May 3, 2009

There are some people who think anything over size 8 is plus-size. I do not want these people in any position of power.

Recently, United Airlines announced that extra-large passengers will have to purchase the seat next to them if they do not fit in the seat, can't lower the arm rest, or need an extra seatbelt extender. Whether or not this policy is right or wrong is up for debate but worst of all is that they have left the decision to enforce it with airline staff at the check-in counter of the airport.

This can lead to nothing but trouble. To begin with, what if you don't think you're that fat? You're feeling good, turn up at the airport for your flight and suddenly the agent informs you that you have to pay double? That's ten years of therapy right there.

There is just no practical way to execute this policy. What are they going to do, ask people to step on the scale? Good luck getting any woman to do that. If I don't want to get weighed in the privacy of my doctors office with no one observing but the nurse, what are the chances I'm going to stand on scales at an airport in front of hundreds of strangers?

Perhaps they will decide to build a metal cage like the one they have for carry-on luggage. Then people will be asked to get in the cage and if their flesh pokes through the bars they'll be declared over the size limit. You know people will try to squish themselves in and saying, "It's not me, it's my outfit. I'm wearing layers."

A big part of the problem is that what constitutes fat is subjective. There are some people who think anything over size 8 is plus-size. I do not want these people in any position of power. So when they interview them to work at the airport will they have tests that can screen for a potential fattist? They're scarier than any terrorist.

I know this decision is intended for people who are obese but once it's in the hands of the airline staff, anything can happen. Let's say they're having a bad day and feeling vengeful. Where you sit and whether or not you get on the flight often comes down to their mood. Or in my case, personality. I've been in situations where I suspect they tell me there are no aisle seats left just because I got on their nerves. What happens if I ask one question too many?

I can hear it now. "Sorry, looks like you're too fat to fly."

Also, I'm wondering if they are given instructions on what to say? Because there really is no good way to deliver this news. In Britain I bet they're very polite about it. "May I suggest you purchase another seat because your girth exceeds the limit." Whereas in New York, it's a lawsuit waiting to happen.

There's so much anxiety about travelling as it is, do we really need one more thing to worry about? At what point does a heavy passenger have to begin to consider they might not make it to their destination? Even if the airline staff lets them through, they can still be kicked off the flight if a passenger complains and there are no available extra seats for them to move to.

I'll complain about a lot of things but I would never complain about that. Because no matter how uncomfortable it is for me, I think it must be worse for them. I save my complaints for behavourial traits, not physical ones. Why not make someone with poor parenting skills purchase another seat? Or someone who's wearing cheap cologne? Screen for that at the ticketing counter please.