Flight attendants explain what to do if ‘customer of size’ spills into your seat

Flight attendants have offered helpful advice for people stuck next to a neighbour who takes up your space on a plane.

An uncomfortable and awkward plane passenger has sought the expert help of cabin crew having encountered an issue while cruising through the clouds, reports the Mirror.

The woman explained how she'd clambered onto an eight and a half hour Air Canada flight from a European city to Toronto and was placed next to a physically large fellow customer who had a seatbelt extender.

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"It was actually to the point where his body couldn't fit in his seat alone and was spilling into my seat space quite a bit," she explained, clearly attempting to be delicate with her words.

"I could not sit with my back flush against the seat. I also couldn't reach under his body to access my tray table or TV, which were tucked under the armrest on his side of my chair."

The woman continued: "Luckily, my boyfriend was seated on the other side of me and I was able to share his tray space during dinner; I have no clue what I would have done if I didn't know the person on my other side.

"As you can imagine, I ended up pretty sore by the end of the flight, and as I am currently recovering from a workplace back injury this was a bit more annoying than it otherwise would have been.

"Obviously this guy wasn't trying to squish me on purpose and I am extremely conflict avoidant so I adopted a 'grin and bear it' attitude for the flight, but I'd really like to avoid this happening again.

"It just kind of feels unfair that he was taking up so much of my seat space for such a long flight when I paid so much for the seat."

The passenger asked what she should do if she comes across a similar issue in the future.

One flight attendant suggested speaking to a member of the cabin crew who would likely assist if they are able to.

"If the plane isn't sold out, I would move you," they said.

Another flight attendant warned that time is of the essence when trying to move to a comfier spot.

"The only time a passenger who is over the seat is addressed is when a passenger brings it to the crew's attention," they said.

"Until then, we are not allowed to say anything in case the person next to them is with them.

"Once you do say something, BEFORE WE LEAVE THE GATE, a new seat can be given if available in the cabin you purchased or the gate agent can determine if that passenger needs to purchase another seat."

Another air expert said that, in the US at least, staff were often willing to help out to ensure no one was un-comfy or embarrassed.

"In the US, if you are a customer of size (COS), you can let them know at the gate, and they can pre-board you and put down a little 'reserved' sign in the seat next to you, so that someone doesn't attempt to sit there," they said.

"Now, that's Southwest and their open seating policy. Obviously this varies from airline to airline, and you may not always have the option to be moved, or for the COS to move into."

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A fourth flight attendant said that they tried to subtly seat larger customers in the aisle seat, where the outer arm rest could be lifted.

They also said that a lot of customers who had the cash would upgrade in order to have a more comfortable flight.

"Often people who are aware of how small the general economy cabin is typically will book the first or business class seats themselves, not as an unspoken rule, but because they know they personally will feel more comfortable," they said.


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