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Wendy is an IFE Agent responsible for aggregating airline news specifically related to Inflight entertainment. She compiles stories relevant to business travelers, airline industry folks, marketers and tech geeks. IFE News doesn't create original content, but rather posts compelling editorial from global media outlets.

Obese flyers: How should airlines treat larger passengers?

Nov 12th 2012, 11:07 by N.B. | WASHINGTON, D.C.

TRAVELLING while obese can be stressful and humiliating. Many American airlines ask overweight passengers to buy extra seats or wait for the next flight if they can’t be accommodated. Requesting a seat-belt extender can draw stares. And sitting next to someone who doesn’t really fit in their seat can be uncomfortable for all concerned. So I was interested to note, via US News & World Report, Air Canada’s fascinating policy with regards to obese flyers:

International airlines such as Air Canada address this issue more amicably: Because the airline considers obesity a medical condition, it provides overweight passengers with a free extra seat as long as they present a doctor’s note.

This is remarkable, and appears to demonstrate a fascinating difference between American and international attitudes towards obese people. Obesity is an epidemic in America; more than one-third of Americans are obese and the problem costs the country $147 billion annually in added medical costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Air Canada and other airlines with policies that say obesity is a medical condition are taking a financial hit for every extra seat they give to overweight passengers. That cost is probably being passed on to other passengers.

Perhaps this is only fair. We all subsidise the costs of providing on-board defibrillators for patients who suffer cardiac events on planes. We all subsidise the added medical costs of obese people. Why not airline tickets, too? But I suspect that some Americans would not be overly happy about paying more to fly so that obese people could get free second seats. American popular culture is still very accepting of mockery (and worse) of fat people, and such policies could fuel resentment.

The state of the science here is clear. It is harder for obese people to lose weight than it is for thin people. Overweight people generally get the urge to eat more often than thin people, and their brains react differently to food. As the once-obese reporter Marc Ambinder wrote in his Atlantic opus on bariatric surgery, “The only way to cure obesity is to radically rewire the relationship between the stomach and the brain.” That definitely sounds like a medical condition.

So far, airlines have decided for themselves how to treat overweight passengers. That’s a good thing—government regulation forcing airlines to provide overweight people with extra seats would almost certainly backfire. And there’s an easier solution available. Overweight people make up a huge portion of the American population. They should only fly on airlines that treat them well. When overweight people get bad service, they should complain—publicly. Maybe that way, those uncomfortable economy seats will get a little wider for the rest of us, too.

Original Article: http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2012/11/obese-flyers

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One Comment on “Obese flyers: How should airlines treat larger passengers?”

  1. warero December 1, 2012 at 05:58 #

    Reblogged this on Javmode.

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