Notorious Passenger Of Size Was Given A Full Row To Himself

A photo allegedly taken by a flight attendant that has been making its way around the internet has prompted an investigation of safety procedures by the FAA, says the New York Post.

NYP says:

Worried that the severely obese passenger would block the plane’s aisle in an emergency, American cleared out the normal-sized guy in the adjacent seat by offering him a ticket on a later flight.

“The passenger in this case had a whole row to himself,” said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown.

Ms. Brown went on to confirm that no safety rules were violated, and that the flight had taken off from San Francisco. American Airlines has offered no further statement about the incident and there’s no word on whether or not a flight attendant did in fact take the photo and post it on the internet.

Should this man be able to fly on a plane? [NYP] (Thanks, Julie!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. windycity says:

    Am I the only one feeling tremendously sorry for this poor man and hoping that no one he knows recognizes him in this photo? There have been so many stories and comments written about this guy that I can’t help but think that he’s out there somewhere comlpletely humiliated and embarrassed.

    • cynical_reincarnation says:

      I was just thinking that as I read about this again…

      It would probably had shifted gears from media circus to courtroom circus had it been from the other angle.

    • azsumrg1rl says:

      Those were my first thoughts when this photo broke a few days ago. My thoughts now? Still the same, but I also hope the airline charged him for all three seats, especially after convincing another passenger to take a different flight.

    • zentex says:

      it used to be you just accepted you were the butt of a joke and went on with your life.

      These days you get depressed, see a shrink, and hire a lawyer ;-)

      Something tells me the large fellow will have some pocket change when all this is said and done.

    • cynical_reincarnation says:

      I was just thinking that as I read about this again…

      It would probably had shifted gears from media circus to courtroom circus had it been from the other angle.

    • cynical_reincarnation says:

      I was just thinking that as I read about this again…

      It would probably had shifted gears from media circus to courtroom circus had it been from the other angle.

    • Awjvail says:

      I saw that photo on Failblog about 2 weeks ago. Never thought there was anything more to the story until I saw it here on Consumerist a few days ago.

    • jimstoic says:

      Maybe he hasn’t bought into the argument that being big is bad. Maybe he’s psyched because HE WON! HE IS THE BIGGEST!

    • bravo369 says:

      I don’t feel sorry for him. Maybe this is the kick in the pants he needs to lose weight. Maybe this notoriety can get him on the next biggest loser. Either way, the person i feel sorry for is the guy that got bumped to a later flight. Sure he accepted the ticket but now he’s delayed because this guy can’t fit into a seat. i sure hope they made him pay for that 2nd seat too

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        Maybe this is the kick in the pants he needs to lose weight.

        You don’t honestly think that, do you? Yeesh.

        • comeongob says:

          Yeah, yikes. Let’s fat shame everyone until they lose weight or kill themselves.

          • CaptZ says:

            Can we? I bet at least half of them would lose weight, 25% would blow the shame off and 25% would off themselves. Still a win/win in my book.

            • mythago says:

              I’d rather start with encouraging judgmental asshats who spend too much time on the Internet to off themselves. That would improve the world a great deal more than harassing fat people. You’re okay with that, of course?

            • witeowl says:

              You just won the asshat douchebag award of the year! Congratulations?

    • aka_mich says:

      Eh don’t worry, I think he’s more concerned about losing his coaching job at Kansas.

    • jesusofcool says:

      I agree with you. Maybe this guy has made some poor choices, and he probably should have paid for another seat, but at the same time, he’s been brought out of anonymity by the internet in a bad way.

  2. jimstoic says:

    Shouldn’t that be “The Notorious P.O.S.”?

  3. Japheaux says:

    Forget the weight problem, this guy is just a big ‘ol boy all around. I am not really sure how one goes about ensuring weight distribution on a plane and seating assignments, etc., but I would not want to be this guy and have to crunch into a car and drive across the country because I couldn’t get a seat(s) on an airplane.

    • Cantras says:

      I think his apparent freakish height there is an illusion — that he’s sitting on the aisle-side arm rest (since iirc those don’t flip up)

      • ElizabethD says:

        I’m not sure that commenter Japheaux was referring to height, but rather to “build.” This man has extremely broad shoulders and is probably the classic mesomorph… Think football linemen. Such people of course can lose weight, as this guy should (and I’m overweight, so I’m not being snarky here), but he will never be narrow.

    • Daemon Xar says:

      Agreed. My problem with flying is not my weight, but the breadth of my shoulders. Unless I have the window seat and can lean against the bulkhead, I end up inconveniencing my fellow passengers–either I’m in the middle, pulling my elbows in until it hurts and trying not to invade my seatmate’s space, or I’m in the aisle, and everytime someone (or the drink cart) goes by, I get run into. Do the folks saying that the guy shouldn’t be allowed to fly believe that this issomehow my fault, and that I should have to buy two tickets? Or is it the fault of the airline for continuously shrinking seats?

      • TVGenius says:

        Yep. Same issue here. Nifty trick for the aisle seats… most of the time, there’s a small release of some sort on the bottom of the aisle side armrest, and you can raise it. Then you can sprawl into the aisle a little more. Just watch out for drink carts or you’ll end up with a busted knee.

  4. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Am I the only one to wonder if he can fit out all the exits on the plane? Are there different sized exits through out a plane, or are they all of a standard size? While I have no problem with the large flying, if I can’t get out a exit because the rest are blocked, and we need to slap butter on John Pinette there to get him out, I’m gonna be madder than fish grease.

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    If you read the article, it’s really interesting what they have at the end with regards to how fat passengers affect flying as a whole. The article cites a pilot who was replaced on a flight because he refused to fly with a 600 lb. parapalegic man because he thought it was a safety hazard. And they quote the pilot as saying that he wrote to the FAA that he felt fat passengers were unsafe near exit rows because they would not be able to help, and that he encountered one passenger who was too large to fit through the emergency hatch.

    • qcgallus says:

      I haven’t read it, but I like how they had to replace the pilot, who feared for the plane’s safety with one who evidently did not. I was the first pilot to be MY pilot. He knows plenty about his plane, and if he fears for our safety, then so do I, and I’ll gladly march off the plane with him to catch a later flight.

      • qcgallus says:

        That should read I want* the first pilot…


      • 47ka says:

        Devil’s Advocate – he doesn’t know enough about the plane’s capabilities, so he freaks out when he sees a large passenger by thinking that its a much bigger issue than it technically would be.

        • Corporate_guy says:

          When playing devil’s advocate it is good to have some semblance of correctness. The pilots know the planes capabilities in and out. If the pilot feels there is a problem, there is a problem. To replace a pilot just to be able to unsafely transport someone is pretty extreme. The airline should be fined.

          A 600 lbs paralyzed guy seriously could not be evacuated in an emergency. It’s mind boggling that he was allowed to fly. The only way I could see that happening is if they had a couple of rows in the back full of equipment and a team of people who could remove him in an emergency. Of course my guess would be that they did not have that.

          As for overweight people in an exit row, that is a huge safety hazaard. If you are so big that no one can walk past you in an emergency, how can you be in the exit row doing what needs to be done? And if you cannot physically fit through the exit you shouldn’t even be allowed on the plane to begin with.

          • veronykah says:

            “The pilots know the planes capabilities in and out. If the pilot feels there is a problem, there is a problem.”
            Thank you for posting that. An ex-boyfriend of mine went from a flight instructor to a pilot for a major airline while we were together. I got to see first hand all the things pilots are required to know when he was going through training.
            When they call a pilot CAPTAIN, it isn’t just for fun. He/She is the authority on the plane. The captain knows the weight distribution, who is on the flight etc…they should know EVERYTHING about what is going on on their airplane. The amount of knowledge they are required to have at their fingertips is amazing.
            To assume they are a glorified bus driver is completely wrong.

            • harrier666 says:

              Thank you for that. I appreciate it!

              As I have pointed out before, I am an airline pilot. A female one which actually added a lot to the hurdles I had to overcome.

              First off, the pilot knows exactly what that plane is capable of, and it wasn’t a weight and balance issue he/she was afraid of. We don’t have to care what happens to you guys, as we have our own exits, but we do. Most of us. A pilot willing to stand up to the company and defend the lives of the other passengers is a good thing.

              The flight attendants size up passengers as you board, noting who may be able to help them in an emergency. If they have a child traveling alone, part of their job is to make sure that child evacuates safely. The parents hold that responsibility otherwise. Same with someone who is handicapped. Someone of larger size may likely have to wait until the end to disembark in an emergency. Though I feel bad for the person’s situation, personal choice should not endanger the lives of others. I get that there may be other factors but that is still not a good reason to endanger others.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Sorry, I think my post made it seem like the pilot thought the large paraplegic man was a safety hazard. I meant to say that his presence on the plane could be a safety issue because the pilot was concerned he couldn’t be evacuated safely, not that because he weighed so much it would be a problem for the plane.

    • Julia789 says:

      Some people have rubutted the claim that the obese man posed a safety hazard for blocking the aisle. They state that elderly, handicaped, and children also block the aisle. A good point to ponder, although I’m not necessarily agreeing or disagreeing with them at this time.

      I also noted the concern about the exit row passengers, who were too obese to fit through the emergency hatch. That is definitely a problem – because people sitting in the emergency row must be over 18 and physically capable of manning the hatch and helping others through it. In that case, the very obese women in the row were not capable of carrying out this duty, so they should have been switched with other passengers, which the crew has the authority to do.

      A problem is, people who are very large often purposefully ask for exit row seating, because it is roomier. This defeats the purpose of the exit row being roomier, to let people escaping pass through…

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      It is, and would be with anyone incapable of removing the door, or getting through it. Before people started sitting in exit rows because it had more leg room, the people sitting there had to be able bodied and able to assist in an emergency.

      It would be a safety hazard to put a 90 lb, 85 year old, little old lady in the exit row too.

      Discrimination is one thing, but the safety issue is entirely another.

    • soj4life says:

      Why would you put a very large paraplegic on a plane?He is dead if there is any type of emergency on that flight.

  6. ConsumerWolf says:

    It is bordering on criminal that they allowed this passenger to fly. I hope there is an investigation. Imagine trying to get out of an emergency exit behind this guy. I refuse to burn to death because this guy can’t put down a fork.

  7. nakkypoo says:


    I wasn’t aware that a fat man boarding a plane was an incident.

    • ecwis says:

      Apparently you’ve never been on a plane with a morbidly obese person.

      • greeneyedguru says:

        Look up the official definition of morbidly obese, you will find plenty of them that fit just fine into an airplane seat. This guy is way beyond morbidly obese.

        • ecwis says:

          I know what morbidly obese means but I don’t know what else to call him. I guess “500 lbs. man” is better…

          I was on a flight last week with a 400 lbs woman and even that was an ordeal. It took her very long to exit the plane. Luckily it was a large plane so I used the other aisle to exit.

  8. MisterE says:

    Well, at least the passengers got to stare at the freak of the week!

  9. Skeptic says:

    While I feel sorry for the guy, the fact is that the amount of fuel an airliner burns, plus its ability to take off and its safe handling (weight and balance), are based on the weight of its cargo and where that weight is located. I weigh 104. I pay the same fare for myself and muggage as this guy does. I’ve also had the misfortune of being seated next to people like this on long flights (I live in AK so I spend 4+ hours just getting to WA, the next nearest state, and driving is not a practical option) and have had a hard time sitting upright and breathing due to the crushing force of hundreds of pounds of flesh squeezing me in a confined space. The FAA and airlines have to come up with a policy that keeps me safe, extremely large passengers safe, and that recognizes the inequity of charging me $25 for luggage when I and my luggage weigh less than 1/2 what this guys weighs.

    • PanCake BuTT says:

      104lbs? Muggage ? I believe under weight people should have just as many rights as over weight. In the flight you described you mentioned being squeezed by hundreds of pounds of flesh, which you could have brought up to the flight attendant. I couldn’t see a flight from AK to WA, being extremely booked to the brim. Long live the skinnies, cause lord knows it’s a whole lot harder to gain weight as a slim, then it is to lose weight as a heavy. My 2 cents.

      • pinkpetunia says:

        It’s not that bad getting from AK to WA. I used to fly that route all the time between work and school. I thought Alaskans were tougher than that…bush planes and all, you know. And from what I understand, the weight of a Person of Size does not really make much of a difference to the plane’s ability to fly. Say the guy weighs 600 lbs and has a row of three seats to himself, like this guy. That’s basically the same as three 200-lb guys sitting in that row. Big deal. Even if there were an entire football team on the flight, there’s no increased risk on a standard airliner.

      • ElizabethD says:

        “lord knows it’s a whole lot harder to gain weight as a slim, then it is to lose weight as a heavy.”

        Really? REALLY? What possible evidence do you have for this? Maybe we can just agree that a person’s individual body type and genetically-determined metabolism can make it challenging to gain OR lose weight at will.

        Love, ElizabethD the big boned former athlete

  10. greeneyedguru says:

    Do they have special seat belt extenders for large people? I can’t imagine the normal seat belt would fit around this guy..

    • DH405 says:

      Yeah, I flew from Vegas to Oklahoma City with a friend of mine who’s a big guy. On the way in the plane, the attendant stopped him and gave him the seat belt extender. It’s basically like a seatbelt male-female extension. We had managed to get the emergency exit, but then got kicked out of it because they didn’t allow seatbelt extenders on the exit row.

      It was pretty demeaning, really.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      Have you never paid attention during the safety demonstration? The flight attendants use the belt extender to demonstrate the belt latching mechanism.

  11. NORMLgirl says:

    Why did the guy next to him have to take a later flight? Shouldn’t he be the one who has to wait?
    Maybe the guy next to him was being nice and offered to fly later….

    • ecwis says:

      He probably received a free ticket for a future flight in addition to the so a guaranteed seat on the next flight.

    • suburbancowboy says:

      I agree. “Hey we sat you next to someone who is so big, that you won’t be able to sit. Get off the plane and wait.”

      I sure hope it was a free ticket.

    • dolemite says:

      Yeah, I was wondering that too. My flight had either be free, or I get a free ticket anywhere else for all that trouble.

    • Julia789 says:

      It wouldn’t have been forced, he would have been given incentives of switching to a later flight free, and a coupon for a free future flight or a couple hundred dollars off his next flight. To people who aren’t in a hurry, and if the next flight leaves in only say 30 minutes, it’s sometimes not a big deal. My sister travels weekly, and if people on a flight are offered incentives to bump to another flight (usually because of overbooking) she volunteers and gets lots of freebies, free flights, and coupons. Unless she has a meeting to be at, she’s happy hanging out in the airport another hour working on her laptop.

    • thisistobehelpful says:

      Yeah that’s ridiculous. They could kick the obese passenger off for being unable to accomodate and make arrangements. It’s kind of obnoxious to kick off a passenger that posed no obstruction to the flight as opposed to the one who did. At least he got a free ticket.

    • Copper says:

      My dad took me on a weekend ski trip in high school and they overbooked the plane. They offered 2 passengers a free hotel room and an upgraded flight the following day. We jumped at the chance to ski for another day for only the cost of the lift tickets. Sometimes, it’s worth it if you don’t have somewhere to be in a hurry.

  12. IISaiNtII says:

    That photo, is of [former] KU football head coach Mark Mangino.

  13. GrantDenn says:


  14. dolemite says:

    Wait…so the guy beside him had to de-board, and wait around for another flight, then re-board again? I’d need a lot more incentive than a ticket on a later flight after I was already on-board and settled. I’m more interested in hearing about his story now.

    • failurate says:

      What is the alternative to accepting their offer? Getting back on the plane with Mr. Mangini (not yet confirmed)?

  15. howie_in_az says:

    Don’t large people have to buy two tickets anyway?

  16. sappytrappy says:

    Sadness with reality … If a plane’s going down, what are chances anyway? Do they go down that significantly with a large person near you?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Let’s say US Air 1549, landed by the seriously awesome Sully Sullenberger in the Hudson, had to evacuate an obese passenger. Now, knowing what we saw, which is that people began to exit the plane and walk onto the wings – you don’t think a 400 lb. person is going to seriously endanger his or her life and the lives of others if that person can’t fit through the emergency hatch? The fact that no one died in the crash does not mitigate that it was a crash and an emergency.

      • Kitamura says:

        Ditto, just because most accidents that make the news are huge travesties where virtually everyone on board is killed doesn’t mean that there aren’t any where people had the time to get off the plane.

        I seem to recall there’s an incident where they evacuated a whole plane in some ridiculously fast time and manged to save everyone before the whole plane burst into flames after crashing. It’s unlikely the same thing would have happened if there were people on board who couldn’t fit through the emergency exits.

    • harrier666 says:

      There are more emergency deplanings than the news talks about. Most of them are non events. A fire warning or similar that could be bad but thanks to the reactions of the crew and the evacuation, no one is hurt.

      Sully AND the rest of his crew did an excellent job, though the public quickly forgot that. Keep in mind, it was the first officer and the flight attendants that did the actual evacuation. Sully was not a one man band.

      Back to the point, Most emergencies the passengers never even know about. We deal with it up front and resolve the situation and it is no big deal. Most aircraft incidents are survivable. But an engine fire which requires a quick evacuation, or a chemical situation, Murphy is going to be on that flight sitting next to the person of size. Flight Crew deal every day with being prepared for every possible situation to the furthest extent we can. If we can manage an emergency before it happens, such as carrying extra fuel, avoiding a storm, or keeping the cabin safe, we will. This is one such example.

  17. d says:

    Ths ft bstrd shld hv bn th n t wt fr th nxt flght, ND h shld hv hd t prchs THR sts. N n shld hv bn pt ff th pln jst s ths ft ss cld fl. H knws hw lrg h s, lt HM dl wth HS prblm. ‘m nl bt nd fnd th sts tght ft t bgn wth – thr’s N W h dsn’t knw. dn’t cr wht hs prblm s – tng t mch, mtblc dsrdr, whtvr – h nds t tk rspnsblt fr hs wn sss.

    • CaptZ says:

      Well said! No one seems to have personal responsability anymore….they always are looking for someone else to blame. Too many people think being an American they are all entitled to something for nothing.

      I really do think the airlines need to have a weight/size limit. Once that weight or size is reached, you pay more per inch or pound depending on the overage. It only makes sense to me.

  18. johnnya2 says:

    I am hoping he wont have ot use the bathroom, or he may not get out of those cramped places

  19. H3ion says:

    Well the nice thing is that if the plane had gone down in water, this guy is a one-man flotation device.

  20. StanTheManDean says:

    The only thing certain is that a certain FA is losing his/her job.

    Next week fat tub-o-lard will be trying to stuff his arse in a single seat.

    • ConsumerWolf says:

      I hope not. This flight attendant is a whistle blower. If new regulations are adopted because of this photograph, it’s possible that she is responsible for saving lives.

  21. harumph says:

    I am not trying to “fat-shame” this guy but I think he is a bit of a jerk. He knows he is too big to fit in a plane seat but just expected the airline and all the other passengers to deal with it. The poor guy who got bumped should be pissed off.

  22. Chuck Norris' wig says:

    The guy looks to be 7 feet tall also.

  23. BluePlastic says:

    I think people feel threatened when they see fat people and it makes them feel better to call fat people names or reduce them to a “monstrosity” instead of a person. Fat people must be disgusting idiots who can’t do the simplest thing like “back away from the table” because this takes away the threat that they themselves could ever gain weight. I will never end up like that because people who are that fat are just stupid. Just a way of making themselves feel better that it could never happen to them. Real nice.

    • CaptZ says:

      I am only threatened that they might slip and fall on me.No chance of me ever getting fat, even getting to my correct weight level has been a stretch.

      Look, I am not against fat people, but something like 10% of overweight people actually have a medical reason for their weight gain. The rest just have problems saying no or don’t eat correctly. Do they deserve ridicule? Probably not, but they also should balk when they have to pay for an extra seat or demand the same things as an average person. And if they do, then yes, they are stupid, they know they are overweight, yet see themselves as the vicitim and feel they are being treated differently. They are being treated differently, and for good reason, they are not an average person, they are twice, sometime 3 times an average person and should be treated as such.

  24. Synth3t1c says:

    digg sucks. reddit wins.

  25. Bryan Price says:

    The thing is, the big guy and the man next to him appear to be wearing the same color shirt. And it appears that the row behind him has two empty seats. I certainly would be sitting on the chair arm during takeoff.

  26. misslisa says:

    Your statement assumes that obesity is “normal” and should be accepted. It’s not normal at all.

    I’m revealing that I”m old here, but: In the 1960s, seeing an obese person was almost as rare as seeing a midget. There just weren’t many, and it was an odd sight. I can remember freaking out the first time I saw a fat guy and asking my mom to explain what made him like that.

    In the 1970’s, there seemed to be an uptick in overweight people, but the “fat” people of the 70s would be considered “average” today.

    Certainly, times changed: more people obtained cars and TVs, fewer people walk to work or the store, fewer people work in manual labor, more people consume processed foods, fast foods, and sodas (most of which either didn’t exist or were unaffordable when I was growing up). All of those factors have contributed to the obesity epidemic. But that doesn’t mean succumbing is mandatory. Sure, avoiding weight gain takes effort, but so does everything worthwhile in life.

  27. grapedog says:

    fat =/= disability… in the VAST majority of cases, it’s a choice. I’m sorry, I don’t have any pity for people who choose not to watch their weight. They SHOULD be made to feel like they are different, because they are. They have an eating problem which they need to get taken care of. I love food too, but I also like being healthy…so I make a choice. I also make a choice not to support fat people who have no self control.