Airline’s Unfair Proposal: Wider Seats For Fat Passengers; Smaller Ones For Everyone Else

One airplane manufacturer, Airbus SAS, thinks they have the solution for passengers who have been told they were too fat to fly: Build a wider seat. And charge people an additional $10. It may seem like an ingenious idea, but it’s actually reverse discrimination for thin people.

Nevertheless, according to, Airbus SAS has begun pitching a version of its A320s with wider aisle seatsthat airlines can sell for additional revenue. Which is good.

It’s also good that the proposed aisle seats would go from 18 inches wide to 20 inches wide.

But, here’s the problem: The middle and window seats (which are already cramped enough as it is) would be reduced to 17 inches. So thin people, or people not rich enough or lucky enough to snag an aisle seat for an additional fee would actually have less space.

Right now, Airbus planes have three 18 inch seats per row. Under this new (unfair) proposal, they would add two inches to the aisle seats while taking one inch away from the other two seats. So you’d have a 17 inch window seat, a 17 inch middle seat and a 20 inch aisle seat.

Now who exactly is going to be OK with having less space on a plane where we’re already totally cramped? Even thin people are rarely comfortable in an 18 inch seat. And now they want to make us squeeze into smaller seats just so obese people can have a wider seat? That’s just not the answer. And it feels like thin people are being discriminated against.

Of course, Boeing 737′s only offer three 17 inch seats on their planes, so this doesn’t apply to them. It’s strictly a marketing ploy that Airbus thinks can earn them more revenue, according what their chief operating officer, John Leahy, told Bloomberg:

Airlines are improving their margins by charging for bags, window seats, and food. But what most people really want is space, and that’s what we can offer. Every economy-class aisle seat would be almost as wide as a first class seat on competing aircraft.

I’m all for businesses making money by filling a need. Just not at the expense of the rest of us. If they reduce our seat sizes, shouldn’t they at least charge us less per ticket?

Tell us if you think this is fair.



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    • tara

      I think they should just make wide planes and have wider seats for everyone.

    • Kat

      While I agree it sounds like a ploy to make more money, I don’t think I’d go so far as to say it’s “discrimination” against thin people. If you’re overweight you’ll HAVE to pay extra for more space, because the smaller seat won’t be an option. If you’re thin and you’ll like more space, you can also pay more for a larger seat, or you can pay less and have the smaller space. Is it a douch-ey move, business wise? Yes. But for it to be “discrimination” against thin people, they’d have to have their rights impinged on when others’ aren’t, and, frankly, everybody’s getting screwed over.

      • L

        i have to agree…i mean i rather that the fat ass next to me isnt “spilling” over into my space…even if i have to have less of it.

      • Nova

        I agree. I’m not gonna lie, I’m kind of fat-phobic and avoiding being squeezed against by an obese person is worth the sacrifice to me personally.

    • Kacie

      I’m tiny, and I do not think it is fair for me to pay for less space. If they want to lower my fair while raising the others that’s one thing, but to pay the same for less isn’t fair.

    • Blue

      Well, this is actually NOT TRUE. The plan is NOT to enlarge some seats and make other seats smaller. The new wider seats will be in rows that previously held six seats, but will now accommodate four larger seats instead. It would be nice if you would print some sort of retraction because this seems like an attack on fat people and an attempt to start some sort of angry movement against them for stealing space from thin people. Hmm, almost like you hate them or something! I see a lot of fat put downs on Blisstree, but at least tell the truth.

      • Deborah Dunham

        Their chief operating officer clearly says it’s just the aisle seats…

    • kathleen

      So what prevents anyone from reserving the aisle seats? Do you have to prove that you are not-thin? What if all of the extra-large seats are reserved and overweight people have to squeeze into the 17-inch seats — will airline personnel make the original seatholders move?

    • Diana

      Tired of hearing about speacial accomodations for overweight people!!! Where is my reward for staying healthly and fit???????

      • Jess

        I’m going to guess that your reward is being considered the attractive component of society, that your personality traits and self-worth are not judged based on what you look like, and that people who look like you are the ones who are always the stars of movies, rather than the ‘funny fat best friend’.

        I guess fat people should say…sorry that isn’t enough? Man, having a healthy body and the commendation of society at large must be hard for you.

    • Alexandra

      I don’t mind having one less inch that much, since I’m pretty thin. I just wish airline seats had more legroom. I’m sure the people in front of me are tired of having my knees digging into their back XD

    • Andrea

      News flash people: being a fat pig is NOT a disability!

      • kathleen

        That’s not really the issue. I would certainly object to having my seat reduced in order to accommodate a larger seat for someone else — we’d all like larger seats — but I also understand that people who don’t currently fit in the seats are seriously uncomfortable as it is and I don’t see why the airline shouldn’t address that situation.

        Find a way to provide larger seats for larger passengers without reducing the comfort of others, and I’m fine with Airbus’ solution.

    • Lo

      Idea: make some seats ‘double’, to accommodate either two average-sized people or one obese person. That way you could still travel while obese, by buying up two seats. The only thing is that I’m not sure how safe those seats would be.

      • Nancy

        That is a really good idea! I’m sure you’d still have to contend with larger people arguing that they shouldn’t have to pay more for a bigger seat (which in other situations I’d agree with, but as this is a plane with limited carrying capacity and limited room, I do not agree with). Really seems like the best solution though, Airbus’ idea has way too many seat planning complications for one thing.

    • LeanEileen

      I think they should have a convertible double seat that can be used by one big person or to normal sized people. I personally think those that continually make bad personal choices that lead to obesity should pay for their own mistakes and those of us who sacrifice and have self discipline shouldn’t have to keep carrying the wide load :-) Obesity not only is a space taker, it is a safety hazard and costs the airlines more in fuel which then gets passed on to all of us, including those that don’t contribute to the problem. I think obese people should pay a doubled fare and sit in certain sections of the plane so that in case of an emergency, their girth does not hinder think people from getting to safety.

    • Dave

      charge $50 extra for the fat person seat. i think its fine, skinny people can buy it if they want. and it WILL be a discount for the other seats because competitive economic pressures.

    • WW

      So the idea is to put fat people in the aisle seat. This means that every time a regular-sized person wants to go to the bathroom, he/she will have to climb over a mountain of lard just to get into the aisle. Then, when in the aisle, the spill-over of lard will make that less passable. And to sum it all up, in emergencies, when planes need to be evacuated in a timely fashion, the fat people will a) be first in the aisle, and b) block passage for everyone else. Brilliant!

    • Airline Guy

      Oh, come on people. Most of you don’t understand the metrics of airlines in the first place. Even when a plane goes out full, an airline often loses money. So why not raise fares? Great question. Because raising fares often times reduces demand, and you make less money by raising fares.

      So on to the fat person seat, or the wide seat. Airlines currently offer the option to pay for more leg room on United, and Jet Blue and other airlines for a few dollars more (or a lot more internationally) and you know about it in advance. So if you have leg cramping problems, or need to stretch out, you have the ability up front to alleviate the problem. And realize, even by paying the surcharge, there is a good chance that your ticket is still less than the airline’s cost to fly you there.

      So what about just reconfiguring the last five rows of the aircraft with the wider aisle seats. You charge (for example on a coast to coast flight) $40 more for the wider seat (same width as a lot of first class seats) and then you give a DISCOUNT on the other two seats, $10 off. So the airline will make a net revenue of $40 per row extra profit if the seats are sold. Anyone can buy these seats. If you are fat, you know you are fat, so buy your tickets early, or buy two seats like most airlines offer.

      So you don’t want to sit in the rear. No big deal. You still have the option of buying a wide seat in the front of the plane (First Class) if you choose. Now you have choices. You can buy a full service experience at the front, or almost at the front you can buy a more leg room seat, or in the rear, you can buy a wider seat, or save money on the narrow seat if you really are desperate for money. What, save money? Yup, why not. There are short trips where I wouldn’t mind being even more cramped to save money.

      Imagine mom flying with her two kids. She now will be able to sit in the lap of luxury in a wide seat while safely watching her kids in the seats next to her. The kids could care less (or a small mother in law, etc.) and the mother can relax in the wide seat. Its a win win.

      The biggest problem is the consumer, not the airline. If the FAA approved a stand up seat (See this diagram you would still have a CHOICE, and its your choice. You can take a regular seat, or say, save $40 each way on an hour flight to stand up safely (if that was possible-which they are still discussing). So, what happens. The typical consumer will see the “stand up fare” that is $80 less, and even though its well described as a stand up seat, when they get to the plane, they will yell and scream and complain that they don’t have enough room and that its not fair that they have to stand when all the people up front are sitting. You can never make people happy. I GUARANTEE it, if I made a 16 inch seat (where you could still sit but super uncomfortably) but discounted it a lot on each leg, most of these complainers in this column would still snatch it right up.

      Hurray for Airbus’ idea, and lets hope it gets implemented.

    • Todd_in_BMore

      I have mixed feeling on this. I fly on both 737 and 320 series aircraft and find them equally uncomfortable if the row is fully occupied, I’d actually prefer the middle seat be the wider one as that would make everyone more comfortable. Also it would be nice for the average person to have the option of an affordable upgrade to a larger seat as the current “economy plus” options are prohibitively expensive. Honestly I don’t seem many airlines taking up this option, implementation would be a nightmare.

    • Janedoe

      Ms. Dunham, may I just state, you are a tool! How is it any different than the discrimination that already occurs for the fat people? They are just trying to make it so people can fly! Selling a larger seat is the same thing as selling a seat in first class for an additional fee! Essentially, fat people are just paying for seats that they can fit in! Skinny people arnt getting smaller seats, they are getting the average joe seats and considering they are “average joes” why do they need to complain?

      - Thanks.