Fat rights activists in the US have hit out at an airline for making obese people purchase two tickets when flying on busy routes.
As of this week, overweight United Airlines passengers will have to stump up the cash for two adjacent seats if they are bumped off a plane for not fitting in their allotted space.
Campaigners said the move was “blatant discrimination”, adding that the problem was that seats were too small, not that people were too big.
United Airlines operates about 3,000 domestic flights a day in the US.
Under its new policy, United’s staff will move passengers from their seats if they are unable to lower the arm rest and buckle a seatbelt with one additional extension cord.
Stewards will try to accommodate obese passengers with two empty seats on the same plane at no extra cost.
But if no spaces are available, they will be removed from the plane and may have to buy an additional seat on the next available flight.
In implementing the change, United Airline is falling in line with eight other carriers that have already put similar policies in place, it said.
Robin Urbanski, spokesman for United Airlines, said: “This new policy was created for the comfort and well-being of all our guests onboard, and is in response to the 700 complaints received last year from customers who did not have a comfortable flight because the person next to them infringed on their seat.”
But campaigners say a desire to make more money rather than please thinner customers is behind the move.
Carrie Padian, president of the Fat Rights Coalition, said: “Like the other airlines, United’s policy is less about customer comfort than it is about making money.
“It is one thing to accommodate a fat person on another flight for everyone’s comfort, but insisting that they pay for a second seat is blatant discrimination.
“Buying a plane ticket should guarantee a person carriage from one place to another, not just 17in of personal space.
“The problem is not that fat people are too big to fit into airline seats, it is that airline seats are too small to fit a large segment of the population comfortably.”