October 18, 2006

Are you one of those passengers who needs "spillover space"?

Or are you the person spilled over into? And what happens when two spillers over are seated next to each other? Or perhaps you're wondering if you count as a spiller. Southwest Airlines makes it clear for you:
“Customers who are unable to lower the armrests (the definitive boundary between seats) and/or who compromise any portion of adjacent seating should proactively book the number of seats needed.”

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

(the other kev)

Which is why I always insist on a aisle seat. Even if you've got the Pillsbury Doughboy sitting on the other side, at least you can breathe.

I feel for people whose weight problems are the result of some glandular condition, but that doesn't mean they should be given leave to crush anyone unfortunate enough to sit next to them. If you're using up limited space, you should have to pay for your volume, just like freight does.

me said...

I once was nice enough to let a couple sit next to each other and moved seats. I should have checked where the wife was sitting. Spillover space??? I lost about 80 percent of my seat.

Ron said...

So they have the nerve to pack as many seats as possible in a plane and THEN ding you if you don't fit in their ridiculous seating? I don't get the sense that they are trying to maximize seat seat to accomdate ever larger Americans, or even just have a section with larger seating? (no, not "First Class!") This is a clever cost model that perhaps we should apply everwhere!

Jim said...

Of course the fair thing for the airlines to do would be to stop criticizing or penalizing folks for their size and start charging passengers, as they now do baggage, based on girth and weight in combination with the girth and weight of their baggage. If air travel were deregulated, one would also sensibly charge more for persons with high income and family complications since, as we learned in the aftermath of the WTC collapse, the life of a insurance thief with wife, house, kids (ze voll katastrophe, as Zorba said) is worth so much more in Amerika.

MadisonMan said...

I don't need horizontal spillover space, but sometimes I could use vertical spillover space, because of leg length issues. Aisle seats are good for this, although one must be careful not to trip people.

tiggeril said...

Wasn't this last year's controversy?

Mortimer Brezny said...

Okay, not to rag on compulsive-cake-eaters, but I expect the whole of my seat and its attendant space. Not only do these fat bastards take up more space than they should, but they act as if you've no right to complain, because you aren't using the extra space they're spilling over into.

Thing is, you are using it. It's your barrier of comfort. Not only are they invading your comfort zone, they refuse to acknowledge they're invading your comfort zone, all but stealing it from you, driving down the value of your ticket and driving up the value of theirs. They're free-riding!

Worst of all, in some cases, these villains are actually touching you, resting their wings of flab on your body, as if paying for an airline seat entitles them to molest anyone they please with their adipose tissue. It's just offensive. I certainly don't think my airline ticket entitles me to grab any breast that happens to be attached to the passsenger in the seat beside me. And if you turn to them and ask for them to stop touching you, they get offended, because, get this, they can't do anything about it. How about jogging cross-country instead of taking Delta?

mcg said...

One thing about the Southwest policy that should be mentioned is that they will refund the cost of the additional seat if the plane isn't full. On balance I think their policy is pretty good. I've flown Southwest recently, for the first time in many years, and I don't find their seats packed too close together compared to other airlines.

mcg said...

OK, here's a strategy. Have the airlines do some statistical analysis and allocate a certain amount of coach space to what might ungraciously be called the "fat seats". Make them 50% larger than the other seats, but charge, say, only 30% more for them. Then give people a choice: pay for the larger seat in advance, or risk getting bumped off the flight or being forced to pay for a second seat if you spill over.

I know some folks will whine and moan about the 30% surcharge for the larger seats. But the real challenge here will be keeping skinny people out of those seats. I can tell you right now I'd pay 30% for one of those seats right now. For a system like this to work that challenge would have to be worked out.

JorgXMcKie said...

Look, I'm a big guy -- six feet and too far north of 200 pounds [well, now down to about 225] and I fit into Southwestern seats without infringing on the space of my neighbors. I don't know if I'd want a 6+ hour flight on Southwestern, but the 2-3 hour flights I take aren't a problem for me, and I don't think for seatmates. I try to stay to my space.

OTOH, there are a certain group of aggressively large passengers who appear to delight in trying to become offended when called on their invasion of the space of others.

If you take up more than one seat, you should buy more than one seat. Either you fit or you don't. Pretty simple, really.

mcg said...

OK, here's an idea. Let anyone who wants to pay the 30% pay it---and heck, if the entire planeload pays the 30% in advance, so be it. But when it is time to load the plane, the larger seats are given first to those who actually need them (and who have paid). If there are extras, those go on a first-reserved basis. Those who don't get the seat are refunded the 30% surcharge.

Cedarford said...

I'm sensitive that society needs to bash someone and the last bastions of having rights of open, public contempt we can display are for smokers, fat people, and clear non-PC thinkers.

We should cherish those rights.

Seriously, the airlines do need some regulation so that they do not continue to make air travel growingly more cramped and miserable for travellers (ergonomic standards are OK elsewhere - airlines should adopt - when an average size man like myself has legs bunched up and cramped - Federal standards are needed..) and combine it with a little more freedom in charging fees to a small minority of passengers that cause direct additional costs..leaving Muslims out of it for now....grossly obese, handicapped, "special needs" demanding free extra seat space, 1st Class upgrades..or which incur additional Airline or airport service costs before or after the flight.

And bar the people showing up severely sick with a contangeous disease from normal fights if airport doctor judges them a threat to fellow passenger's health.

Sarah said...

As a travel agent, I shudder at the thought of questions that would have to be asked of every traveler if airlines started dividing sections of the plane by body mass. I can't imagine how horrible this must be for Southwest's gate agents.

LoafingOaf said...

JorgXMcKie said...
Look, I'm a big guy -- six feet and too far north of 200 pounds [well, now down to about 225] and I fit into Southwestern seats without infringing on the space of my neighbors.


I'm 6'4" and long flights can sometimes be painful. But I get an aclohol buzz going - that helps. :)

I fly as little as possible though (driving is much more pleasant, even when it takes longer), and I often wonder if tall people who have to fly regularly for their jobs start to develop medical problems! They should have some seats with a little extra room for tall and/or fat people. People are getting taller and fatter while airplane seats get smaller.

It really would only take a little extra room for me to be a happy camper. But if they're gonna charge me for it...I guess I'd rather suffer!

On my last flight they gave me a bulkhead aisle seat that let me stretch out my legs more and that was cool. Except a fat guy next to me couldn't put the armrest down and he left a sweat spot on my pants! Yuck. But hey, he was a nice guy and it's not his fault they make seats unreasonably small. I try and get flights at unpopular times in the hopes I'll get a whole row to myself.

Simon said...

Cedarford:
"[T]he airlines do need some regulation so that they do not continue to make air travel growingly more cramped and miserable for travellers"

I'd be interested to see some evidence that airlines and/or airliner manufacturers have been actively seeking to make air travel "more cramped and miserable," since the natural trend would seem to be quite the opposite. "Miserable" is a fairly elastic concept, and at face value, it seems highly improbable that airlines have done anything to increase misery, "cramped" should be a fairly objective, measurable standard, and I know you have data on that which you can cite.

mcg said...

Agreed, I think you'd have to have some pretty solid evidence before you start screaming "regulation!" Indeed, market forces alone resulted in American's "More Room" campaign of a few years back, and United's Economy Plus program. Of course, those same market forces have forced American to scrap the More Room program, and you have to pay more money to get the Economy Plus seats, so there you go.

I for one find the industry standard seat pitch to be quite tolerable for a family vacation. It helps that my daughter is still tiny of course, but since I don't see her getting obese (knock on wood) I suspect our comfort level won't change as she grows. And at 6' even and 185 I'm not exactly a midget.

Brent said...

I'm 6'3" and 196 lbs (that's below the insurance tables for you shorter nitwits)

Hey all you thin and small:

Blame the airline, not anyone else on it.

Where do you get off? Every person I've met in my life that makes snide, under-their-breath remarks about fat people is also a bigot on race, ethnicity, religion. Every. Last. One. It eventually pours out of them, like ketchup in a pouch that's much too tiny for their little minds to encase.

In 50 years there have been no exceptions to the above rule.

I watched a woman on a flight from New York non-stop to LA ask very loudly if she could be moved because the teenager next to her was too fat and taking up the seat she paid for. They gave her the only open seat by the back bathroom. I felt like going up to her and offering to pay for her seat if she would take her prejudiced and thoughtless ass off this flight.


Now we want the prejudiced in our society to help determine our rules?

Please.

GPE said...

Southwest Airlines hasn't made it clear at all. Allow me to submit my amendments...

Passengers whose spillage includes spittle from spirited expressions of opinion or drool from having either arrived at or become sloshed on the flight shall be required to purchase the upgrade ticket which includes the Bio-Seal® body isolation bag.

Passengers whose spillage includes children's toys and/or Zip-Lock® bags of soggy goldfish crackers shall be required to purchase the upgrade ticket which includes the Mommy-Mavin® Velcro® vest and keep all such family items securely attached to their person.

Maxine Weiss said...

Boundaries.

'The Walls of Jericho'....anyone remember that old movie "It Happened One Night" (1942?) when Clark Gable, and what's-her-name....were forced to share a room, so they put up a sheet as a dividing line.

Mason-Dixon Line.

I say just buy an extra seat...but then that kind of defeats the purpose of coach and "economy".

Flying is not a necessity, nor a right.

I'm still not convinced that an airline is considered 'public transportation' along the lines of the subway or bus.

Peace, Maxine

Mortimer Brezny said...

Every person I've met in my life that makes snide, under-their-breath remarks about fat people is also a bigot on race, ethnicity, religion.

That is not true. I love my wife and my wife is a Chinese Muslim who was raised in Bulgaria. But she's not fat, and thank Allah for that!

Shanna said...

If you take up more than one seat, you should buy more than one seat. Either you fit or you don't. Pretty simple, really.

I think the seats are too small. Even tiny thin short people are barely comfortable! And I don't think all plane or airlines have the same seat size. You can get on one plane and it is one size and the next one it is another!

Yes, if someone is 500-600 pounds and really does take up two seats, they should buy an extra seat. But the majority of these "spillover" problems are due to the tiny, tiny spaces the airlines leave you.

Cedarford said...

Simon - If you dispute the fact that airlines added more seats into the same passenger space starting in the early 90s, surely you can look up the info that proves otherwise.

That's the beauty of Google, Simon! And pretty much an end to the demand of opponents to furnish information via citations that you in past years could reasonably claim to not have access to. Now you can look it up yourself - no need to demand others be your research assistants.

Via "customer capacity upgrade packages, airlines added 1-2 rows of seating, reducing leg space.

This issue, the affected aircraft, the loss of legspace from 2-5" - has been extensively covered in news and in business travel publications...Along with other troubling areas like fast turnarounds caussing a marked decline in cabin cleanliness.

And airlines not inclined, have had to follow the herd because Dereg means you must not let a competitor get ahead..and the only way to stop that competive pressure to reach a bottom level in service and comfort is to have Federal standards for matters like seat size, legroom.

mcg said...

Every person I've met in my life that makes snide, under-their-breath remarks about fat people is also a bigot on race, ethnicity, religion.

Sounds like you need to get out more.

J said...

"Indeed, market forces alone resulted in American's "More Room" campaign of a few years back, and United's Economy Plus program. Of course, those same market forces have forced American to scrap the More Room program, and you have to pay more money to get the Economy Plus seats, so there you go"

If you're concerned, take a look at http://www.seatguru.com/ before you book, which can give you specifics about seat size on different airlines (I am not affiliated with SeatGuru). For seat pitch (the space between rows), there's not a lot you can do. While there are a handful of exceptions (who are generally in 1st/business class), airline customers have demonstrated repeatedly and emphatically not only that they will not pay more for greater seat pitch in coach, but that they will punish carriers who offer it - add Western, TWA, and Continental to mcg's list.

mcg said...

But the majority of these "spillover" problems are due to the tiny, tiny spaces the airlines leave you.

This simply is not the case, if you're talking about the way Southwest defines it. The vast majority of people do not spill over in that sense. They're not talking about the fight over the armrests.

chuck b. said...

I need spillover space. And I'm lean.

I like a lot of room. My boyfriend is really good at scoring us the frequent flier miles and first class upgrades so we always fly first class. (I only fly once or twice a year.) I'm fine in first class, but coach is a horror show. I haven't dealt with it in a good five years.

Bruce Hayden said...

In the last 12 years or so, I probably have over 500 flights under me, and have run into the seriously overlapping person maybe a dozen times. But I have come close quite a few times - when I was Premier Exec with United, I would invariably sit up in the Economy Plus section, with the other frequent flyers and we would sometimes get three large guys into the three seats. Two isn't a problem, but three is. We were elbow to elbow all the way.

I have never run into the problem with SW, most likely because you get to pick your seat when you board, and I typically sit in the 2nd to last row on the isle, and the middle there only gets filled when the plane is absolutely full. (I sit back there to talk to the flight attendants and thus get extra pop and munchies).

I noticed the SW policy awhile ago, and wondered then how they ever enforced it. At one time, they might have enforced it at the ticket counter when you get your boarding pass. But now, you can get them on-line up to 24 hours in advance (and over half of the passengers seem to do that), or you can get them at one of the automated kiosks. Indeed, at DIA last week, SW had two attendants at their counter: one was handling the luggage from about eight kiosks, and the other was handling everything else. In Phoenix and Las Vegas, they have kiosks up by the security checkpoints, with absolutely no staff oversight.

Thus, SW can't realistically enforce this policy prior to boarding. And at that time, they are invariably in a hurry to keep up their on-time departure standards (and they really are better than the other big carriers there). If the plane isn't full, then BFD if someone takes up more than one seat. So, it is most likely only when they get onto a fairly full plane and sit down that SW is likely to figure out that someone exceeds their standards in width. But by then, it is likely too late to do anything about it. After all, all that a person needs to do then would be to make a fuss and refuse to vacate. With over a hundred others on the plane in a hurry to get to their destinations, etc., there would be a lot of pressure on SW to back down.

Of course, this is all conjecture, so if anyone has actual experience with SW implementing this policy, I would be interested.

altoids1306 said...

Oooh...bash the fat man time! I want to play too.

The difference between overweight and tall is pretty simple. Tall people cannot become shorter, their genes dictate bone length. The obese can always become thinner. It's not like fat people are magically immune to the laws of thermodynamics.

P. Froward said...

Cedarford said...

the airlines do need some regulation so that they do not continue to make air travel growingly more cramped and miserable for travellers (ergonomic standards are OK elsewhere - airlines should adopt - when an average size man like myself has legs bunched up and cramped - Federal standards are needed..)

You're nuts.

Here's how markets work: If people want something, and are willing to pay enough for a vendor to turn a profit providing it, somebody will sell it to them. If no vendor can turn a profit on a good or service, you can force them to provide it, but only until they run out of money. If you subsidize them, then taxpayers who don't fly are subsidizing your vacations. That, of course, is precisely what you're demanding: You're middle class, no doubt, and you want poor people taxed to pay for your treats.

Did somebody mention PBS?

You think your desires are a law of nature, and you have no better than a child's grasp of what would actually be involved in satisfying them. You don't know and you don't care. A giant mouth with no brain.

Hey, I've got the answer! If airlines burned less fuel per mile, flights would be cheaper! So we can just pass a law changing pi to a more convenient value.

We'll call it the Canute-Cedarford Act.

P. Froward said...

P.S. That bit about pi? It's because the Earth is a BIG ROUND SPHERE. No, really, it is, I swear! But you can pass a law changing it to a dodecafuckinghedron if you find spheres too confusing.

gj said...

In the early 1990's on a United non-stop flight from Boston to San Jose I was seated next to a spillover passenger. She came onto the flight standby, just before it took off.

She was dressed like a bag lady--- big heavy winter coat, even though it was a warm May day, and she left the coat on when she sat down, which increased the spillover effect. She was sort of talking to herself and seemed very nervous. After she got more or less settled, she started arranging and rearranging a bunch of canvas bags at her feet.

As soon as the flight took off, when the plane was still in sharp ascent, she got out of her seat and tried to go to the bathroom. Needless to say, the flight attendent sent her right back.

It was shortly after that that I discovered the reason for all the strangeness. She pulled a dog out of her coat, and placed it in one of the bags.

Or at least I thought that explained all the strangeness. But it turned out it was just the start. Over the next ten minutes, she pulled out an additional four dogs that she had hidden away in pockets that she'd sewn into her coat the night before.

The dogs were pretty well tranquilized and didn't cause any trouble. The flight attendents turned a blind eye because, well, no passengers were complaining and they certainly didn't want to divert the flight to Chicago to have the woman arrested.

She explained to me that she was going to San Jose for two weeks, and it was too expensive to check the dogs ($125 each). She had checked her cat, though.

I never found out how the return trip worked out for her.

Cedarford said...

P Froward - Here's how markets work: If people want something, and are willing to pay enough for a vendor to turn a profit providing it, somebody will sell it to them. If no vendor can turn a profit on a good or service, you can force them to provide it, but only until they run out of money. If you subsidize them, then taxpayers who don't fly are subsidizing your vacations. That, of course, is precisely what you're demanding: You're middle class, no doubt, and you want poor people taxed to pay for your treats.

You write like some dumb young Ayn Rand acolyte in how the "magic of the markets" obviates the need for standards.

Even they freest of societies - always recognizes the need for standards and codes - a point "below which you will not go" regulating industry, housing..to prevent both the profit motive or competive race to the bottom from endangering or greating inconveniencing the population. With collapsing buildings, firetrap buildings, contaminated or adulturated foods and beverages, blowing up steamships, it being cheaper to sail without those pesky lifeboats taking up space, exploding Pintos, baby's cloths that burn readily, highway bridges done by the cheapest bidder that catastrophically fail later.

The wisdom of standards and codes is embraced by nearly every profession to ensure a minimum of quality of production or service below which that cannot go despite market forces of profit pressure or consumer demand..

I merely said that minimum levels of ergonomic design mandated in other industries should include airlines.

For that I get treated to some libertarian punk logic from P Froward. In typically stupid language that ignores that most free market nations that do best are those with strict standards of quality, design robustness, safety margins, and minimum quality of services standards, he bloviates:

You think your desires are a law of nature, and you have no better than a child's grasp of what would actually be involved in satisfying them. You don't know and you don't care. A giant mouth with no brain.

Get back to me when you finally put down your dog-eared copies of Friedman and Hayek and actually have to work for a living in a profession that has high codes and standards, goofy boy..On second thought, when you do get into the workforce and likely work in a field that is not a profession and lacks standards other than showing up on time and avoiding drugs...treat your job as if you are obligated to have high standards...you'll go farther that way. Even become a store manager.

Worth repeating, because inanity becomes comical in repitition:

P Froward If you subsidize them, then taxpayers who don't fly are subsidizing your vacations. That, of course, is precisely what you're demanding: You're middle class, no doubt, and you want poor people taxed to pay for your treats.

Standards and codes imply no subsidy. To say they do and the cost is born by non-users whenever a building, say, must comply with earthquake standards or a bridge is designed to 60 ton capacity even though many taxpayers will not use the bridge reflects your ignorance of infrastructure economics and professional standards. They are simply the minimum all competitors must meet to enter the business, and stay in the business.

Standards are added and relaxed all the time, in all areas of the economy. At times, yes, the wisdom of some or the relaxing of some is questionable - but their value is proven in structuring free markets to be responsible and not just let unrestrained market forces endanger society, discriminate against the civil rights of it's minorities, jeopardize the environment or other areas not showing in the bottom line, or become a construct that inconveniences society more than it benefits it.

As for "probably being middle class" - great projection. As for the poor paying in taxes for the middle class - when you get out of your middling-level college - and enter the workforce = you will see it is the other way around.

LoafingOaf said...

You think your desires are a law of nature, and you have no better than a child's grasp of what would actually be involved in satisfying them. You don't know and you don't care. A giant mouth with no brain.

Hey, I've got the answer! If airlines burned less fuel per mile, flights would be cheaper! So we can just pass a law changing pi to a more convenient value.


Wow, you really get set off when someone merely thinks an FAA regulation about seat design should be considered since the airlines treat human beings like cattle.

I'm not saying I support another regulation, but why is someone "nuts", "a child," and "a giant mouth with no brain" if they think it's something to look into? There's all kinds of regulations on aircrafts.

I can live with it, but the fact is, I get crammed in a seat that my legs do not fit. I doubt the world would end if the FAA did something about that. And I doubt I'd call domestic air travel a free market when the government won't allow foreign competition. It just so happens that foreign airlines have much more comfortable airplanes; perhaps they could give me a choice if they were allowed.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Oh boy. These comments! I must speak for the, ahem, "big boned."

I last flew from Phoenix to Long Island in 2001. I could barely fit in the seat, and the seatbelt would not fit without cutting into my waist. Had we hit extreme turbulence my ass would have been all over the ceiling with people pointing up saying, "Look at the moon."

I made sure I squished myself to one side in order to maintain some space and NOT spill over. I was near the window, and sat in fear and horror when a late passenger, heavier than me, entered the plane and the only seat left to him was between two people (who knew each other but did not care to slide together in order to talk around him with annoyed looks on their pinched little faces (see, us fat people can characature too)).

It's easy to look at heavy people and say they should just get a grip and lose weight. They should, but like any addiction, gluttony is a hard master. Suggesting that fat people either "just lose weight" or walk across America instead of fly, is dismissive in the most dimwitted fashion.

I would be willing to pay an extra 30% or so no problem for an extra seat (or a wider seat), and it would not be difficult (based on the models some have suggested above) for airlines to institute such a plan.

And let's be real. The government can and should mandate that the airlines provide access to all passengers. Why? Because airlines are nothing like a free market or a good example of capitalism at its best. The industry is already heavy regulated for safety, and has not made a dime in it's entire history, and frequently relies on the Feds to bail it out of its own stupidity or misery.

So the government mandating that extra seats be set aside for an additional fee is not in the least bit an onerous regulation in a business where those in charge have yet to figure out how to pull out profit anyway.

Southwest excepted.

Shanna said...

frequently relies on the Feds to bail it out of its own stupidity or misery.

Exactly. The airline industry hasn't been "free market" for years, if ever. How many bailouts have they gotten?

Southwest is a different breed, but I don't fly them much so I can't comment.

J said...

"It just so happens that foreign airlines have much more comfortable airplanes; perhaps they could give me a choice if they were allowed."

Some do and some don't... Are you talking about state owned or protected international operations, or internal domestic stuff? Airlines like Singapore or Lufthansa run a wonderful operation, but remove the restrictions on capacity and, if applicable, fourth freedom rights, and US airlines would eat them alive. A competitive domestic operation run by them wouldn't be distinguishable from what we have now. On the other hand, with a 30 inch seat pitch and $10 charge for checking a bag, Ryanair makes Southwest look like, well, Singapore by comparison. And that business model is coming to the US, even if Ryanair itself isn't. Be careful what you wish for.

Freeman Hunt said...

I like cheap fares. I don't care if I'm cramped as long as the fare is cheap. I think a lot of people probably feel the same way, and so, the seat space remains small.

Mike said...

P. Forward said "...poor people taxed to pay for your treats."

Poor people don't pay income taxes in this country.

MadisonMan said...

Mike, only you said income tax. Poor people are most definitely taxed in this country.

Mike said...

Yes, M.M. but the subsidies which he refers to would come from income taxes. Though, at the current time, it is (unfortunately) true that Social Security tax is used to subsidize the general budget, in general, it is not the poor who pay for federal subsidies.

Balfegor said...

You know what I want? Forget larger seats, and obesity segregation. I want sleeper planes. More red-eye flights, but with bunks or something, not those chairs that barely recline.

And even if we didn't have sleeper planes, I'd like more red-eye flights in general. Just on principle. Because practically all I ever take are red-eyes, and finding that airlines don't have flights departing at 3AM is annoying.

Dave said...

You know what I want?

A requirement that passengers under the age of 5 are bound and gagged for the duration of the flight. Else, put them and their parents on the wings.

WhatsAPundit said...

I'm a fat man who has logged about half a million miles over the last four years. I fit in economy seats, but it's a tight fit. My strategy is to get a window seat and put as much of myself into the window well as possible.

No one has ever complained of "spillover", although I once had to move to a different seat because my leg kept brushing and pushing in the recline button.

Having said that, I'd still have problems if I were back at my fencing weight, because I had problems then too! 46" chest, 28" waist, 29" inseam.

With the right beard I could have played Gimli's stunt double without any need for special effects.

For some people, short of cracking clavicles/scapulas, wide is not a function of diet, let alone of choice. Please make a note of it, and be aware that we too are just trying to get from point A to point B while receiving and producing as little discomfort as possible.

Leland said...

"Spillover space" charge seems like a sin tax to me. I think it is certainly fine for the airline to apply it, so long as I can choose another airline to fly that doesn't apply it. I would support it more if the sin tax included other annoyances, like the drunk passenger, whose fear of flying makes me want to join the line on "Airplane!". If a passenger falls asleep and think that means it is fine to rest their head on my shoulder, does that count as spillover? What if they are just snoring and drooling?

Now for Froward... I don't care what you think you know about economics, because you don't have a clue about the airline industry. I now direct you to the Federal Aviation Regulations, and kindly point you to Part 25, Section 25 which covers Airworthiness Standards for Transport Category Aircraft. This should disabuse you of any notion that the airlines have unregulated standards. You might note regulation Sec 25.785 i:

Each seat berth, and its supporting structure, must be designed for an occupant weight of 170 pounds, considering the maximum load factors, inertia forces, and reactions between the occupant, seat, and safety belt or harness, at each relevant flight and ground load condition

For people over 170 lbs, you are potentially less safe but still pay the same price, and with Southwest, maybe you'll pay more.

mcg said...

Exactly. The airline industry hasn't been "free market" for years, if ever. How many bailouts have they gotten?

Two wrongs don't make a right. Those bailouts shouldn't happen.

Southwest is a different breed, but I don't fly them much so I can't comment.

Yes. Southwest actually makes money. Gasp! So why, again, are those bailouts, or additional onerous regulation, necessary again? Could it perhaps be instead that the business model of the traditional airlines is fatally flawed, and bailouts just prolong the suffering?

Brent said...

mcg,

How far a "free marketer" are you?

Should airports be run by the airlines and not municipalities?

Should there be no government regulation to the airline industry?

If so, how much?

Air Traffic Control - government or business?

Barbie said...

I had a flight from HELL recently from Fort Lauderdale to Charlotte, NC. I had the middle seat in the bulkhead row and my traveling companion was in the aisle seat. I was beginning to think we scored an extra seat, then I heard a voice say, excuse me, that's my seat...I looked up to see a 400 - 450 lb man standing in the aisle by my friend. He was wearing a muscle shirt (NOT!) and "short shorts". He was also only about 5'8 and because of his weight, was huge.
I was shocked, but tried to be polite. He was barely able to get to his seat and was sitting atop the armrests. The stewardess came by and told him he would have to sit down in the seat. He said he would have to raise the armrest and get "cozy" with me. I firmly expressed that the armrest needed to stay "down" in place. I could already tell that was the only thing to keep me from being crushed. He was already protruding into my seat and I was pinned behind his shoulder. I asked him to lean forward and I was able to free my shoulder by turning sideways in my seat. He pushed himself down into the seat, which made the seat recline. He was protruding about ten inches into my seat, overflowing over the armrest. I was thankful the armrest was there to act as a "dam". The stewardess asked once that he put his seat upright. he asked if she'd like to come find the button for him. She then said she would bring him an extension for his seatbelt and he he just laughed and said "those don't work either." (No one ever asked him again and he was unrestrained the entire flight.)
I kept trying to flag down the stewardess before we left the gate and she was absolutely ignoring me. The man across the aisle from my friend finally stopped her and said I had a question. I told her we had a problem and would need an additional seat. She told me the plane was full. I had noticed an empty seat in first class, but she informed me it was taken. I asked her if she could do something about the problem, before we took off and she nearly whispered that she "wasn't allowed to" do anything. I asked her my options and she said that it was too late to do anything. I was turned entirely sideways, facing my friend in the aisle seat the entire time. I have back issues which were exaccerbated by this position.
I was trying to be nice and he was a nice person and all, but I wanted to ask him: "Were you NOT this big when you made your reservations?? How about when you left the house this morning???" I mean, if he was truly as "nice" as he seemed to be ~ wouldn't it be considerate to book two seats when you can't fit in one?
Half way thru the flight I feel my shirt being lifted up ~ I seriously was going to turn around and slap him and I realized he was asleep. As he slept, his huge belly had freed itself of the shirt which had riden up and exposed a HUGE, bare, hairy belly...which was now against MY bare skin,{YUCK!} because the said belly had pulled my shirt up so far that my bra was now exposed.
This was on U.S. Airways, but I have been told that virtually all airlines treat this in the same manner. If I would have made "a fuss", I would have been removed from the plane. Large bodied passengers cannot be "discriminated" against. This came shortly after a (thin) girl in a t-shirt and skirt was removed from another plane because she wasn't "dressed appropriately".Do the "large bodied" ones get to wear whatever fits them that morning? The only things that went my way that flight were that he was nice (and I was trying not to make it evident that I was miserable, because I would imagine he hears enough of that) and thank goodness he was a clean person.
That said, if it EVER happens again, I will say, "No, that's my husband's seat, he's in the restroom."