United airlines “fat passenger” policy prompts plenty of backlash

On Wednesday, I posted about the new United Airlines policy for charging “passengers of size” for 2 seats, if they are unable to fit in one seat or use a single seatbelt extender.

Now, whether this new money maker is a good idea or not, is besides the point, at least for United, because the PR backlash is already starting to hurt them and has forced them to change the wording in their rules.

The AAPR (not to be confused with the AARP) is the Association for Airline Passenger Rights, and they claim that charging large passengers is just another way for the airline to make even more money. Instead of changing the rules, they say the airlines should change their seats.

“They’re at it again,” said Brandon M. Macsata , Executive Director of AAPR, of the airline industry. “United is now the latest airline to shelve customer service standards in search for higher profits, while claiming that the new policy is to ‘protect’ other passengers. At issue should not be the size of any passenger, but rather why the airlines continue to pack coach passengers like sardines into the cabin.”

I completely agree – airline seats in coach are too small, but in an industry where competition is fierce, packing more people in your already cramped planes is one of the few ways they can still make money.

And to be honest, the policy isn’t really after “large” passengers, it is for “really really large” passengers. If you need more than one seatbelt extender, and/or need more than one seat, then you do need to pay for it, especially if you are going to be an inconvenience to the passengers next to you.

As much as I’d love to see modernized (larger) coach seats, it’s going to take a miracle for the airlines to invest in the back of the cabin. Remember, these are companies that don’t even have the money to hand out free pretzels.

Still, it is nice to see an organization protect the rights of the airline passenger. To learn more about how the AAPR is helping us, check out their site.