Polite Policy For Portly People

April 2, 2010

in Portly Stories

My husband and I flew from Calgary to London England last fall on British Airways. We checked with the airline a day ahead of time before making our seat selection to find out how full the flight would be. We were told it had lots of empty seats. We decided to each choose window seats one behind the other and hope the aisle seats beside us would stay vacant. If not so be it.

We were close to the last to board. As we made our way down to the rear of the plane, we noticed a very tall and very large man standing in the aisle. Within three rows of reaching my seat, I realized he was going to be beside me. The flight attendant was also hovering and made a notable sigh of relief when she realized I was the person to sit beside him. I am an average size ten person. I made a comment to her about the size of the man and she just grunted something about the plane being full and ran back to the front of the plane. I never saw her again.

The very tall very large gentleman was sweating bullets, was extremely nervous and almost hyperventilating. I noticed when I sat down that the armrest between the seats was in the up position. “This is where my upbringing comes back to haunt me.” I realized that this man needed extra space so I scrunched over toward the window as much as possible and left the arm rest up. Damn, why am I so polite?

My husband ended up with a rather large woman beside him, so to even ask to exchange seats she would have refused and it would have been a human impossibility for the two of them to fit beside each other anyway. Who in their right mind would exchange seats? Who?

When the plane started “take off” the westerly winds from the Rocky Mountains took us through some turbulence. The gentleman grabbed the seat in front of him and in a terrified voice stated that he was petrified to fly in turbulence; the beginnings of a panic attack appeared in his eyes. With the combined tug of the seat in front of him and the large lady who was beside my husband and in front of him, I was sure the seat was going to be ripped out of its station. This is where my weird sense of humour kicked in and I told him that I would rescue him if we got into trouble. Envision that.

About 10 minutes into the flight, I realized that I was sitting on one cheek. The other cheek was firmly attached to the side of the plane. I was a sitting crooked pretzel. “Damn my upbringing.” Then I noticed that this man had his arms crossed in front of himself to try to reduce the poaching mass of his torso into my space. He was a very polite man and was looking forward to returning to England as he had been in Canada on business. Only when we were offered our main meal did I realize that even if he wanted to eat he could not. The bulk of his body would not allow the table in front of him to come down and for him to unfold his arms would send my face onto the window like a Garfield car toy.

At the end of the flight I waited until the impatient masses of people had drifted toward the exit of the plane before I stood up. I was not sure my legs had any circulation in them and certainly not sure what my gluteus maximus would tell me when I stood up. Eight hours of this surely is not good for the body. My flight mate was long gone and I’m sure very happy to have survived his eight hour quasi yoga meditation pose without food or water.

I quietly asked one of the flight attendants if the airline had a policy on passenger size. He said to me that it is prejudice to do that as someone had legally challenging them and won in litigation a few years back. Oh, the P word. I have no grudge with British Airways. But who was the judge on that case? Perhaps he always flies first class.

I learned a few lessons and have decided to change my polite policy. I will now book a seat beside my husband. If travelling alone, the arm rest stays down no matter what. If I grow to be a very large person, I will either book first class or two seats or stay at home.

Please, if you are a business owner, use common sense when you fly your very tall, very large people. Buy them either first class seats or two seats.

I guess maybe this gentleman wasn’t a gentleman after all. He took advantage of the P word.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Increasedosologist April 3, 2010 at 7:23 am

Fly U.S based carriers. U.S. courts consistently ruled it's ok to charge fat ones for two seats. He was not pollite. He was rude as sh.t when he made a decision to buy one ticket when he was certain that he needed two. You can find out who that judge is and write him a letter, with a copy to every CEO of British based airlines, that you will start a publicity campaign for people to choose U.S. air carriers over British one whenever possible because of this stupidity. If you send two packages and one is twice as big and heavy as the other, you will be charged twice the shipping rate. Why should it be any different about somebody's fat ass?


Rax April 4, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I disagree that the man was rude for reserving one seat. Different carriers have different seating configurations. Recently I flew steerage on ANA and their coach-class seats were narrower and much closer to the seat in front of them than other carriers I fly when going to Japan. And it actually sounded like the pax was trying to be considerate, which is far better than many super-sizers I've been next to. Frankly, if the airlines are in such spots that they are downsizing their fleets because of passenger revenue loss they should up-size the seats a little bit. they compare flying to mass transit, but hell buses and subways have legroom.


the logger April 5, 2010 at 12:54 am

Fatties need to buy two seats or stay home.


Increasedosologist April 5, 2010 at 2:06 am

You are obviously British and anything that advocates foregoing something British in favor of something non-british, provokes an instinctive "disagree" responce from you. But what do you say to support your point? Let's see… The question was "What do you do about the passengers being squized out of the seats they paid for, by oversized seatmates who only paid for one seat?" Your answer:"I disagree that the man was rude for reserving one seat. Different carriers have different seating configurations."

Bravo, Sir! The porblem is solved immediately and from now on for all eternity! This is the kind of thinking that got your nation to a sorry state it is in today. We will rectify one of the biggest mistakes this nation has ever made in mere 7 months, but the only thing that will help yours is another Oliver Cromwell.


Natalie Westbrook September 5, 2016 at 10:25 pm

And you, Sir, were clearly "homeschooled".


rerere April 5, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Yeah, us Americans are better than the british.


Greg April 7, 2010 at 5:08 am

Dum decision not sitting with your husband….lol

Especially during an 8 hr flight, but I guess you 2 must have issues…


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