A 19 year old woman flying from Las Vegas to New York was assigned a middle seat, and reports she was between two larger passengers who didn’t “fit comfortably into their seats.” She reports their shoulders and thighs were “on top of” hers. And after an hour and a half of this she got up and discretely asked a flight attendant if she could change to an open seat in another row?
She felt awkward moving her bag from underneath the seat in front of her, but thought the ordeal was over when she moved a few rows back. However at the end of the flight when she deplaned, she found the woman who had been sitting next to her waiting for her at the gate:
She essentially told me that I had embarrassed her and the other man and that traveling while plus-sized is hard enough without “people treating fatness like a contagious disease”. She also said that I made it a public demonstration to everyone that plus sized passengers are an “inconvenience” and opened the door to fatphobia on flights.
Now the passenger who moved to give herself more room feels bad, and wonders whether she should have “just stuck it out” and been uncomfortable to preserve her seat opponent’s feelings?
This is absurd. As a general rule the best course of action is always to secure the most personal space possible on a plane within airline rules. This woman didn’t even just move to an empty seat on her own going rogue, she was invited to move by a flight attendant. She did nothing wrong.
And it is always your responsibility to buy the space you need for yourself under standard circumstances on a plane, whether that’s a first class seat or a second coach seat for an empty middle. If you fit in a standard coach seat, great. If you don’t, you need to secure enough space so that you don’t inconvenience other passengers. I like the long-time Southwest policy of refunding the second seat to a passenger who purchased it because of their size if the flight winds up less than full.