Slate Looks At What's Wrong With Airline Seating

Although we’ve discussed it here plenty of times, the recent twitstorm caused by Kevin Smith after he was booted from a Southwest flight has brought more mainstream coverage to the issue of airline seating. Slate asked its readers for input, and today it published the most consistent arguments, like it’s not just a problem for overweight people, and we might have to buy our way out of it.

2. Tall and broad-shouldered people use extra width, too. Fat people aren’t the only ones who spill into adjoining seats. […] Dani Martinez raised another objection: “What about overhanging shoulders and arms? Why is it not okay to take someone else’s space on the bottom but perfectly okay to take someone’s space on the top portion of the seat?” Dani noted that lots of men whose waists fit between the arm rests “do NOT fit in the seat up top. If sitting naturally, their shoulders and arms are wider than [the allotted] 17 inches.”

[…]

9. Airlines double-book the space behind each seat. When a passenger wants to recline and the passenger behind her objects, whose rights prevail? The airlines’ official “contracts of carriage” don’t address this question. Slate intern Jenny Rogers contacted several airlines and asked for clarification. JetBlue said it had no formal policy for resolving such conflicts; other airlines didn’t respond.

Tomorrow, Slate says it will publish the 10 best solutions offered by its readers. Update: Here they are.

“Fat vs. Tall: The Wisdom of Crowded Planes” [Slate]