A traveller sparked a furious debate online this week for charging an obese man sitting next to him on the plane $150 for taking up some of his seat.
Reddit user BigBawluh took to online discussion forum Reddit on Monday (Feb 25) to ask if he was wrong for doing so, explaining that it was a five-hour flight and that he had specially chose an aisle seat in a row of two for more comfort. He did not say where he was flying to or from.
The man, whom BigBawluh described as “very obese”, was “easily seeping into about 1/3 of my seat” and making him uncomfortable, he wrote on subreddit “Am I the Asshole?”
When he told the man about the situation, the man tried to squeeze in to give him more space, but that did not help, he added.
BigBawluh then stopped an air stewardess to tell her about the issue.
She told the obese passenger that he may need to buy another seat, but later checked and realised that the flight was full.
She then suggested that the obese man take a later flight.
BigBawluh said that he felt bad for the man, but added: “I was also thinking about my own comfort on the long flight – the comfort I paid for.”
Sensing that the man was getting flustered, BigBawluh offered his solution: “I told the guy, ‘Look, I’ll put up with this if you give me $150’ – that’s half the cost of this flight and that would compensate me enough for the circumstances.”
He added that the man agreed immediately and paid in cash.
“He even told me he appreciated it,” BigBawluh wrote, though he added that other passengers on board had shot him angry glares.
The Reddit post prompted divisive reactions from users.
Some called BigBawluh out for fat-shaming and failing to consider the humanity of obese man, even as the situation seemed “economically fair”.
User mathxjunkii wrote: “You humiliated a person, a human being, by calling attention to his weight in a situation he couldn’t do anything about.”
Others, such as user herefromthere, argued that BigBawluh was “not an asshole” as both sides had come to a compromise.
The user wrote: “You compromised. He compromised. It was an awkward situation of nobody’s making. I think half the cost of the flight was maybe a bit steep though, if he was only in a third of your seat. Having said that, five hours is a long time.”
Others said that airlines are at fault for having cabin spaces that are too small, putting passengers in an awkward position.
Some added that the man should have known to buy two seats on the plane in advance if he could not fit into a single seat.
But, despite this, user hopesfallyn said that BigBawluh still had no reason to “extort” money from the man.
“Expecting him to just magically shrink in his seat is ridiculous… Every plane is different. I’ve been on flights that were comfy and roomy in the seat, and – on the next flight – felt squished.”
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