Do you abhor air travel as much as I do? most people will not dispute the point of view that these days, air travel is downright unpleasant. Unless you are on a private jet or perhaps in first class, the ordeal of going through security, sitting in a tiny seat with no elbow or leg room, breathing germ-filled air, having to bring your own food and dealing with the GP around you who are probably just as unenthusiastic as you are for the long flight ahead (drunks and small children who don’t know any better excluded), is something short of hell. Unfortunately, I like to go places and visit people, and seeing as though my chances of owning a jet are slim, commercial air travel I must use.

Recently, I experienced a whole new level of hell about which I am still flabbergasted. I was traveling from Boston back home to L.A. and I had chosen a window seat so I could perhaps get some sleep since it was an evening flight. I was the first to get seated in my row and spent the next few moments with baited breath, hoping that I would not get a heavy drinker who liked to party, or a woman with a baby or a small child next to me. (On a side note, I never complain about crying babies on planes or get angry. To think the parent can do anything about it is ridiculous. She can’t exactly reason with the baby and ask it to shut up or muzzle it, so all of you people who give mothers with a crying baby a dirty look – you are assholes. Now, a small child kicking your seat or being loud and rude is a whole different story – that’s just bad parenting, but let’s not get off track).

My stomach sank as I saw a hippie-like woman and an extremely large man stop at my aisle. Oh shit. This man was massive. Murphy’s law took slight pity on me by having the woman sit next to me in the middle seat while her robust friend took the aisle. The woman, being of slender size, gave up half her seat, raising the armrest, so that her obese friend could spill into her area. She did this matter-of-factly, as if it was nothing. As the flight attendants walked by without a word, I was amazed. This orca of a man should have two seats. There was no way he was regulation size. He could barely fit into the seat. Flight attendants will give you the evil eye when you won’t raise your seat back to the upright position for landing, they will reprimand you for not turning off your handheld device, they’ll glare at you if your music is too loud in your headphones. So why will they so willingly and irresponsibly let obese people squeeze into a seat that can barely hold a normal person let alone a man who looks like he has eaten a person? Before I boarded the plane, I was asked to put my carry-on bag in the measuring stand thingy (I have no idea the proper name for it) to make sure it fit. The TSA lady eyeballed me and turned up her nose and sniffed as I stuffed it into the metal mold. If it had not fit, my bag would have to be checked. They are so strict about this stuff but a man the size of a loveseat isn’t questioned? Come on! Where’s the test for these people to see whether or not they fit regulation size seats?


I thought to myself, “What if this guy were sitting right next to me?” It would be physically impossible for his fat not to ooze into my seat, therefore completely affecting my comfort. Would I have been brave enough to say something? What would the flight attendants have done? Would people say that I was being mean and vicious for pointing out the man’s huge size?

I feel sorry for obese people. I really do. They have to go through life feeling badly about themselves. No obese person goes through life without knowing that people pity them. I feel bad that their health, if not already horrible, will be affected and cause them pain. I feel bad that they can’t enjoy simple things like a bike ride or fitting in a standard beach chair. I feel bad that they are the brunt of jokes. I feel bad that they can never put on clothing and think, “I look amazing.” I feel bad that everything has to be more difficult for them because of their size. But when their size affects my quality of life, how is that okay? I paid for a seat on the plane, expecting a certain space (albeit Lilliputian) that would be my space for the duration of the flight. When you are seated next to an obese person, your space is taken away from you. That is completely unfair.

I am not being politically incorrect. I am simply asking for the laws to be followed and for me to have the same rights as others. The airlines have rules about obese people having to buy an extra seat but I am not seeing it enforced at all.  The airlines are happy to enforce other laws like making me take off my shoes and even my sweater in order to supposedly help with the safety of our travel, but they don’t care if a person the size of a small car overflows into another’s space. For a moment, I had a vision of our plane going down and my life being doomed. There was no way in hell I could get past this man. During the flight, I had to hold my bladder for as long as possible since getting this guy up from his seat was quite an ordeal. In an emergency situation, this guy couldn’t hustle if his life depended on it.

This seems to be happening a lot lately. My sister was smushed between two obese people a few months ago and she almost had a panic attack (she gets claustrophobic). On my flight from Boston to Bar Harbor, in a tiny twin engine prop plane, there was another obese person on my flight. It took this guy about 10 minutes to get up the tiny steps and through the door of the plane. Luckily, the plane was not full, so he could spill onto the seat next to him without it being a problem. But what if it had been a full plane? Should the person next to him suffer and be denied space because of his size? Also, the small planes are very sensitive to weight. They ask you your weight before you get on the plane. The weight ratio must be just right to keep the plane flying correctly. I had a moment of panic when I thought of this obese guy. EVERYONE lies about their weight. What if this guy had lied by about 50 pounds or even more? What would that do to the flying ability of the plane? I was grateful for being seated a couple rows behind this large gentleman, near the exit door. In an emergency, anyone in front of this guy is screwed. It is seriously endangering people’s lives.

I just don’t get it. They make a family buy a seat for any child over two but here, two seats away from me sat a man who was the size of an adult plus two small children in one seat. Oh the irony. Why won’t they enforce the law? Are they paranoid of being sued? I cant imagine it’s because they’re worried about being impolite – I have seen flight attendants be downright ornery to people who are wandering the aisles or trying to use the bathroom in first class. How can it be discrimination if there is a rule about size and seat capacity?    

This recent flight really made me aware of the obesity epidemic in our country. It was incredibly depressing. Living in New York and now L.A., I don’t see a lot of obese people (unless I go to Disneyland).  The amount of obese people is constantly increasing and that means more of them on planes. So how will airlines deal with this? Will they start making the seats larger? I highly doubt it considering they are already losing money and trying to cut costs wherever they can. I fear that they will continue to let these large people slide by while everyone else’s comfort and safety is jeopardized. Tell me, is that fair?

This was the dude 2 seats from me.

This was the dude 2 seats from me.