Flying While Fat = Extra Seat on Southwest Airlines

Here is an article about a woman who is suing Southwest Airlines for “discriminatory” practices for making her buy an extra seat to accommodate her extra large behind:


I’ve seen dozens of articles like this pop up over the last few years and have often tilted my head at how airlines handle this very delicate situation. Don’t get me wrong, Southwest Airlines isn’t the only airline to target passengers of size with their new policy but they certainly seem to be the one that pops up in the news most often.

I think that on some level it is reasonable to require a passenger to buy an extra seat if their body encroaches on another person’s seat but wonder how Southwest Airlines would handle the following situations:

* A person who is over 6’5″ whose shoulders cause the person sitting next to them to have to try to fold themselves in half.

* A person with extremely foul body odor.

* A person traveling with a small child who is disruptive for the entire flight.


My point is that we don’t generally have “sections” on flights that accommodate children or extra tall people so we have to make due with what we have. That means that passengers like myself who fit in the seat but who might need a seatbelt extender have to try to squeeze in as much as possible. Sometimes I am wedged between two men who are absurdly tall and I am left feeling like a sardine. Is my comfort not as important as theirs?

I am beginning to wonder if policies such as the above unfairly target women travelers.

I don’t really have a moral to the story for this article but think that we should all be aware when flying. Do your best to check the seat pitch and width of the seats for the airline on which you are traveling. You can visit a site like and see the width for just about every airline in the world!


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