Brit fliers' fury over extra-wide plane seats for overweight passengers

Brit fliers' fury over extra-wide plane seats for overweight passengersGetty

Over 80% of Brits oppose proposals from airline manufacturer Airbus to reduce seat sizes to accommodate new extra-wide seats for heavier passengers, according to a new survey by Skycanner.

On a typical airliner, seats are 18 inches wide, but Airbus' new seat format offers an extra-wide aisle seat which is 20 inches wide.

However, this comes at the expense of the middle and window seats, which each lose an inch, making them just 17 inches wide.

Airlines will then be able to charge extra for the seats, as just a £6.50 fee could generate £2million for each aircraft over 15 years of service.

This could help to offset the cost of extra fuel required to carry overweight passengers.

The move comes in response to frequent complaints from passengers forced to sit next to an overweight person.

Nicholas Tschechne, who conducts research at Airbus, said: "Passenger size has emerged as a core issue we need to deal with. And sitting next to obese passengers is the number one complaint."

But over three-quarters of the 1,000 people who responded to the Skyscanner survey said that it is ridiculous that most passengers would have to squeeze into a smaller seat as a result.

As of yet, it has not been announced which airlines will be installing the new seats, or what the pricing structure will be. However, in line with many airlines that charge more for seats with extra legroom, it's likely that the extra-wide seats would come at a premium, whilst the narrower seats would simply become the norm, with no discount being offered.

A massive eight out of 10 believe that passengers who require more space should be charged.
The poll by found that 48% of all those questioned thought heavier people should pay for their extra weight, just as other fliers pay for excess baggage.

This also echoes a poll carried out by Aol Travel, which found that, out of the 10,000 people who participated, 70% thought it was fair to charge a fat tax.

However, they didn't realise that they could be left with smaller space as a result.

Sam Poullain, Skyscanner spokesperson, told Aol Travel: "The issue of charging more for bigger seats is a contentious one as it gives airlines a financial incentive to reduce standard seat sizes. Airbus' new extra-wide seat format is a clever way for airlines to generate more revenue, but it's inevitable that some passengers will feel hard done by as they'll be losing an inch from their seat widths."

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Brit fliers' fury over extra-wide plane seats for overweight passengers

This is the mother of all unfair charges. Strictly speaking, all the other charges are optional - you don't HAVE to carry luggage, or take your baby with you when you fly, or use a luggage trolley, but where's the alternative to actually booking your tickets, using a credit or debit card? Paying for paying? It's just plain wrong.

Poor old smokers. Not only do they have to live with the knowledge that they're shortening their lives with each cigarette they smoke, and paying almost £5 in tax with each packet they buy, but now filthy-lunged travellers passing through Belfast International Airport will have to shell out £1 each time they use the designated outdoor smoking area. How to avoid? Do we really have to spell it out?

Many airports provide the now-obligatory transparent plastic bags for liquids free of charge, but not so airports like Stansted and Manchester, which sting you for a quid if you forget to transfer your bottles into an approved bag before leaving home. The solution: check in your liquids, buy travel size bottles of toiletries for your trip after security, or just raid your mum's kitchen drawers for zip-loc freezer bags so you're never caught short.

A friend recently booked her honeymoon Ryanair flights in her married name, realised her passport would still be in her maiden name, so called back to change the name and got walloped with an £160 charge. £160? To change one name?? Perhaps the call centre workers are on bankers' salaries, but somehow we doubt it. Check carefully before paying this one, as most of the time you'd be better off just buying a whole new ticket.

There's nothing more likely to kill your holiday buzz than arriving home off your 1.30am flight, fetching your bags off the baggage carousel and then finding that there's a £1 charge for the trolley - and you're only carrying Kronor. The solution? Invest in a nifty trolley token key ring and you'll always be sorted for both airports and supermarkets.

We get that we can't all expect to travel like Victoria Beckham, trolleys piled high with Louis Vuitton trunks, but we would like to take a few presents and souvenirs in our suitcases without being charged up to £40 a kilo in overweight charges. It would also be nice to be able to carry a magazine and bottle of water onto the plane without having to stuff them into our already bulging carry on bags. Until that civilised day comes, it pays to weigh your bags before leaving for the airport and make sure you pay for any hold luggage online, as it's considerably more expensive at check-in or at the gate.

Nowhere else in life is the scope for extra charges so eagerly exploited as in the aviation world. You don't get on a bus and get asked by the driver if you want to 'upgrade' to a top level, front row seat, nor do you pay a supplement for 'better' seats at the cinema, but in the crazy world of flying, forking out anything from £8 to £130 for exit row seats with extra legroom is now considered normal. Don't encourage the airlines by paying these charges, instead use the opportunity to practice your lotus pose.

It's a pretty messed up world in which its possible to pay more for a baby's ticket than your own - especially when your little cherub doesn't even get a seat of his own. Some might say this is a justifiable payment to compensate for screaming and crying and ruining all the other passengers' journeys but we don't hold with those kind of baby-hating views. No way round this one, just be thankful you don't have twins.

Ok, this one hasn't actually happened yet (despite rumblings from Ryanair a couple of years ago) but it's only a matter of time before you have to spend a pound to spend a penny.

Remember that montage scene in Love Actually showing hundreds of happy people reunited with their loved ones at the airport arrivals area? Well, forget about experiencing that particular moment of joy ever again because no one can afford the extortionate charges for parking and picking up any more. Instead, we make complicated arrangements to meet at rainy, distant drop off areas or a random petrol station a mile from the airport, which saves money but definitely lacks romance.


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