Dear Annie

Uncomfortable for all passengers

Annie Lane, syndicated columnist

Dear Annie: When did airplane seats become so small? I hadn’t flown in six years until this past spring, when I booked a flight to attend a family wedding. I reserved a window seat so that I could relax in comfort. But the experience was anything but comfortable.

For starters, the man next to me in the middle seat must have been 6’2″ tall and weighed at least 250 pounds, and he could not possibly sit in the middle seat without taking up room from the window and aisle seats. We almost had to pull up the middle seat armrests so that he could sit down. The whole time, I kept trying not to touch his body, but his girth was such that some contact was unavoidable.

I used to fly a lot for business in the ’80s, and I don’t ever remember such uncomfortable seats, or such an unpleasant experience. I never want to fly again!

I felt sorry for this large man. He was very nice and embarrassed about the whole situation. It had to be extremely uncomfortable for him to squeeze his body between those armrests. As bad as it was for me and for the woman in the aisle seat on his other side, this guy had it worse. He should never have been booked into such a ridiculously narrow seat with virtually no legroom. His knees were pressed against the seat in front of him the entire time. Why don’t airlines have size limitations for middle seat passengers? — Recovering from an Unbearable Flight

Dear Recovering: You are not alone in wondering what airlines are thinking by reducing the width of their seats and the amount of legroom. They create a great deal of resentment of their brand. In theory, many have policies stating that obese people should buy two tickets so they can spread out, but since more than a third of Americans are called “obese,” they don’t insist on this policy.

Air Canada says that obesity can be a disability and, with a doctor’s note, will grant the obese passenger two seats for the price of one. Air France offers a 25 percent discount on the second seat for an obese person and will refund the balance of the fare if the flight has empty seats.

Politicians have passed various versions of a “Bill of Rights” for airline passengers, but having airplane seats like the old days — with plenty of width and legroom — are not considered essential.

However, I agree with you, and I would encourage you to write a letter of complaint to the airline you used.

Editor’s note: Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.