No Room For Portly Passenger

July 20, 2010

in Portly Stories

I was flying from Albuquerque to Phoenix. On Southwest Air, I got my “A” boarding pass and took my window seat. Some guy took the aisle seat and the flight filled up. At this point, there were only about 3 empty seats on the plane — all middle seats. As you can imagine, some guy boarded the plane and he was all of about 350 pounds and no way is he going to fit into a middle seat with the arm rests down. Mind you, I’m 6’3″ tall and 230 pounds. I fit just fine in my seat with the arm rests down.

So the 350 pound guy comes up and asks me if I can switch seats to “accommodate him.” I pretended not to hear him — lost in my book. So he stands there and goes to grab a flight attendant. The flight attendant comes up and asks if I can fit into another empty seat and points to an empty middle seat between two guys bigger than me! Then she asks if we would be willing to raise up our arm rests to fit the 350 lb guy.

Just then, a guy came up from out of nowhere looking for a seat. I quickly waved him into my middle seat and he sat down. Now it’s a full flight and the only open seat for the 350 pound guy — with gaping sweat stains all over — was between two guys who already needed to have the arm rests up to fit. The 3 of us in our row sat there laughing at this whole experience as this guy finds out that he should’ve bought 2 seats.

After 10 minutes of more wrangling, they found one guy to move into that middle seat and then have a guy and a girl squeeze in their row into 1 and a quarter seats while the 350 pound guy sat down.

To top it off, he smelled bad and then he had these wet hacking coughs all through the flight.

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Clare July 20, 2010 at 8:11 pm

I thought Southwest was pretty proactive about making certain that plus size passengers buy an extra seat. Don't they do that anymore?

That being said, I would have done the same as you, had I been in your situation.


AKM July 21, 2010 at 2:44 am

I would say you were too mean about it, but I know that, unfortunately, mean is the only thing that works in these situations. If you'd been nice, you would have gotten steamrolled. Weep for America.


Ginny July 21, 2010 at 3:58 am

I agree.


Bob July 21, 2010 at 3:59 am



Jody July 21, 2010 at 5:55 am

Mean (as AKM says)? Maybe — but I'd definitely have motioned the other guy to sit in the middle. I probably wouldn't have ignored the POS though, would at least have given him the courtesy of saying "no thank you." (unless he demanded you move, in which case you were justified.


ElegantErica July 21, 2010 at 8:35 am

In many situations, I'm anti-confrontational. I prefer to let small unintentional blunders go by without a fuss. I think that this is one of the few circumstances where I would have firmly said, “No. Thank. You.” I can see myself saying that slowing and deliberately, while obviously placing my elbow firmly on the seat rest without breaking eye contact.

This guy should have purchased two seats. I have nothing wrong, nor do I make fun of people of size. However, I have a low tolerance level for those who automatically expect others to “accommodate” them. It reeks of a deliberate lack of manners, and I won’t bow down to that.

Now, as a case in point, while I could easily afford to take my small yappy dog with me on the plane, I don’t. This isn’t an issue of her yapping, which I could solve by giving her some supplements that knock her out. This is an issue of how I realize that I could sit next to someone who is allergic. I would love to travel with her, but I will not accept sniffly eyes and runny noses that I cause. The dog stays at home.


David July 21, 2010 at 6:01 pm

So it's ok to make him sit next to other big guys making them all more uncomfortable just so you would be ok and to wave another guy over for the seat while pretending to ignore the big guy wow that's an ass thing to do way to make him feel better about himself


Kevin July 23, 2010 at 6:44 am

Hell yes it's okay. He should've bought two seats. This cultural 'accept my obesity' thing -does not fly- (ha, pun) in cramped quarters, be it plane, train, or automobile. Why should two people have to discomfort themselves for one guy?

Big boy didn't think ahead, or wanted to try to save money, that's his fault, not the poster's.


Amanda April 5, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Why is it OPs job to make him feel better about himself? I wouldn't have wanted to sit next to him either.


Steve Jobs Gates Buf July 22, 2010 at 1:03 am

David, when people are as ignorant about their own personal situations as the fat guy was what choice did Our friend at the window have. It's not his fault that a fat man doesn't take measures to ensure his fellow passengers' comfort so why should he be acommodated at the expense of at least two other passengers? By the way since when has it become mean and/or politically incorrect to call someone fat? People are fat, skinny, medium build. Will we have to start calling skinny people thin boned? The bottom line is that everyone needs to have a sense of personal responsibility. If you're fat and know you can't fit easily into an economy class seat then shouldn't it be your personal responsibility to buy enough space to acommodate you?


Coungou July 22, 2010 at 7:26 am

Hey, obesity runs in my family – it's not a choice that anyone can consciously make. Some people are overweight or obese because of genes and not because of what they eat! You should learn the facts before you spout off about how obesity leads to uncomfortable flights – it's a disease that can destroy lives.



Steve Jobs Gates Buf July 22, 2010 at 7:29 am


You're right, obesity does destroy lives – my life when I'm stuck next to a fat person on a plane. However special your condition, it is not my fault or the fault of other passengers. You should make sure that your personal space doesn't flow over the armrest and encroach on someone else. Just buy two seats or fly first class or drive. Better yet walk, lose some weight and make us all happy.


Lisa November 9, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Steve you are an inconsiderate person as well…obese people are human too! Suck it up buddy such is life!!


Lucy August 11, 2016 at 4:43 pm

If the obese person is human then he/she should purchase two seats… I am tired of getting stuck next to obese people who eat their way across the country.


Jim July 22, 2010 at 10:10 am

I don't want to be insensitive….but, too many times we all like to make excuses for ourselves, rather than facing facts and making the sacrifices to better ourselves.

If you eat less and exercise more, you will lose weight. If obesity runs in your family, (as it does in mine), it may be more difficult for you. But, it is not impossible. It takes some self discipline, etc…

I am 6' and weigh 185 lbs. My brother is 5' 10" and weighs nearly 400 lbs., My father was about the same as my brother. And, my father died of high blood pressure, which led to diabetes, which led to kidney failure.

So, I go to the gym 5 times a week, I run 3 times a week, and I eat sensibly. I do not want to face the same problems that my family members face. Yeah, I have to work harder than most to keep the weight off…but, I will.

Finally, think about this….if it really is a genetic issue….why aren't there fat people in 3rd world countries, where food is scarce. If it is genetics, it seems they would be fat, regardless of the availability of food.

Anyway, take personal responsibility ….quit making excuses….and, quit trying to make others accomodate you.


Dr. Smith July 22, 2010 at 12:15 pm

You said: Finally, think about this….if it really is a genetic issue….why aren’t there fat people in 3rd world countries, where food is scarce. If it is genetics, it seems they would be fat, regardless of the availability of food.

Blame the medical profession. There are some medical conditions that tend to make some people obese. In third world countries, instead of become obese, the patient dies from lack of treatment. In first world countries, they get treatment, but suffer from obesity. Medications to treat high blood pressure, migraines, and other ailments that go untreated in the third world can cause a patient to gain weight at a phenomenal rate — and it can be difficult for people to adjust.


Jim July 22, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Dr. Smith, point taken. However, you have to admit, that many health conditions are the result of being overweight….including high blood pressure, etc… So, the person is overweight, they become ill….they take medication, which makes them more overweight. It is a downward spiral.

Many when they exercies and lose weight, no longer have to take blood pressure medication…ending the cycle.

Again, most are just not willing to make the effort to be healthy on their own.


Lucy August 11, 2016 at 4:46 pm

I knew a guy who was very heavy –and said that obesity runs in his family… well he got his stomach stapled and now is normal weight for his height– and I say to myself — yeah sure – obesity runs in your family NOT.


ps July 22, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Not everyone has time to do the gym 5 days a week and do 3 weekly runs. But, just the same, walking when you can, taking stairs instead of escalators and not stuffing yourself with industrial processed food laden with hfcs and salt can do wonders. Are there people that are obese through no fault of their own? Absolutely. Should I have to give up half my seat to accomodate? Absolutely not.


Jim July 22, 2010 at 2:09 pm

The total of my exercise is 8-10 hours per week. I think most people could find that time. Most people waste more time than that watching t.v., or even posting on these blogs. 🙂 It is a matter of personal choice. Watch some stupid reality show about people losing weight…or, actually go for a run, and lose the weight yourself.


ElegantErica July 23, 2010 at 5:15 am

You know what; obesity runs in my family too… along with all of the lovely side effects such as diabetes… and how some of my relations are the ones that others complain of on planes (the kind who expect others to "accommodate" them).

For a while, I was what would have been considered overweight. Not obese… yet.

It is something that can destroy lives, so I made the decision that I wasn't going to keep heading down that road. I was never going to allow myself to get to a point where I needed to buy two plane tickets.

I joined Weight Watchers. I got a gym membership. I ate a more appropriate diet and I started to exercise. It was difficult. I wanted the food I loved; I hated moderation. I couldn't eat just because I was bored. I couldn't just eat anything I wanted.

The choice was mine. It was a choice that I consciously made.


Kiri the Can Opener February 1, 2011 at 11:01 pm

I feel your pain, Coungou. Here's a clue: step away from the chocolates, dude.l


Coungou July 22, 2010 at 7:31 am

I can't believe what an insensitive jerk you are being. Not everyone can control their weight and certainly we can't all buy two seats or fly first class. You are the one that probably shouldn't be flying if you're so hyper sensitive about your personal space.


ron July 23, 2010 at 3:12 am

At the end of the day, you need to realize that we are paying for the seat that we are in–you should not feel you have the right to take liberties with our purchase, particularly with the increase in flight tickets. Your comments denote a sense of entitlement that is altogether too common. You may think the posters are being jerks, but you are also being insensitive to how others feel about your encroaching on their personal and purchased space. It's not all a one-way street!


ElegantErica July 23, 2010 at 5:30 am

The sophomoric name calling and unjustified sense of entitlement is so incredibly lacking in common courtesies that I have serious doubts of you compelling others to see your point of view.

Calling others insensitive jerks when they are already displaying their sensitivity towards something that bothers them is illogical.

"You proceed from a false assumption: I have no ego to bruise."

– Spock, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

And as far as I am concerned, call me names all you want. You simply can’t upset me without my permission.


FrequentFlier December 4, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Yes, everyone can control their weight. Stop eating so much.

There are conditions and meds that make people gain weight…but not that make people obese.

If they are obese and don't fit into one seat they must buy two. Easy as that.

As I am no longer a frequent flier and don't have the perks that go along with that status, on a recent trip I paid a little extra to sit in the economy plus section on a UA flight. The woman in the middle seat was WAY too big for one seat. Her largness was more width than…breadth(?). Her body covered the A/V controls on my arm rest. AND her largness also cover her bag of breakfast (family size bag of Cheetos and liter bottle of Coke) as it didn't fit under the seat in front of her. And of course she smelled.

Besides being disgusted at 7AM….there is a safety issue here.

I wrote to UA, asked about their policy, and suggested they compensate me by refunded the small amount of $ I paid for the "upgrade" to the front of coach or deposit a bunch of miles to my account. They gave me the miles. I used them to upgrade to first on my next trip.

Seriously…stop eating…you will lose weight.

In the meantime, if you don't fit in one seat, buy two.

That is not insensitive. That is not a judgement…it is simply a few facts.


lucy August 11, 2016 at 5:14 pm

You can call me an insensitive jerk too….but you CAN control your weight. If others can do it so can you. My mother who weighed in at around 300 lbs said it was a thyroid problem but whe she stopped eat a cake each night she got down to normal weight… now tell me that it was a thyroid problem… NOT and the only reason obesity runs in your family is the all OVEREAT.l


Steve Jobs Gates Buf July 22, 2010 at 7:32 am

You could probably afford two seats or a first class ticket if you and your kind would eat less, thus freeing up large portions of your disposable income.


Coungou July 22, 2010 at 7:32 am

You're such an idiot/jerk!


Steve Jobs Gates Buf July 22, 2010 at 7:33 am

Yeah, isn't it great!


lucy August 11, 2016 at 5:15 pm

You are great….. Thank you


The Logger July 22, 2010 at 7:50 am

Thats why there is Fat Bastard Airways, with a deep fat turkey fryer on each plane.

The other alternative is cargo, you moron.

I'm paying for my 17 inches of seat, and am not about to give it to you cause you can't shut your pie hole.

Eat a salad and shut up.


ANtonio July 22, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Be nice. Even if you didn't want him to sit next to you, it was mean of you to laugh at him.


Jennifer July 23, 2010 at 6:01 am

"No". It's a sentence.

Seriously people, what is so difficult about saying "no". You shouldn't have pretended not to hear him, that's passive aggressive and kind of a wuss way of dealing with it. Just be direct, man-up, and say "No".

What's the guy going to do? "Ma'am, please help me, I asked this guy to let me share part of his seat and he said no". Too bad, so sad.


Laura July 26, 2010 at 8:11 pm

I like how every portly story turns into an obesity debate.

To anyone who is obese and claims they can't change it, try eating 1400 calories and walking for 1 hour every day. I bet you'll shrink!


Phil July 30, 2010 at 9:33 am

No one has to apologize for not wanting a strange person who is fat, annoying, stinks or whatever the thing may be, sitting next to him. Really no one.

Unfortunately, you're often forced into situations, you actually don't like. You have the chance to say "no"? Alright, do it and don't regret it. Do you think, this guy gives a sh#t about you? No, he doesn't! Otherwise he would have been at the airport early to explain his situation to the ground people and at least try to get a row with an extra free seat next to him. Or whatever they can do, once they are informed about his special requirements. Instead, he decided to get another Big Mac and showed up late with the demand, that they will find enough space for his 350 pounds.

It's an inconvinience, because he will need half of your seat and you can't use the restroom. He won't move his 350 pounds, once he's seated, that's for sure. Additionaly, you have to deal with a security issue. Who really wants to be stuck between an obese man and the cabin in case of an emergency. How fast will this guy get out of his seat?

I would have done exactly the same in this situation.


Chris August 12, 2010 at 5:33 am

I am 60 lbs overweight and fat @sses like this guy p!ss me off!!! I can still fit easily into a middle seat with the armrests down, but if I gain any additional weight, I'm buying 2 seats from now on. It's not fair to the other passengers.

Obesity is genetic? BS. Slow metabolism is genetic, but if you are unfortunate like me to have such a condition, stop eating so much and start working out. I'm sure I could easily be 200 lbs over weight if I just said, "Oh well, it's not my fault. I'm not even going to try to get control of it."

I am disgusted by my weight gain. I was a college athlete so I wasn't always obese. I am actively working to lose weight and am now working out everyday.

To those of you obese POS's – quit making it hard on those of us who take responsibility for our condition. Quit inconveniencing others with your fat!


Kyra September 23, 2010 at 2:22 pm

If "fat" runs in the family, maybe the family needs to go for a run.

I would have done the same thing, though I would probably not have ignored the fat guy and instead said "no, sorry". There is nothing at all wrong with not wanting to be seated next to someone who is so huge that they are going to be sitting in part of your seat. I also will not allow the armrests to be raised.

The reason for the anger and insensitivity is that fat people have an expectation that they should get special consideration, as if they are disabled in some way. Fat is self-imposed disability and the only way to get them to lose some weight is to make every day life uncomfortable for them.

Less than 1% of Americans have a medical reason for being fat. The rest are just lazy and that "it's someone elses' fault" attitude is what makes the rest of us so angry.


Alina August 14, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Wasn't there a woman who got a blood clot in her leg after having been "asked" by the FA to let an obese guy sit next to her, spilling over into her seat and partly onto her?


Maggie May 13, 2015 at 4:22 pm

Seems like a lot of these overweight passengers have a lot in common: 1. they get on the plane late; 2. they ask for more than other people do; 3. they stink, and 4. they're ill. I wonder if it has to do with the poison America puts in so much of its food…


Diablo August 18, 2016 at 10:30 pm

This is humiliating. I can't believe he didn't buy two seats, what the heck! My parents had surgery to keep them healthy, being unable to move a lot, and the medicine made them overweight. But by god, they came over it. Sure, the airplane seats are getting smaller, even for normal people, but hey, it's worth a search to find a good airline. Find what will make you happy, or at least close to happy, not miserable. Nobody has to move for you. It was your choice not to book two seats. Accommodate yourself, don't waltz in and expect a row to yourself. Simple as that.


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