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15/04/2009 – United Airlines Institutes Two-Seat Requirement For “Customers Of Size”
United Airlines appears to be following the lead of Southwest Airlines in regard to seating accommodations for passengers who cannot comfortably sit in a single seat. While United instituted the “Passengers Requiring Extra Space” policy on the 4th of March, it did not go into place until today
While Southwest Airlines has had the “Customer of Size” policy in place since 1980, they did not start enforcing this policy until a few years ago. This policy has been controversial, but it allows Southwest Airlines to ensure that every passenger on their flights has ‘their own seat.’
United’s new policy has quietly been overlooked, but as originally intended, it was effectively being enforced today, starting at the airline’s Hub at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), as well as other major airports in its route network within North America.
United’s policy is clear-cut in its implementation. Passengers who cannot comfortably fasten their seat-belt with a single belt-extension, or comfortably sit in a seat with both armrests down, will be denied boarding without the purchase of a second seat.
While many flyers are against the policy of charging obese passengers for a second seat there are other concerns at play for the airlines. Each passenger is entitled to their own seat, and the space of their own seat. Airplanes are cramped, seats are cramped and personal space is at a premium. This policy allows airlines to ensure each passenger has their own personal space.
Will this policy continue to expand throughout the industry? Time will tell, as the policy leads to negative publicity, potentially insults revenue paying passengers, however it has the potential to increase the overall passenger travel experience while on-board flights.