Photo of Obese Flier Sparked Outrage

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Uploaded on December 11, 2009 by JTMusic

A photo of an obese airplane passenger has inspired a passionate debate as to whether or not overweight fliers should pay more. Last week we said that they should and we asked you what you thought. We heard from over 2,000 of you and, overwhelmingly, you agree with us. Here, some of the comments from both sides:

The photo in question is believed to have been taken from American Airlines. We spoke with American Airlines media spokesperson Tim Smith to get his take on the situation. Here's what he had to say:

"We are currently in the process of looking into this situation. We do have a policy that tries to be flexible for passengers of size. Certainly no passenger would ever be allowed to fly on American Airlines in any way that obstructs the aisles of the aircraft, and all passengers must be properly seat-belted—part of the FAA rules. It is very obvious in the photo that the aircraft is not inflight at the time the photo was taken—other passengers are still boarding and several overhead bins are still open. We can assure you that all passengers on this flight were safely and comfortably accommodated, and that no FAA rules were broken."

Tim says that they don't "routinely charge for an extra seat unless there are simply no other options. Our people are trained to work with customers to try and accommodate ALL passengers onboard. Often, pending how full the flight is, we can get everyone taken care of." Tim adds that "each situation is handled individually on a case-by-case basis with utmost professionalism and discretion." He also cites FAA rules on the matter, which state that "all passengers must use FAA required restraint devices" and that "no aisle may be blocked by any passenger or bags in case of emergency."

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