top of page
  • Writer's pictureGeorge Nicon Andritsakis

Steerage Class


“I used to say that there were Five Levels of Fatness. The reason why I say, ‘Used to say’ is because now there are six! Uh-huh, I met the new one in Las Cruces. The original five levels are Big, Healthy, Husky, Fluffy, and DAMN! People ask, “What could be bigger than DAMN!” The new level’s called “OH HELL NO!” What’s the difference? You’re still willing to work with level five."

- Gabriel Iglesias

There's quite a bit of hubbub going around the interwebz these days. Some self-adorned and self-adoring 25-year-old "influencer" has started a petition online calling for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US Department of Transportation (USDOT), the Transportation Security Administration (the TSA of all things, LOL), and the FOR-PROFIT air carriers to "protect" plus-size travelers. You can check it out on

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm plus-sized myself, coming in at a scale tipping 395 lbs (down from 416, my all-time heaviest) and 6'1". Flying isn't exactly the most comfortable thing on Earth for me, either. I get how she feels. She claims she's been discriminated against by other passengers who refuse to sit next to her. I get that, and so have I. Especially when I'd be flying on a Horizon or SkyWest-operated flight with a regional jet or that wonderful little prop job Dash 8. On two separate occasions, the uneducated gate agent tried to get me to buy a second seat at the gate. uh no, I KNOW I fit just fine, thanks. We even marched down to the plane on one occasion and I proved I fit in the seat with an extender (by the way, I always travel with one in my carry-on). She was surprised and I sent her back to the gate, as she in effect preboarded me. So I totally get the stigma and embarrassment.

In the petition, she claims "being forced to occupy only one seat can result in pain and vulnerability to poor treatment from fellow passengers". Well, you're gonna get that from the second you waddle into the terminal there, Tundra. You can't stop people from being mean, nor should they have to be forced to acquiesce to your lack of backbone and thick skin. Humans are human after all, imperfect beings created by imperfect beings, and hatred, offense, and downright rudeness or crassness will never be eradicated, it's a part of the human condition. Remember, just as God put you on this planet, he also put assholes too. Get used to it.

Enough pandering to weaker minds, let's get on to the meat and potatoes of the petition.

"The FAA should mandate that all airlines have a comprehensive customer-of-size policy that prioritizes the comfort and well-being of ALL passengers."

No. That is not their duty. The comfort and well-being of all passengers is not up to the FAA, the DOT, or any other government entity. Not in a for-profit industry. Plus, this IS the FAA we're talking about. They don't do ANYTHING until bodies start piling up. The only ones who would have any control over this would be the individual carriers themselves. They're the ones who pick what seats go where, and at what cost per seat mile. You say the policy should also provide alternative seating arrangements, larger seats, and other size-accessible accommodations to ensure all passengers have a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable flying experience. I say nay nay. Who, pre-tell, is going to pay for it? I already paid for my seat, whether it's in the very last row of the plane, or up front away from the plus and not-so-plus-size peasantry. Simple economics. Airlines will charge for a seat what they think they can get for it, and not a dollar more. American flyers (and you're proving this with your supersize manifesto) demand to be treated with a Bloomingdale's service level with Wal-Mart/Dollar General fares. Yeah, that's not happening. Especially not on the LCCs and ULCCs (Low-Cost Carriers and Ultra Low-Cost Carriers) such as Southwest, Frontier, or Spirit.

Provide additional accessible seats.

Where will they put them? Every last inch of real estate inside those flying tubes is already spoken for. Again you mention extra free seats, or even multiple seats (entire rows perhaps?). Why would an airline give up inventory for an extra thigh? The airlines are for-profit enterprises, not public utilities (at least not since they were deregulated back in 1978). Plus, now you're running into being a potential liability aboard and breaking federal regulations regarding emergencies. The FAA demands an aircraft be completely evacuated within 90 seconds after the emergency evacuation has been sounded. You've just become the liability onboard. Could you get yourself out of your seat(s) and down the aisle and out of the aircraft in that time? You'd be the reason scores of passengers burned to death behind you because you couldn't get out in time.


Airlines should offer a refund for customers of size who purchase additional seats independently. Why? To lose out on additional passive revenue? If airlines did this, they'd be derelict in their prime objective of making money. They would be open to shareholder upheaval and lawsuits. The shareholders would be after upper management and the Board of Directors heads, and with good reason. No, you want the extra seat? Pay up and shut up. Or buy a seat up in Domestic First or International Business. I do. So does everybody else. You're not more special or entitled to an extra seat because you can't stop scarfing down Little Debbie's and demand others to quit making fun of you and think you're being body positive.

Clear communication

"Airlines must create a set of policies, standards, and procedures for customers-of-size and communicate them in a clear, accessible, and easy-to-understand way. This should include information on booking additional seats, requesting a refund for those who purchased additional seats independently due to their size, and what to expect during check-in, boarding, and flight as a customer-of-size."

So what you're saying here is you're utterly retarded and need an adult to help you get from point A to point B without a helmet (how do you even function on a daily basis?). Airlines already do have policies and procedures for us chunky pax. Southwest by far has a far better grasp of this than most other airlines flying domestically within the US, and the few times I've seen it in play myself (I don't fly Southwest that often myself but I know others who are slightly larger than normal who swear by them and rack up multiple millions of miles with them), instructions from the gate agent to the passenger in question were clear, concise, and polite. Granted, this wasn't the case 20 years ago when Southwest tried to get my Dad (who was literally 1/3 of my size) to purchase a second seat, so he took his business elsewhere, but Southwest has definitely revamped and adapted. Other airlines could definitely do with a policy and procedure refresh (I'm looking at you, Horizon Air) though, so you're not completely wrong there.

Employee training

This goes back to the clear communication bit above. You are correct here, most of the US carriers need to redo training for their front-line employees on how to deal with us larger mammals. I myself have been discriminated against for my size as well, so I get where this is stemming from.

Now, onto forcing the TSA to implement clear guidelines for screening customers of size, train their agents on how to interact with us human glaciers, offer sensitivity training, etc. I have to laugh. You need to get over yourself. What do you want them to do, grease up the sides of the detectors with lard for us? This is the TSA, the *ahem* first line of defense at airports. These people make Dudley Do-Right look like Chuck Norris. It's a Government'll not be getting any help from them anytime soon.

All that being said, when people buy a ticket, they receive, a certain entitlement, if they want a bigger entitlement they have to pay a larger fee. Taller people, wheelchair users, etc have similar problems when flying. All of these things are usually unable to be avoided or fixed. Yet we don’t receive preferential treatment. Obesity is controllable and avoidable. Yes, some people are on the larger size due to medications, thyroid disorders, etc. but they can still prevent themselves from being unable to sit in one seat. To expect others to be encroached on by our bodies into their personal space is discriminatory. Remember, the bullshit goes both ways.

I can not in good faith or conscience support your overentitled petition, if you're not comfortable in Economy, pay up for the bigger seat. Can't afford it? Oh well, don't fly. Or maybe try FedEx or UPS. Because right now, when you're on the plane, you are nothing more than a very large liability in case of an emergency, get used to it.

36 views0 comments
bottom of page