Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Obese, disabled passenger fares before Canadian panel

The Canadian Transportation Agency is hearing testimony on matters pertinent to travelers with disabilities and those who require an additional seat because of their size. Advocates are arguing that Canada's one person one fare doctrine should be extended to airlines. Agreement with that stand would have a caregiver for a traveler with disabilities be able to receive a reduced fare. Other advocates are also arguing the obese should be able to access an additional seat at no extra charge. A ruling is expected early next year.
On the caregiver issue, I think a reduced or even free fare is especially just when airlines, as some around the world do, suggest or even insist every disabled person needs a companion. Of course such a blanket requirement is silly. Many people with disabilities are perfectly capable of traveling alone. Where it exists, I can only assume that a requirement for an attendant is really an effort to keep people with disabilities off flights as much as possible.
The obesity question seems to be gaining prominence of late. Personally, I think needing another seat because of your size should be accommodated without additional cost. I just don't think people are going to take advantage of this unless they need it. Seems to me that obesity definitely could be a disability. Remember, seat size is not some given driven by anything other than the airlines' desire to maximize profit. Such is the way of business, of course. But to act like seats too small to accommodate some larger passengers is almost beyond the control of the airlines is disingenuous. Letting a larger passenger use two seats at no extra charge seems to me to be a reasonable compromise. The airlines can keep maximum seating capacity for the majority of the time. Sometimes, they'd have to give up a seat to a larger passenger.

By the way, have you voted in our poll on whether the obese should be accommodated as disabled by airlines? You'll find it to the right of this post. Or leave a comment. Or both.


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