Woman Given Refund After Uncomfortable Flight With Obese Passenger

Posted Oct 27th 2010 02:23 PMUpdated Oct 27th 2010 03:40 PM

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A Canadian regional airline has given a full refund to a passenger after she complained she was forced to sit next to an obese passenger who took up half her seat.

Janet Ogilvie, a Canadian government worker who was flying home to Ottawa from Halifax on Porter Airlines, says she essentially sat on her fellow passenger during the one hour and forty-five minute flight in September.

She tells the Ottawa Citizen she got on the small plane to find the obese woman – who needed a seat belt extension – spilling onto her aisle seat. Ogilvie says she would have been willing to move, but there were no empty seats on the flight.

"I couldn't put my left shoulder back because she was there... I was pressed up tight against her for the whole flight," Ogilvie says.

While she was very uncomfortable, Ogilvie says she didn't say anything to the woman for fear of embarrassing her.

But after the flight, Ogilvie complained to Porter Airlines about the awkward situation. The carrier initially offered her $100 off her next flight, but eventually agreed to refund her full fare, which was more than $200.

Ogilvie says the airline also promised to overhaul its staff training when it comes to seating overweight passengers.

"Porter, will ... if given sufficient notice and medical confirmation, offer obese passengers a second seat gratis in an effort to mitigate a situation as the one experienced by you," the carrier's president and CEO, Robert Deluce, wrote Ogilvie in an email.

"I don't think it's my problem that I paid for a seat and Porter gave it away to this other person," Ogilvie says.

There has been much debate on how obese people should be seated on planes. There are no standard rules, though airlines have been addressing the issue including Southwest Airlines which now requires "passengers of size" purchase a second seat.

Filed Under: News

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