Given the ever increasing, uh, size of air passengers (not least American air travelers), airlines are cracking down on passengers who may just rather roll up their armrests and encroach a little on the space of other passengers next to them.
The ongoing debate has been around whether larger passengers are, and should be, required to buy extra seats for themselves, and the jury is coming back with a definitive “yes.” Yahoo! News rounds up policies from major airlines on “passengers of size,” whether there are special provisions, if fees are required, and, basically, what the deal is.
After going through the options, we can weigh in on the best and worst.
The winners? Customers of some size may want to opt for JetBlue, which has slightly larger seats than most other airlines. Usually airlines provide about 17 inches between armrests, but JetBlue provides 17.8 inches.
If you’re a customer of the next size up, your best bet may, surprisingly, be Spirit. Although Spirit is known for nickel-and-diming its customers with loads of different fees, paying extra for a Big Front Seat may actually be worth your while, rather than buying a whole extra seat like you’d have to on another airline. In addition to offering 6 extra inches of legroom, Spirit’s Big Front Seats are 18.5 inches wide.
If you’re a customer of a larger size than that, your best bet may be Delta, which doesn’t require you to buy an extra seat. Delta will simply give you an extra seat next to you … if one is available. Obviously, the downside is if you’re in a rush and there are no spare seats on the plane. They’ll put you on another plane with extra room, but you may have to wait. In that case, it’s your choice to buy an extra seat for yourself in advance.
The loser? United. If you fly on United, you have to prove the armrests go down and stay all the way down – even if you’re seated next to family. While I totally understand (and agree) that it’s inappropriate for strangers to intrude on other passengers’ spaces, other airlines make an exception if you sit next to family members who don’t mind. No such luck on United. You can purchase your extra United seat in advance, and if you don’t, you may be charged additional walk-up fees later.
[Image credit: Flickr user sbamueller]