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Obese man bulges Brisbane woman right out of her seat

October 28, 2014 Aviation, Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

egtmedia59A woman flying from Brisbane to New Zealand has complained to the airline after an obese man sat beside her and effectively bulged her out of her seat.

The woman was forced to spend most of the Air New Zealand trans-Tasman flight standing in the aisle, she told Wellington’s Dominion Post. She says the flight was fully booked, there was nowhere else for her to sit, her flight was ruined, her safety was compromised, and the plane should never have left Brisbane Airport.

The flight was operated by Virgin Australia under code-share.

The woman said the man next to her occupied one and a half seats. He was wearing an extension seatbelt and had the armrest up but it was no use – he was simply too wide for the seat.

The complainant told the newspaper the man was “a nice guy” and was plainly humiliated by the predicament. He had been assigned the window seat but was too big to fit in, so moved to the aisle. The woman finished up in the middle seat, jammed between the man and her 10-year-old grandson, who was in the window seat.

She said passengers behind and in front of the enormous man were also stuck in their seats for the three hours and 20 minutes the plane took to reach Wellington.

Obese passengers are a growing problem for airlines, who sometimes require them to purchase two seats.

Last November, a family was left stranded at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport when an airline refused to carry their son, a 22-year-old who weighed 226.8 kilograms – approaching a quarter of a tonne – back to France.

In the recent trans-Tasman case, a spokesman for Virgin Australia told the paper that when a passenger appeared unable to travel comfortably in one seat, efforts were made to seat them next to an empty seat.

The spokesman said that Virgin Australia’s “comfort seat” policy meant a passenger could book an extra seat if they wanted. That means, essentially, that a passenger can book the seat next to them at a reduced fare, giving them two seats. Qantas offers a similar deal. But the offer falls flat when an obese passenger decides not to take it up.

A New Zealand consumer advocate said that Virgin Australia had clearly failed to provide the service the woman had paid for – a single seat. An enormous passenger in an adjoining seat meant that the seat was not fit for purpose because the passenger could not fit into it.

Written by : Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    Although I do blame airlines for continually reducing the size of their seats and the legroom, in this case I also put a great deal of blame on the obese passenger. He obviously knows his size yet chose to fly in one seat and inconvenience others. Did he perhaps assume his girth would entitle him to a free upgrade? He would have been fully aware that he would not fit into a standard economy seat, and having failed to make some kind of allowance for this, he should have been refused boarding. It was not the airline that took away the ladies seat, it was the passengeer, and it would be interesting to see the result if she took a civil action against him for the theft of her seat and the compromise of her safety.

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