There’s an article making the rounds about a plus sized passenger who is unhappy she has to pay for two seats in order to fit into the airline seat. As you might suspect, comments are running pretty heavily against Jae’lynn Chaney. Most people think if she wants a free seat, she should simply lose some weight.
While I don’t disagree with the general sentiment, I do think there’s a larger issue at play here than simply Chaney’s weight.
As most of you readers probably know, I’m a robust 5’ 7 1/2” tall and 160 lbs. of twisted steel and sex appeal. In other words, I’m short and thin. Airline seats are comfortable enough for me but not by a lot. I don’t have much room to either side and if anyone even moderately larger sits next to me it starts to be a squeeze.
I have tall friends and they aren’t happy with the seat size in airplanes. People are getting bigger and seats are getting smaller. That’s reality. If you’re a plus sized passenger or even just a tall person, it’s not comfortable to sit in them.
We all know the reason seats are shrinking. It’s to get more seats on the plane. More seats. More tickets to sell. At this point, I’d say the average person doesn’t find airplane seats comfortable.
Define a Plus Sized Passenger
This is where things get tricky. How do we define a plus sized passenger? If the average person in the United States cannot comfortably fit in the seat, is that the problem of the passenger or the airline?
If the airlines continue to shrink seats so almost no one can fit comfortably, should we all have to pay for two tickets?
Certainly, as a Libertarian, I think the airline can make the seats whatever size they want and charge people accordingly. It’d be nice if the government hadn’t subsidized air and car travel to the tune of trillions of dollars and we had competitive rail.
Sadly, that’s not reality. If we want to get from one place in the country to another in a reasonable amount of time, airplanes are pretty much our only choice. If you’re a plus sized passenger, you’re going to be uncomfortable or pay twice the rate.
It’s my opinion air travel has never been nor will ever be a profitable enterprise without government subsidies. We don’t have viable alternatives because the government squeezed passenger rail almost out of existence.
We’re stuck with ever decreasing seat sizes and uncomfortable travel. One day you’ll be the one who no longer fits in the seat.