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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Wait Until the Fatosphere Gets a Load of This

posted by on June 3 at 16:53 PM

Those wacky size-acceptance bloggers—a.k.a. the fatosphere (it’s what they call themselves!)—will never forgive Southwest Airlines for having the gall to make fat passengers who need two seats… pay for two seats. Now some some airlines are contemplating treating passengers as freight. I know, I know: it feels like we’re freight now. But with fuel prices soaring airlines are thinking outside the box

Imagine two scales at the airline ticket counter, one for your bags and one for you. The price of a ticket depends upon the weight of both.

After U.S. airlines reported combined first-quarter losses of $1.7 billion and crude oil jumped to a record $133.17 a barrel on May 21, almost double from a year earlier, fares based on a passenger’s weight may be a logical step, said Robert Mann, head of R.W. Mann & Co., an aviation consultant based in Port Washington, New York.

“If you look at the air-freight business, that’s the way they’ve always done it,” he said.

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I see no problem with this.

Posted by Mr. Poe | June 3, 2008 5:08 PM

From an engineering perspective, this only makes sense. The energy cost in a plane ticket is the proportional to your mass.

Posted by Mr. Joshua | June 3, 2008 5:11 PM

Or if you look at the mustache ride business. Same deal.

Posted by elenchos | June 3, 2008 5:11 PM

I am in no way slight, but the idea of fat people getting all bent out of shape over this is hilarious. Thank you, Slog, for providing yet another source of laughter for my impending dinner conversation.

Posted by Aislinn | June 3, 2008 5:11 PM

Incentives for not being fat are now even more explicit.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 3, 2008 5:14 PM

Maybe this will shame fatties off planes -- as a near-weekly business traveler, I can only dream of this...

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | June 3, 2008 5:16 PM

Oh, yeah, because this guy is a "consultant", right. Airline fare pricing is already a hugely complex system, with god only knows how many variables -- every time you fly, it is quite likely that every single person on the plane paid a different amount. They do this because they believe they can maximize revenue this way, while still tempting you with the possibility of the lowest fare.

I would be stunned if any actual airlines were contemplating this. Mr. Mann is blowing smoke out of his ass. He's probably some laid-off middle management dude looking to pad his resume.

Posted by Fnarf | June 3, 2008 5:16 PM

I have no issue with this either. I weigh less than some peoples' checked bags/golf clubs/whatever.

Posted by Wolf | June 3, 2008 5:17 PM

Good. I think people who are fat enough or just big enough to spill over into another seat should pay for the 2nd seat. My last hop over to Spokane on a full plane was happily only an hour long ride because the Amazon fat chick in the seat next to me had an ass as wide as the tail gate on my F-250. So much of her was incontact w/me I was sweating from the heat and she was covered up w/a blanket (barely). No appology either for pinning me against my seats arm rest opposite her. I paid for all my seat and she got 1/2. At least she didn't get any cheez' on me.
BTW - why are fat chicks always cold and fat guys wear shorts and a t-shirt year round? Human physiology is weird.

Posted by Kevin | June 3, 2008 5:17 PM

Maybe they can also find a way to make the seat sizes variable, so one person who would otherwise take up one and a half seats won't have to monopolize two.

Posted by keshmeshi | June 3, 2008 5:24 PM

This would be great - finally being a scrawny little guy would pay off big!

Posted by poo | June 3, 2008 5:28 PM

I work for an airline and I think this should be absolutely mandatory. For every flight a negotiation of sorts takes place where we take into account the wieght of every single thing onboard the aircraft. The only "false weight" is the actual weight of each passenger. We use an average. In the summer you weigh something like 148, in the winter (because you wear more clothes and eat more meat) you weigh 158. When a flight is full we will and often do pull things (bags) from the aircraft. It's generally 50-100 lbs to get the plane back in balance.

We all know that most americans don't weigh 148 lbs.

Posted by Bryce Beamish | June 3, 2008 5:33 PM

This would be great if they measured people according to volume and not mass, so those of us who spend time working out at the gym to have a svelte, beautifully toned, high muscle-mass/low body fat figure, wouldn't have to pay the same fare as some pasty-assed passenger.

Posted by The Artist Formerly Known As Sigourney Beaver | June 3, 2008 5:36 PM

those of us who spend time working out at the gym to have a svelte, beautifully toned, high muscle-mass/low body fat figure

Stop it. I'm laughing so hard I can barely go on.

Posted by Wolf | June 3, 2008 5:40 PM

I'm betting that won't be happening, but it would be pretty awesome, since right now I pay full fare for my 30 and 40 pound small people. Not that anyone wants a plane full of them...

Posted by jkjk | June 3, 2008 5:42 PM

Instead of shaming large folks off planes, I think this will give large folks the right to flip up the armrests and say, "Fuck you, bag of bones, I paid more to be on this flight than you did, and I'm going to take up all the space I've got coming to me."

Posted by Dan Savage | June 3, 2008 5:46 PM

Airlines could actually rationalize charging based on mass. It makes a difference in fuel costs; though probably not enough to matter.
Rewarding you for looking nice is ridiculous and mean.

Posted by Matt | June 3, 2008 5:47 PM

Considering fat-obese individuals usually don't even know HOW MUCH they weigh (they fear seeing the number, don't have a big enough scale, or don't care -yaright-)

this could also help some see what it is they weigh

facts! oh my

Posted by Non | June 3, 2008 5:49 PM

Mmmmmmmm...can't you just FEEL the love in the Slog tonight?

Posted by pgreyy | June 3, 2008 5:50 PM

Yes...if you occupy two seats, you pay for two seats.

If you don't, you don't. That really seems pretty simple.

It's not "shaming large folks off planes," it's paying for the space you take. Let's have large folks on planes...but if they take two seats, they should pay for those two seats. Periods.

The same as the rest of us would have to do.

Posted by Wolf | June 3, 2008 5:52 PM

I think "sphere-o-sphere" sounds nicer.

Posted by flamingbanjo | June 3, 2008 6:07 PM

So is being fat a choice whereas being gay is some deep genetically determined biological fact? An immutable wiring diagram?

I love how special interest groups eat each other. Pun intended.

Posted by Bob | June 3, 2008 6:44 PM

When I was flying around the islands of Fiji on the local airline euphemistically called "Air Coconut", before every hop the agents would weigh you AND your bags. The reason for this is so the plane wouldn't get overloaded and crash and kill everyone on board, fatties and bean poles alike.

@17: if you don't think that our society and human cultures around the world in general don't reward people for looking nice, then you should pick up a freaking book.

Posted by Shilo Urban | June 3, 2008 6:44 PM

Wait. Wouldn't this affect just plain big and tall people? I'm a little fat, but I certainly don't take up two seats anywhere. I don't think I should pay more than my roommate, who weighs 70 pounds less than me, but takes up far more psychological space by being needy and ADD.

This is tribalist? Racist? ethnicityist? It's hurting those of us from, say, Scandinavia, and helping pygmies, dwarfs, and Asians.

The only comfortable flight I've ever been on was determined to be because we got the special basketball players normal plane (between games or seasons I guess) and we had lots o leg room.

Posted by Wait a second. | June 3, 2008 6:55 PM

Excellent. As if going to the airport isn't irritating and frustrating enough, now everyone will see how much I weigh and I'll be depressed as well as angry. Always fun.

Posted by Abby | June 3, 2008 6:57 PM

A pay-per-pound system will never happen. The logistics would be insane, and probably discouraging enough to customers to cut into their bottom line. Most airlines already have policies in place that require purchasing two seats - but they seem even less enforced than carry-on rules.

90% of the complaints to Southwest are from customers that paid for a whole seat but didn't get it because the person next to them was so large. I have no interest in a policy that publicly shames people, but people, you HAVE to know how big you are.

I'm curious if anyone has ever been reimbursed for this - a neighboring passenger encroaching on their seat?

Posted by Dougsf | June 3, 2008 7:35 PM

Oops, I stand correct. MOST American airlines don't have official policies on passengers that require more than one seat. But Southwest does, as do most foreign carriers.

Posted by Dougsf | June 3, 2008 7:40 PM

@23: Obviously, society rewards people for good looks, but not usually in such a blatant or systematic way. Also, I didn't say it doesn't happen; I said it's wrong.

Posted by Matt | June 3, 2008 8:30 PM

No way they're going to give a discount to my 60lb kid. They're just going to surcharge me, like they do overweight luggage.

All part of the plan to make flying as unpleasant as humanly possible.

Posted by Big Sven | June 3, 2008 8:44 PM

@ 13 and 17, the plane doesn't understand mass, only weight distribution. So by weight is really what effects fuel economy.

Seattle to New York, $14.99/lb

Posted by monkey | June 3, 2008 9:30 PM

this is fucking awesome! finally, a monetary reward for being less than a buck ten.

ps - when I was very little my parents used to take us to a restaurant that had a similar set-up for the children's menu. before they seated you they weighed the children and charged based on your weight. no doubt my parents thought it was great because I probably only weighed 35 lbs at the time - no doubt I was a bargain!

Posted by stacy | June 3, 2008 9:38 PM

I only weigh 165, but the seats are so freaking tiny that I feel like I'm close to needing two seats. Maybe if they start charging based on weight, the airlines will be able to afford put in bigger seats for everyone.

Posted by pastanaut | June 4, 2008 6:31 AM

As a fat person, I do not, in principle at least, have a problem paying for more space, and I have done it on Southwest. What I have a problem with is that it is at the descretion of the ticketing agent (there is no weight or size guide) and that the seats on their planes have a solid ridge between them (and the arm rest does not generally go all the way up) so that even with two seats ("it is for your comfort and safety") I am MORE uncomfortable than trying to wedge into one. If I have to buy two tickets, I should at least have a more comfortable seat.

My pet peeve is people who think that anything up to a bag the size of a rhino is still carry on and insist on trying to jam it into the overhead bin... and flight attendant who allow it.

Posted by Viking | June 4, 2008 8:26 AM

So while we're making it harder for average taxpayers who lost their shirts to file for bankruptcy, can't we make it harder for the airlines to stay in Chapter 11 forever? That would be nice.

Posted by Greg | June 4, 2008 9:29 AM

Then we should measure people by WIDTH, not weight. I have no control over the fact that I'm 6-foot-5, and thus weigh more than scrawny little Dan. So I should pay a surcharge, even though I don't spill over into anyone else's seat?

No, I don't think measuring people's ass width is a good idea, but it's no less stupid than weighing them.

Posted by bigyaz | June 4, 2008 10:00 AM

Wouldn't that be hilarious? It would be like wrestlers trying to make their weight class. I wouldn't starve myself and vomit to lose weight, but I would if it saved me money!

Posted by Ashley | June 4, 2008 10:47 AM

I once flew a puddle jumper from ORD to TVC; it was so full of fat Midwesterners (and, admittedly, there were some weather challenges) that all our bags got left at ORD due to weight issues.

Posted by denverandy | June 4, 2008 10:58 AM
Posted by denverandy | June 4, 2008 11:03 AM

"the fatosphere (it’s what they call themselves!)" ... Actually it was a phrase coined by a major newspaper doing a story on fat bloggers. It just stuck.

These is actually old news and the "fatosphere" has already gotten a hold of it.

Oh, and fat people already know how fat they are. Get real already and stop hate mongering.

Posted by MJ | June 4, 2008 11:40 AM

I'm a person of size, and recently bought two seats for a flight from NYC to LAX. Because they oversold the plane, they told me that I would not be allowed to have the open second seat, and they seated a stand-by passenger there. And I never got a refund. The lawsuit is currently pending ...

Posted by Bob | June 4, 2008 11:43 AM

I weigh 195 but I easily fit into a narrow seat. Should I pay more because I weigh more? Probably.

In addition to weight, volume (as in, "I overflow my seat") should also be a factor. If you physically occupy more than one seat, you should have to pay for it. And the squished person either gets refunded their fare (courtesy of the obese one) or gets an unobstructed seat, whichever they want.

Perhaps they need a new metal frame cage at the airports like they've got for carry-on bags: You must fit between these two lines to pay for a single seat. Or just build a modern Iron Maiden.

Posted by Dan | June 4, 2008 12:15 PM

I'm sorry but I too have been caught on the over spillage of a too large for one seat flight, the same happens often in the Theater.

The worse part is if you say anything, no matter how polite, you are the bad guy.

Posted by patrick nyc | June 4, 2008 12:21 PM

yeah...let's reward anorexia. as if young people didn't have enough body issue worries.

Posted by john | June 4, 2008 1:07 PM

He is a little fact that I didn't know. All seats on an airplane are not the same width. Check out Some of the seats are narrower because of design needs of the aircraft.

So you may be paying full price for a smaller seat anyway.

Posted by Ed | June 4, 2008 2:04 PM

It's only fair to make people based on their weight to the extent that their weight is within their control. Since there is no way to determine this, it is inherently unfair. Just because you want to attribute your thinness to your personal superiority (self-discipline, healthy choices, whatever) doesn't mean that the only reason you are not fat is because you were genetically lucky. Someone who eats exactly what you eat and gets exactly as much exercise as you do could easily be 30% or more heavier due to nothing else but genetic differences. (For the record, I'm hovering at a BMI close to the line of demarcation for officially "obese," yet most people [other than gay men, of which I am one] wouldn't even describe me as fat, and I certainly wouldn't need more than one seat on a plane.)

Posted by mistaketv | June 4, 2008 2:53 PM

Let's just kill everyone we don't approve of and throw their bodies into the cargo hold. Problem solved.

I've seen some hating on Slog comments before, but this beats it all.

How about holding the airlines just a little bit responsible: seats have gotten progressively narrower over the years, at the exact time the American public has gotten progressively larger. Maybe if there was an emphasis on decent customer service (like providing enough leg and hip room for the average American), not just on cramming more bodies into the space available, we wouldn't all hate flying so much.

Posted by Mark | June 4, 2008 2:57 PM

Since most of us pay for our tickets in advance how would this work? Would you have to enter your weight and if you were more than 40 lbs off you would have to pay extra?

Posted by Colin | June 4, 2008 3:54 PM

Amen! I am a fatty! And I'll pay the extra fare when they start charging you skinny little twits who hog the overheads with ten tons of carryons because you're too lazy or too self-important to wait at the carousel to claim your luggage! Oh, and, yes, let's charge for long-leggers,too, who use it as an excuse to push that seat back into my face for the entire trip so that any plans for reading, writing, or anything else go sliding out into the aisle because 'my legs are too long to fit.' If we're going to be fair, let's be fair. If you're over 5'10" and 225 you pay for the extra room and if you carry on more than 25# or more than fits comfortably in your fair share of the overhead above YOUR seat and below YOUR seat then you pay for the extra room and you walk your stuff to the line and check it. Do I hear an AMEN?

Posted by iew | June 4, 2008 4:10 PM

Fucking great. At a healthy 6'4" and 230, I have to pay extra? Tell you what- I'll pay extra when those roomie first class and exit row seats are doled out based on physical need rather than to the spoiled rich.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | June 4, 2008 4:50 PM

fuel cost is directly related to weight. There should be a generous flat rate based on a certain weight including luggage (say 250 pounds) and then provide discounts or fees if one is over or under that weight. Yes, those who felt like they lost the genetic lottery for being small, short, and were never allowed to join the football team can now feel like they've won the genetic lottery by being subsidized for costing the airline a little less to fly them. Equity is not the same thing as equality.

Posted by Kyle | June 4, 2008 6:14 PM

I once spent a Atlanta-Paris overnight flight in the window seat next to a rather large German man. He was extremely nice, but needed a seatbelt extension to get around his enormous waist. Luckily I took an Ambien to sleep through the flight, but woke up almost smothered between the window and a monster! I almost screamed out loud.

Posted by Georgiaguy | June 4, 2008 7:55 PM

I've been on a flight where the flight attendant asked me to change seats (I was sitting in an aisle seat). No problem, as long as I got another aisle seat. She said no problem. Then she sat me next to an obese person who was taking up his seat, plus half of my seat. Trying to be diplomatic and not to make the other guy feel bad, I told the flight attendant that this seating assignment was unacceptable--that I had paid for a full seat and I expected to have a full seat. She said that I was the skinniest person on the plane and that they had no other choice. (Uhm, I beg to differ.) The flight attendant basically told me that I had to take the half-seat or wait for another flight. She offered me nothing in return, i.e., a flight voucher or a discount and I ended up on a 5-hour flight wedged into the aisle-seat arm rest, twisting my body towards the aisle so as not to let my arm rest on the guy's voluminous stomach.

Posted by fourflavorvegetable | June 4, 2008 8:16 PM

wow.. as if security, check in, delays, over booking and the rest are not humiliating enough, let's add one more thing. i can not think of any other industry that treats their customers so with such disdain, then has the the aydacity to whine to the federal gov't for help when revenues are down due to their poor choices.

at least when i leave a gucci store feeling like crap, i have something to put in my closet. even if i can't wear it i have the hope i someday will.

Posted by jewcowboy | June 4, 2008 9:34 PM

I'm going to have to blame it on the skinny people here. The only reason I start to encroach on their seats is simply that they aren't pushing me back hard enough.

Posted by satireturnon | June 4, 2008 11:45 PM

My personal opinion is that overweight people are consuming too many of Earth's ressources. If they would eat less, there would be less demand for food (and look at the food that is wasted or thrown away every year in developed countries) and there will be more food for others. Maybe a very naive opinion, but in fact we are close to a food shortage in some countries.

Posted by Pete | June 5, 2008 12:59 AM

As a self-described "fat guy", I have always made an effort NOT to "ooze over" into someone else's seat. In fact, I don't even use the armrest--and have sat uncomfortably for hours flying across the country. But if I'm paying more? Screw that, skinny!

Let's remember that muscle weighs more than fat--so you gym bunnies out there with all your muscles will be paying more as well. I hope you're not tall--because that's going to increase your weight.

Oh, and to Pete who thinks fat people are using up resources that starving people can use--what country do you live in? Certainly not the U.S. Are we shipping our excess food to other countries? No. However, we are using corn for fuel instead of food... I use public transportation daily, I recycle, I compost, I limit waste where I can, so I do my part to save our Earth's precious resources. I just hope you can say the same.

Posted by Chris | June 5, 2008 9:13 AM

I will take no responsbility for my impact on the world until everybody else is held responsible for their own bad actions!

Say, couldn't we fit luggage into overhead bins more quickly and easily if we carried our things in our plastic grocery sacks?

Posted by CP | June 5, 2008 3:13 PM

Exexcutives get bonuses, we get the shaft. Long before the current gas situation flyers have been getting screwed. Now they just have a convienient excuse.

C'mon people, it is time to strike back at the airlines and show them why they have the monies that they have.

Therefore I am proposing a day of no flying
anywhere, no going to an airport at all and let them feel the cost for once. If they loose one day of money they will learn how we the flyers feel.

July 1, 2008 is the day of NO FLYING!
Do not fly that day.
Do not make a reservation that day.
Do not go to the airport that day.

Take back your power, afterall in the long run we have given them the permission to treat us like cattle.

Posted by Robert A Espino | June 7, 2008 6:29 PM

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