No Luck for Overweight Irish Air Travelers

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No Luck for Overweight Irish Air Travelers

United Airlines’ decision last month to charge overweight passengers more for a share of the Friendly Skies caused sighs of relief from some– and cries of consternation from others all across the country.  Now, Irish air carrier Ryanair may soon begin to charge the large as well.

Don’t blame the airlines, though: the notion of charging obese passengers more comes primarily from passengers, not corporate suits.  A recent online poll by Ryanair logged 45,000 votes from passengers in favor of charging their overweight fellow flyers more.

Chicago-based United received some 700 complaints last year from passengers who reported being crowded by an adjacent, obese passenger. United responded by requiring those passengers, quote, “too large to fit comfortably in a Coach seat” to move into two open seats elsewhere in Coach – if flight crew can find two open seats.

Given the sardine-can crowding of many domestic flights, however, the odds of finding two adjacent open seats in Coach are problematic at best. Should no free seats be found, obese passengers would be obligated to upgrade to a larger (and pricier), business class seat, if available, or catch a later, less-crowded flight.

Ryanair has not yet decided on whether to boost fares for the obese; and here in America, air carriers that charge obese flyers more will almost certainly face legal challenges. For now, however, it seems that the prospect of paying double for a single trip by air is just one more hardship that overweight travelers in America will have to face.

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