It's time airlines introduced an obeseness class cabin on 'planes.
Introducing our all new Obeseness Class dedicated to serving the needs of the hungrier traveller. Fly in comfort and style with plenty of space to eat, drink, relax - and eat and drink some more.
> Commodious double-width, triple-reinforced seats that can accommodate all but the most corpulent of derrières.
> Complimentary amenity kit including a family-sized pack of moistened tissues, industrial-strength mouthwash and weapons-grade deodorant.
Meals and beverages
> Our super-sized onboard meals are tipped into seatback troughs with beer and sodas decanted in wholesale quantities into buckets to ensure that even the most gluttonous passengers’ appetites are satisfied.
> Passengers feeling peckish between meals can ask for delicious hot snacks to be delivered to their seats at any time.
> Passengers feeling peckish between hot snacks can raid the in-seat larder which is stocked with a wide selection of donuts, cakes, cookies, potato chips and fizzy drinks.
> More than 150 hours of cooking shows from around the world displayed on a 15.4-inch video monitor.
> Complimentary copies of National Gastronomic, Feeders Digest and Men’s Fatness magazines.
Airport arrival and departure
> Vouchers redeemable for meals at fast food outlets in the departure lounge.
> Complementary transfer by airport buggy to and from the gate, on departure and arrival, to save the effort of walking.
* Hot snacks not served while the ‘Fasten Seatbelts’ sign is lit.
This is a mock-up of what I believe an airline's promotional material could look like in the not-too-distant future. If you are unconvinced, please let me explain my reasoning.
According to The World Health Organisation:
* Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980. In 2008, more than 1.4 billion adults, 20 and older, were overweight.
* Of these over 200 million men and nearly 300 million women were obese.
* More than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2010.
So we can see that the weight demographics of the world's population has changed a great deal over recent years and the trend is for people to become, on average, even fatter still.
This is especially true in the West where demand for air travel is the greatest. Nevertheless, the size of seats in economy class has not increased in line with the average size of passengers. In fact, it has actually decreased: the standard economy class seat pitch with almost all airlines has shrunk from 33.5" to just 31.0".
Anyone that flies regularly in economy class will have experienced being squashed by an obese passenger sitting next to them. Being smothered by a huge pile of sweating blubber for hour after hour is not only unpleasant but physically dangerous too: "Virgin Atlantic has paid a woman passenger £13,000 (US$20,289) compensation, after she was squashed by an obese person who sat next to her on a transatlantic flight. Barbara Hewson...suffered injuries including a blood clot in her chest, torn leg muscles and acute sciatica and remains in pain two years on. The obese passenger had only been able to fit into her seat by raising the arm rest, which meant her body parts weighed down on Mrs Hewson. The injured woman had to be admitted to hospital in Los Angeles when the flight touched down and was bedridden for a month."
It's no wonder then, as passengers board a plane prior to take off, normal people silently chant to themselves "please don't sit next to me, please don't sit next to me" when they see an obese waddle up the aisle towards them.
And the obese know that they are not popular on 'planes: and nobody wants to be loathed by complete strangers. That's why such a demand exists for obeseness class cabins. Grossly overweight passengers would choose to fly with an airline that featured such a cabin because they would have space to sit in comfort. In addition, they would not be embarrassed about their size because they would be seated with their own kind. Furthermore, normal people would choose that airline because they would know that they would have a reduced risk of being seated next to an obese.
Of course, tickets in obeseness class would cost a little more than economy class tickets because the seats would occupy a larger footprint on the plane, but they would still be much cheaper than business class tickets. If we look at business class seats on Virgin Atlantic, for example, they have a pitch of 79.5" and a seat width of 22.0" (1,749 square inches) compared to 31.0" x 17.5" (542.5 square inches) in economy. However, the obese don't need the extra pitch, just the extra width, so their seats could have a pitch of 31.0" but double the width of an economy seat at 34.0" (1,054 square inches), thus obeseness class seats would occupy a much smaller footprint than business class seats,
In conclusion, the market conditions dictate that it's time airlines introduced an obeseness class cabin on 'planes.
Thank you for this interesting and thought provoking debate.
Obeseness can cause injury: rebuttal
You linked to one article where this is the case. There are tons of obese people in America, and I'm betting most of them have been able to sit in an airplane seat without crushing the person next to them. If you show that this has a history of happening, we'll talk, if not all you got is 1 case out of 1.4 billion potential cases.
"Of course, tickets in obeseness class would cost a little more than economy class tickets because the seats would occupy a larger footprint on the plane,"
No kidding! Although you are not being squished by them, a new section will still take away space from you. Why? It's not like they are going to start designing bigger planes for the occasion. What would you rather chose: a chance of sitting next to an obese person and being mildly uncomfortable, or sitting in a just as uncomfortable seat squished close to the other one because the obese section of the plane is making coach smaller and smaller? Or worse yet: not being able to ride on a plane because the coach has less seats to be sold?
Despite anyone's response, it is not only the physical uncomfort that makes people not to sit with fat people, its that "labeler" in your mind that tells you that you are not racist, or sexist, or fatist but that dude of there, he's annoying. He hasn't said anything but everything on his face tells me that he is a lazy bum. This has nothing to do with the fact that he is gay or overweight of course. But theres just something about him.
Adding a whole new section to planes would not help the fact that this society is only starting to take the steps towards true equality.
Adding an obese section on a plane is not only inefficient, but could be mentally demeaning to obese people despite the few pros.
I would like to thank Dubloon for accepting this debate. In response to his "obeseness causes injury" rebuttal I should like to point out that this cannot be measured by lawsuits. After Virgin was successfully sued for allowing an obese to crush one of their passengers other airlines are likely to have settled such cases out of court in order to avoid the negative publicity but, the fact remains, that with 63% of Americans obese or overweight, people flying in the US have a better-than-even chance of being seated next to somebody whose body mass is going to encroach on their personal space, potentially injuring them in the process.
Furthermore, the obese have got the airlines on the back foot and, being greedy by nature, have taken to suing airlines such as Southwest, who require people who need two seats to actually pay for two seats rather than expect their fellow passengers to donate part of their own seats to them.
Making the user pay is morally sound in a commercial context: why should normal passengers subside the obese? They should either pay for two seats, or otherwise, purchase outsize seats in obeseness class which has been specially designed to cater for grossly overweight passengers.
Planes do not need to be bigger to accommodate the obese, by the way, they just need to be reconfigured. The planes will carry the same amount of passengers but both normal people and the obese will be able to travel in comfort - everybody's a winner!
Regarding discrimination, it's not something about the face of an obese that tells you he's a "lazy bum", it's something about his huge belly!
Remember, obesity is preventable, it's a lifestyle choice: people who are not greedy and lazy do not consume more calories than they burn off and, therefore, they do not become obese. That's also why you can't discriminate against the obese like you can women or black people: gender and ethnicity are both beyond an individual's control, becoming obese is not.
In conclusion, an obeseness class cabin offers grossly overweight passengers an attractive option to either buying two seats or being resented by normal passengers in economy (coach) class and would deliver brand loyalty, an by extension, increased profits to any airline that introduced it.
Dubloon forfeited this round.