JoeCanuck wrote:77H wrote:JoeCanuck wrote:
From the article, it doesn't seem like this lady has any problem speaking her mind, so if she had a problem with the race of the other passengers, I have no doubts we would have heard about it.
Until we hear otherwise, I'm going to assume this was a problem of size, not race.
I totally agree that she could have been more, (or even a little), diplomatic...but if her space was being usurped by her fellow passengers, she absolutely had a valid complaint.
The thing is...I don't blame the passengers...I blame the airlines. They know the size of their seats and yet they set no standards regarding the size of people who can comfortably fit in them. When tickets are purchased, seat size should be clearly stated so passengers are aware of how much space they are allotted.
It's not just a social issue...it's also a safety issue. Airline flying itself is not a right. Not everybody can fit in every airline seat, the same way that not everyone can fit in every car or pair of pants.
What is, (or should be), a right, is being able to use all of the space you pay for.
Sorry Joe but I have to disagree. I just had this conversation with a friend last week. When it comes to obese passengers, airlines are in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.
1) If airlines started to ask passengers their weight and dimensions prior to purchase there would be a public uproar. Beyond that, people lie. I used to do weight and balance for a helicopter tour company and it was mandatory for us to ask the weight of passengers during the booking process. People would lie all the time only to find a scale at the front counter during check in for their tour.
1.5) Years ago, many airlines started enforcing policies that mandated that obese customers would need to buy two seats upon check in at the airport but this is harder to enforce now that a passenger can go from curbside to the gate without talking to an employee. Moreover, broaching that subject with a customer is an extremely delicate matter and rarely has or had a good outcome which is why most airlines have abandoned the initiative.
2) We live in the age of instant information. In my opinion, ignorance is not no one else's fault but one's own these days. Since this specific incident happened on United, I checked both united.com and the United mobile app and both provide information on seat width and pitch. Took me less than 30 seconds to look up both. The website even gives definitions of seat width, pitch," etc... There are also third party resources like SeatGuru that will provide that information should the specific airline you're flying not publish that info. Buying airline tickets is generally not an inexpensive purchase for the majority of people. Why people wouldn't take the time to look up what exactly they are getting for their money is beyond me, but their burden to bare if they don't, because the information is out there. Most people wouldn't buy a smart phone, a TV or laptop without looking up what they are getting. Airline tickets can easily be as expensive as each of them.
3) I've been seated next to my fair share of larger passengers, including on a 8.5 hr flight so I get how frustrating and uncomfortable it can be. But passive aggressively calling someone on the phone to complain about passengers seated on either side of you is just tasteless. Instead of conducting yourself in a way that's sure to make a scene, perhaps, ask the aisle seat customer to please get up to allow you the chance to speak to a flight attendant or even the gate agent and explain the situation discretely and get an understanding about what can be done.
I have no problem being critical of airlines when they are in the wrong but I struggle to see how an airline can be blamed for this. Her poor decision to talk about these customers essentially to their faces is likely to create the type of tensions you don't want to escalate once in the air. Best to remove the customer who caused it and move on.
The tensions were started when the middle seat was infringed upon by the two outside passengers. What the lady did, was react to it. That she could have been more diplomatic about how she reacted, isn't in doubt, but in my mind, she did have every right to object to the situation.
The outer passengers merely went along with what the airline allowed. The middle passenger was upset because space that she paid for, was being used by other passengers. In a kinder, gentler world, each person would have tried to cope with the situation as it was but this ain't that world.
She paid for a seat, which includes all of the space on the plane allotted to that seat.
The fault is entirely the airline's. They set the seat size. They allow people too large for the seats, to occupy those seats. It's the airline that embraces check in systems that doesn't allow for passenger seat suitability checks. That gives the 'too large for the seats' passengers tacit approval to encroach on seat space they didn't pay for, and someone else did. Then, they penalize the person who has been victimized by their policy.
The good thing for all of us is that every time a person complains about this very real problem and it hits the news, it's one step closer to finding solutions.
There is really no feasible way to do passenger suitability checks on the scale of thousands of flights a day per airline especially when factoring in things like codeshare and interlines. Lets be real please. Additionally, can you even begin to imagine the blow back airlines would receive if they denied service based on weight and size of passengers, especially at the airport during check in or boarding? The lawsuits alone would be staggering and likely cripple most airlines.
Perhaps the larger passengers should have done the proper thing and bought the middle seat between them but again, there is little in the way of self accountability and decency on that end either. Why is it incumbent on the airline to mandate this? Are you in favor of car manufacturers being mandated to limit the speeds of their vehicles to the maximum speed limit in the area in which you bought it? Instead of needing Big Brother Government to mandate and regulate every facet of life, perhaps encourage people around you to take accountability for themselves and act with common sense and decency.
And again, I'm not saying that this woman didn't have a right to be upset about the situation. I would be upset and frustrated too. But she handled it very poorly. She acted in a way that was sure to create tension and altercations and was disruptive to other passengers. Again, not the type of behavior you want to break out later in flight. There were multiple ways she could have handled this that would have likely had different outcomes. She chose a way that ultimately got her moved to a later flight.