Honolulu Lite


Large people taking
it in the airline seats

A Texas-based airline is starting a dangerous precedent that could spread to Hawaii's tourist industry: Charging people for services according to how big they are.

The fact is, people are getting bigger. Much bigger. Fueled by Big Macs and Big Gulps and the ability to "supersize" a basically healthy meal into a heart-stopping gut-buster, the average person today is 220 percent larger than a relative of the 17th century. In fact, our great, great, great grandfathers was mere hors d'oeuvres compared to the walking buffets we have become. Clothes sizes have changed dramatically. Back then they had sizes like small, medium, extra-medium, super-medium and ho-mama!-medium. They didn't even invent the "large" designation until William Howard Taft became president and refused to wear a toga to his inauguration. Now, people considered "averaged size" wear shirts that can double as couch covers.

At the same time people have been expanding, everything else has been contracting. Airline seats, for instance. Airline seats have gotten so tiny that the only people who would find them comfortable are circus clowns and Napoleon Bonaparte. Airlines did this so they could make more money by cramming more people into the plane at one time. Now that the seats are too tiny for large people, airlines want to force heftier passengers to buy two seats.

Now, I've often claimed two seats for myself when flying (when an empty seat was available) and it's awfully comfy. But to force someone to buy two seats simply so they don't encroach onto their neighbor's property is unfair. Southwest Airlines has started charging husky passengers double, a trend that if unchallenged, surely will spread. So far, large people are not taking the airline seat insult sitting down.

"You are buying passage from point A to point B," said fat activist Marilyn Wann in a recent news story. "You are not buying real estate."

Hear, hear! How dare they treat gravity-challenged customers that way? What's next, a strap-on feedbag and sawdust on the floor of the fat people's cabin?

This kind of discrimination can only get worse. Imagine if Hawaii started treating jumbo American tourists different from the frail visitors from Third World countries. I can imagine upscale, fashionable clothing stores at Ala Moana where the doorways are constructed purposefully narrow to keep out the bloated. I see hotels charging a special "load-bearing bed fee" for larger guests and armed guards posted at "All You Can Eat" buffets to warn jumbo patrons attempting to refill their plates: "Hey, That's All You Can Eat." How long before Waikiki prostitutes charge by the acre instead of the act?

I urge my fellow citizens of substantial girth to rise up (carefully) and face this menace. And refill my Big Gulp while you're up.

Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards, appears Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. E-mail

E-mail to Features Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin