Should overweight travellers be forced to pay for two plane seats?

  • A man has gone viral on Reddit for his decision to charge an overweight man sitting next to him on a flight $150 (R2,000) for encroaching on his seat.
  • He came up with the figure as it was half the cost of the plane ticket.
  • A flight attendant had suggested the obese passenger should pay for an extra seat, but then realised the flight was full.
  • The neighbour was apparently happy to pay the $150 as an alternative to booking another flight entirely.
  • People are divided over whether the disgruntled passenger did the right thing.

A man charged an obese passenger sitting next to him on a flight $150 (R2,000) for encroaching on to his seat, and people aren't sure how they feel about it.

The anonymous man wrote a post about his experience on Reddit in the AITA (Am I The A------) forum and it has since gone viral.

Perhaps what has most surprised people was the fact that the overweight man was happy to pay his neighbour the money.

The disgruntled passenger explained how he had deliberately chosen an aisle seat in a row of two for his five-hour cross-country flight - presumably across the US, though he doesn't provide more detail.

"A very obese man boards and I can tell instantly he is going to have a tough time fitting in any of the seats," the traveller explained.

He then discovered the man had been assigned the seat next to him.

"He sits down and is easily seeping into about 1/3 of my seat," the man continued. "I sit down and am pressed up against him, making me uncomfortable."

After about a minute, the man decided to confront his neighbour, reportedly saying: "Sir, I'm sorry but this situation is not working for me, you're taking up quite a bit of my seat."

The larger man apparently tried to tighten his arms and squeeze himself in to take up less space, but it didn't really make a difference.

The Redditor then raised the issue with a flight attendant, who suggested the obese man purchase a second seat - but this didn't turn out to be an option, as the plane was fully booked.

"The guy seemed embarrassed and didn't want to get up," the Redditor wrote. "He mentioned how he can't wait for a later flight.

"I felt bad for him but I was also thinking about my own comfort on the long flight - the comfort I paid for."

He went on: "The flight attendant tells him that unless someone on the flight agrees to let him take up part of their seat, he'll need to book another flight. The guy seems really flustered by this ultimatum, and here's where I made my offer."

The man told his larger neighbour that he would "put up with" the situation if he agreed to pay him $150.

"That's half the cost of this flight and that would compensate me enough for the circumstances," he apparently said.

He said the obese man agreed "instantly," handing over the money in cash and reportedly saying he "appreciated" it.

However, the passengers sitting behind the duo overheard what was happening and, according to the Redditor, were muttering that he was an "a------."

"From my perspective, I gave the guy a valid option to stay on the flight and I was compensated for literally having only 75% of my seat max (let alone the feeling of a person's body pressed against you involuntarily)," he said.

"A win-win. He wasn't angry at all, if anything he seemed quite relieved we could work it out privately."

Reaction to his story has been mixed, with some leaping to his defence and others criticising him for making a fuss.

"The $150 didn't make you any less squished in your seat, so it really feels like you just blackmailed this guy for being fat," one person wrote.

However, some Redditors disagreed, with one commeding the man for letting "the guy stay on the flight, have enough room to accommodate without paying for two seats, and without the embarassment and inconvenience of having to get off and wait for the next flight that wasn't fully booked."

Meanwhile, others blamed the airline, which isn't named in the story: "The airline wasn't going to compensate him, but obviously thought it was enough of an issue that they were going to kick the bigger guy onto a later flight," commented one person.

In South Africa, the case of an obese woman who couldn't buckle up made headlines a couple of years ago. A SAA plane had to turn around after it couldn't provide the passenger with a seatbelt extension.

For more, go to Business Insider South Africa.

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