April 16th, 2009
04:53 PM ET

Should obese passengers pay for 2 seats on airplanes?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Obese passengers might soon have to buy two tickets to fly on United Airlines. The company says "for the comfort and well-being" of all their customers, they have a new policy for passengers who:

Can't fit into a single seat
Can't properly buckle the seat belt using an extender
Can't put the seat's armrests down when seated

If there are extra seats available, the passenger will be moved next to an empty seat at no charge. But if the flight is full, they either have to buy an upgrade to business or first class where the seats are bigger or change to another flight and buy a second seat.

United says they decided to adopt the policy after getting more than 700 complaints last year from passengers who didn't have a comfortable flight because the person next to them quote "infringed on their seat."

Some wonder how the airline can enforce such measures fairly. The spokesman for the Obesity Action Coalition says the policy "perpetuates that negative stigma that's already associated with obesity" and that airline seats already "could use a few extra inches of room on all sides."

But United isn't the first to charge extra for overweight passengers... in fact, now they're on the same page as the other five biggest U.S. carriers. This is something that presumably could affect millions of people when you consider that about one-third of Americans are obese - that's double the rate from 30 years ago.

Here’s my question to you: Should obese passengers have to pay for two seats when they fly?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Airlines • Obesity
April 7th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Has airline travel become more pleasant?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Airline travel may be improving; and that's a good thing because it couldn't have gotten much worse. A private study based on government statistics found the rates of lost bags, late arrivals, passengers bumped from overbooked flights, and consumer complaints all declined in 2008; and the industry actually had its best overall performance in the ratings in 4 years.

Half of all complaints involved baggage or flight problems like cancellations or delays. And the average on-time performance was three percentage points better than 2007; although almost a quarter of all flights were still late.

One expert says the improved performance isn't surprising because 2007 was the worst year for airlines in the study. It's believed that in 2007, the air transport system had reached capacity with 770 million travelers. Last year, that number was down to 741 million and airlines are reporting weak demand for the first quarter of this year.

But even if airline travel is improving, there are still issues. High fuel costs and a sluggish economy forced many airlines to reduce schedules, raise ticket prices, and tack on fees for everything from luggage to pillows.

The most outrageous fee probably comes courtesy of Ryanair - the CEO of the Dublin-based airline wants to charge passengers to use the toilet in-flight. He's asked engineers at Boeing to design toilets with doors that open only if you swipe a credit card. He'll change his mind when people start going in the aisles.

Here’s my question to you: Has airline travel become a more pleasant experience lately?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Airlines
November 24th, 2008
02:42 PM ET

Should obese fliers get extra free seat?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/24/art.airplane.seats.a.gi.jpg caption="Should obese fliers get an extra free seat?"]

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Supreme Court of Canada is upholding a regulatory ruling that people who are "functionally disabled by obesity" have the right to occupy two airline seats on a flight for the price of one.

The ruling late last week said that airlines in Canada can no longer charge an obese passenger extra for an additional seat. The same goes for a disabled person who needs space for a wheelchair or who must be accompanied by an attendant.

This applies only to domestic flights within Canada.

Air Canada and several other Canadian airlines had appealed the original ruling by the Canadian Transportation Agency, but the court refused to hear it. Air Canada will lose an estimated 5.6 million dollars annually on the ruling.

U.S. airlines are not currently required to follow similar regulations. However, it's not unreasonable to expect that obese people in this country might try to make the same argument here at some point.

Here’s my question to you: Should obese people be entitled to an extra free seat when flying?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Airlines
April 10th, 2008
05:07 PM ET

Are you less likely to fly this summer?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

If you're planning to jet off somewhere for summer vacation, you may want to reconsider your mode of transportation.

That's because this week's massive flight cancellations by American Airlines are likely to spread to other airlines as federal regulators step up their enforcement of maintenance and safety regulations.

American says it's canceled more than 900 flights today. This is the third day in a row of cancellations, which now total close to 2,500. The airline says it expects all its planes to be inspected and ready for flight by Saturday. This has left more than 140,000 passengers stranded. The company's CEO is apologizing to passengers and says he accepts "full responsibility" for failing to meet FAA standards. Meanwhile, Midwest airlines also grounded 13 "MD-80" planes today.

These inspections were ordered to look for potential wiring hazards in wheel wells and other possible faults – things that could cause fires or trouble with the landing gear. In recent weeks, Delta, Southwest and United Airlines have also canceled flights in order to perform safety checks.

One expert says flight delays and cancellations could soon get worse, especially for airlines with older fleets and may last all the way into June. It's estimated that about 35% of the U.S. fleet is more than 25 years old.

Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration insists it is just doing its job of enforcing the regulations. But today senators blasted the FAA for "becoming too close to the industry it regulates”, saying it had been neglecting its safety operations.

A lot of these safety issues came to light when it was revealed that Southwest airlines was flying planes even after cracks were discovered in a jet's fuselage.

Here’s my question to you: When making travel plans this summer, are you less likely to fly?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Airlines • Travel
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