This story is bizarre, but not even for the reason that you think.
Last Friday an American Airlines passenger preparing to depart Dallas Fort-Worth for Orange County was asked to leave the plane “for being too big.” He’s 6 feet tall, 260 pounds, which seems like a weight and height of a person who flies every day without incident.
He was seated in a middle seat, and the woman sitting in the aisle got up and walked to the front, spoke to a flight attendant, and that’s when cabin crew approached to eject him from the aircraft.
Passengers of size are always a controversial issue. Seats are tight, and how much space one person may take up versus another brings out heated debate. I tend to think that a passenger should be entitled to the space in between the armrests. But what about the armrests themselves? Who gets that?
I rather like Southwest’s policy of making passengers of size purchase two seats — and then have one seat refunded to them if the flight isn’t full. Southwest therefore tries to accommodate them with enough space for free if they can, but on a full flight the passenger has to pay for enough space so as not to encroach on the space of others. This policy draws substantial fire quite regularly.
Here’s what’s strange about this case: the complaining woman had the aisle seat. She “agreed to simply switch to the middle seat, so he could lean into the aisle.”
That turns everything I know completely on its head.
- When you want more room, you take the aisle so you can lean into it.
- You do not want the middle seat ever.
- The middle seat is more cramped, with passengers usually on either side of you.
You do not trade a middle seat for an aisle seat, especially with someone whom you are complaining is too big to sit next to you. Who gives up their aisle seat, preferring a middle, when they’re complaining of not having enough room?
From the middle of November through the beginning of January, strange things happen on airplanes. Strange things indeed.