I know, I know, it’s been a long while since I’ve written anything. There has been no lack of subject matter, but time and other commitments have gotten in the way. Today, I’m recovering from a bit of surgery, so I’m resting. Thus, time to write.
After a lovely two weeks in Indio, California, visiting with my eldest brother and sister-in-law, I returned home to the frozen tundra. Unfortunately, the return flight was one of my most unpleasant ever. Here’s why. I paid for a whole, already-too-small seat on American Airlines. When I boarded and arrived at my row, a behemoth of a woman sat in the window seat, sharing half of my seat. Too large to put the armrest down, too large to buckle her seatbelt, clearly she, too, was uncomfortable. I sat squished for nearly four hours, her body leaning against me the entire flight. She was so obese that her body prevented my tray table from fully lowering. To add to my misery, she had some obvious hygiene issues. The flight was full, every seat taken; nothing could be done about it. I left the plane limping badly to where my wheelchair awaited, ready to ferry me to the bus terminal for my hour-and-a-half ride home.
By the time I arrived home around 8pm, my entire body ached and I could think only of sleep. I went to bed thinking I’d crash early, but sleep eluded me. The more I thought about it, the more disgruntled I grew. Seats are smaller than ever on airplanes. There is no way that woman did not know she needed two seats, and there is no way that the flight attendant who seated her from her wheelchair didn’t know she needed two seats. Lest I be accused of fat shaming, I don’t give a rat’s petootie how large or small, short or tall, anyone is. I care only that when I pay for a seat, I expect to sit in the entire seat, not half a seat. If you cannot sit in the seat with the armrest down, you should buy a second seat instead of taking up half of mine.
I emailed my complaint to American. Surprisingly they responded the same day, crediting my account with 7500 frequent flyer miles. I’d have preferred a refund for that part of my round trip. Adding miles to my account to placate me does nothing to address the problem created by the airlines regularly reducing the size of the seats and leg room for the explicit purpose of cramming more bodies into an aircraft. The complaints are justified, not just on American, but on all the domestic airlines.