United Implements Policy on Oversized Passengers

Every time an airline implements a new policy on accommodating “larger” passengers I get a lot of questions from reporters. Apparently many folks consider this a disability issue.

I don’t.

Why not?

Well, not every large passenger has a disability, nor is every disabled passenger large. Can a person be large because of a disability? Sure. But they can just be large period. In fact, I know many large able-bodied people; and a lot of skinny disabled people.

Right now most airlines try to accommodate large passengers without encroaching on the space of other passengers. After all, everyone paid for a seat so everyone should get that full seat space. Many airlines have policies in place regarding large passengers. United is the latest airline to jump on that bandwagon.

If a passenger can’t fasten their seat belt with an extension or put the armrest down without flowing over into the adjoining seat space, United now has a policy in place to address the problem. If there is a vacant seat on that flight, then flight attendants will try and move the passenger to accommodate them at no charge. If the flight is full, United now requires the passenger to buy a second adjoining seat on the next available flight. Passengers will be charged the same price for the second seat as they paid for their original seat, and they will get the extra baggage allowance that goes with that seat.

To be honest, that seems fair to me.

Why? Because it’s equitable.

If a person traveling with medical equipment, such as a ventilator can’t fit the equipment under their seat, they have to buy a second seat for the medical equipment. So it just seems fair for large passengers to have to pay for the amount of space their body occupies. Disabled or able-bodied, everybody should be treated equally.

After all, space is space. The bottom line is, you should get the amount of space you purchased. And if that’s not enough to accommodate you, then you should purchase more.