I was in the hospital the other day, ironically tending to the the medical care of a young, morbidly obese patient, when I had to stop to listen to the illogical whining of a young woman on the patient’s TV. She was being interviewed about a recent shaming experience inflicted upon her by one of the airlines. She had apparently been told she had to pay for two seats, because her 400 pound frame would spill over the 17 inch wide airplane seat into the next passenger’s seat. She felt publicly humiliated.
She told the interviewer she had been trying really hard to lose weight. (What’s the relevance? She’s still 400 pounds.) She said she had actually succeeded in losing 80 pounds. (That’s good, but she doesn’t get a prize of a free airplane ticket for that.) She cried “discrimination.” She claimed she was being “singled out.” (She’s unfortunately very wrong about that. The majority of Americans are overweight/obese. Airlines have had to make policy about this issue. It applies to all such individuals.) She actually said that the airline industry has a responsibility to provide wider seats to accommodate her wider body. (She apparently doesn’t realize that it costs money to lift weight off the ground and move it from here to there.) And I learned that there is actually a lobby group in Washington that argues for “obesity rights.” (One has the right to be obese, but don’t expect me to pay for it!)
Maybe it’s too much to expect the average person to know the concept of an airplane’s payload. Nah, I think it’s common knowledge. I think some people are just deluding themselves, are in denial, or just simply want someone else to take care of them. The simple concept is that an airline company is in the business of carrying loads, ie people and their baggage, from one place to another. There is a direct cost to the company for every pound that is carried. It has every right to dictate what and how it charges for that service. It competes in an open market with other airline compaines, the American way of encouraging creativity, good service and value. And we the people have a right to either buy their service or not.
I did a quick google search on this topic before writing this post, and I came upon an interesting article in the Washington Post from November, 2004. This issue has been simmering for a long time.
I know there are people who have a lot of difficulty with being overweight/obese, and that they suffer in many ways. I am often (not always) sympathetic. There are people I know and love who are overweight/obese. But it is not right for them to expect and demand that others pay for their troubles.
We are responsible for our words and actions, and for our very selves. Here in NC, the land of the free and the home of the brave, our state government has decided that people who smoke and people who are obese, since they cost the healthcare system much more than non-smokers and the non-obese, should pay more for their health insurance. They can dictate that for state workers. They are sending a message. Obese people have to carry their own weight.