Discrimination against the obese by airlines

The Unites States does not allow discrimination against people for race, sex, handicap, or even sexual orientation; then why is the US government allowing the airlines to discriminate against the obese? 34% of Americans are now considered obese, making them the largest group of people discriminated against. Obese people are unfairly stereotyped as being lazy and therefore find it more difficult to get jobs, and when they do find employment, obese people tend to make less money and are very often denied promotions in which they are the most qualified and most deserving. Obese people are charged more for clothing. Even sizes such as 2XL often come with an increased price tag. The manufacturers claim that it is because of extra material. If this were the case, then why doesn’t the small cost a lot less than a large or XL. There is way more difference in the amount of material between a small and XL than there is between an XL and XXL. Retail stores such as Wal-Mart limit the sizes they sell, instead forcing an obese person to go to a specialty store to purchase similar items and 3 to 4 times the price. This isn’t about extra costs of the manufacturer; it is systematic discrimination against obese people. Most airlines now try to charge obese people for a second seat. This is the discrimination that I am going to discuss.

United Airlines has been added to a list along with Southwest and several other airlines that now have a formal policy against the obese customers. They require obese people to now purchase 2 seats for 1 person. Trying to force an obese person to use 2 seats is a safety issue because the seatbelts are not designed to fit across 2 seats, not to mention the comfort issue of armrests that don’t full retract. HarvardUniversity did a study and concluded the minimum acceptable seat size is 18inches, however since 1854; Boeing has only made their seats 17inches wide. These airlines allow their flight staff to openly discriminate against the obese. They are allowed to force an obese person to move to a different location, purchase additional seats, or even leave the plane and miss their flight, all in plain view of all of the other passengers. The airlines allow the staff to decide what level of discrimination they choose to impose as well as what level of embarrassment and public humiliation that they wish to inflict.

The more that we find out about obesity, the more we are realizing that obesity is heavily contributed by genetics and by the actions of our parents when we were young, things completely out of ones control. In Canada, the Supreme Court has ruled that obesity is a handicap and therefore charging extra to someone who is functionally disabled by obesity is illegal. There have been many court cases against American based airlines for their discrimination and public humiliation of obese people, but the American courts are throwing most of these cases out and refusing to hear them. Why is our court system not willing to deal with all discrimination? People with far less proof win cases on a daily basis because of race, sex, other handicaps, and sexual orientation. Building owners, airlines, etc. are required by law to make special accommodations for wheelchair users, such as wheelchair ramps and elevators. The airlines should be required to maintain a certain number of slightly larger seats (most obese people only require the extra couple inches that should already built into the seats, not 2 seats) to accommodate obese passengers. Failure to do so is clearly discrimination and it is time that the courts in the United States stand up and put a stop to this discrimination.

1 passenger 1 seat
1 passenger 1 seat

More by this Author

Comments 29 comments

Michael 7 years ago

As a "non-person of size" I have no problem fitting into a typical airline seat. I have the right to enjoy my airline seat without having a neighboring passenger ooze into my space.

Willdawg profile image

Willdawg 7 years ago from Proud Ohio'an living in the south (SC) Author


That is true. No one is disputing that having a person who is suffering from Obesity squeeze into a seat that is too small affects other people. this is why the airlines should be required to increase the size of the seats or make special accomodations just like any other disability (such as a person in a wheelchair). Obesity is one of the disabilities that is discriminated against the most because the government hasn't stood up and penalized companines who discriminate against them.

Allen Barnes 7 years ago

I agree, I was in a 757 coming from Hawaii with two ladies as big as me I was halfway in an aisle with the head stewardess deliberately kicking me as she walked by. This crap is riculous. Next time I'm showing up in a wheelchair so they can accommodate me.

Maggie 6 years ago

This is crazy. Just because they may be larger than you doesn't mean their monsters. Their people just like you and me, with feelings too. Some people can't even help their weight it can be due to genetics or their own parents. They should be treated the same.

Tyler 6 years ago

This is completely bogus, i agree completely with Obesity harboring itself as a form of disability. Yet what i cannot come to understand is the airlines not recognizing this..They still follow standard protocol with someone in a wheelchair, yet they wont stand up for what should be acknowledged..wow

Maggie..your spelling is rusty, and parents provide genetics...

dave 6 years ago


Charge more for 2xx size clothes. It is a ridiculus point. Does a pup tent cost the same as a circus tent?

As to the airlines they are mostly acting on the complaints of the people who have to sit next to the larger passengers on long flights. I think it is ignorance on the part of the larger passenger. They are well aware that normal size seats won't fit them.They go to movie theaters and resturants.But chose to inflict suffering on there fellow passengers. Think about it people. Do you want a 350lb woman sitting next to the emergency exit in case of fire?

smaller now 6 years ago

I was considered legally obese, and quite frankly I didn't like it...nothing to do with discrimination, which I feel is so over used...Obesity is unhealthy and it does cost more for clothes...obese people know they are overweight and the reason doesn't matter...they require sturdier seating and more room...and they should pay for it...I say this fully understanding that some obese people are over weight due to a health issue, and I fell into that category...however as I got well I also chose to take the weight off...let's just stop calling everything discrimination...and grow up.

tommy 6 years ago

Obesity doesn't fall under the same category as race, sex, handicap or sexual orientation. You don't choose to be white, black, male, female, gay or straight. You "choose" to be obese by choosing what you eat. I know there's an illness which makes you obese, but this is a very small percent of what we see today.

I've never seen so many fat people as in USA. I watched a documentary lately about fast foods. There was a woman who cried about her 4 year old son who died after eating 3 hamburgers (in a fast food restaurant) which had some kind of virus in it. I felt sorry for her (obviously) but the first thing that came into my mind was: "who feeds his 4 y.o. child with fast food hamburgers??? and with 3 hamburgers at once???". I cannot eat 3 at once!

To sum up, choose carrots and tomatoes instead of cheeseburgers and fries. Otherwise don't cry about being fat because YOU CHOOSE TO BE FAT!!!

me 6 years ago

Wow, it is amazing at how ignorant and plain out stupid some of you assholes are. Discrimination is discrimination. I don't care how different someone is. They deserve to be treated as an equal. It's not a "victim complex"; obese people want to be treated like they are a person, not a problem. People don't "choose" to be fat. There are many things that factor in and surely almost all obese people would choose to be different. But such a change is very difficult. Whether it's medical problems or addiction, it is very hard. No one chooses it. That doesn't mean they should be treated like they are unimportant.

thoughtful  6 years ago

i know that being obese is not always the persons fault who the hell wants to be fat . its hard and i know some people try you ass wholes who keep saying its their fault it might not be go get ur shyt stright and i know that there mabi some obese ppl healthier than ur asses

Cindy 5 years ago

Hey Tommy do you feel comfortable having someone make a comment like "Gay people choose to be Gay?" Well guess what, your an idiot...."As a Majority, Fat people DON'T CHOOSE to be FAT!" As for carrotts and tomatoes, try adding some substance to your trickled down starvation diet by adding some leafy greens and beans to your tree bark diet you got going there!! I see IDIOTS....they're EVERYWHERE!

Nan Mynatt profile image

Nan Mynatt 5 years ago from Illinois

This is a great debate and the way to win is to lose weight. No one want to be fat, there are other side effects of being overweight. You increase your chances of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure, and so on. It's not easy. The airlines are trying to make money at our expense. I am also working on being overweight, and finally found something that is working for me. Check out my movie:

http://NanMynatt.OneGreatMovie.com/?SOURCE=HPM also make money at: http://skinnyoverview.com/?SOURCE=HPM

Use a disadvantage to your advantage.

Bryan 5 years ago

I have struggled with my weight most of my life from 16 to 25 years I was skinny and and fit i became fat from taking a medicne called deikote it was a bad drug i was 200 lbs when istarted it and when i quit taking it i was 660 lbs that was 2002 and now im 460 and i do fit in the airline seats and on friday i was denied boarding a plane becuse of my size now i didn't even get to board the plane and and go where i was going

blessed 5 years ago

to tommy that is bogus u do choose to be gay or straight just like you choose to be fat that's your choice if you want to be with a man or a woman.

Jimbo Slice 4 years ago

They best way to lose weight is to train Jiu Jitsu:


Jim McDaniels 4 years ago

Reality check, please wake up: any one of you people could have been born with DNA that's predisposed you to being obese. Funny how Karma catches up to people. You will regret your negative comments about obese people someday when your child or family member is obese.

In the current state of the world of capitalism where the only companies to survive are the ones with the most profit. They are programming our children as soon as they can watch a tv to consume in mass. Our livestock animals are tortured in the name of maximum profit, which includes heavy use of growth hormones just so they are larger when it's slaughter profit time. We are all eating this hormone infused meat. Look at what it is doing to many of us.

There is much research that proves many obese people don't eat much and can't loose the weight, it keeps coming back.

Many obese people go through surgeries and stomach reductions so they can look good to you. They risk their lives and many loose their lives in an attempt to stop your teasing and discrimination.

Are you really so proud that you are part of the cause of so much suffering? If you don't enjoy causing people to go to bed at night heart broken, crying and depressed, then why do you continue to tease and judge?

How come you believe obese people should pay for two tickets instead of one but don't believe they should be paid double at their jobs? You obviously think obese people deserve to live only half as much as you.

You must think you are some kind of god. An evil god would be more like it.

Old age will surely teach you otherwise.

What kind of old lonely isolated person will you become with such negative thoughts of separation if you continue them?

Better to realize it now and change your ways.

Do you have the guts to befriend an obese person for a week or two, investigate them and their experience of being obese and their anguish and inability to effect long term change?

Separating yourself from obese people is separating yourself from the human race family. Separation is war, your mind set multiplied is the very reason we have war and nuclear bombs, suffering and extreme competition at any cost on this planet.

Is this the planet you want kids to grow up in? Wouldn't you rather have the planet where all are happy and equally supported in true love?

We have turned our uniqueness into suffering and discrimination. A world where people's individuality are not encouraged and supported.

Open your mind, we must treat Every person in equality as best we can in this world for what is best for all.

I'm not obese.

I use to make fun of obese people when I was a kid. I wised up and grew out of it. Isn't it time for you to wise up and grow out of it?

Check out and join www.EqualMoney.org so we can all have dignified and wealthy lives.

Thank-you for reading this. Please take the next step.

Shaw 4 years ago

Has anyone taken a second to think that maybe the airline has had incidents where a person cannot fit in one seat? Think of how small the seats are on a southwest plane. It's more embarrassing for someone to but one seat then come to find that they can't fit in it. A small percentage of people with obesity are obese because of reasons out of their control. my mother was obese as a child and instead of giving up and staying that way she became a personal trainer and now ways 125lbs. I feel bad for those suffering with obesity but labeling them as handicapped only enables them to stay the way they are. There should be more programs to help them lead a healthy and normal life.

ginny 4 years ago

If airlines insists on fat people buying a double seat, then build a double saet.

Talk of safty issues, trying to sit on a split seat (two seats together) wth an arm rest in your back is not safe!

Also seat belt would not fit properly. so why not reserve a section of the plane coustom build larger seats charge 1-1/2 for those seats, i,m sure the larger person would be happy to pay the extra charge. Then the people who concider threrself,s normal( debateable )that would be those who are calling fat lazy,stinky,lard asses ect. woulde happy, oh wait then they would have nothing to complain about.

Terri 4 years ago

My husband is fighting obesity and has for the last three years. We talk about it all the time. Is obesity a choice or a disease? We have settled on both. For some it is a disease, for others it is a choice…just as an addiction is a disease. None the less, obesity CAUSES diseases! For that reason we have made the choice to change our children’s future and help end the trend of obesity that causes airlines to even consider charging someone by the pound. www.healthandwealthmakeover.com

Anonymous 4 years ago

CHOOSE to be fat? Tommy either has good DNA or has chosen to be hungry all the time - what it'll take for a fat person to comply with the skinny mandate. If it was REALLY so easy to lose weight there would be no fat people. Why? easy. Mere vanity dictates that "thin is in" and it's always the case except in famine zones.

Now for the fun part. Race is in fact possible to change with sufficient money, as well as gender. For gender, there's always a sex change operation. For race, I have two words: Michael Jackson. (and the reverse is also possible) I suppose with sufficient money bariatric surgery can undo obesity, but like sex or race change, 00 percenters don't have the money supply to fix obesity other than controlled starvation. And demanding people to control-starve themselves is unrealistic to say the least.

rose kelty 4 years ago

I have struggled with my weight since early childhood.

Thinking something is wrong with me.

Finding out its a thyroid condotion.

Lost 27 lbs after medication Still a long way to go

Its sad when everyone assumes you want to be overweight!!

itsmegp46 4 years ago

If airlines are requiring the obese to purchase two seats, then those seats should be redesigned to properly accommodate one person. There is no way the seat belt on either side would fit anyone, much less a large person.

Guest 4 years ago

Many of you in this forum made a similar claim to what Willdawg stated in the article, "The more that we find out about obesity, the more we are realizing that obesity is heavily contributed by genetics and by the actions of our parents when we were young, things completely out of ones control." This is a gross oversimplification of obesity, that does nothing more than to take responsibility from the obese consumer and gives it entirely to "genetics" and "their parents;" essentially, creating a group of helpless victims who are powerless to change their vices.

Although genetics and upbringing do have a role in creating obese adults, it is personal choices that ultimately decide the fate of the individual; do they continue following the path their parents, circumstances, or current choices have set them on or do they take the more difficult but far more rewarding path of good decisions and healthy choices? It IS within their power to alter their circumstances and their futures, and anyone who tries to strip them of this empowerment should be ashamed of themselves.

Genetics and poor parenting, in regards to nutrition, don't directly create obese adults, instead the "but it is not my fault" mentality allows obese children to become and remain obese adults. By stripping them of their self-confidence and self-efficacy (in essence, victimizing them), you are destroying their chances to make positive changes in their lives that will not only help them lose weight, but drastically improve their quality of life.

jane22 4 years ago

Jim McDaniels

I agree with you that the hormones laced in meat is part of the cause of the obesity epidemic in this country, however, no one is forcing anyone to eat meat or consume dairy products (which are also laced with these hormones).

In order to overcome this obstacle posed by the meat industry obese people can adopt a vegan diet, in fact they should adopt a whole-foods plant based diet.

Another solution would be to petition your representatives to pass legislation that forbids any meat or dairy to be sold in this country that is derived from an animal that was injected with growth hormones. It really is that simple.

drjw311 4 years ago

to all of you the main reason for the double charge has nothing to do with anyones feelings and it is not done out of discrimination my father is a pilot, weight is a huge factor in aviation and how plane operate. planes are painstakingly designed to carry a certain capacity when one person ways more then two regular passengers the charge for taking up that space and can no longer safely sell another ticket.

1234outthedoor 4 years ago

OUTRAGEOUS! Southwest airlines have a motto that I'm about to change. Bags fly free, but your booty doesn't!!!

Bob 4 years ago

I'm fat...I tried to blame it on genetics, tainted food, bad parents, society, god, hormones and the lunar cycle. I had to get real with myself and admit I am FAT because I eat 5K calories a day of crappy food behind closed doors. Its that simple! Get defensive all you want....but most fat people know why they are fat but lack the willpower to change. Yes, I could get a wheel chair at he airport and ride the golf cart to the terminal. It is not discrimination to point out the obvious. Do I deserve special treatment to enable this life style I chose? It would be nice, but, then we reward all forms of self imposed destructive behavior, We will start giving special treatment to alcoholics, drug users etc.....Get real people! And Except with the rare exception that our addiction to food ....is visible!

Groundmaster 4 years ago

Lose some weight then. If you fat ppl get to have to seats for the price of one the average price goes up.

99% of the fat ppl are fat bc they eat more then they use.

Go to a poor country in Africa and count the fat ppl there.

Teri 3 years ago

Well I am one of the 1 percent Groundmaster. I have been on the same controlled diet for 2 decades and now I find out that I have metabolic and genetic diseases and that I am fat because I have insulin intolerance and I really think people who believe every morbidly obese person is that way by choice is ignorant and honestly stupid. Media represents obesity as a choice so since Twiggy fat = hate. Guess what those 1 ton people with eating disorders are not the rule. Yes I am fat because i eat more than my body can use. However, it is because of my bodies inability to process food correctly. It is just plain and simple prejudice and will always be prejudice as long as you people above continue to think you have the right to judge someone elses life. Grow up. Two groups of disabled are fiercely abused in this country the obese and the mentally ill. Shame on you all.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article