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Posts published in “The Tea”

Traveling with extra ‘baggage’ can be uncomfortable

Meghan McNeice

mmcneice@radford.edu

Whether we as individuals accept obesity or not, America is already making adjustments, travelwise, to accommodate the extra “baggage,” some carry with them- and I’m not talking about luggage.

Airports refer to obese persons as “customers of size.” Many have informal/formal policies about obese passengers as to whether or not a second seat has to be purchased to keep from interfering in another passenger’s personal space on a plane. But this idea of a second seat doesn’t always fly with the passenger and some even take the matter to court.

A passenger who rode with Air France won a case for humiliation after staff had wrapped him in packaging tape just to prove that he would need a second seat to board the plane. Air France’s policy for dealing with “customers of size,” is  “urging passengers who knew that not having an empty seat next to them would be a problem, to handle it on their own in advance. As of this writing, Air France passengers “with a high body mass” are warned that if they do not purchase an extra seat their own, they may not be allowed to board.”

Most people have ridden on a plane before and know the size of the seats. If you know that you may just be a smidgen too big for one seat, save yourself the possible humiliation and argument with staff; just go ahead and buy a second ticket. Some airlines like JetBlue have some planes with larger-than-average seats, but those are only on a select few planes. Every airline has a different under-the-table kind of policy; some are harsher than others and for others, there just isn’t policy. But it’s not just planes that have this issue. Busses might have to expand to fit the needs of others as well.

The federal government says that busses may have to rewrite safety codes just for overweight guests. Most busses are made to hold an average persons weight (150-175lbs), but with the average weight increasing, busses will need to add a quarter of a sq.  foot to the floor space for each guest. With gas prices rumored to hit $5 by summer, more people will be looking to public transportation to save money. This may mean that there will be fewer seats on busses and your wait time may increase. But aside from transportation to and from destinations, sometimes the extra ‘baggage’ people carry is not allowed on rides.

Unfortunetly, I worked at Kings Dominion two summers ago and it was one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had to deal with. Not only because of the long hours and the horrendous uniforms, but because of the code “C.”

Have you ever had a job where you had to tell a guest that they were too big to do something? Not height-wise, but by weight. It’s heartbreaking to see the expression on a person’s face when you tell them that in order to ride the ride, the restraints must close, and it’s obvious that the restraints aren’t about to close for them. It’s a personal defeat that people face every day. After waiting in those long lines in the middle of summer, they finally make it to the front of the line just to be turned away due to weight; that’s hard. Most roller coasters put right at the front of the entrance an example of an actual seat from the ride for people to judge if they will be able to fit or not. It’s embarrassing and as an employee it was hard to turn away guests, but there’s only so much sucking in a person can do.

Entertainment and travel are becoming harder and harder every day for people of size. Since the average persons’ size is going up, maybe it’s time for things to adjust to the unhealthy lifestyle some live every day.

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