Complaining about airlines is like complaining about the IRS or lawyers, everybody does it and there's no point in spending more time in doing so. That said, we're going to take some time today to complain about airlines (it's okay, you can let out your collective groan), or at least one airline in particular. You see, we all know that airlines don't care about passengers, in fact we're used to it by now. Still, we still desire them to still pretend they do (just like we know most people don't care how we're feeling when they ask, "How are you?" but it's still nice to be asked). Recently US Airways has even taken that last shred of decency away by verbally slapping customers across the face.
Some readers may already be aware of the news story of the passenger flying from Alaska to Philadelphia that had to stand during the entire flight because an obese person (or, as US Airways puts it, a "person of size") took up their own seat and half the seat of the displaced passenger. In fact, the displaced passenger says that while he was able to squeeze into his seat for takeoff and landing, he was unable to utilize his seatbelt and that both armrests had to be raised up for the obese person to cram into the tiny airplane seat (let's admit, regardless of a person's size, the legroom and seat space in planes are way too cramped). Anyone that has flown more than a few times has probably experienced similar situations, although the size of the "person of size" may vary in each person's personal experience. Being crammed next to someone that takes up half your seat for 7 hours would probably be enough for me to stand for the entire flight as well, as many others would probably agree.
Now I fully understand that the displaced passenger may be exaggerating somewhat (maybe the "person of size" only took up one-quarter of his seat), may be a habitual complainer, or he may actually be telling the truth with no exaggeration. That's almost beside the point in relation to US Airways response and, as I said earlier, their verbal slap in the face to all future passengers. According to an msnbc.com article, the airline issued a statement that said, in regards to the displaced person that was complaining, "His seatmate had the same right to his seat as Mr. Berkowitz did to his. So here's where the diplomacy and cooperation of all passengers comes into play."
First of all, I can't believe a spokesperson would be so dumb as to make this statement, but again, that's where it's evident that the gloves are obviously off with US Airways now. To say that the displaced passenger has no right to complain because his "seatmate" had the same rights as him is like saying that if I was at a buffet and had loaded up my plate and a "person of size" took half my mashed potatoes off my plate, I don't have a right to complain because we're at a buffet and we all have the same rights to the food, regardless of if it's on my plate or not. Or if I had rented a car for 3 days but only got use of it for 2 days because the person that rented it before me returned it late, that I have no right to complain because we both have rights to the car.
The spokesperson goes on to say that "The way to ensure you have space available to you - whether you are a person of size, or you would simply like to ensure you have more personal space to relax on a long flight - is to purchase that additional seat, or First Class, in advance." Indeed, the airline is now saying that the displaced passenger should have thought ahead and purchased a second seat for himself so that he could prevent a "person of size" from taking up half his seat. And why not, airlines are already getting you for convenience fees, baggage fees, and change fees, why not add a skinny "don't let a person of size take half your seat" fee while we're at it.