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Sunday, January 02, 2011

Well, he should just lose height then
Posted by Jill | 5:54 AM
You didn't read that wrong. The title of this post does say "height", not "weight".

It was one thing when you could just shrug and say an overweight airline passenger should just go on a diet. But perhaps when a passenger is too tall to fit his legs in the space allotted between rows, can we please just acknowledge that when airlines are trying to cram ever-more passengers on a plane, no adult in even the normal range of sizes is denied even basic comfort?
When Brooks Anderson boarded a Spirit Airlines flight from Chicago to Ft. Myer's, Fla., to spend Christmas with his family, he said he didn't expect to be standing for the next two-and-a-half hours.

"I was in an aisle seat and I clearly didn't fit into the seat at all," he said. "I couldn't even stuff myself in there."

The 25-year-old is 6'7" and as he tried to squeeze his knees under his chin, his tall frame proved to be too big to fit into Spirit's tiny coach seat.

"This is the most crammed I've been by far," Anderson said.

Even though he was in the last row of the plane, Anderson said the flight attendants wouldn't let him stick his knees out into the aisle, so he was forced to sit with them jammed into the metal tray table on the seat in front of him.

"It's incredibly painful," he said.

Anderson said he asked to be moved to an exit row seat, which typically has more legroom.

"The stewardess and I talked before the takeoff," he said. "She asked if anyone in the emergency row would switch spots with me [but] came back and said, 'You're stuck'."

Brooks Anderson stands at 6'7" and is shown here with his grandparents.

When none of the other passengers offered to help, Anderson said he decided to take matters into his own hands and asked if he could stand for the flight.

"I said, 'I need to do something about this, is it O.K. if I stand after the seatbelt sign is turned off?,'" he said. "She said it was O.K."

It got to the point where if the attendent wouldn't let him stand, Anderson said he seriously considered getting off the plane and missing the flight altogether.

"If I had to sit in my seat the whole time, I would have been in physical pain, with metal jamming into my knee caps for the whole flight," Anderson explained.

He then spent the remainder of the flight "dodging people going to and from the bathroom."

"It's like being in a subway car for two-and-a-half hours, which is awful," he said, adding that there was luckily no turbulence during the flight.

"It's bizarre," said Anderson's mother, Katie Anderson. "This was the first time he's been treated like this."

One could argue that if you're flying Spirit, you know that what you're getting is to be crammed into a sardine can. But other airlines aren't significantly better. Standing on a crowded subway train for a half-hour at rush hour is gruesome enough. But you paid two-and-a-half bucks for that ride. To pay hundreds of dollars (after including fees and taxes) to fly, and then be told that you have to stand if you don't want your legs crushed, means it's time to speak to the airline industry in the only language it understands: money. Just stay home. Now that there's Skype, you can have face-to-face conversations with your relatives that way.

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Blogger Nan said...
The airlines have contemplated making all passengers stand -- there are proposals out there for "seats" that are actually more like reclining boards that the passengers would lean against and be strapped to instead of sitting. You can cram a few more bodies on to the plane if they're all standees instead of sitting.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
My whole life I have railed against the system that says one size fits all and how the short are disadvantaged. You think it is difficult when things are too high try too low. Think feet not touching the floor is tough try head hitting the ceiling. I once had a young girl in front of me on a flight and she believed it was her right to lean her seat back even though my knees were against her seat from knee to shin. Buy a car, they make the seat move forward until it almost touches the dash and the steering tilts down the seat raises to an absurd height, but try head hits car top as you enter, insufficient room between the seat and the steering, seat will not go back far enough, rearview mirror in line of sight, If you customize the seat and steering you void your warranty. they should tailor a car like a suit after all $30000.00 should get you a good fit.

Anonymous Ted said...

It's more than a "proposal". See

RyanAir [Ireland discount airline] and ChinaAir have already installed something similar -- at least I've been told. I've flown neither.

But more to the point, I'm 6'5" and I fly far too much. I have little sympathy for Mr Anderson. 2 minutes on any travel board will tell you which airlines -- and plane configurations -- have seats large enough to actually sit in. And in the case of Spirit, I've seen nothing that convinces me to even think of flying them. "Sardine cans in the sky" is probably giving them more credit than they deserve! [And commenting on an earlier piece Jill had here: Just because they fly "real" airplanes and not the regional and turbo- variety doesn't mean they pay or train their pilots or cabin crews up to snuff!]

While Skype -- among other software -- can mitigate the need to fly, Americans are _far_ too anxious to save $.05 on cheap junk than to spend the extra $.50 and get something worthwhile.

Basketball players should not fly discount carriers. Period!

I long ago discovered that buying "cheap" doesn't cut it. I now go to car dealers and "try on" cars before I even think of buying. Some "midsize" autos fit me; many don't. But some "full size" cars don't fit either. I don't even bother with "compact" or "economy". Renting cars when I travel can get exciting.

But then, tall people are supposed to receive a higher salary -- statistically -- than shorter folks, and we tend to graduate from higher education at a higher rate than shorter folks. Saying that with 2 Masters degrees, I have no idea if that's true or if it matters.

But as my wife -- who's 5'0" if you stretch her -- says, it's convenient having someone who can change lightbulbs and reach the high shelves without a ladder...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I am severely allergic to chemicals. Being on an airplane where everything is made of plastic and the cleaning is with the heavy duty chemicals is prolonged torture.

Perfume for men or women, nails me so bad that I have trouble breathing.

I have had to change seats up to 4 or 5 times on long flights because of perfume.

I have never had a flight attendant that did not help me to relocate.


Anonymous Anonymous said...
He has my sympathies.

I'm 6'3'myself. Four years ago I got stuck in coach class on a flight to Ireland (airline to remain unnamed). Let's just say the seats were very close together..and the person in the seat in front of me was a fat guy who put his seat back...result: eight to ten hours of pain and discomfort. Wasn't sure my knees would ever work right again.

Y'know, when I was a small boy, I remember flying on an airliner as being an exciting and pleasant experience (this was in the early 1960s). Now it's an experience I dread....

Blogger Fixer said...
Fly Virgin Atlantic coach from JFK to Heathrow and tell me about cramped.