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

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


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  1. b166er

    If someone is overweight because of a medical issue, they should be entitled to a second seat at a reduced fare, but if it's a case of gluttony, then the going rate per seat and mandatory 2 seats.

    Providing the large man is a glutton, he should have been the one standing in the aisle. that would have provided 7 hours of much needed exercise. If it was a genuine medical condition, he should have been sold 2 seats.

    Oh, and the airline should have fully reimbursed Mr Berkowitz.

    Either that or airlines need a full rethink about seating allocation and we all know hell will freeze over before that day arrives.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What medical conditions make you fat?

      Eating too much makes you fat. You can't get fat from just breathing air. It's a law of physics. Come up with whatever excuses you want but ultimately if you're fat it's proof that you ate too damn much.

  2. JakeyC

    Excess baggage

    And I'll bet he didn't have to pay any 'excess baggage' fee, even though he was smuggling the equivalent of two suitcases in that belly of his.

    You know you're a little fat when you can't fit into a seat; should definitely have purchased two.

    I think a new pricing model should be introduced:

    Ticket cost = BC + (CW * S * PPK)

    BC = £Basic charge (minimum cost)

    CW = Combined weight of body, clothes and all luggage

    S = Number of seats required to accommodate you without spillage

    PPK = £ per kilogram

    This way, fat people will either slim down to get better value, run out of money and starve or better still - stop taking up my personal space with their lardy overspills.

    1. Marvin the Martian

      Variable-width seats.

      Simple: you pay per inch you take: You want to squeeze cost, you can squeeze yourself. You want spaciousness, no problem either.

    2. Bassey

      Re: Excess Baggage

      That seems a bit harsh. I'm 1.92m tall. So, despite the fact I'm fairly trim (I run ultra-marathons) I probably weigh the same as a short lard-arse.

      BMI is also a useless system as it assumes people are 2D and so punishes the tall. Is there a system for differentiating people who weigh a lot because they are tall and/or muscular and people who weigh a lot because their eat/move ratio is out of whack?

  3. Oliver Mayes

    I've said it before and I'll say it again.

    You should have 2 doors leading onto the plane, one 'normal' sized and one double width. If you can't fit through the normal one without a lubricant and a team of people pushing/pulling you through, then you have to buy a second seat.

    The same applies at swimming pools, but if you can't fit through the normal door then you shouldn't be wearing a swimming costume in public and the double width door just leads to the cafe.

    1. Mike Smith
      Thumb Up

      Or better still, to the gym

      That is all.

    2. Captain Scarlet


      I don't want to sit next to someone who put butter (Other lubricants are available) over themselves to fit through the door!

    3. Stoneshop

      How about the second door leading into this building?

      Mr Wiggin Good morning, gentlemen. This is a twelwe-storey block combining classical neo-Georgian features with the efficiency of modern techniques. The tenants arrive in the entrance hall here, and are carried along the corridor on a conveyor belt in extreme comfort and past murals depicting Mediterranean scenes, towards the rotating knives. The last twenty feet of the corridor are heavily soundproofed. The blood pours down these chutes and the mangled flesh slurps into these...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      or better still

      arm rests down.

      1. Asiren

        Speaking of armrests

        My brother had a similar situation once, where he was actually ganged-up upon.

        He'd got an "emergency row" seat on a intercontinental flight in a 3-seat, door-side configuration and had sat down. Up come 2 lumbering "sweaty hambeasts" and sit *either side of him*. They knew each other, but knew that they wouldn't be comfortable sitting next to each other, and so had deliberately booked 2 seats 1 apart.

        When they went to sit down, they asked if they could raise the armrest, as otherwise "it pinches in painfully". Request was denied.

        Stewardess spotted my hapless brother in his predicament, (as the sausage between two overflowing mounds of sweaty dough) offered profuse appologies and a business class seat. Offer accepted.

        I'm just going to make sure that I have really spiky trousers on whenever I fly, so that when I sit down on their fold of skin on my seat, they'll know about it.

  4. Dave Murray

    Cabin crew should have made the fat bastard stand.

    Actually they shouldn't have even let him on the flight unless he had a ticket for two seats. It's not just the extra space he's taking up but also the extra fuel the plane wil consume to shift his obscene weight.

  5. tmTM


    Was the gigantic swingbelly not made to stand instead.

    His weight, his problem.

    1. disgruntled yank


      Maybe because he would have obstructed passenger access to the toilets and crew access to the toilets and galley. And if sudden turbulence were to cause the unsecured to lose footing, better it be a comparatively svelte 200-pounder. Would you want the 400-pounder to fall onto you? American football players have such things happen, but they are padded, trained, and themselves bulked up to withstand it.

      1. Flashy Red

        Well, if the fat bastard was a safety risk then he should have been turned away. Tut, money talks.

  6. BoxedSet

    I have seen such a dilemna occur on a US flight before, a very large passenger who was too big to fit in an aircraft seat had to be moved up a class just so their oversized frame could be seated......... best bit was when someone started beeping as they backed up to let the stewardess by.....

    The lardasses should be made to pay extra for their flights! Either that or AA should buy a few Hercules transport planes

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Better still

      Use an Antonov 225

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      didn't read the article? @BoxedSet

      > or AA should buy a few Hercules transport planes

      Article says it was a US Airways flight, not American.

      But, you know, attention to details is over-rated.

  7. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Was it the Dean of Unseen University?

    always referred to as "two-chairs".

    Mine is the one with the Unseen University logo.

  8. Charles Calthrop
    Thumb Down


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well if they would just stop eating genes they'd lose weight.

    2. AndyS
      Thumb Down

      Funny how few people have those "genes" in countries where calories cost more, isn't it?

  9. Red Bren

    Wrong solution

    Why wasn't the fat passenger made to stand?

    It's time that airlines and other public transport* providers enforced width restrictions on passengers. If you're too wide to fit in a single seat with the arm rests down, you either pay for two seats** when you book, or face being surcharged or denied boarding if there's no space for your wide load.

    But why is height being brought into the discussion? Being tall is not a lifestyle choice. Being fat is. If anyone thinks I'm being unfair and wants to disagree, can they provide links to peer-reviewed medical reports showing obesity is a disease that can't be cured by healthy eating and regular exercise?

    * I'm sick of fat people sitting next to me on trains.

    ** To be fair, you should get the second seat at a discount or get the additional baggage allowance.

    1. Lloyd

      I'm sick of fat people sitting next to me on trains?

      I don't even sit on trains any more, my shoulders are too broad to even contemplate using one seat. On a plane my body sits quite happily between the armrests but.... I have very broad shoulders and I do kinda have arms that spill onto the rests, it not a lifestyle choice, I'm not obese I'm just built like a brick shithouse, I can't help it.

      1. MrCheese

        Train Seats

        I'd imagine plane seats will, if they haven't already, go the same way as train seats, i.e. as wide as your torso with your arms and shoulders removed, one of the regional news programmes actually demonstrated it to a train operator who mumbled useless hyperbole and left!

        If I find the link I'll re-post!

        1. Graham Marsden


          You're probably looking for something broadcast by South Today as Penny Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North raised this matter in Parliament regarding the seats in the 450 class as operated by South West trains which are ridiculously small (16.9 inches wide, ie smaller than my keyboard!)

    2. dr2chase

      I think you're being a tad arbitrary

      I manage to not be obese, mostly by exercise, some by diet, but I am still overweight (220lbs, weighed as little as 175 in college -- at that point I was dense enough to not float). Losing ten more pounds would be very difficult, because my body has found its happy-weight-place. The exercise (bicycle commuting to work on nice-enough days) goes up in the summer, at which point I lose about 3 lbs and get ravenously hungry ("mmmm, look at that roadkill.")

      So on the one hand, just as the very-tall are offered extra leg room at more cost, so should the very fat be offered extra-wide seats at more cost.

      But it would also be nice to cut everyone just a bit of extra slack. After all, look at all the "carry-on" luggage that people are incapable of actually carrying, and all the time wasted at departure and arrival as they struggle to heft their too-heavy-for-them bag in and out of the overheads. For some people, being that weak is a medical condition, but everyone knows that with regular exercise and an active lifestyle ....

      1. James Micallef Silver badge


        easyjet has the right cabin-baggage policy here: Fixed maximum size, no weight limit as long as you can lift it into the overhead bin unaided

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "my body has found its happy-weight-place."

        in other words, you have reached a point where you are too lazy to get more in shape.

      3. Blitterbug

        Cutting peeps slack is all very well...

        ...but aeroplanes are not like restaurants where chunkies can be accomodated relatively easily - I don't want to be worried because some hideous salad-dodger is tipping the wings. I'm overweight myself but not overwide, but still acknowledge I'm a fecking greedy git and that's why I'm a chubster.

      4. Vic

        > I manage to not be obese ... 220lbs

        If you're less than 6ft tall, that's a BMI[1] of at least 30, which is indicative of obesity...


        [1] Yes, I know BMI is a blunt instrument, which is why I said "indicative of obesity". But if you've got a BMI of 30 and you're not a professional rugby player, you're probably obese...

    3. Jim Morrow

      > I'm sick of fat people sitting next to me on trains.

      you lucky bastard! how the fuck did you manage to get a seat on a train?

      or are you standing next to the lardarses who are sitting?

  10. Code Monkey
    Thumb Up

    "sweaty hambeasts"

    Ah if only I were looking for a new commentard name...

    1. Captain Save-a-ho


      A new unit of measure

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reclining seats ...

    reminds me of a time in New Jersey, when I got put up in a hotel used by airline staff ... there were some checkin girls having a drink nearby, and they were swapping tales of how they dealt with pain-in-the-ass travellers.

    They all agreed that putting them in the seat near the rear door was a good one ... it didn't recline, and you had the banging of the toilet door every few minutes ... not fun on an 8 hour journey.

  12. Northern Fop

    Reclining seats and inconsiderate gits

    There's simply no need for a reclining seat for journeys of less than 4 hours, and I for one would *happily* do without a reclining seat on any length of flight if it meant the person in front was unable to recline theirs.

    Oh, and just because you've finished your meal doesn't mean I've finished mine, you selfish drink-toppling oaf.

    [lightbulb moment]

    If you have to have reclining seats, why not have the controls available to the person behind you! Or at least a little tethered locking pin. It's genuis I tell you!!

    1. BenM 29 Silver badge

      >>Oh, and just because you've finished your meal doesn't mean I've finished mine, you selfish drink-toppling oaf.

      When this last happend to me, I just shoved my knees into the back of the reclined seat. Being not particularly short helps here. The berk soon straightened up his chair;


    2. Chris Miller

      It's genius and it's been done

      Or you can go on Ryanair whose fleet have non-reclining seats, though you may feel there are compensating drawbacks.

      1. Northern Fop

        Knee Defender

        OMFG I'm getting me some of those.

        Thanks, Chris.

      2. Andus McCoatover

        Ryanair's little joke

        Their fleet have non-reclining seats, sure.

        So, why, in preparation for landing do they tell you to "Make sure your seat is in the upright position" ?

      3. Winkypop Silver badge
        Thumb Up


        Thanks for the link

    3. Hungry Sean
      Thumb Up

      here here

      I'm by no means tall, but the various American carriers like to pack seats so tight (at least on domestic flights) that your knees end up shoved against the back of your fellow passenger regardless. The seat goes back and it's not just against my knees, I no longer have room to hold a book in front of myself to read. If they're going to pack the seats so tight, they should take out the reclining.

      1. perlcat

        It's never been a problem for me.

        I always carry a few takeout pepper packets on long flights. If I get someone leaning their seat all the way back into my privates, I drink a glass of water, open a packet, snort some pepper, and sneeze onto their head six or seven times. It takes longer with kids -- their parents have to see their kids head actually getting wet before the old lightbulb comes on, and they make Junior sit back up.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Im not phat

    I'm big boned.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm big boned.....

      So's a stegosaurus!

      (Thanks to Judy Tenuta for that one)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

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

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

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Discrimination against fat people

    The only discrimination that's still socially acceptable

    1. rav

      You are wrong.

      If you are a rickshaw peddler and a fat person sat in your rickshaw charging them more is not discrimination, it is a surcharge.

      1. Oliver Mayes

        "If you are a rickshaw peddler and a fat person sat in your rickshaw charging them more is not discrimination, it is a surcharge."

        But think of the wear and tear savings that come with having your front wheel pointing up in the air.

    2. James Hughes 1

      What about the discrimination of the normal human who was unable to sit down on a seat he paid for?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      and gingers.

    4. Dr. Mouse


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

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

    5. David Cantrell

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

      1. perlcat

        socially acceptable discrimination

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

        1. Stoneshop

          Not halfway soon enough

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

    6. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      The only one?

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

      By comparison, Americans are entirely comfortable with fat people.

  16. John Macintyre
    Thumb Down

    excess baggage?

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

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

  17. Tom Reg

    It is essentially illegal to not wear your seatbelt now days

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

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

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

  18. Gary F

    There's always the cargo bay

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

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

    1. ian 22

      Put them in the cargo bay

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

    2. Stratman

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

      1. Stoneshop

        Why heat indeed

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

    3. Dozer

      There's always the cargo bay

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

  19. SkippyBing

    Flight Safety?

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

    1. Graham Marsden

      @Flight Safety?

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

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

  20. Rob Morton

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

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <payback> in a modest way

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

    1. Flashy Red


  22. The Vociferous Time Waster

    I had this problem

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

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

  23. Greg J Preece

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

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

    1. Captain Save-a-ho

      You mean?

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

      You mean First Class/Business Class?

      1. Greg J Preece

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

        1. Vic

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

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

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


          1. Chris Miller


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

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

            1. Vic

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

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

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

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


        2. RichardB

          Orange Juice?


          1. Richard 120


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

  24. Randolf McKinley

    Reclining seats

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

    1. Big Cheese Jong Jong

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

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

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


  25. Alan_


    "The only discrimination that's still socially acceptable"

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

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

  26. rav
    Thumb Up

    It's all about the arm rest.

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

    1. Tim Bergel


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

  27. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    As a fattie and longie,..

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

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

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

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

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

    1. Notas Badoff

      Natural allies

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

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

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

    2. JAK 1


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

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

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

  28. Ian Michael Gumby
    IT Angle

    So wrong on so many levels...

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

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

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

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

    1. Matthew 3

      Can't sit in the jump seats?

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

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

  29. JeffyPooh

    An 8-foot tall man from India

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

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

  30. TeeCee Gold badge

    Reminds me....

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

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

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

    1. Flashy Red

      WTF is a "female seat"?

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

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

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

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

  31. Twits R 4 Twats


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

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

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

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

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Sort of both

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

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

  32. Dazed and Confused

    Large != Fat, at least not always

    Not all large passengers are fat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just weight

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

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

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

  34. Simon 6

    There are already plenty of extra large seats...

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

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Welcome to the future

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

  36. Number6

    Arm rests

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

  37. cloudgazer

    The arm rests are your friends

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

  38. Eddy Ito

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

  39. Mark Simon

    Flight Staff were partialy to blame

    Assuming that the gentleman in question didn’t gain an extra 100Kg between the door and the seat, staff were in a position to address the issue before the flight took off.

    I have had flights delayed for lesser reasons, such as people trying to find storage for their so-called cabin luggage, so putting in a bit of extra time resolving what is essentially a safety issue would have been appropriate.

    Had there been turbulence a standing passenger is at risk. Had there been another emergency, then having somebody like that anywhere at all is a major obstruction, and again poses a risk to other passengers.

    As for playing the sympathy or disability card, although there are occasional genuine cases of unavoidable largesse, the main medical reason for obesity is the medical fact that too much of the wrong sort of food and not enough of the right sort of activity leads to, well, too much.

  40. Nater

    I wonder what America (or increasingly Britain) would have to do in case of an epic war. Obviously, fat people are no good for war unless you're going to use them as bullet sponges. Probably not something you could get away with, even with massive propaganda.

    Just think if the US had to draft millions of conscripts today. It'd have to run fat camps to get them prepared to go into boot camp. I'm sure at some level, the US military is very worried about this. The US military, at least the ground pounders that fight, have always been some of the most fit human beings on the planet. This generally being the opinion of French or British military brass who have needed them to beat equally large and scary Teutonic super men.

    1. peterkin

      That's why the US prefers to let UAVs and drones do its fighting for it.

  41. a_mu

    tall people

    tall people can't complain when people in front recline their seat

    thats the air lines choice on seat pitch.

    BUT: people who recline their chair on to the tall person, cant complain about having a back massage all the way from the person behind.

    thats the airlines choice on seat pitch.

    when seats are set such that mr average has an interference fit in the seat,

    then , by the beauty of the Gaussian curve and probability, half of the people are going to find the seats too close together for comfort or safety ( DVT )

  42. Just Thinking

    There are two issues here. This guy needed two seats, and he damn well knew it. He shouldn't have been allowed to occupy a second seat while the person who had paid for it had to stand. He is a selfish f*ck for even doing that. If there wasn't a spare seat because he hadn't told the airline he needed one, he should have been kicked off the flight (or have left voluntarily).

    That isn't discrimination, it is just fairness. If you can't fit in one seat you need to be allocated two.

    The second question of how this is addressed and who bears the cost is completely separate. It depends to what extent you consider obesity to be a disability or a lifestyle choice, along with other "disabilities" (in this context) of being tall or very broad shouldered (obviously not lifestyle choices).

    The point is, the emotive second question shouldn't influence the first. It should never be acceptable to spread yourself out over two seats while the person who paid for one of them has to stand.

  43. Winkypop Silver badge

    Trans Pacific Wobblefest

    I once spent an uncomfortable evening wrapped in the excess folds of a large American woman.

    We were seated in the 2 seats at the very back of a 747SP. The yaw was almost constant, LA to Sydney.

    It became a flabslide when we hit the turbulence over the equator.

    Never again, I hope.

    Did I mention the B.O?

    1. MJI Silver badge

      This sounds pervy

      as above

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