My brother just had one of those experiences while flying where people on both sides of him were overlapping his lap. I will not disclose the airline but its name rhymes with Mouth Pest.
The airline did partially compensate him for his compacted seating compartment apparently using a formula based on pi and the differential in passenger circumference overlappage.
The irony that the formula for the area of a circle is pi r squared is not lost on me but the airlines have unanimously decided to not include that in their humorous pre-flight announcements.
Since almost everyone who has ever flown has experienced overlapping, surely, the airlines must be aware of the issue and are running around in circumferences to resolve it.
As it turns out, they have. The airlines’ highest priority was to immediately come up with the politically correct term: “people of size” (POS).
I am something less than a fan of political correctness, but in this case, it works. Size is not as judgmental as say, “seismic” would be. It can be defined objectively using mathematical measurements such as height, width, length, area, circumference, etc.
To be fair, I have experienced the overlap crunch sitting next to people who were not rotund, but instead had linebacker-like shoulders. The issue is not overeating, big bones or bench pressing exercises. It truly is size and should be dealt with as such.
The problem is that the airlines are selling one-size-fits-all seats in a one-size-fits-none situation. If I rent an X cubic foot garage to park my compact car I have the right to believe that I have exclusive use of that space. The tenant next to me should not park half of her Humvee in the space I am paying for. Likewise, the Humvee owner should rent a Car of Size sized space and not be subject to obscenities someone accidentally keyed in her overlapping fender after an extra glass of wine. Unfortunately, airlines and parking lot owners must have attended the same customer non service seminar because they charge passengers and parkers for the same cubic space regardless of the size of their respective bucket seats.
I can see where the airlines might be reasonably concerned if they had to measure lap sizes using something like those little boxes at the boarding gate for measuring carry-ons. The Butts and Baggage Station would not be a happy place.
I know. I am insensitive. If you have read anything I have written, you would know by now that I am not showing any prejudice to people of size. I am pretty much an equal opportunity insensitivist.
On the other hand I do have a solution. Well, to be fair, Southwest Airlines does. The Southwest Airlines policy on “People of Size” is that they should reserve two seats at the time of booking their reservation. Sounds mean and discriminatory, huh? But, no.
When a POS reserves two seats, Southwest does not charge for the second seat!
In fact, they provide a “Reserved for My Butter Half”(MBH) placard to place on the adjoining seat.
Time out! How is it possible that everyone does not know about this?
Shhhh! It is a secret. But why? People would love to know this. Southwest Airlines would be a (non-gender) hero. They would get tons more business…literally.
My father’s words echo 50 years later.
Follow the money.
If everyone knew this policy – the dirty-rat-bastards would use it – and abuse it. The entire plane would fill up with POS taking up two seats for the price of one, decreasing revenue, increasing the amount of fuel necessary to remain aloft and dump for crash landings and engorging the airline’s carbon buttprint. I get it.
However, the solution is nigh.
Airlines should sell seats like Starbucks sells coffee. Short is “Tall”. Medium is “Grande”. Large is “Venti”. And, I understand that they are now coming out with “Trenta”, which apparently means “Coffee of Size”. I personally would have chosen, “Gargantua”, but the sensitivity police are lurking everywhere with laser sarcasm detectors.
Moving on. Each POS needs to reserve a “Trenta” seat when making a reservation and print their MBH placard along with their boarding pass. If they show up and have not booked a Trenta seat, they are not allowed to board and are sent to the Trenta Lounge for free salad and yogurt.
The airlines need to stay in business or we will all be going Greyhound which will then have its own Trenta problem.
- It works like handicapped parking spaces. The percentage of Trenta seats are allocated on each flight based on the size of the plane. When they are gone, they are gone.
- The airlines should require that Trenta seats are only window and aisle. That means that each Trenta only gets 1.5 seats instead of two, but free is free and it reduces the cost to the airlines.
- Trentas get early boarding so that they can take the available Trenta seats.
- Of course, some people will complain that those getting MBH placards “aren’t that big” but that only serves to give the POS a nice little pre-board ego boost. How’s that for sensitive?
- Unfortunately, the airlines have to be able to raise ticket prices or to compensate for their benevolence and loss of paying passengers. Call it a Tubby Tax.
How do you think the airline will deal with a non-POS who claims to be a POS and reserves that free extra seat?
I’ll let you know after my next flight.