Nobody likes being told they’re a little on the large side. Especially when they’re surrounded by a plane full of passengers. This less-than-ideal scenario could, as of March 2012, become reality for some portly customers flying AirTran. The airline is introducing a new policy requiring any overweight passenger to purchase an extra seat if they can’t sit in one with the armrest lowered, the Huffington Post reports.
It’s not the first airline to stir such controversy: Southwest Airlines, its parent company, has garnered a lot of attention of late for their “customer of size” policy, which dictates that passengers who cannot fit between the 17-inch armrests must fork over the money for the adjacent seat. In May this year, a woman and her mother were booted from a flight after being told they were “too fat to fly.” And in 2010, Clerks director Kevin Smith was famously ejected after refusing to pay for a second seat. (He later went bananas on Twitter!)
Southwest Airlines says its policy has been on the books for 25 years and that most domestic airlines have similar rules for safety and the comfort of other passengers. Few carriers, however, enforce them. AirTran has similarly responded to criticism by issuing a statement declaring that the restrictions will affect less than one percent of its customer base. We’re betting that that one percent will not sit back, relax, and keep quiet.