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10th Jun 2023

Teen switches plane seats after being put between ‘plus-sized’ passengers

Steve Hopkins

She was accused of opening the door to fatphobia on flights

A teenager has claimed she was accused of being “fatphobic” after asking to swap airplane seats because she was placed between two “plus-sized” passengers.

The 19-year-old wrote about her airline issues on Reddit last month, saying the incident unfolded on a Las Vegas to New York flight.

The teen, who did not give her name, had the middle seat.

The large passengers either side of her, she explained, left her with little room during the six-hour flight.

The traveller said that due to airplane seats being “terribly small”, neither of her fellow travellers “were able to fit comfortably into their seats”, in fact, she claimed, they were “on top of her”.

So, about half an hour into the trip, the teen asked a flight attendant privately if she could move seats.

While the teen said she was trying to be as discreet as possible, her request was overheard by a plus-sized woman in the neighbouring seat.

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The Reddit user said the passenger claimed he had “embarrassed” her by making it a “public demonstration to everyone” that plus-sized passengers are an “inconvenience”.

The airline drama, in the sub-reddit, Am I the A*****?, prompted a lot of debate about whether the teen was justified in asking, or should have just taken the seat she was assigned and dealt with it.

The teen wrote that, “I wouldn’t have any problem with this in any other situation, but plane seats are terribly small and neither of my neighbours were able to fit comfortably into their seats. On either side of me, my seat neighbour’s shoulder was on top of mine and their thigh was on top of mine as well.”

She went on to say she was “kind of uncomfortable” and that the flight attendant had found her a seat a few rows behind the one she was assigned to move to.

But, when she went to move, things got “pretty awkward”, even though neither of her seat buddies, or her, addressed the situation.

“The rest of the flight went fine,” the teen wrote, before explaining that things changed when she landed.

“After I got off, though, the woman I was previously sitting next to was waiting for me. She essentially told me that I had embarrassed her and the other man and that travelling while plus-sized is hard enough without ‘people treating fatness like a contagious disease’.

“She also said that I made it a public demonstration to everyone that plus-sized passengers are an ‘inconvenience’ and opened the door to fatphobia on flights.”

The teen said she “really didn’t mean for it to come across that way”, but admitted she understood how it may have, as everyone say her move.

“So now I’m wondering whether I should have just stuck it out. It wasn’t like I was being suffocated or anything. AITA?”

The post went viral, prompting over 2,000 replies and thousands of likes.

While many commenters were quick to condemn her, others sympathised and said she had done nothing wrong.

“Not the ahole. You did not make a ‘public demonstration’ nor contribute to fatphobia in any way,” one person wrote.

“You weren’t comfortable and you discretely asked for another seat. She’s an a**hole for saying that drivel. The biggest a**hole is airlines for making seats smaller for the past 20+ years.”

Another person agreed, saying the woman should direct her frustration at the airlines for not properly accommodating people of her size.

A third traveller, who identified themselves as a “fat person”, said she understood the dilemma: “If you were sitting next to me, I would be very happy that a solution was found that made everyone more comfortable.”

She added that the teenager had handled the situation discreetly and was not “fat shaming”.