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Tue, Apr 18, 2023

Plus-Sized Air Traveler Demands Special Accommodations

Petitions for Free Airline Seats (and More) for the Overweight

In a Change.org petition titled Demand for the FAA to Protect Plus-Sized Customers, Jae'lynn Chaney, an internet content creator from Vancouver, Washington, set forth a spate of demands calling for commercial airlines to make extensive and one-sided concessions to larger air-travelers.

Ms. Chaney states in her petition: "Air travel should be comfortable and accessible for everyone, regardless of size. As plus-size travelers, my partner and I have unfortunately experienced discrimination and discomfort while flying."

Chaney elaborates: "During a flight from Pasco to Denver, my fiancé was subjected to hateful comments, disapproving looks, and even [a] refusal to sit next to them, amounting to discrimination. Similarly, on another flight, I was forced to occupy only one seat with immovable armrests that caused me pain and bruises. … Being forced to occupy only one seat can result in pain and vulnerability to poor treatment from fellow passengers.”

Ms. Chaney acknowledges the accommodations she seeks will, if implemented, come at a price, and asserts comfort, safety, and dignity are worth a degree of added cost. She is decidedly less clear, however, about whom, exactly, would be responsible for footing subject added costs, stating:  "It is difficult to provide a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of who will pay for the policies mentioned in the petition.”

Resuming a tenor of certitude, Chaney declares: "However, what is clear is that the mistreatment and discrimination of plus-size travelers is unacceptable and must be addressed. … The airline industry has a responsibility to provide a safe, comfortable and inclusive environment for all passengers, regardless of their size."

Clearly ignorant of the exacting logistics and economies by which airlines operate and the razor-thin margins by which air-carriers’ profits and losses are separated, Ms. Chaney suggested: "Many airlines also oversell a percentage of seats on flights, resulting in available seats that could be used to accommodate passengers who need additional room.”

Chaney added: "Implementing policies to accommodate plus-size passengers may come with associated costs, but these costs must be weighed against the benefits of creating a more welcoming and inclusive travel experience."

After the modern fashion of conflating feelings, rights, and legality, Chaney favors the notion of government involvement in private industry, positing:  "Additionally, the government may have a role to play in funding or incentivizing these policies, as part of its responsibility to promote accessible and equitable transportation for all citizens. … In the end, the question of who will pay for these policies should not be a barrier to taking action."

In point of fact, the question of who will pay for these policies is of singular salience. American taxpayers would be wholly within their rights to protest were Congress to tax them further for purpose of subsidizing airline seats for the obese.

Nevertheless, Chaney’s petition calls for the FAA to develop and codify guidelines requiring airlines to provide corpulent passengers free amenities such as alternate seating arrangements, seat-belt extenders, and larger seats. Chaney goes so far as to demand free extra seats for plus-sized individuals.

"All plus-size passengers should be provided with an extra free seat, or even two or three seats depending on their size, to accommodate their needs and ensure their comfort during the flight," Chaney declares, adding: airlines should "offer a refund for plus-size passengers [who] purchase additional seats independently."

Chaney’s petition further seeks to require airlines to create alternate standards for booking, check-in, boarding, and flight procedures for large air-travelers—to include priority boarding, additional airport assistance, larger aircraft lavatories, and special training by which airline employees would ostensibly be taught the finer points of wrangling overweight passengers.

Chaney writes: "Airlines and government agencies that regulate the airline industry must train all employees on how to accommodate plus-size travelers, including handling sensitive situations and providing appropriate customer service.”

Chaney notes in her petition: "discrimination of plus-size travelers during Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screenings is another major issue that must be addressed."

She adds: "It's time for the airline industry to take a stand and commit to creating a more inclusive and accommodating environment for all passengers. Join us in demanding that the FAA take action to protect plus-size travelers."

Stating she travels “frequently” for business, Chaney contends she and other obese airline passengers "have all experienced the ‘look’ we get from other plane passengers who are hoping that we don’t get [seated] next to them." She further alleges: "We are made to feel as if we don’t belong on planes and that travel isn’t for us. The hostility toward plus size people is amplified when we are on planes, and even though we are paying customers just like anyone else, we are often treated poorly."

"Even if we've purchased two seats, we are still subjected to rude comments or stares from other passengers or airline staff,” Chaney bawled.

The air-transport industry, passenger and cargo alike, is governed by non-negotiable physical principles—among the most critical of which is mass. Every pound an aircraft conveys skyward represents expenditures of fuel and capacity which add-up with dizzying swiftness and complexity. Every seat on every airliner amounts to a quantifiable number of revenue-passenger-miles—the operative term being revenue. 

FMI: www.bts.gov/air-fares

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