United Kingdom, if this happened we’d be protected by our consumer laws, in that the service provided did not match the service paid for due to the absence of a seat. 

  147. So where was Berkowitz sitting during pushback and taxi? The plane never would have left the gate until everyone was seated. 

    Berkowitz is a liar pulling a scam, nothing more than that. 

  148. US Air failed in every step of the way.  First..allowing a heavy set passenger  to board with out buying 2 seats. ( Now,  before you yell foul here,  I am a larger person myself so I know first hand of the need for space for my comfort as well as the others seated near me. )  Two..allowing this passenger who also paid for his trip to stand,  not be buckled in during take off and landings,  they TOTALLY IGNORED the basic and first level of safety taught.  ( I’m a former employee of the travel/airline industry )  This situation had to have been known before the flight started and the plane door closed.  Perhaps,  this situation could have been avoided by offering either the parties involved a later flight which one or the other might have accepted.  That way proper arrangements could have been made for the comfort of all.  I feel the gentleman that stood should have gotten a full refund with a little something extra to help mend the fence here.  The other person should be glad that they got away with not paying the proper fare and the involved US Air employees should have to attend refresher courses on this type of incident so it wont happen again.   US Air should also thank their luck on this trip that nothing happened to this passenger,  a sizeable lawsuit is just what that airline or the rest of the industry doesnt need.  I’m anxious to hear how this US Air  (yes,  US Air!)  caused problem is further handled..

  149. The account clearly states he was seated during taxi and takeoff but couldn’t use the seat belt. He stood during the rest of the flight.  You have clearly never been seated next to an obese passenger.  Mr. Berkowitz’s story is completely plausible.   Whether you choose to believe it or not is up to you.  

    This post was meant as a reply to “Seen It All” but even though I used the reply button, it posted to the end of the thread.

  150. Since the gate agent made the mistake of letting the obese passenger on the plane without purchasing two tickets, and there were not two seats left, then the obese passenger should have been removed from the plane! For Mr. Berkovitz to be forced to stand is absolutely unacceptable — and a danger to everyone on the plane! US Airways should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to happen, and for offering Mr. Berkowitz a paltry $200 voucher! He should be reimbursed for the full price of his ticket, and a complimentary round trip ticket! This story from start to finish is absolutely absurd!

  151. I vote we pay by the pound. Pilots need to know how much they are carrying, if there’s a 15 pound baby in seat 6A or a 375 pound person cramming themselves into the seat.

  152. rreregregardless of how anyone feels about obesity or height, NEITHER of those things is going to change at the boarding gate. The obese passenger may have been desperate to get to Philadelphia, and its silly to expect him to get off the plane of his own choice. This was the airline’s responsibility to enforcing FAA rules, so blame them, not the obese passenger.

  153. Funny how this pax complained after the flight, and of course he was very calm and friendly and the mean ol’ airline won’t give him a free ride.  Maybe $200 is low maybe half of his ticket but you can imagine how many people look for any excuse to get freebies.  You only have his side, only his side.  he didn’t take any pictures?  Yes, in this country everyone has an excuse, it is NEVER their fault it’s always someone else; example, I eat like a pig, don’t exercise but everyone needs to bend over backwards to accommondate them. NO INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILTY.  That is why this country is falling apart.

  154. The same thing happened to me on a United flight from Denver to Orange County. My 5 year old daughter had to sit in the seat next to the obese man, as the arm rest couldn’t come down and he was taking up at least 30% of my daughter’s seat. I even discreetly took photos of the situation, clearly showing how large the man was for his seat, and sent a letter to Uniter after the flight. Their response… basically, oh well, too bad for you. All they did was give me a $50 flight voucher – that has to be used on United and within the next year. BLEH!! My daughter’s personal space was clearly violated on that flight!!! What a horrible way to start a surprise Mommy / Daughter trip to Disneyland.

    1. If this happens to you again, insist that the armrest stay down.  If the person still spills over, contact the FA immediately and stand in the aisle.  They shouldn’t take off until the issue is resolved.  Gate agents and airlines need to grow a pair and tell obese pax that they must buy two seats and if two seats aren’t available, they will need to wait until the next flight that has two seats available.  I pay for 100% of my seat not 70%.  The obese passenger pays for 100% of his seat not 100% of his seat and 30% of mine.  

      It’s irrelevant to me how the obese pax got that way.  It is that person’s problem and he/she needs to take responsibility for solving it, not making it someone else’s problem.  

  155. What I’d like to know is what the NTSB or FAA or whomever feels about the safety violations… Have you ever tried standing up before the seat belt light is off when you reach the gate? I was on a flight once were the takeoff was aborted because a passenger got up to go to the bathroom. Did he ever hear back from authorities?

  156. hey you nerds —keep on the subject, not confort zone,—why didn’t the airlines have the 400# men stand during the flight, or put him into the cargo hold— or have the 400# man take another flight —end of problem

  157. I’ve been subject to an “over-flowing” person a number of times and have always requested a refund or equivalent, which I have usually been able to obtain.   I feel strongly that an “over-flowing” person, never mind whether it’s voluntary or involuntary, should take responsibility and book two seats.
    I’m sure a number of people feel the same as I do, in objecting to having their safety and space compromised (and by a total stranger).   The airlines have no problem penalizing those who have a heavy carry-on, never mind whether that person weighs comparatively little, or not.   As with the TSA, it’s time that a little logic and common sense were applied, and that those of us who try to be in compliance are respected…

  158. I see on CNN that the traveller complained to the FAA and that the FAA told him US Airways “considers the matter closed”.  Chris, is this how it works?  The airline can just blow off a complaint like that?  I would have expected that US Airways should be fined for this actually.  They boarded more passenger(s) than they had room for.

  159. Articles like this almost always lead to a disturbing trend of highly prejudicial sentiments against those who are obese. There’s no excuse for that. Ever. However, that being said, those who ARE obese do need to take personal responsibility for ensuring that they don’t cause problems for everyone else by using a little common sense. If you obviously don’t fit in one airplane seat, you *need* to buy two instead of inconveniencing everyone else. I mean, it can be humiliating for them to have to buy two tickets, but a little embarrasment vs. standing for 7 hours and not having access to seatbelts…? Not just seatbelts, but what if something happened? You have to be in the seat to properly access oxygen masks and what not. I would never judge a person for their weight – but for their consideration, or lackthereof, for others, that’s a different story. Empathy needs to go both ways. You don’t like people being inconsiderate to you and going “move it, fatty”? You need to be considerate of others as well.

  160. This makes my blood boil! First, nickel-and-diming us for baggage, etc.; now this! The arrogance, lack of empathy and consideration, and contempt for passengers on the part of some airlines is infuriating! Here is what I read on CNN: “…Southwest Airlines requires customers who do not fit in their seats to purchase an extra seat before boarding”. Apparently, some airlines have a semblance of decency and kindness – not this one! Why did they not charge the obese passenger for two seats? To boot, they flippantly spurned this passenger as if he was inconsequential! It is clear that airlines such U.S. Airways do not deserve to be in the business and should close down if they have lost their vision for the customer. I suggest as many people heap their vitriol on this callous company by going to their web site. I am going to tell them in no uncertain terms that my family of five will never fly this stupid airline again!

  161. This is a serious safety concern, take off and landing with arm rest lifted up and seat belt not buckled. Passenger standing in the aisle and the galley area, lucky there was no turbulence. What were the FA thinking. This should have been reported to the Captain and the passenger off loaded. 
    Of course, if he was off loaded, US Airways will not hear the end of it. Remember the controversy about charging obese persons the price of two seats.

  162. This story just makes me angry for so many reasons…and then they only offer the man who had to stand $200?!! How insulting! They should be ashamed of themselves. We are becoming such a soft, ridiculous world putting up with garbage like this! It is incredible what some people think is acceptable!

    Yes, I agree with Bill, how is this safe that not everyone was bucked in when they took off? That obese passenger should pay for two seats, lose weight, or not fly – PICK ONE! This shows lack of respect and rules on the part of the airline.

  163. I hope the obese man has sued the airlines and the media and maybe Berkowitz too for all this painful humiliation.  People may have conditions, but why humiliate them?  For shame.

  164. How’s that fair?  A normal weight passenger sacrifice his safety and comfort and his full fare ticket to allow an obese passenger to fly and occupy his space.  Why should this poor guy subsidize for this obese passenger’s ticket???  And the airline is behaving like a jerk.  It doesn’t have the guts to tell the obese passenger to pay more, in the fear of getting sue over weight discrimination.  So, instead, it decides to sacrifice the normal weight passenger.  The $200 voucher does not show a genuine apology at all, regardless how pretty the apology letter is crafted. 

  165. I believe Southwest Airlines requires buying a second seat for large folks. That sounds like a reasonable thing to do. When we fly with our two toddlers, we always buy a seat for each. It’s courteous (and safe) thing to do.

  166. This would not have been a problem if mr. Berkowich had been allowed to use a jumper seat. Why was he denied that? Those seats are empty most of the flight anyway.
    I have used them on occasion just for a bit of welcome change or while waiting in line at the restroom. Never been a problem, but ofcourse i fly mostly european airlines. No i dont dislike the american ones, i just live in Europe.

  167. Once you read the story carefully you will understand what even Chris Elliot misses.The “overweight passenger” is in middle.So Mr Berkowitz is probably in window or aisle (Boeing 757-200). Assuming that getting past the middle seat every time would have caused more horror stories to be told Mr Berkowitz is probably in aisle seat.All aisle seats are more space than other seats.The passenger in the window seat has not told his story.

    All FA check that seat belts are fastened before take off. Mr Berkowitz was NOT standing during take off and landing.So he must have removed it himself putting his safety at risk.

    Lastly If the FA says Please be seated and if you do not listen and comply you will be charged with “obstruction with flight crew”.Apparently here nothing happened.US Airways and FAA investigated and found no safety concern.If you roam for 7 hours in the aisle and galley for 6-7 hours and NO passenger found it odd in this hightened state of security  .

    SO we are witnessing is “comfort” complaint touted as “safety” complaint at the expense of “obese” passenger.Once in while even Chris can get scammed

  168. What an absolute joke.  I am a lightweight, maybe 150 pounds, and every time I check my baggage and have had to pay an overweight fee (usually on long-hauls to Asia), the only thought that goes through my head is why don’t these airlines take both the weight of the passenger AND their baggage into consideration? 

    I might be bringing about 250 pounds onto the plane, including myself AND my baggage, if that, while someone else is bringing 300, 400 or even more, EXCLUDING their baggage.  While this may not be P.C., I think it’s equitable. Why should I pay extra for a heavy bag (ok, the handlers might throw out their back or something, I get that argument), while a larger person can “carry on” significantly more weight.  Just my 2 cents, I am sure there are plenty of holes one can poke in this.

    By the way, I flew from Dubai to Chennai next to a seriously obese guy, try 14 hours next to some fat Indian guy oozing over the armrest into “your” space.  Ugh.

  169. I had a problem like this on a US Airways flight and had to suck it for 3 hours.  On another US Airways flight, one of the people from the air crew made a racist comment towards me.  I e-mail bombed the executives and got 2 vouchers for me and my wife.  I try to avoid US Airways like the plague now.  I’m glad JetBlue started service in BDL (Hartford,CT) because for a lot of routes, US Airways was the only option.

  170. If that ever happened to me, I’d take pictures of the fat passenger taking up half of my seat, email them to my credit card company, and do a chargeback for “service not as described”.

    I paid for a full seat, and I expect to get it.

  171. for the sake of argument…. the obese man was in the middle seat, and thus this customer had to stand. but the flight was sold out.. so what did the customer on the OTHER side of the obese man do? there weren’t two fliers standing… so how did the other customer handle it, when this one couldn’t?

    1. fortunately to the other passenger, there is that pesky wall he was slammed against. Happens to me all the time. This is why I try to sit in a row, where the armrests are fixed e.g. exit row, or some first rows.   

  172. If there are regulations for carry-on’s sizes, there should be for passengers as well.  Why not have an airline seat out for people to check?  If you don’t fit in, you buy an extra seat. Simple as that, and (hopefully) avoids humiliation.

  173. The airlines tried the two seats for large people. They stopped due to lawsuits from American Civil Liberties Union. Sorry guys.  Try to kick the fat person out, you will be hit by lawsuit by ACLU so fast you don’t know what hit you. 

  174. Something doesn’t smell right about this.  The implication is that the pilot and/or crew grossly disregarded important safety regulations in takeoff and landing.  If that’s true, doesn’t the FAA have to look into this?  Have they?  Will they?

  175. It’s amazing to see how quickly we get off topic.

    First of all, I’m 6′ 4″ and 235#, and I always fly coach. I logged 96K last year and I’m at 85K so far this year, so I spend a fair amount of time on planes, mostly long distance. This is simple, I paid for the space between the armrests. If a passenger cannot fit in to the seat that they paid for, they have a choice, either pay for another seat, pay extra to sit up front or get off and wait for another flight that has room. This applies to the tall as well as the wide. If I want more leg room, I pay extra for an exit row or economy plus, or I suffer. Of course, I can’t drop a few inches in height, but there is an answer to the width problem. Eat a salad.

    I think that compensation of $200 on an $800 ticket for being deprived of a safe seat it absurd. But, I would probably be so pissed after standing for seven hours that I would decline the compensation because a voucher means having to fly that airline again. I would, take a few pictures and make a big stink with the FAA.

    Now, for the recline discussion. If my seat can recline, it is my right to recline it. If the person in front of me reclines, expect me to recline. If it’s an overnight flight, I am going to sleep, so I’m going to recline. BUT, when they come with dinner/breakfast, I put my seat up. And when they tell me to put it forwards for landing, I do and I expect the person in front of me to do it, without having to be told three times.

  176. I feel sorry for Arthur. This should have never happened, but let’s stop and think a minute. How many bathrooms were on that plane? He could have gone to one of the bathrooms and sat for awhile, just to get off his feet. There can’t be that many passengers wanting to use the bathroom at one time. Another thought. How many “Real Men” were on that plane? If each man would have given Arthur his seat for let’s say fifteen or twenty minutes it wouldn’t have been so hard on him.They could have “Stood Up For Arthur” Cowards!! Shame on US Airways for letting this happen.

  177. US Air has their nerve lecturing Mr. Berkowitz. They should refund his entire purchase amount and then some for the incovenience they caused him!  He bought a seat on that flight, but US Air did not protect the space he purchased.  I’m not a lawyer, but that certainly seems like breech of contract to me.   US Air’s personnel should have informed the obese passenger that he would not be allowed to continue on the flight because HE was infringing on the space BOUGHT by Mr. Berkowitz.  I’m sorry that some people have a serious problem with morbid obesity.  When someone purchases a seat on a flight however, they are entitled to the whole seat!

  178. As a flight attendant, I have to tell you, we are afraid to say anything for fear of ending up on the news, being called in to the office and fired, or ending up in a lawsuit.  If you’ve watched the news lately there are plenty of obese people who are literally looking for this fight to happen.  Once a passenger has been assigned a seat by the gate agent, we can’t take it away from them.  The problem should be handled by the gate agent.  We should have the authority to remove a passenger for that reason, but we don’t and the airline will not support us if we do it.  And yes, it is NOT ALLOWED by the FAA for passengers to occupy a jumpseat ever.  It’s not that the FA’s wouldn’t let you sit in their seats.  They can’t.  I’m sure he would have been uncomfortable in his seat, but he must have been sitting down for take off or the FA’s wouldn’t have let the plane take off with a standing passenger.  I think he was uncomfortable and got up after take off, which we really can’t make you sit during the flight.  If the FA’s made the plane go back to the gate, the man standing would probably have been taken off the flight.  No one wants to take an obese man off the flight because it often ends up on the news.  This is where political correctness has gotten us.

  179. Dear airlines:  For the bazilliointh time, giving me a coupon to use your business again is not doing anything for me.  If you have ticked me off, I probably do not want to use your business again.  Also, if you sit me next to a 400 pound guy and then have the gall to chastise ME for not buying two seats to protect my space from people like that guy, then perhaps you will start making darn sure those seats will always be together?  I can’t put half of me in row 8 and half in row 12.

    They should have upgraded this guy.  They could have bumped him and thrown him in a nicer class for the flight.  There were things they could have done.  They failed here.

  180. For us normal sized individuals: there’s a special kind of fear experienced when watching a massive 300 or 400 pound woman or man come lumbering down the aisle towards you. Even atheists will start doing the “please don’t sit in the seat next to me” prayer. The rule should be simple: if you cannot fit in the seat, you don’t get to fly. I realize this may be unfair to people who were born with large frames or the tiny minority of over sized people who are overweight due to factors not under their control, but since you’ve purchased a seat you should fit into it.

  181. Haha, this is really a ridiculous stuff. I never heard about this before. Seriously, I guess it’s one of the ridiculous issue I’ve heard.

    1. I don’t think it’s “ridiculous” that a passenger couldn’t fit in the seat he paid for and had to stand for seven hours on a flight because the gate agent seated someone next to him who couldn’t fit in his seat.  That anyone would think it is a “ridiculous” issue is cruel, and that’s “ridiculous” in itself.  How would you feel if you were in that situation?

  182. He should file a safety complaint with the FAA as US Airways isn’t prepared to take his safety concerns seriously. If he’s unable to buckle his seat belt and needs to stand during the flight, it’s unsafe for both him and the people around him.

  183. I think if they only want to give him 200 dollars he should take them to small claims court, often I think big companies like US Air think they don’t have to do anything when they do something this bad but they do. I have also seen many people check flights for weeks checking prices then when they find something they like instead of showing them flights at the top of the page starting with AM flights all of a sudden they are shown a PM flight and without noticing will book it. In this case I think US Air should put the AM and the PM in different colors so people won’t make the mistake that of course US Air will be more then happy to charge you $75 dollars to fix.

  184. Sort of, but not really related to this story, but amusing nevertheless. In 1983 I had an evening flight out of Chicago to Detroit. Not knowing the United equipment I would be on, and trusting my ever faithful business travel agent that I had a seat, I was late getting to O’Hare and ran through the terminal. I was not the only man in a suit with a garment bag and briefcase running to the same gate. When I got to the gate I was greeted by five other guys in suits looking at a closed boarding ramp door, with a gate attendant repeatedly saying “I’m sorry” to no one in particular. Suddenly she took a phone call, then looked up at us, and said, “Oh, you can board” and from the inside the boarding ramp door swung open. The five of us piled down the ramp and into a plane that was very full. Taking my ticket I went to my seat, but someone was in it, and turning around to find an attendant, I ran into one of the other guys who said his seat was taken too. Not seeing any attendants anywhere we began to roam the jumbo plane from coach to first looking for empty seats and there were none, the plane was at 100% occupancy. Walking out of first and back into coach, I saw one of my late boarding buddies going up the stairs to the upper lounge on the 747, and I decided to follow him having never once been up those stairs in a jumbo. To my delight there sat all four of the guys who boarded late with me and one of them was already into the liquor cabinet. Taking a seat I realized that in a minute we were all going to be put off the plane, but right then the push back jerk hit the plane, and we were rolling backward. In another ten minutes we were headed to cruising altitude and enjoying our purloined beverages when a flight attendant came up the stairs. To this day, she is one of the only people I have ever seen to live up to the old adage of “turning white as a sheet”. “What are you doing here!?” was answered with the truth and she went back downstairs only to be followed by a few other attendants to stick their heads up the stairs, only to turn around and go back down. No further questions, no senior flight attendant investigation on how five guys in non-secure seats in the lounge, drinking stolen booze managed to get airborne from Chicago to Detroit, just some hard stares from all the flight staff as we deplaned at our destination.

  185. Totally unfair.  Obese people KNOW they are BIG.  How could a person be forced to stand?  It is not a bus with a strap on which to put your hand.
    Airline should be fined big time.  Why did pilot take off???

  186. This is ridiculous. I am a 5’9″ woman who is mostly leg. I am not the smallest but I do fit into my seat without touching the armrests. When someone leans back, I am locked into my seat and have a seat back on my already painful knees. Now, I have to put up with a huge person who takes up part of my seat that I have paid for. This has happened to me. As far as I am concerned, commercial air travel has become a full contact confrontational sport. It make me consider fly my own airplane and paying for the fuel and hangar just to not have to enter even the airport terminal!

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