Comfort is every passenger's main priority when settling in for a long flight. That's why one Reddit user wasn't happy when a man he described as obese squeezed into the seat right next to his, taking up some of the user's seat too. So after speaking with a flight attendant, the user decided to charge the man $150 for the lost space.
He got his cash, and presumably the flight proceeded without incident. But needless to say, Reddit users are unleashing some very strong opinions in the comments.
The user, BigBawluh, had booked an aisle seat in a row of two for a 5-hour flight across the country, BigBawluh wrote. "A very obese man boards and I can tell instantly he is going to have a tough time fitting in any of the seats… I’m mentally crossing my fingers he’s not next to me, but sure enough he ends up pointing to the window seat next to me to let him in."
"I get up and let him in politely, wanting to at least give him a chance. Well, he sits down and is easily seeping into about 1/3 of my seat. I sit down and am pressed up against him, making me uncomfortable. After a minute, I decided to be upfront and tell him: 'Sir, I’m sorry but this situation is not working for me, you’re taking up quite a bit of my seat.'"
The man tried to squeeze his arms into his body to be narrower, but he was still taking up about one fourth of BigBawluh's seat, the user wrote.
"I end up stopping a flight attendant and ask her what can be done about the situation. She instantly tells him that he is likely going to need to purchase another seat," the user wrote. "She goes to the front and comes back saying that there aren’t any open seats on this flight, so there wasn’t a way to move people so he could have two."
"The flight attendant tells him that unless someone on the flight agrees to let him take up part of their seat, he’ll need to book another flight. The guy seems really flustered by this ultimatum, and here’s where I made my offer. I told the guy, 'Look, I’ll put up with this if you give me $150—that’s half the cost of this flight and that would compensate me enough for the circumstances.'"
The man instantly agreed and pulled out some cash. He even told BigBawluh he appreciated it.
"Well the people sitting behind me (who keep in mind didn’t volunteer to sit by him) were making under their breath comments about me being an asshole for doing that," the user wrote. "From my perspective, I gave the guy a valid option to stay on the flight and I was compensated for literally having only 75% of my seat max (let alone the feeling of a person’s body pressed against you involuntarily). A win-win. He wasn’t angry at all, if anything he seemed quite relieved we could work it out privately."
Many Reddit users agreed with the passengers whispering behind BigBawluh. "The problem here was that this large dude stuck you with being uncomfortable on your flight, right? Well, the $150 didn't make you any less squished in your seat, so it really feels like you just blackmailed this guy for being fat," one commented.
Another chimed in with this: "You didn’t even stop to consider his humanity. You didn’t consider that he might have a sick family member at his destination that he needed to get to, or a pregnant wife, or an important job interview."
Others disagreed, saying the obese man was in the wrong. "As an overweight person I 100% believe that I'm not entitled to make someone else uncomfortable just because they'll be too 'nice' or awkward to call me out on it… He got on that plane with full knowledge that he was going to take up part of someone else's (already very limited) space, but thought he'd probably get away with it because no one wants to be called a fat shamer."
Rather than taking sides, many users argued it was actually the airline's fault. "The airline/flight attendant [is] the asshole here," one user commented. "It's their responsibility to make decisions about whether a passenger can fly or not, [BigBawluh] shouldn't really have [had to] call attention to the fact that this guy was too large for one seat, any number of people along the check-in process should have noticed and had the awkward conversation with this guy."
This isn't the first time an issue like this has made headlines. Many airlines, like American Airlines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines, recommend overweight passengers book the number of seats necessary to accommodate their size, or buy a business class or first class ticket, where there's extra room. (Seat dimensions can usually be found on the airline's website.)
But paying more for a ticket isn't always an option. With the size of the average American going up, and the size of the typical airline seats going down, uncomfortable situations like BigBawluh's are probably inevitable.