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United Joins Other Airlines in Making Bumped Obese Passengers Buy Two Seats

United announced yesterday that it would join several other major carriers in forcing obese passengers who were bumped from their flight to purchase two tickets on the new flight to which they have been re-booked  (JetBlue, Delta and Southwest are the others).

Obese is defined as not being able to buckle your seatbelt with one extension while putting down the armrest fully.  United says that they received 700 complaints last year from passengers who said that obese passengers were (and I’m paraphrasing here) all up in their stuff.

If empty seats are available on the re-booked flight, United will not force the obese to purchase two tickets.

On a positive note, with the double elite miles promotions going on right now, an elite passenger bumped from a Boston – Seattle roundtrip on AA through Dallas will actually earn elite status from just that one roundtrip (assuming they had to buy two tickets).  Hm…I better go back to the buffet.

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  1. Technical and slightly rhetorical question. Are the airline frequent flier systems even configured to allow credit for two seats on one flight using the same ff#?

  2. It’s a legit question – I think the answer is actually no. But if they’ve bumped you and made you buy 2 seats, I’m not sure how they can deny you the miles.

  3. UA has had provisions to buy a second seat before (often used to transport a cello). Based on what I read on FT many times, you get double RDMs, but not double EQMs. So no fast track to elite status.

  4. If they are charging extra for heavy people should I expect a credit for my 54 lb son? He has to pay a full fare but doesn’t fill the seat? If they go this route I think there should be a pay per pound, including carry on, air fare.

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