Obese Passenger Spillover Forces Man to Stand During 7-Hour Flight

US Airways passenger Arthur Berkowitz flew from Anchorage to Philadelphia last July, but he says he didn’t travel in a seat. Instead, he stood for the duration of the nearly seven-hour flight, because his large seatmate spilled over into Berkowitz’ seat, making it impossible for him to sit comfortably.

Another airline adopts strict ‘too fat to fly’ rules

No Seat and No Seat Belt

The scariest part of this story, as told to air travel blogger and analyst Christopher Elliott, is that while Berkowitz did manage to jam himself into the seat for take-off and landing, the positioning of his large seatmate (400-plus pounds) made it impossible for Berkowitz to buckle his seat belt. So he flew without one.

Berkowitz did ask for another seat, but there was not single empty one on the entire plane.

US Airways says ‘Sorry,’ Offers Voucher

The seatless passenger says the airline offered him a $200 voucher to compensate him for his troubles, but he felt that was unacceptable given that he’d paid more than $800 for a seat he was unable to use.

As far as the safety issue is concerned – and seat belts must be buckled during take-offs and landings – the airline issued a statement that said, “We all understand how sensitive a subject passengers of size can present, but we should never compromise safety and we need every passenger to help us ensure that every flight operates safely by complying with those crew members’ instructions.”

However, that does not explain why the situation was allowed to unfold as it did, or if any new directives will be issued to crews facing similar seating challenges.


Published: November 28, 2011