Arthur Berkowitz, an US Airways passenger had to stand during a seven-hour flight from Anchorage to Philadelphia because of a 400 lbs man sitting next to him.
Arthur Berkowitz said his morbidily obese neighbour on US Airways Flight 901 from Anchorage to Philadelphia made it impossible to get into his seat.
The 400 lbs man spilled over into Arthur Berkowitz’s personal space and he could not move because the plane was full so he was forced to stand up.
Arthur Berkowitz, 57, said the obese man was very sorry.
“The first thing he said to me was: <<I want to apologize – I’m your worst nightmare>>.”
Arthur Berkowitz added that his ordeal in July presented a safety risk because he could not use his seatbelt for take-off and landing.
“I didn’t fly from Alaska to Philadelphia on Flight 901,” he told consumer advocate Christopher Elliot’s blog.
“I stood. His size required both armrests to be raised up and allowed for his body to cover half of my seat,” he told the website, elliott.org.
The flight from Anchorage to Philadelphia is one of the longest non-stop U.S. domestic flights and Arthur Berkowitz thought he had a spare seat at first.
But before the door closed the airline asked a late-boarding passenger who weighed 400 lbs to sit down next to him in the last empty seat.
Arthur Berkowitz has been flying with US Airways for 50 years.
He added that there was a young exchange student from Eastern Europe on the same row as him who was “pinned up against the window” by the obese man because there was so little space.
Flight attendants whom he told about the problem said they could not help him as he was not allowed to sit in their jump seats.
“They were sympathetic, but could not do anything,” Arthur Berkowitz told elliott.org.
“No other seats existed on plane.”
Arthur Berkowitz claims flight attendants admitted their gate agent had made an error in allowing the passenger to board without having bought two seats.
US Airways has since apologized for the “regrettable” incident.
A statement said: “Our intention is to offer the best travel experience possible.
“The details you have provided indicate that we have failed to meet our intentions.”
US Airways offered Arthur Berkowitz a $200 voucher in compensation.
But he called this “inappropriate” after paying more than $800 for the ticket.
Arthur Berkowitz also complained the airline has not fixed the safety issue.
“I reviewed his case and agreed with him that US Airways might want to take another look at his complaint,” Christopher Elliott wrote on his blog.
“I mean, leaving a passenger with no alternative but to stand for almost seven hours – if that’s true, then this might be one of those rare cases when a full refund is in order.”
Arthur Berkowitz said he raised the issue primarily because he wants the airline and authorities “to develop a policy on safety”.
There is no legal weight limit for passengers on U.S. commercial flights but some airlines such as Southwest ask customers who cannot fit into one seat to book two.
It says if a passenger cannot lower the armrests on one set they must buy another – whatever they weigh.
The second seat’s price is refunded if the flight does not oversell, says consumer website Smarter Travel, which advises big passengers to travel off-peak.