United Airlines obese passengers to pay for two seats

Tuesday, April 21, 2009, 10:32 by Aviation Correspondent

United Airlines has announced that obese passengers may have to pay the price for two seats when boarding the plane.

Obese individuals who are too hefty for one seat, may have to pay for two seats.

However, United Airlines said that this will only happen in case the passenger could not be relocated to an empty seat.

According to a statement from United Airlines, obese passengers will be moved from their seats by stewards, if they are unable to lower the armrest and buckle a seatbelt with an additional extension cord.

The steward will try to move the obese passenger to two empty seats on the same flight, at no additional cost.

However, if there are no seats available in the flight, the passenger will have to change their ticket to the next available flight and purchase a second seat for that flight.

This move was a result of complaints being received by the airline from its passengers about discomfort while sitting next to obese passengers.

United Airlines said, “The new policy was created for the comfort and well-being of all our guests onboard, some of whom do not have a comfortable flight because the person next to them infringed on their seat.”

“We have implemented this policy to help ensure that everyone’s travel experiences with United are comfortable and pleasant,” the carrier said.

United Airlines’ policy for obese passengers will apply to tickets purchased on or after March 4, 2009, for travel on or after April 15, 2009.

United Airlines is a Chicago based carrier. It is the ninth such carrier to have placed restrictions on obese passengers.

Two-thirds of Americans are considered obese according to the US Centres for Disease Control.

The policy has come in for some flak from organisations like the Obesity Action Coalition that has said that if obese passengers would be humiliated if they had to perform an armrest test in full-view in a full-capacity aircraft.

Carrie Padian, president of the Fat Rights Coalition was quoted as saying that United Airlines’ new policy for obese passengers was about making money, and that while it was understandable to move an obese person to another flight, but charging them for a second seat was blatant discrimination.

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