Diet & Weight Magazine

Flying Fat – You’re Right, It’s Not Fat Shaming

By Danceswithfat @danceswithfat

What a Load of CrapWhenever I speak out about the fact that people of all sizes should receive the same service when traveling by plane (specifically – travel from point A to point B in a seat that accommodates them) people on the internet lose it.  I want to address some of the common responses:

I’m not fat shaming you, it’s simple economics.

I agree, this isn’t fat shaming (although fat shaming shouldn’t happen) But it’s also not “simple economics.”  What it is, is discrimination – the idea that people should have to pay more for the same experience based on how they look. The idea that we should allow airlines, and those who make planes, to determine what size humans are “allowed” to be, and to charge anyone outside that size double for the exact same trip is not ok.

And it’s not an insignificant form of discrimination – it affects the ability of fat people to travel – to attend weddings and funerals, to go on vacation, to experience the world.  And it can limit career choices – if the best candidate for a a job that includes travel is fat, the company would have to double their travel budget.  And if we’re talking about a fat singer, comic, speaker etc. then anyone who hired them would have to pay twice as much to bring them in as they would pay for a thin singer, comic, speaker etc.

It’s your fault that you got fat because of your eating and exercise choices so you should pay double.

By that logic thin people who eat more and exercise less than fat people do should also be forced to pay double. People are lots of sizes for lots of reasons and if your business is transporting people from one place to another then you should not be allowed to discriminate based on size. (And by the way, Southwest Airlines is the only major airline to give a free extra seat and they’ve had 43 consecutive years of profitability – including record profitability last year – so it looks like airlines can be profitable without engaging in size discrimination.)

It costs more fuel to transport you.

This doesn’t hold up to even basic scrutiny – if it was about weight then the airlines would charge passengers by weight – but they don’t because we are people and not cargo.  But this isn’t about weight at all, it’s about size.

And a fairly arbitrary size since seats are different sizes on different planes making it very difficult to predict whether or not you’ll fit, and even if you go to the trouble to figure out that the seat will work for you, a last minute equipment change can blow your whole plan apart the morning of your flight. It’s also skewed against women since we tend to carry more weight in our hips, thighs, and asses than men do, and of course those are the body parts the airlines are concerned about – they never kick off people with broad shoulders that encroach on other passengers, I was recently asked to move from the aisle seat that I took great pains to book (I fit into one seat, but the aisle allows me to be more comfortable) to a middle seat to help a tall passenger “be more comfortable.”

You pay for a seat, not the trip.  If you need more than one seat you should pay for more than one seat.

Nope, as I’ve already pointed out airlines should be in the business of  accommodating the sizes that people are, not dictating what size people are “allowed” to be. But let’s look at the “you pay for a seat, not a trip” argument, because that’s not what the airlines say. When a fat person wants the same travel experience as a thin person, the airline claims that they are in the business of selling specific seats. But when an airline bumps someone from a flight they tell them that they didn’t pay for the seat, they paid for the trip and that’s why they don’t give refunds.

I have to admit that even I’m a bit shocked by the sheer audacity of people who suggest that (of course) they deserve a seat that accommodates them while flying, but that fat people don’t deserve the same experience. Discrimination is wrong and even though airlines are currently getting away with it, there is no justification that will make it ok.

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