10 Things More Annoying Than Fat People On a Plane

Share the SpaceI fly a lot and it has been made clear to me by people’s ridiculous complaint letters that get published on the internet, and even a few fellow passengers, that some not-fat people are irritated that fat people want to access the same modes of transportation that they do, and that it’s much more convenient for them to blame fat people for existing than to blame plane manufacturers for ignoring the fact that fat people exist when they make the planes, and most airlines for ignoring the fact that fat people exist when they make their policies. I have more to say about this in a minute, but first I’d like to suggest that, even if you are engaging in fat bigotry while you fly, here are 10 things that are way more annoying than flying fat people. All of these are things that I’ve personally witnessed:

  1. Gets off the plane, walks up the jetway, walks through the door into the airport and stops dead. Dude, are you serious? This activates my throat punch reflex. Remember all those people who were behind you on the plane? They’re still behind you on the jetway – move into the airport, find a seat or place out of the way and get your bearings. If the person stops in the doorway and checks their cell phone I become homicidal.
  1. Person using a wheelchair is waiting for the one accessible stall in the bathroom. There are about 10 open stalls that are not wheelchair accessible. Woman comes out of accessible stall, looks at woman in wheelchair and says “I’m not disabled, but it’s just so much easier to use that restroom when I have all this stuff and shrugs.” No apology. Woman in the wheelchair says “Well, as long as you’re comfortable I guess I’ll just hold it.”
  1. Roller bag, laptop bag, big ass bag from Disneyworld, bag from the bookstore in the airport, giant coat. First she ignores the rule for how many things she can carry on. Then she ignores the flight attendants imploring people to put only one bag in the overhead bins. When they make the announcement again she looks at me, smiles and says “Do you think that’s for me?” I don’t smile and say “yes.” She says, “If they ask me to move it I will.” Moments later the flight attendants announce that they’ll be checking bags because there’s no more room in the overhead compartments. She looks at me and cheerfully says “Sounds like they’ve got it taken care of!” I say “Sounds like you’re incredibly selfish.” We didn’t talk after that.
  1. Guy stops dead in the middle of the main walkway at a large, busy airport. Puts his suitcase down, opens it up and proceeds to – at a pace that could be described as leisurely, meandering, some might even say moseying – take off his jacket fold it up and lovingly put it away, rearranging his suitcase to make sure that the space for the jacket is optimal. Meanwhile people are veering around him like a fender bender on the freeway at rush hour, almost tripping over him and his sprawling stuff.
  1. Woman across the aisle from me spends the entire flight ignoring every signal from her seatmate (checking her phone, reading Skymall, answering with a noncommittal and progressively more irritated Mmm Hmmm etc.) trying to convince her that she needs to do the [Massive National Self-Improvement] Forum. I’ve also seen this scenario for multi-level marketing business opportunities. Way to put the “captive” in “captive audience.”
  1. Mistreating gate agents – everything from condescension to screaming at them. First of all, it’s not cool – they don’t control the weather in Chicago so how about you ratchet it down a notch. Also, even if you don’t have it in you to be a decent human being, let’s examine the situation – you need a new flight, they have a computer that can get you on a new flight, how about trying to act like you have some home training instead of irritating the crap out of this person right before the rest of us have to work with her.
  1. Threatening loudly to report the flight attendants for making the preflight safety announcement entertaining and funny because “the safety announcements are a serious thing.” You, sir, are a dick. If you’re that concerned read the safety card provided in the seatback pocket in front of you and STFU. (I’ve been told by another Southwest Airlines passenger that if someone complains about this they actually reward the flight attendant – I hope that’s true.)
  1. “I know I should have brought diapers but I was in a hurry this morning and so I was just hoping she would make it through the [3 hour] flight. Do you have anything I can use? And some wipes too – it’s a poopy one!” Flight attendant acquires a diaper and some wipes from another passenger with a baby. She starts changing her baby on the tray that comes down from the seat in front of her.   Flight attendant mentions that there is a changing table in the restroom “That’s ok, I’m cool here!” Flight attendant asks if she wants some paper towels to put down “No thanks, I think the tray will be more comfortable on her skin.” Finishes, doesn’t even wipe the tray with a baby wipe, just returns it to its original position and hits the call button and tries to hand the flight attendant a heaping handful of poo-covered refuse.
  1. Grabs the flight attendants ass. May he rot in hell.
  1. Fatphobes on a plane. Yes, I see the exaggerated eyeroll, yes I hear you make comments to your friend. Aren’ t you clever. Three cheers for appearance-based bigots. Or not.

You may note that I’ve left off things like crying babies, tantruming toddlers, etc. That’s because I don’t think that people existing in an airport or on a plane should be treated as an annoyance. The items above are all behaviors that people choose to engage in, not people simply existing in a space. If you think that you somehow deserve a seat and seatbelt that accommodate you while you fly but you think that other people don’t deserve the same thing and/or should have to pay twice as much as you for the same service, then congrats on being a magnificent douche. If you blame fat people for existing rather than airlines for not accommodating them, then I think that you are far more annoying than any two year old freaking out because their parent brought ducky and not goosegoose in the carry-on bag.   If you want to know if a fat person’s health issues are their fault to determine if they deserve room for an oxygen or a preboard with their mobility aid, then allow me to suggest that you never leave your house or interact with other people ever again because you are just a horrible human being.

As for me, I’ll keep pushing for airline customers to get the same experience regardless of their appearance, size, or dis/ability.

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29 thoughts on “10 Things More Annoying Than Fat People On a Plane

  1. My honeymoon was just about ruined by the worst flight of my life – sitting next to one of the worst people I’ve ever had the displeasure of sitting next to. She insisted I put the arm rest down, saying “I paid for an ENTIRE seat” (even though with the arm rest up I wasn’t actually IN her seat, just BARELY touching her). But I put the arm rest down, even though it caused me a great deal of pain and by hour Three of the Five and a Half Hour flight I had such sharp pains shooting into my hips and down my legs where the arm rests on both sides of my hips where digging into me that I was fighting back tears. She repeated the “I paid for an ENTIRE seat” mantra if I dared touch her (something a large hipped person has trouble NOT doing – so needless to say I got to hear it repeatedly within that 5 1/2 hour flight). I had to spend the vast majority of the flight half way into the isle (leaning way into the isle) because even if my arm brushed hers she’d sigh with such drama and annoyance and mutter under her breath.

    Even if I wasn’t in so much pain because of the arm rest digging into me, I would have been fighting back tears simply by the way that horrid woman was treating me. That was the longest and most painful five an a half hours of my life. And considering the abuse I went through growing up, that really is saying a lot.

    Sure, it’s not the most comfortable thing ever to touch a stranger, but she at least got to sit in her seat pain free. In fact, she was so pain free that (blissfully) she slept through part of the flight. She was so relaxed and pain free that she could sleep – where as I was in SO MUCH PAIN the entire time that it was all I could do to keep from crying.

    Her mantra of “I paid for an ENTIRE seat” rings through my head …because funny enough, so did I – but unlike her, I didn’t get a seat – I got a torture device.

    1. I’m sorry you had to deal with someone so rude. I would have put the arm rest down, and proceeded to hog it the whole flight. And when she started with the I paid for the whole seat thing would have replied: So did I,Toots. There would have been no leaning into the aisle. If your thighs are touching, too bad.

      There is just no excuse for that kind of boorish behavior. I do try and stay as far inside my seat as possible as a courtesy to my seatmate, but if any of them ever act like that, I would SPRAWL right up against them.

    2. She did not pay for the entire seat. She paid for a cheap seat that is smooshed together with another seat and shares an armrest. Even thin people have a hard time not brushing against each others arms in such seats. And armrest with you also paid to use. That meant you had as much right to want it up as she did to want it down. That person sounds like they had severe mental issues to care so much about something so minor.

      If they want to complain about paying for the entire seat, they should have paid to sit in first class on an airline that gives everyone their own chairs that sit separated by several inches. Then she could argue she paid for the entire seat. She did not pay for such luxuries. Her argument is invalid. It’s something she read some some online rant most likely and decided to repeat it to you.

      1. And armrest with you also paid to use. =
        And she was supposed to be sharing armrest with you which you also paid to use.

        I don’t know how that sentence got jumbled.

    3. When we flew to Fiji for our 30th Anniversary, we were on a 747 with 3 seats on the window side of each aisle. My wife prefers the aisle seat, so I was in the middle against a rather thin college student by the window. That skinny kid could not have taken up more of his seat and mine as well if he’d been three times his size. For most of the ten hour flight, he was curled up with his head by the window and his ass protruding into my seat.

      Meanwhile, the person in front of me reclined their seat all the way back about the moment the plane left the ground, pinning my knees in place. I was pretty much boxed in the entire flight. (That qualifies as another thing more annoying than fat people on a plane – the airlines seem to think everyone only needs the legroom suitable for people under 5 foot tall)

      People might want to complain about fat people taking up too much room on a plane, but skinny people can take up too much room as well.

      I find a fat person who is at least sensitive to the fact that the seat is too small for anyone larger than Twiggy far less annoying than someone who just seems to think they’re entitled to their space and mine as well.

  2. It may seem like a small thing, but I would add music from someone else’s device that’s loud enough for me to hear. The pounding bass percussion from a seatmate’s music is enough to drive me almost to the point of screaming insanity over a multi-hour flight. I don’t own an Ipad (or whatever) and find earphones impossibly uncomfortable to use, so I don’t listen to music on flights. I do NOT want to be subjected to hearing other people’s music choices.

  3. How about people trying to sell you things? Whether it’s someone trying to get you to convert to a religion or sell you onto their multilevel-marketing business, I find them awfully annoying. Haven’t experienced this on planes (yet), but on buses and other forms of public transportation, oh, definitely. With apologies to Elizabeth, it’s why I crank the music up.
    So that I can’t hear Miss Street Preacher or Mister Amway. In my experience, they don’t really see the “I Don’t Want To Talk To You” signal that is a pair of earphones leading to a device of some kind, and think that you need religion or a “business opportunity”. Most other annoying people on public transportation see the earphones (and sometimes a book that I’m reading) and they don’t try to strike up conversations with me, but people trying to sell things ignore all of that.

    So very annoying!

    1. I agree, people trying to sell things are exceptionally annoying — but if others who are annoyed by them and are listening to music all crank their music up, then those of us who don’t have devices and earphones are doubly besieged, subjected to the salespeople AND the conflicting thumping bass lines from ten different devices!! My idea of hell, pretty much …

    2. I will never understand why people think it’s perfectly okay to just keep talking and talking and talking and talking about whatever to a random stranger just because they happen to be seated together. I just want to scream, “GO AWAY!” But if I say anything, then I’m a stuck up bitch.

  4. As far as number 1 goes, I’ve had people do that when getting off an escalator! It’s not like you can just patiently wait for them to move in that situation.

    1. This is my number 1 pet peeve in the world. I see it on the train every day…the pause before getting on the train or exiting to the platform, the pause at the bottom of the escalator, the confused stop after getting off the elevator. In all of these scenarios, forward is always an option. 🙂

      1. Trains, steps, elevators, escalators, jetways, etc. And if they get bumped, they take offense. It’s very annoying to be behind these people. Step off and move to the side, out of the path of other people. It’s very simple. 🙂

  5. You’ve pretty much covered my list with those 10, although I’m grateful I’ve not had to deal with #8 or #9. I’d be tempted to smack the asshat in #9 on behalf of the attendant.

  6. I was flying back to Vegas from New York in August and had the two most annoying women seated behind me. They were so loud and here is a sampling of their conversation:

    Lady one: Next time we need to go to the Caribbean or Paris.
    Lady two: The Caribbean! I need the beach.
    Lady one: There’s no beach in Paris?
    Lady two: Of course not! It’s Europe!
    Then later–as we’re landing in Vegas…
    Lady one: OMG! OMG! It is midnight here!! It is three in the morning in New York but only midnight here! Did you know that?!
    Lady two: Are you kidding? Is it really?

    But the worst is when we landed and everyone is waiting to get off the plane, ya know because you go aisle by aisle. Nope, not the lady behind me. She jumped up, grabbed her bag out of the overhead bin and started shoving through everyone in front of us, looking back at her friend like “Come on!” Apparently her friend understood that is not acceptable because she waited.

    Then in October we flew back to Vegas from Orlando and my husband and youngest sat across the aisle. The two men behind my husband annoyed him the entire flight. Again, really loud. I heard them but never made out what they were saying. My husband said he thinks they were brothers. Anyway, the one dude was saying how he is ready to have a kid and really wants his girlfriend to get pregnant but she is too into her career right now. So, they were discussing ways to convince her to get pregnant and drop her career. But later, as we’re getting closer to Vegas, they start talking about strippers, etc and the one guy–with the girlfriend–says he is totally going to hook up while in Vegas because he isn’t that into his girlfriend anyway!!!!!!

    But yeah, fat people are what makes flying a drag. *eye roll*

  7. When I was approximately a size 14 my hips were maybe a teeny tiny bit less wide, but my shoulders were no less wide. I had the occasion to be stuck on a 4 hour flight in the last row between two men built like American Football linebackers. Easily both taller than 6′ tall, broad shouldered and otherwise thickly built.

    I arrived at my seat after they had already sat themselves down with the armrests up. I seem to remember both had seatbelt extenders and both were belted in. A pained expression was passed between them. I assured them that I would not make them put down the armrests for they are uncomfortable for me. And if the guy at the aisle would be so kind as to give me a few extra moments getting settled, I’d put my backpack under my seat and the items I wished to have handy during the flight in the little seat pocket.

    We sat through the whole flight crushed together basically touching from our rears to our shoulders. They were very gentlemanly, one offered me a corner of his tray table when the beverage service came, for the person in front of me leaned his seat back as far as he could.

    While far from optimal, the fact that we all did our best to be nice to each other made what could have been a most hellish flight doable. Were we uncomfortable? Sure. But we did what we could not to make it worse than it already was.

  8. I am very fortunate that when I do fly (which is not often) I always get to fly first class so I don’t deal with a lot of the “fatty on the airplane” stuff. My Mother carries a lot of guilt that she didn’t do more to stop the abuses of my fatphobic and homophobic Father so she is happy to dig into their deep pockets to ensure I’m comfortable on an airplane.

    Having said that however, any person thin person who would give a fat person grief for “spilling” into their seat is absolutely lower than low.

    So lets see “Mr/Mrs AllSpaceBelongsToMe” you are on a metal tube 10 feet in diameter flying through the air at 500mph getting to your destination in hours as opposed to months and someone touching you is a problem?

    Let me ask you this “Mr/Mrs ImSoPrettyDontTouchMe” you have been bumped, pushed, prodded, rushed and crowded from the time you stepped in the airline line but all of the sudden my wide ass touching you in your 18inch space from my 18inch space is an issue? So skinny people doing all of the above was ok because its “part of air travel”, but my fat butt is an issue? Really? This is about space and not fatphobia?

    Oh and another point “Mr/Mrs TheArmrestMustBeDown” Isn’t it entirely possible that I know far more about airplanes, physics, what to do in an emergency, etc… than you? You can’t judge a book by its cover and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be the one to save your life in the event of an emergency. Let’s me nice mmmm’kay?

    And before I go “Mr/Mrs PaidTheSamePriceAsYou” doesn’t the airline accommodate luggage of all sizes? At the same price? You may continue to give me dirty looks all flight but shouldn’t your issue be with the airline and their desire to squeeze every penny out you and me? Shouldn’t it be us against them? Oh and don’t let anyone hit you on the back with that sour look on your face…it was stay that way forever!

  9. I haven’t had problems in the past with flights, but this summer we flew up to Oregon for my niece’s wedding. It’s the first time a seatbelt has not fit me (and I have not changed size in a decade and flown several times on different airlines.)
    I could get it on but it was tight and I muttered something to my husband (I think it was “for Christ’s sake why can’t they have normal sized seatbelts). Within seconds I had an attendant asking me if there was a problem and quietly fetched me an extender. She was very nice.
    However, the male attendant on that flight would slam into my elbow with everything he brought down the aisle, including the drink cart (which hurt), the garbage bag, and his knee. He didn’t apologize. Didn’t acknowledge me at all, even when I yelped from being banged i the funny bone by the corner of the cart.
    I’m not sure if it was because I was fat or he was just a jerk.

    1. Even if it were due to your size causing you to be out in the aisle a little, common courtesy would require an “excuse me,” or, “I’m sorry” when accidentally hitting someone. If he could not have gotten by with the cart without hitting you, he should have alerted you to the fact that the cart requires more room in the aisle than he had available, and given you a chance to to move.

  10. I think it’s very lovely that you didn’t include babies and toddlers on your list just for acting like babies and toddlers, but I do believe that a certain breed of parent deserves an honorable mention, much like that nasty female in #8.

    Parents who take no responsibility for their children Piss. Me. Off. They stupidly forget to pack enough (or in some cases, ANY) supplies and expect everyone around them to just “understand” when the squalling commences. I’ve seen parents drown out the screams of the OWN kids with headphones. Others, with slightly older children, are often seen to absently murmur “Oh, Skyler settle down” when Skyler’s throwing ice cubes at other passengers.

    I have nothing but sympathy for parents who are harried by unhappy kids and I like to help in any way I can. I’m actually great with kids and, having spawned a couple myself, always have a trick or two up my sleeve. Even still, if you bring children anywhere with you, you DO NOT get to give up and tune them out when they become a miserable pain in everyone’s ass. If you do, strange little bitches like me will put the hoodoo on your ass!

    1. Hear, hear! Part of having children is accepting the responsibility of BEING THE PARENT. One of my biggest pet peeves are parents that try to bribe the kid out of throwing a tantrum. By bribing, all they are doing is reinforcing the tantrum behavior. You end tantrums be teaching the children that their fits will not result in an advantage to them, but rather, will result in consequences.

      On a plane or in a grocery store, the adults are supposed to have the discernment, self-control, and authority to teach their kids appropriate behavior.

      1. Do you want them to extinguish the behavior, or do you want a quiet flight? Because that’s often the choice. If you don’t give into a tantruming child, you often get a worse tantrum. Yes, in the long run, it’s better, but in the meantime, that will often make the behavior worse. It’s hard for me to blame a parent who shushes the child however they can while the whole plane is judging them.

    2. Both Humi and Agnes make excellent points, but I personally lean toward Agnes’ philosophy. An airplane is a unique environment, one from which there is no escape for ANYBODY. The time to instill discipline and self-control is any other time, but not when other people have zero choice but to endure to screaming, or worse, be hit with projectiles or have their belongings damaged.

      A parent should either not take an ill-behaved child on long-distance public transit, or else be prepared to bribe and kowtow to the little beast so that others don’t have to suffer overmuch.

  11. My daughter got her first case of head lice from someone seated next to her on the plane. She could actually see the lice crawling in his hair. We kinda wished he’d have taken care of it before he got on a plane.

  12. I had one of those fussy humphers next to me once. I was strongly tempted to pull a horrible face, wave my fingers at her, and moan, “Coootieeeees….coootieeeessssss….” Strongly. Tempted.

  13. I’m not a hundred percent certain about this, but here goes: When I took a flight last year about this time, just for poops & chuckles, I decided to see what first class would cost. It was nearly three times vs coach! Of course, I didn’t even consider it. When I was boarding the flight, I was pretty distracted and nervous (I hardly ever fly). On my return flight, I had mistakenly chosen single seating in coach. I spent the entire four hour, overbooked, flight in a seat meant for someone approx. 100 lbs (I’m 350). Ouch! It left bruises! I thought about it for a while after I got home and I remembered passing by single seating very close to the the entrance. Then, it occurred to me: Was that single seating at the front of the plane FIRST CLASS?! 😮 I would’ve lost my goddamned mind, paying $1300.00 for a seat that was a mild form of torture for four hours! I’m not confrontational, but there would’ve been one Hell of an angry fat woman bitching to the highest had that been the case!

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