Gotta love the turn of events. Perhaps we didn’t envision it as dramatically as Steven Slater’s getaway down the emergency slide, but with all the abuse that flight attendants take from strung-out passengers, it was just a matter of time before one of them snapped. What better way to follow a dramatic reaction than with another overly dramatic reaction — arresting the Jet Blue employee and charging him with crimes that could amount to seven years in prison. This, naturally, kicked off a viral online reaction with a dedicated Facebook page and many calling for his release.
EDITORIAL: What’s Jet Blue to do? Stand by their man, naturally. Drop the charges, let Steven keep the beer, give him some time off with pay, blacklist that asshole passenger from flying Jet Blue again, and give everyone else on that flight a free round trip ticket or two for their troubles. The cost? If they play this right, it will easily be worth the positive PR>
Englishman Sandy Russell was informed by a stewardess to get off his flight from London Gatwick to Toronto because he could not fit in his seat — his 203kg (448lb) frame was taking up a third of the woman’s seat beside him. If he wanted to fly, he was told he’d need to pay for an additional seat and get on the next flight. The problem was that he couldn’t afford the extra fare and then his aunt died two days after he was due to visit her.
The passenger was naturally devastated and said he didn’t know his size would be an issue before he boarded the plane. “I always ask, (at check-in) if it’s a big flight, if there are any more seats that are available and she said it’s a full flight,” he told BBC. “A lot of people are saying to me, well, you should have known before you went on, but I have never, ever had a problem with any airlines, until now.
The reason? It was a full flight.
Air Transat spokesman said Mr Russell’s 52-inch girth meant that the armrest could not be lowered for take-off, as demanded by regulations, and that the airline was not allowed to ask passengers their measurements before they booked a flight as it was “a breach of their human rights.” The airline offered to refund Mr Russell’s ticket.
Titanic Verdict Yes, there should be a weight/size warning when people book tickets explaining that extra-large passengers of certain dimensions will need to purchase two tickets to guarantee a spot on the plane if there are not two adjoining seats available. However, it shouldn’t have come as a shock to Mr Russell. If he flies enough to know that he needs an extra seat and makes a habit of requesting them while flying, he should realize it’s just a matter of time before he gets a full flight and that no passenger should have to fly with someone else’s lard in their lap. It was an unfortunate way for him to find out there was no additional seats on the plane and sad he missed his aunt, but this an increasing problem for airlines and large passengers. On one hand, airlines are restricting space for all, which is unpleasant. On the other, they can’t be expected to accommodate such extremely wide passengers — those who are not prepared to get help for an eating disorder will have to make other sacrifices or pay extra fees or fly on airlines that choose to be more accommodating in this regard.
The issue of XL passengers has been a tricky one for airlines. There are both comfort and safety considerations — both for the large passenger and their seatmates. What should be the policy for obese passengers who spill fat over into the aisle and seat beside them? Should they forced to pay for two seats or be given an extra seat for free? Clearly, the hide-the-armrest situation above (posted on an aviation blog called flightglobal) is not an ideal solution.
Air Travel, Photos