Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Dealing to the space invaders

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After the bacchanalian orgy that is the festive season, I'm probably going to have to pay for an extra seat the next time I fly, just to have somewhere to put my stomach.

Therefore, I have a smidgen of sympathy for those passengers being targeted by Air France-KLM - but only a smidgen. I have more sympathy for the poor saps who have the misfortune to wind up sitting next to the fatties.

Air France-KLM announced this week that passengers who couldn't fit into one seat comfortably would have to pay for another one to allow their run off to flow freely and unencumbered.

A number of American airlines have this policy in effect already, and anybody who's had the misfortune to be wedged in next to a man mountain of oily flesh will be applauding the initiative.

Aviation commentators say it's a safety issue - that in an emergency, planes have to be able to be evacuated in 90 seconds, and if attendants are heaving and hauling at an individual who's wedged themselves into a seat, it puts other people's lives at risk.

Security may well be the reason, especially in light of the fact that Air France-KLM has said that if the plane has spare seats, they'll refund the cost of the fatty's extra ticket.

But surely the bigger the passenger, the more expensive it is to fly them?

Wouldn't a plane flying 300 size 8 models to the United States use less fuel than it would flying 300 sumo wrestlers to Japan? And why should someone encroach into your space? If you've paid for a seat, you've paid to use 100 per cent of it. Not 75 per cent.

Big people might consider their human rights have been infringed if they have to pay more for a seat than a skinny passenger, but what about the rights of the lean?

Remember the case of that poor little 1.49m (4ft 11 inches) woman who was crushed on a Virgin Atlantic flight?

For 11 hours, a chronically obese woman literally sat on top of Barbara Hewson and as a result she suffered a haematoma in her chest, torn leg muscles and crippling sciatica.

It took her two years to get any recognition from Virgin and it's put her off travelling for life.

When you check in, you should sit on a seat and if you fit into it, you pay for one seat - spill over, you pay for two. Seems fair enough to me and a sufficient incentive to get my ass back to the gym.

- Herald on Sunday

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