Airlines - Wide Bodies May Pay More
United Airlines is not offering a friendly flying experience for anyone tipping the scales and having trouble fitting into a coach seat.
The airline is cracking down on plus-size passengers and plans to charge them for a second ticket or an upgrade, regardless of whether there is an empty seat next to them. The new policy applies to United and United Express flight, reports USA Today.
The airline reports it had 700 complaints about oversize passengers last year.
With the cost of fuel, fewer planes are flying and those that are usually full.
Airline industry consultant Robert Mann tells Marketplace that United is following Southwest in charging heavy passengers more.
“Certainly you aren't going to make friends with an individual that is confronted with that sort of policy. The question will be is if that individual is confronted with that sort of policy industry wide. Do they just choose to not fly or do they choose to pay up?”
Canadian policy tries to provide extra room for the obese as they consider it a medical issue. But in the U.S., being obese is not a category protected from discrimination such as race, sex, religion, age, or gender.
Will the policy please more people than it angers? And who decides how obese one has to be to be charged extra?
How It Works
A flight attendant will first try to accommodate a person with two empty seats together. If there is not one, the gate agent will talk privately with the passenger. He can be offered a second seat on a later flight without paying the change fee.
Passengers who do not cooperate may not be allowed to fly.
Delta already allows a heavy passenger to buy another seat at the lowest fare available.
Continental says it has a heavy passenger policy similar to what United is proposing. Southwest charges heavy passengers for two seats if they take up additional space and has had that policy for 28 years.
On Southwest, if a passenger cannot lower the arm rest between seats, that signals an additional seat should be arranged.
Passengers who are not sure if they are obese, can calculate their BMI or body mass index, to see if they are overweight, obese, normal, or underweight. #