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Paying Extra For Being Fat

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Old June 29th, 2008, 09:43 PM posted to rec.travel.air
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Default Paying Extra For Being Fat

Paying Extra For Being Fat
As summer vacations begin, some passengers on Southwest Airlines will
be pulled aside and, because of their weight, asked to buy a second
ticket. This controversial policy pits the commercial interests of the
airline against the dignity of overweight fliers and raises the issue
of whether anti-discrimination laws should be applied to obese people.
For Southwest, a plane ticket is like real estate: You get only the
space you pay for. (Passengers must buy an extra ticket if their girth
prevents them from lowering the armrest that divides the seats. If the
flight is not full, they qualify for a refund.) Southwest
representative Ashley Rogers says the airline instituted the policy
because of complaints from adjoining passengers. “We want to give
everybody the room they need,” she says. “People should be able to
breathe a little without their neighbor encroaching.” But in Canada, a
new government policy prevents airlines from charging extra for
passengers who are considered disabled by their obesity. The policy
will cost Air Canada $7.3 million a year. As our nation’s collective
girth increases, the debate about the rights of overweight people is
also playing out in the courts. A Michigan law protects overweight
people from job discrimination; Massachusetts is considering similar
legislation. And overweight people claim that a federal law preventing
airlines from discriminating against people with disabilities should
apply to them, too. So far, their lawsuits have been unsuccessful.
—Lori Andrews


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