Read/React: Flying While Fat


Kate Harding of Salon has a take on "flying while fat" that goes beyond the discomforter of other passengers and considers the parties under the microscope

Whenever the issue of whether larger people should be forced to buy two airline seats comes up — as it did this weekend, when director Kevin Smith was booted from a Southwest Airlines flight, and as it did last April, after United introduced a policy practically identical to Southwest's — the first and only thing a lot of folks think of is that time they had to sit next to a fat person on a flight, and it was so uncomfortable.

Here's the first thing I think of when this issue comes up, for instance: The weekend my mom was dying. Two of my siblings and I got to her bedside within hours of getting the call that she'd had a massive heart attack. Our other sister took two days to get there. She could fly coach, technically, with a seatbelt extender and the armrests digging into her sides. But she couldn't afford two seats, especially on such short notice, and knew she might be forced to buy another if the airline decided she was too big to count as a single human being. She knew she might be bumped from the flight she'd paid for, and forced to wait around for one that was less full, for who knows how long, while our mother's organs were shutting down in another country. And she knew that even if she was allowed to fly on the flight she'd booked, there was every chance she'd end up sitting next to someone who would spend the whole time sighing heavily and throwing her dirty looks — then probably spend the rest of her life telling the story of being next to that awful fat woman on a flight from Boston to Toronto, that disgusting creature who just booked a single seat without a thought to the people who would have to brush up against her monstrous bulk for a couple of hours, like she had to be somewhere so important it was worth inconveniencing strangers.

Continue reading at Salon

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