Listen here, America: Stop double-fisting those Quarter Pounders and go for a run. Otherwise, you might never get to do some amazing things—like taking an elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or riding a gondola down the canals of Venice, or really going anywhere at all. Because flying is far more dangerous if you're fat.
That's right, obese air travel could kill you. Standard seats are a legacy of old airplane design, and as people get plumper, they haven't been rethought. It's hazardous. The only adjustments that have been made for fat flyers are that usually they're required to purchase an extra ticket. And everyone—fat, skinny, tall, short, square, and round—is at risk. Since the chair might not be strong enough to keep the passenger sitting in it safe, or constrained, it might also cause harm to others on the flight.
Oh and that seatbelt that's supposed to be securely fastened? It might not protect the pudgy ones. According to a University of Buffalo study of automobile collisions, corpulent drivers have a higher risk for injury because they are less likely to be wearing these restraints, because of the discomfort they cause. So it's kind of unrealistic that Hurley survived for so long on Lost.
It's also probably even worse than we can imagine. The FAA doesn't even know for sure how seats will react during a crash if occupied by the a larger than average ass. It performs crash tests, just not with portly dummies. And FAA regulations haven't caught up to American's growing girth. Written more than 60 years ago, they require seats to be designed to accommodate a person weighing around 170 pounds. Decades later, people are just packing on the pounds. Believe it or not, the average weight of a man is now 194 pounds, while it's 165 for women. (Says FATSTATS). But the seats haven't changed.
In short, if you're full-figured, or flying with people who are, you better hope the aircraft doesn't encounter any turbulence.
Is there any solution? America has been gorging itself deep into nationwide norm of obesity for years. And we're not just going to wake up tomorrow and be a country of rail-thin runway models. Because things like the Double Down still exist. The National Transportation Safety Board last year recommended that the FAA start gathering information about the size of people flying in private planes, so that it can judge the effectiveness about restraints. This means eventually, airlines will probably have to dole out the dollars to address these issues. Meaning, bigger seats and stronger seat belts. Which, if it results in more leg room for the rest of us, wouldn't be so bad. [New York Times]
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