Skinny Daily Post


Weíve all seen the statistics, and thereís no doubt that as a society, we ARE getting heavier. Among the societal ills that are placed on the doorstep of the overweight are increased fuel costs for airlines to fly the extra weight. In todayís New York Times, however, thereís an article that suggests our excess avoirdupois may not be the ONLY reason for extra weight in an airplane. [There’s a free registration for this, but if you wait a couple of weeks to read it, the paper charges a fee]

Simply put: more people are being crammed onto airplanes, due to advances in seat design. Who knew? Now, it may not seem to be a big deal, but airlines are able to add another row or two in economy. At an average passenger weight of 150 pounds, and 6 people per row, that adds another 900 pounds. For 12 people, thatís 1800 pounds, and by the time we add in the weight of their luggage, thatís more than an additional ton of weight thatís been added.

And that takes fuel to move.

However, because the newer airline seats are now 15 pounds lighter than the old ones, letís do the math Ė 90 pounds less for 6 additional people; 180 pounds less for 12. Doesnít make much difference to the total additional weight, does it? Maybe it does compensate, however, for the fact that some of the passengers are overweight.

At least, we can take some small comfort in the fact that the new seats provide more space between armrests because the electronics have been moved to the seat back.

All in all, Iím not sure I want to hear more complaints about how the overweight are just about the only factor driving up the costs of airplane travel.

Now, if only they could figure out how to increase the capacity of the overhead cargo bins so that everyone could stow their carryons.

3 thoughts on “Weighty thoughts on airline travel

  1. Jude says:

    My husband and I recently took a getaway to Las Vegas. On the trip down the seats were comfortable enough. On the way back they seemed a lot more cramped. I asked hubby if it was an older plane. No, he said it was a newer plane!

    In order to get those extra people off the ground they are making the planes narrower to be more aerodynamic.

    I was seriously concerned for some of the passengers, because I could barely fit my ample butt in the seat. Certainly not comfortably, and some of the people were a lot bigger than me.

    I don’t think the airline industry can blame overweight people entirely, those extra seats add up to a lot.

  2. Greta says:

    When I flew on an Air Force plane to New Zealand and Antartica we were required to be weighed with our luggage. I found that to be humiliating even though I was normal weight at the time. I’d hate to be facing a scale at the airport when I go on vacation and even worse have them tell me that my cost will be higher because I am too fat. Also it would not be fair unless every person were weighed WITH their purse, carry-on bag, and luggage providing a total weight per passenger rather than just looking only at body weight. I generally travel very lightly so I think my body weight would be offset by my light luggage, but still I would hate to face a scale at the airport. However, when I went to Las Vegas last month I passed two women in the front of the SouthWest Air plane who had taken advantage of early boarding and the two were seated in the front seat (which faces another seat). The two were each so heavy that their 2 bodies completely filled the space of 3 people. When they announced that the plane was full to capacity I wondered how any adult could possibly be squeezed between these women and if they might have bought 3 tickets for the 2 of them. I never found out the answer to that but it was certainly a case where the airline might have been justified in requiring the purchase of an additional seat or charged an additional fee for not being able to use one of their seats.

  3. rg says:

    Your math is a little faulty there. All of the seats need to be replaced with the new design in order to add an extra row. So you multiply the total number of seats, 200, by the loss in weight per seat, 15, to get 3000, which is significantly LESS than the total weight added by the new passengers.

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