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Should Airlines Have Separate Seating for Families and Overweight Travelers?

I recently stopped by MSNBC to discuss whether families and overweight passengers should have their own seating section on flights. Readers, what do you think? Please sound off in the comments section below.



My name: Genevieve Shaw Brown. I also answer to Genny and Gen.

How I earn my keep: I work at Travelocity.

Greatest travel lesson learned: I travel for my job, but I've learned work is work, vacation is vacation, and it's best not to try and do both on one trip.

Fondest travel memory: There are so many... but a recent experience was being totally jet-lagged and waking up pre-dawn in Koh Samui, Thailand, and watching the sun rise with my husband on the beach. We talked about what all our friends and family were doing at that very same moment as the sun set back home in New York.

First thing I do in a new place: Peruse the local restaurants and map out my dining strategy for the duration of my trip. Dining strategy = eating at as many restaurants as humanly possible.

First thing I do when I get home: Put a push pin on the destination I just returned from on the map of the world that hangs on the wall above my couch.

Travel ambition: To cover that map completely in push pins.

My most beloved place in the whole world: Cockle Cove Beach in Chatham, Massachusetts.


Sample Sales Letters

Ms.Brown has a really great point. It wouldn’t really matter much if the airlines start separating family or passengers with extra weight. What they should all be thinking about is giving the passengers the satisfaction like what Jetblue has been doing for years.

big girls fly too

this trying to charge more for overweight passengers is crazy, unless they truely dont fit in one seat…
trying to have a family section of a plane would be crazy, a crying child in the back row will still be clearly heard in the front row. how about a familly only flight? or a fatty only flight?

Gnome Bodhi

All they really need is bigger seats, and more room between rows. If it means fewer people per flight, so be it – I hate flying like I’m stuffed into a sardine can, anyway.

Holly Peterson

Haha! Seriously? They need better service not more “putting people in their places” literally. I fit in the seat juuuuuust fine, but it is a little like riding in a little pod for several hours. Everyone could use more space, not only the people who have more to love. Sheesh.

Lisa L

Just when u think the world is getting less discriminative something like this comes out. Ridiculous.


This is a crazy idea… where do you draw the line??? What about all the other ‘disruptive’ situations and/or people that you encounter on a plane. We have all sat beside one or all of the following…. someone who snores, someone who talks too much, someone is drunk, what about the person that is always getting up out of their seat?
How can families be more disruptive than these? I think what was said in the interview is exactly right… we all need a bit more tolerance and patience.


My son has always been a better flier than most of the “adults” surrounding me. He is a seasoned well behaved traveler and has better manners than so many immature adult travelers.


I am obese. I always buy 2 seats because I don’t want to be uncomfortable. I only need 1 1/2 seats, but I spend the money for 2, unless I am traveling with a grandchild. The airlines should have a fat-only section. This section should have 2 seats, instead of 3 together and charge 1 1/2 fare. That would make it a little easier on my purse. Also, children are not the problem. It’s the parents who don’t know how to control their kids. Don’t give your child sugar-laden snacks in-flight. It will make them antsy. Bring small, quiet toys for them to play with. When I traveled with my 2 grandchildren, ages 3 and 4, the person in the seat in front of us commented on how well-behaved they were. They love to be rowdy and run and scream at the top of their lungs when the environment permits. It’s up to the parents to teach them the difference.


I believe the airlines should weigh the passengers with luggage to determine weight. There should be a medium weight applied and anything over that could be charged a certain rate. Overweight passengers who do not fit in the seat and overflow into your seat should be required to purchase the extra seat or purchase seats in first class. Why should passengers who fit within the seat confines have to suffer through a flight because someone is “overflowing” into their paid area. As for family sections–ridiculous. We all know how well smoking sections worked out. Parents should bring enough entertainment for the young ones. There is not much you can do about a screaming infant except to put a bottle in their mouth, but seat-kicking, out of control youngsters should be given a parachute and the nearest exit!!!!!!

Volunteer Abroad

Maybe a variety in size of seats and costs? (which I guess they already have with economy, business, and first class, so…)

lou and jayne

My wife and I agree that if a customer is too wide to fit into the sit, exclusive of the armrests, they should be made to purchase two seats. The criteria could be the seat belts. If they can’t fit into the seat belt, they should be given, and charged for, two seats. Its simply not fair to those of us of average build to suffer discomfort because of their lack of discipline.

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