Squashed In A Window

August 27, 2008

in Portly Stories

I was taking a one way flight from LAX to TPA, and I was flying coach. I thought to myself this shouldn’t be too bad. I boarded and found my seat somewhat near the end of the plane. I was sitting in a window seat, and there was a man in an aisle seat; there was no one in middle.

I was thinking this wasn’t so bad after all since the middle seat was the only one left, along with two seats in the back. A minute before the door was closed, one more person came on; I was horrified. This woman was clearly almost morbidly obese. She was barely squeezing through the isle.

I knew she was going to take the middle seat; I threw down the armrest as fast as possible. When she sat down, the armrest moved my way a couple inches or so, but I could still move. Then we took off, and at cruising altitude the worst happened – she took my armrest and lifted it up. I was immediately squashed into the window. I was mad; I didn’t pay to be smothered for five hours. It took an effort to put the armrest down, then she looked at me and put it back up. It went on for about five minutes, then I was starting to get really mad. I told her (clearly many people heard me) that I paid for this seat for me to sit in…ONLY…not for you to sit in also. She gave me a look of surprise, as if she couldn’t believe I said that. I told her that this wasn’t my fault you are where you are now, then she moved to BOTH of the seats in the back. When the plane landed she squeezed herself to the front, giving me a death look as she passed by. In the end of it all, you should defend your seat so you don’t have this kind of flight from hell.

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

jeffrey August 18, 2008 at 7:41 am

Defend, by all means defend….but do you have to be a dick about it? I mean, i just don't think that's really necessary.


JL August 19, 2008 at 1:37 pm

As a victim of one of these "oversize" passengers, I can understand the poster's anger. The only thing he said that could be thought to be rude was his statement that it wasn't his fault she was where she is now. It's true, but maybe a little rude. Otherwise, he was right on the money. This person knew she couldn't fit in one seat. She should have bought two seats. The airline should have forced her to buy two seats so the poster wouldn't have to "defend" himself from the woman. This should be the airline's problem since they design the seats.

For the OP, if this happens again, call the FA and demand that either the obese passenger be moved or you be moved and if that's not possible, tell the FA that you're being involuntarily denied boarding and want compensation for the next flight.

What surprises me is that there appeared to be 2 more seats on the plane. Why was the obese pax sat in a middle seat next to you?


Jeanie December 2, 2008 at 7:46 am

Stories like this have inspired me to lose weight. I don't want to find myself posted about on this site!


Kyle April 1, 2011 at 10:55 am

I'm sorry sweaty about my other comments but its just the people with out common curtesy, for she knew she could not fit so why did she not buy another ticket instead of taking what valuable space we have left due to the fact that airlines are already packing us in like sardines.


ARO December 10, 2008 at 11:31 am

It's a good thing that fat discrimination is still allowed in this country, so everyone can feel righteous while bashing their fellow humans.


JL December 27, 2008 at 11:06 am

ARO, if you're fat, you're fat. It's not my problem. It becomes my problem when you take up part of my seat. It's not discrimination. We should be treated equally. You only take up the seat you bought and I'll do the same. You use part of my seat, you need to have paid for it or I'll defend my seat, as the OP said.

Buy 2 seats if you can't fit in one or fly first class.


? April 2, 2009 at 8:45 am

Id have done the exact same thing, including the comment! Now, if everyone (ok, almost everyone) in the US would put their forks down, we wouldnt have this problem, would we? Its not my problem if your fat.


TLT April 2, 2009 at 9:15 am

OK, as long as we're talking about this, I experience this "encroachment" even more by men who sit with their legs way apart into my leg space. What about that? I encounter that much more often that the obesity encroachment! I think the real issue is that we're all crammed in there like sardines.


Heather April 2, 2009 at 9:47 am

I agree with JL's post. It's reasonable and fair but not discriminatory.


Anonymous April 2, 2009 at 10:10 am

Fat people do necessarily take up more space and probably dread being crammed into coach, especially next to assholes like Squashed.

I've had my share of uncomfortable rides but most of them have been because I've been seated next to tall bony men who think they have to spread their legs wide to air out their balls, and who quickly claim the armrest between us, poking me with their sharp elbows as as they tap on their laptop keyboard or, worse, read each and every section of the Sunday New York Times. You know the type — the ones who make 5 cell phone calls from the tarmac because the world just can't spin without them.

Give me a soft round person who appreciates personal space over one of those jerks any day.


sick of it April 2, 2009 at 10:33 am

If you are fat for any reason it is your problem to deal with! Stop expecting the world to go out of their way to accommodate you…. you are the problem, you take care of it.

"I'm fat and I can't help it" isn't a valid excuse. Why should others personal comfort be taken away or expected to be sacrificed because someone can't control their eating, is too lazy to exercise/eat right, or has a legitimate medical issue. If a person can't fit into a seat without oozing into the seat next to them, they should be required to purchase two seats. Can't afford that? Take the bus or train then. And I won't even mention the safety hazard at issue here.


Anonymous April 2, 2009 at 10:41 am

Hey now! I agree that we (the US) have a problem with obesity, but not nearly "almost all" of us have weight issues! Well…maybe the redneck


bess April 2, 2009 at 10:53 am

I'm one of "those" people and while business requires me to fly once or twice a year I ALWAYS book early and ALWAYS book an aisle seat. I'm very uncomfortable flying – due mostly to ensuring that I don't encroach into the space of my neighboring seatmate. Too bad others (skinny & fat) aren't as accomodating.

However, if an airline has one of its Change Planes or Cancel Flights moments I have found myself graciously rebooked by the airline into another seat…never yet has it been an aisle and twice was a middle seat. I've found the ticketing personnel very helpful in getting me an aisle seat or rebooking on a different flight confirming an aisle seat when I say to them, "Do you really think I'm the kind of person the window and aisle person want to have sitting between them?" Works every time and a little humor and smile don't hurt.

I must say also that I've had more than my share of neighboring seat passengers who spread their legs wide forcing others to cram their own legs into what little space remains available. The other problem is those people who thing both arm rests are only for them and spend their time doing the elbow jab.


College Kid November 5, 2010 at 10:07 am

hey! your name is bess, like bessie, like a cow



prometheus April 2, 2009 at 11:01 am

miss bess: well done! and you don't skimp on the grace, intelligence and humour. we could all learn from your thoughtfulness.


Onslow April 2, 2009 at 12:01 pm

I have to admit that I get extremely irritated when my seat is encroached upon, and under the circumstances described, I would have been less polite in letting her know how I felt. She was the person being rude, he just responded back to it.


Anomia April 2, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Bess, you sound like a kind and thoughtful traveler. I wouldn't mind sitting next to you.

That said, I'm definitely protective of my personal space. I have been both thin and quite overweight in my lifetime; I know it isn't easy. But I also feel it's unfair that someone should be allowed to sit on both their seat and ME!

I frankly don't know how this could be resolved, but I both sympathize with those who were "crushed" and appreciate people like Bess who take both sides into account.


Donna April 2, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Obesity is a disability the airlines should have to accomodate. Blame them, not someone with a medical problem (you morons).


Ben April 2, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Obesity is as much a medical problem as is shooting yourself in the foot with a nail gun. You are only doing it to yourself. Take resonsibility.


Anonymous April 2, 2009 at 3:07 pm

I don't care a bit why the person is fat, I'm not going to judge the person at all, and I'm also not going to give up part of my seat. If you are too big to fit in one seat, you have to buy two, and if you can't afford two then you can't afford to fly. Simple. Whether it's the fat person's "fault" shouldn't be important to anyone but the fat person.


ADT April 2, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Obesity is an infantile epidemic

of excuse ridden proportions,

basic consumption expenditure

patterns undeveloped, there is no

such thing as "medical condition"

needing only to burn more than

consume, unless you subscribe to

the uncle bernie madoff school of



Kelly April 2, 2009 at 7:31 pm

I am an ample woman myself, but that kind of inconsideration (on the woman's part) is inexcusable. No matter what your size, you know that you paid for one seat. You have NO right to impose on the person next to you. I admit, when flying, I am a tight fit.

If you can afford it, fly first class or buy two seats. If not, speak to a flight attendant and see what they can do to help you. An aisle seat, a row that isn't full, the emergency exit row. When you (me) are the one that is big, you have to do the work to make sure others are not unfairly inconvenienced.


Kris April 2, 2009 at 8:45 pm

I rarely fly purely because I am overweight and get myself so worked up as to whether or not I'll fit comfortable in the seat so as to not inconvenience anyone else. I always do fit in the seat and I've never had to use an extender for my seatbelt, but I get so worked up and worried I physically get ill and have to drug myself up to get on the plane. I would rather drive anyway so as to not encounter any jerks on a flight! I know I'm big, but regardless I do fit in my seat. Every overweight person thinks of that horrifying moment they have to step foot on a plane. The last time I flew was last year when my father passed away, luckily I got to ride next to this very nice lady and she noticed I did everything in my power to squish myself up against the window and I asked her if she had enough room, and she seemed more concered about me, which was nice. But I have so many flier miles that I can use to go visit my Mother who is still mourning my father's death, but I do not because I am scared of making someone else uncomfortable. I'm sure I'll regret this when she passes on or myself. And for the record, I do workout every single day, I do not pig out on food and I have lost weight, but I'll never be the size that society deems pefect for flying and I"m wasting precious time I have left with family members so as to not piss anyone else off…so think about that. Maybe that one "bigger" person is on that flight for a reason, a tragic reason, and it took every ounce of his/her strength to even get on that plane. So just so you know, not every bigger person is a b*&$h like the woman in the story.


Sarah April 3, 2009 at 12:58 am

Props for someone actually saying something and defending their right to their seat!


kevin April 3, 2009 at 3:35 am

Great post. Its awesome that you stood up for your seat. I am very blunt and I have told people to their face shit that they need to hear, whether they like it or not. She acted like she wasn't smothering him, which is the cardinal sin here. I don't hate fat people, I hate ignorant people. You cant be so ignorant as to smother fellow passengers your whole life and not run into someone like me or the OP. If I had been there I would have been much more outspoken about her weight. "get your fat fucking stomach outta my normal sized seat and your getting a DIET coke bitch" is more something i might say.


Elaine April 3, 2009 at 7:46 am

Bess, I wish the large woman that sat in the center seat crotcheting next to me, with her elbows wacking me as her arms moved back and forth, had been as thoughtful as you.

I was younger then and kept my mouth shut, but anymore, I would definitely say something.


Steven Anderson April 3, 2009 at 9:35 am

A rule should be enforced by all airlines just like they do about carry-on luggage where they have the metal contraption at check in where if it does not fit it goes underneath. If this was implemented whereby the invisible wall going up from the handrest is screened then a lot of these slobs would be denied seating or better yet, can sit underneath with the luggage. There is NO reason to cut any slack for these beasts who are now trying to cop out to the rest of us that they have a disability. BS. If there is a disability it is in their brain first to do to themselves what they are doing and, worse, expect everyone else to somehow have sympathy for them. Whats next, alcoholics are going to ask that you be understanding while they booze up and cause mayhem and when confronted I should be understanding of their self inflicted "disability". Unfortunately most of us have little we can do about it except do as my brother would do, who had more guts than I, and that was to point directly at them and openly start laughing his ass off to their obvious embarrassment.


MB April 3, 2009 at 11:02 am

Some of the comments here are disgusting.

I have gained 100 lbs in the last two years as a result of health issues. Most medication causes weight gain. I also have a disease that makes it hard for me to lose weight no matter how much I exercise and diet.

I think both the OP and the other passenger are at fault for their passive-aggressive armrest war. But this kind of fat discrimination in these comments is truly despicable.


Jen April 3, 2009 at 12:02 pm

oh that is not discrimination…anyone in that position would be annoyed. pay for 2 seats if that is what you knowingly take up. not fair for to be miserable.


ADT April 3, 2009 at 8:02 pm

consumption/expenditure pattern 101

no lies or excuses adults only.

The culture must protect spiritual

truth and not allow molestation by

excuse ridden pathology that happens

to be very profitable for the symptom

manipulators masquerading as healers


Joe Sixpack April 5, 2009 at 3:56 am

Grazers a/k/a fat f***ks, have NO right whatsoever encroaching upon another passenger's seat.

On a 2 1/2 hour flight, where I had a window seat, a morbidly obese woman and her "catching up with mom's weight" daughter sat in the seats next to me.

Never in my life have I ever felt so squished into anything, let alone a airplane seat.

Then the s**t hit the fan; I was reading Don Imus' "Son Of God" and the 2 next to me whipped out their bibles and began to read passages, in an attempt to "forgive" me.

If there is ONE thing I cannot tolerate, it's someone twice their recommended weight pushing The Bible down my throat.

The ONLY weapon of payback I had was put to use…bathroom attack!

I got up from my seat every 15 minutes, making the blobs get up also. They got in other passengers way, the stewardess' way, basically f'ing up the works all together, every 15 minutes, for 2 1/2 hours.

I also re-arranged the keys in my left pocket so they poked into the blubber of the one who sat in the center seat.

When the flight ended, I strolled to one of the airline agents, spoke directly with a superior (politely) and was refunded for the flight AND given a r/t anywhere in the continental 48 states.

If MORE people took a stand against these people who choose to graze instead of eat sensibly. If MORE people took a stand against CHRISTIANS trying to "forgive" them for reading a tongue-in-cheek book, perhaps the airlines would DO SOMETHING about it. If they can limit your baggage to 50 lbs.each, perhaps the time has come to limit the weight of passengers to 225-250 lbs.


Vic April 5, 2009 at 7:09 am

Unfortunately, morbid obesity comes hand-in-hand with ready-made excuses, as well as a sense of entitlement bigger (if possible) than the person's actual physical stature.

The notion that obesity is a "disability" is laughable. A clue: STOP FEEDING YOUR FACE. Eat healthy foods, not a package full of Oreo cookies and a large 4-meat pizza, telling yourself that you're "eating healthy" because you chose a Diet Coke.

And if you are "on medication" that's making you fat, SWITCH MEDICATIONS BEFORE YOU GAIN 100 LBS. You didn't get the clue after continuing to up your jeans size? Come on.


Why should I bother April 5, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Vic – wow. Self righteous much? As in, self righteous all the time? Apparently so. For some people, switching medications is not an option – it's meds or death. And frankly, though my ass is bigger now than it ever has been before, I choose life. But how do you presume to know what people eat, what they do? I hit the gym 4x a week for an hour. I walk with my kids 3x a week for an hour. I dance, run. I eat a diet that's carefully structured for optimum nutrition (and no, it doesn't include cookies as you so thoughtfully suggested it does) and feed a family so they'll be healthy and strong – yes, nobody but me in my family is a lick overweight. Because of medications and medical issues. So no, not all obese people are doing it wrong. Some of us are doing it very right. The woman in the original story was not one of them. It's easy to work with airlines to be more comfortable – you just have to know what you're doing. But you painting all with the same brush makes you worse than her. Learn about shades of grey and the real world you captain of asshattery.


ADT April 5, 2009 at 8:38 pm

Lies again /attempting to cover infantile

consumption patterns with myriad excuses.

Simple physical equation at hand and (mouth)

Always back to the basics – you cannot gain

weight unless you are eating excess calories.

Simple truth typically/commonly molested by

excuse ridden pathology of various methods

usually extremely entitled arrogant and of course

grotesque (personality disorder 101).

consumption/expenditure pattern development

adults only apparently.

Save your littany of excuses for your therapist


ADT April 5, 2009 at 8:44 pm

if you are obese you are not doing it right

and are simply practicing infantile behaviors

while trying to arrogantly obfuscate the basic

truth (at hand/mouth).

Ungrounded infantile belief systems

in the primitive stuperstitious crib of


Excuses should be confronted in actual therapy.

Adults only.


Dee April 6, 2009 at 5:31 am

This statement doesn't make sense: "it's hard for me to lose weight no matter how much I exercise and diet." Really? Losing weight takes A LOT of time, not just a week or two of trying. I know about taking meds and not being able to exercise due to disability. I MUST be careful or I end up in my bigger jeans. You have to learn how much you can eat to not gain weight. Take Control! Weigh yourself daily! Join a TOPS group for support. This is their "creed": I AM AN INTELLIGENT PERSON, I WILL CONTROL MY EMOTIONS AND NOT LET MY EMOTIONS CONTROL ME. EVERY TIME I'M TEMPTED TO USE FOOD TO SATISFY MY FRUSTRATED DESIRES, BUILD UP MY INJURED EGO, OR DULL MY SENSES, I WILL REMEMBER: EVERY TIME I OVEREAT IN PRIVATE, MY EXCESS POUNDAGE IS THERE FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE. I WILL TAKE OFF POUNDS SENSIBLY.

The power is in your hands.


NeedleNose April 6, 2009 at 8:38 am

"Obesity is a disability the airlines should have to accomodate." Yes, they should accommodate it by making fat people buy two seats!


nicole April 7, 2009 at 4:14 am

I love that story. That was great. The fact that this woman thought she should be able to move an armrest and take up your seat too is ridiculous. Her fat behind should have sat down in the two seats in the back to begin with and why do fat people always look so offended when they try to behave like normal sized people and get called out. I'd lose the weight.


nicole April 7, 2009 at 4:19 am

"Obesity is a disability the airlines should have to accomodate." No obesity is a CHOICE. You want to be fat, fine, but stop the crying when the rest of the country is pissed at your laziness. For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. You get fat, you’re life becomes more expensive. You get back in shape and things become easier, see the cause and effect relationship here.


Deanna April 7, 2009 at 9:24 am

As an overweight person (but the arm rests yes, do go down…) I think this was the correct thing to do. If there are three seats in the row, and three passengers, then the arm rests stay down, unless the passengers are all related and agree to have the arm rests up. (If I am with my hubby, we move the arm rest up, and lean on each other.)

If a passenger can not sit in a seat without the arm rest up…then they need an extra seat. However, if person is too large for the seat with arm rests down….then..how the heck did they buckle their seat belt? I can (just barely) fit in to my seat….and so can also just barely close the belt buckle. I know if i get fatter, I will need a seat belt extender. So, how did this plane ever take off? In this case I have to blame the airline. They need to be the one to insist, upon boarding the plane, on if the person will fit in to the seat(s) that are available. Maybe some sort of pair of metal bars, if you cant get thru, then you need a second seat. Whether a person has to pay for that second seat is a different issue. ( I think they should not pay extra….maybe be the right thing to get the airlines to make the seats, and the leg space a little bigger!)


ADT April 7, 2009 at 9:31 am

The pathology must be confronted

at all times especially where spiritual

corruption is at stake.

Infantile consumption expenditure

patterns must be addressed properly

by the adult mind.

See simple consequence(s) of poor

choices made.

Beware of the charlatan excuse factory

such as big pharma molesting spirits

everywhere with profitable excuses to

otherwise whole heartedly healable maladies.


ADT April 7, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Obesity is an increasing burden on the culture

in many ways including unproductive absent

incompetent workers with "special" aka entitled

needs playing the victim while frequently behaving

as the arrogant bully claiming dominance by

sheer bulk but unfortunately only able to muster

a feeble bluff which of course turns to the claim

of victimization any time the bully cover is blown.

How many mega billions does it cost in true

economic complete equation accounting such

as type 2 diabetes caused by obesity in addition

to numerous other avoidable obesity related maladies.


jimbob April 17, 2009 at 12:06 pm

screw fat people they should have their own airline. it could be called "when pigs fly" 2x the food at 2x the price. keep them out of my skinny existence


Paul Martin April 18, 2009 at 6:34 pm

Medications that make you gain weight? Maybe so, but I don't know any medication that makes one gain 200 lbs and I've been a health care provider for over 20 years. And even on a medication you still have to monitor your weight and make appropriate diet adjustments to keep from gaining the weight. If a medication makes you gain that much weight the risk of dying from weight related health problems is probably greater than any benefit the medication delivers.


Rob April 25, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Bess had the only proper response here.

If you are fat, overweight, indigent, feed your face too much, have a medical problem….IT'S NOT OUR PROBLEM! Sorry about your luck.

In a pinch, I would gladly negotiate a silent truce with someone who was aware that they were spilling into my seat. Who knows, I might even make my newest single-serving friend!

What I object to, and what seems to be a common thread here, seems to be the willful ignorance of the discomfort caused to other passengers by morbidly obese people.

Fat does not entitle you to a free ride at kiddy land, and with VERY FEW exceptions, it is a condition caused by improper diet. I am a very fit 170lb man who rarely ever opens a bag that crinkles, unzips a cardboard box, or eats anything that proudly claims 'ready in 5 minutes'.

I am not a fat-hater, but rather an ignorance hater. Nobody needs 5000 calories in one day. Get over yourself already. You do it to yourself, so get help. Stop the excuses.


Laura Cardwell May 27, 2009 at 9:08 pm

I'm fat by universal standards and eat way too much, yet I fit very comfortably in all seats in both Japan and the USA. It takes years of effort/ignoring the problem to get to the point where you encroach on other people's seats, and also the like 3% of obese people who have crazy thyroid problems.


Atari May 30, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Alright, can we stop misusing the word 'encroach'?


encroach >verb 1 (encroach on/upon) gradually intrude on (a person's territory, rights, etc.)

The active word here is 'gradually'.

If you just sit down and spill into your cohorts' seat, then you have intruded, certainly; but not gradually.

Please don't make 'encroach' a buzz word. We have enough as it is, and I LIKE the word encroach, blast it all!


Siri June 3, 2009 at 10:26 am

If I pay for a seat I expect to be the only one sitting in it. I will tell someone in no uncertain terms that they are encroaching on the space that I paid for and that I wasn't about to let their problem become mine. If you can't fit in one seat then buy two. The airlines should not allow passengers to encroach upon the rights of others. Airline tickets are too expensive for that nonsense.


Kara June 8, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Why not just move to the two seats behind you?

We eat a crappy diet and we sit in front of the computer all day (and some all night). If we are fat, it is our own fault. There are some exceptions (i.e., thyroid disorders, pituitary disorders, etc.), but for 99.9% of overweight Americans, it's because we eat more calories than we burn off. Simple as that.


Elisa July 11, 2009 at 8:29 am

Awesome. Applause to the poster.

I am no size 0 myself, but I would never think I have the right to take half of someone else's seat.

I can promise you that if I ever got to the point I didn't fit, I would accept that I CANNOT FLY IN ONE (1) ECONOMY SEAT. Now there are several ways to deal with that: either don't fly; buy a business class seat; buy two economy seats; or diet.

I for one am sick to death of the crap about a disability or a medicine making people gain wait. It's complete and utter CRAP! You could swallow 400 pills a day of that d*mned medication and you won't gain a pound! The thing making you gain weight is real simple.

If you EAT more calories than you USE, you STACK ON THE POUNDS. Doesn't matter if you eat pizza or salads!

Yes some medications make you eat more. I'm on one myself. But nobody held a gun to my head and shoved a cheeseburger in my face!

Wake up and take some personal responsibility. Either accept you can't fit in one seat, or do something about it!


the dominator July 23, 2009 at 7:26 pm

to those overweight people who think that they should not have to pay extra for the extra seat. you are incorrect. you are usually twice the size and weigh 2-3 times that of a normal sized person. if we normal sized people have to pay extra for extra baggage- so should you!!!

i don't care if it is checked baggage or the baggage encased within you. you will and SHOULD pay extra!

case closed!


Tony June 13, 2010 at 5:23 am

Simple solution..Put a cattle stall and troughs in the cargo hold and let the fatties travel down there.


nick June 26, 2014 at 10:34 am

it's a simple matter of economics and physics: a plane requires more fuel to lift a 300# person than a 150# person. Make it fair: upon check-in, everyone stands on a scale with their luggage and is charged per pound.


James June 26, 2014 at 1:57 pm

A 737ER weighs 80,000-100,000 pounds. When it takes off, it has almost 7000 gallons of fuel — an additional 45,000 pounds.

The human weight differential is trivial.


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