Too Fat to Fly
Looking back on my childhood, I recall the horror of being picked last for teams in gym class because I was chubby. I also remember the agony of being seated in the back of rides at water parks to prevent the whole tube from flipping over. Weight-related embarrassment never fades. That said, the chubby kid in me weeps compassionately for Kevin Smith and the innumerable amount of overweight people who've been humiliated for not fitting into airplane seats.
Most people could only complain to their families, but Kevin Smith sparked controversy by informing 1.5 million people about his getting booted off a Southwest Airlines flight for eating up too much space. Southwest supplied him with a $100 voucher, but that wasn't enough to satisfy Smith. He probably didn't intend to ignite the Internet in upheaval when he brashly tweeted, "So, @SoutwestAir, go fuck yourself. I broke no regulation, offered no "safety risk" (what, was I gonna roll on a fellow passenger?)." He did, however, turn the weird qualm into "Fatgate," 2010's biggest scandal yet.
Opinions on Kevin Smith aside, he's brought our attention to a burgeoning issue. Airplane seats are expensive to begin with, and an average-sized person would likely feel cramped in coach. With obesity rates rising, we've seen proposals for fat taxes, calorie listings, and other large-scale incentives to get people to lose weight. Charging one person for two seats in coach is far more brutal an effort.
It may seem reasonable to tell someone to buy two seats if they can't fit into one, but that can't be done without disregarding the reasons why people are overweight to begin with. It's easy to accuse overweight people of being ignorant gluttons who have the power to lose weight and fit into a seat. But very few people choose to be fat. Consider those with diabetes, thyroid issues, lousy genetics, or even those who can't afford to buy healthy food and resort to eating junk. Consider those with lesser will power or eating disorders. Everybody deserves an affordable flight. Why not widen one seat in every row, or have a designated section in the plane for overweight and handicapped people? If airlines can serve people meals and make toilets work thousands of feet up in the air, surely they are clever enough to accommodate people without either robbing or embarrassing them.