Cramming 400 Lbs. of S**t Into a 200 Lb. Seat.

No offense intended with the title of this blog, it’s just a play on an old saying.

From today’s article at

Here’s yet another airline horror story, and a PR nightmare (via Daily Mail).

Arthur Berkowitz wasn’t able to sit down for seven hours on his US Airways flight because an enormous 400 lb man was in the seat next to his, reports consumer advocate blog

Here’s what happened, according to the account he gave to

Berkowitz was already seated when the late-arrival plopped down next to him. The guy was so big, he spilled over into the adjacent seat, filling half of it, so he told the flight attendants that it was impossible for him to sit there.

Unfortunately for Berkowitz, there was nowhere else to go. The flight from Anchorage to Philadelphia (one of the longest domestic non-stops around) was full, and he wasn’t allowed to sit in the flight attendants’ jump seats because of regulations.

He did acknowledge that the flight attendants were “sympathetic,” and “fully acknowledged the mistake by their gate agent.”

And so, Berkowitz stood in the aisle and galley area for the duration of the flight. He didn’t have a seatbelt for take-off or landing.

So, what’s US Airways doing to make it up to him?

The airline apologized and called the incident, which happened back in July, “regrettable.” Then, it offered him a $200 voucher, but didn’t reimburse him for his $800-plus ticket. Plus, Berkowitz says that it never addressed the safety issue, and is worried that the same thing may happen to others.

This episode tells us a lot about airlines, and why they have such a crappy reputation. Even if you excuse the initial mistake by the gate agent (US Airways admitted that the agent should have charged the 400 lb man for two seats), the airline should’ve done everything in its power to make it up to the person that got screwed, and address how to fix the problem for future customers.

Of course, it did neither.

Also, the voucher is an ironic little tidbit. In order to benefit from US Airways’ compensation, Berkowitz would have to fly the airline again, and likely have to pay some hard cash too unless it’s a really short flight.

Hopefully, he’ll have a seat next time.

Read more:

Well isn’t that special? The article claims that there was nowhere to relocate the 400 lb man, yet states that the US Airways agent should have charged the 400 lb. man for an extra seat. If there was only one seat left, why charge him extra? So you could compensate Mr. Berkowitz? Did you know he would sue you?

In another article from the British, Mr. Berkowitz claimed that there was a young exchange student from Eastern Europe on the same row as him who was ‘pinned up against the window’ by the obese man because there was so little space.

Really? If the guy only took up a seat and a half since Mr. Berkowitz (same age as I am) could not sit down, how could it be that his gut and ass pinned the student in? I say bullshit, the guy is exaggerating simply to cause a PR nightmare for the airline in an effort to leverage more out of them.

Years ago, I worked as a Credit and Collections Manager for BMG Music, which required extensive airline travel for me. On a flight to San Francisco, I ended up in a similar situation as Mr. Berkowitz. A rather large man, probably closer to 500 lbs. sat next to me. Seat B in an ABC section. I was seat A. The man looked at me as if he was my worst nightmare. I knew I had approximately a 6 hour flight. I was pretty sure the guy was going to be as uncomfortable as I was going to be once we took off. We made eye contact, and both laughed, since we were both aware that there were no other seats on the plane that I could move to in order to accomodate him. So, I could either grin and bear it, or do what Mr. Berkowitz decided to do, which is make a big deal of it, embarrass the passenger, and make himself look like an unscrupulous troublemaker.

I chose to grin and bear it, thinking that I could do ANYTHING for 6 hours, and hanging in there would be a nice gesture.

Actually, I ended up having a great conversation with the guy (his name was Dave) which made the flight move along rather quickly. My right hip was a little sore when I finally got up, but the flight wasn’t a problem for me at all. I remember my mom telling me about riding the bus, and having to sit next to people she may not have sat next to otherwise (for whatever reasons……size, hygiene, whatever), and she always reminded me that people are just people, and it’s always better to make the best of a bad situation. It was her words that led me to the tolerance of this flight, and as I said, the conversation with Dave was the reward.

Whatever happened to people just being nice to each other? Is it really gone for good?

I’ve over the years traveled with many plus sized people on flights all over, and when someone has something negative to say, I relate the same story to them, and ask them if they want to be that selfish and trivial. Maybe because I look so mean most of the time they don’t talk back to me, or maybe they actually get the point that they’re being selfish and trivial.

So, if I was US Airways, I’d be telling Mr. Berkowitz to pound salt in his ass, and invite him to take his selfish, trivial ass and put it on another airline. In fact, I’d give him a voucher to get on Southwest, and tell him you’re pretty sure that the guy who’s sitting next to him has the worst body odor you’ve ever encountered. Let’s see if he sues them………Also, I’d be looking into roomier seats on these planes, as this is becoming a more common occurrence.

In the interim Mr. Berkowitz, why don’t you try driving, so you don’t have to stand for 7 hours?


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