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Spillover from 400lb man squeezed fellow flier into galley

US debates 'sweaty hambeasts', overpaid tall people on airplanes

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Americans struggling home from Thanksgiving have yet another etiquette nightmare to deal with: what to do when the gargantuan passenger next to you spills over and annexes most of your seat.

The dilemma has been highlighted by the case of Arthur Berkowitz, who was forced to stand for seven hours on a flight from Anchorage, Alaska to Philadelphia, after being driven from his seat by the spillover of a humongous fellow passenger.

Berkowitz told consumer advocate Christopher Elliott's blog that he had taken his seat on US Airways Flight 101 on 29 July, when a 400 pound (181kg) late boarder began parking himself in the adjacent seat – the last vacant space on the flight.

“His size required both armrests to be raised up and allowed for his body to cover half of my seat,” he told Elliott.

Berkowitz told the Daily Mail that an exchange student at the other end of the row had been "pinned" against the window by the huge girth of the airborne man mountain..

Flight attendants were sympathetic and acknowledged the gate agent should have required the corpulent flyer to buy a brace of seats, Berkowitz said, but could do nothing.

Well, they could have let the crushed Berkowitz occupy one of their jump seats. But they didn't, leaving the unfortunate Berkowitz to linger around the aisle and galley area for most of the flight.

Berkowitz duly complained to the airline which offered a $200 voucher – scant recompense for paying $800 just to stand for seven hours.

“Our intention is to offer the best travel experience possible,” it added. “The details you have provided indicate that we have failed to meet our intentions.”

The posting excited a mass of comment on Elliott's blog – though conversation quickly veered away from the issue of whether "sweaty hambeasts" are a protected class to the question of whether tall people had any rights to object to the passenger in front reclining their seat. ®

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