We’ve all sat in our seats on an aircraft before take off with the seat next to us empty. First we start hoping that no one sits there, then we hope that if someone must fill the space it’s not an excessive talker, or a noisy child, then our hope is vanquished. Down the aisle comes a 300lb lumbering hippo that is going to attempt to squeeze itself into the empty seat and in the process marry itself to you as well. Into the seat they go and then the fountain of fat bursts forth and they spread themselves over you, enveloping your space and ensuring the next hours of your life are going to be excruciatingly uncomfortable. Why should we pay for this?
Airlines though are listening to the bulk of their customers, rather than their bulkier customers. United Airlines announced that it was seeking to charge obese passengers the cost of a second seat and Ryanair have revealed that over 30,000 voted in favour of charging overweight people a ‘fat tax’ when they fly. Those of the larger persuasion have to realise that space on an aircraft is at a premium and that paying for one seat when they comfortably fill two is sufficient for airlines to lose money whilst also causing discomfort to those next to them.
As the numbers of obese people steadily climbs airlines can no longer afford to treat them as single persons, while fair in principle the costs that they incur far outweighs the price they pay. Perhaps these extra costs will be a wake up call and change their eating behaviour. Or perhaps these costs will spark an entrepreneur into starting up Heavyweight Airlines or some similar named organization. The overweight though have to realise that, “obesity is always and everywhere an overeating phenomenon” and that they are no longer in the same weight class as the rest of us meagre morsels. (Apologies to Mr Friedman)