United to Charge Fat Passengers for Extra Seat

By Zach Christman
|  Thursday, Apr 16, 2009  |  Updated 8:03 AM CDT
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First class or four-seater. United says it's your choice.

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United Weight

United Airlines Joins Other Carriers In Charging More For Overweight Passengers. Passengers who cannot put the armrest down or cannot fit within extended seatbelt may be asked to pay for an extra seat or take a less crowded flight.
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If you thought paying extra for checked luggage was an insult, you're going to love this.

United Airlines said Wednesday it will enforce a policy to charge overweight passengers for an extra seat.

Passengers who need a seatbelt extender in order to buckle up, or who can't get the armrests down around themselves will have to purchase the extra seat or upgrade to a cabin with larger seating (i.e. first class). If no extra seat is available, they'll have to take a later flight.  And if they have connecting flights, they'll need an extra seat or upgrade on every leg of their trip.

If it's any consolation, United said paying for the extra seat would entitle the person to extra carry-on luggage.

The airline said it is enacting the policy for the "comfort and well-being of all customers aboard United flights."

Last year, a Forbes article showed that overweight passengers cost the airlines an extra $538 million a year in fuel. But some have speculated that charging extra for heavier passengers could end in the carrier getting sued for discrimination.

Other airlines reserve the right to charge heavy passengers for an extra seat, but enforcement varies, CBS2 reported. An American Airlines spokeswoman said she doesn't remember ever having to impose an extra charge, but Southwest Airlines started enforcing its policy in 2002.

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