A Woman Seated Between Two Plus-Sized People on a Plane Asked to Switch Seats — Is She the Jerk?

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

May 23 2023, Published 5:45 p.m. ET

airplane seats
Source: Getty Images

Usually the posts in the AITA ("Am I the A------?") subreddit are fairly obvious when it comes to who is the actual jerk in the situation. Most of the time, it appears to be a dumping ground for people who are seemingly dating the worst of humanity. Lately, we've been seeing an uptick in plane-related stories.

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There are a lot of reasons to feel frustrated on a flight. They don't feel as if they are designed for anyone to be happy. That being said, sometimes a solution is not always obvious. Take Reddit user throwawayonaplane, who we will call Lois, who had an incident that involved her asking to switch seats. Lois was between two plus-sized passengers but her request embarrassed one of them. Hold onto your luggage because there is more to the story.

passengers on airplane
Source: Getty Images
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This woman embarrassed two plus-sized passengers on a flight. Was she in the wrong?

Lois, who is 19 years old, was heading to New York from Las Vegas when she asked the flight attendant if she could move seats. "My assigned seat was a middle seat, and both people next to me were plus sized," she wrote in the post. "I wouldn’t have any problem with this in any other situation, but plane seats are terribly small and neither of my neighbors were able to fit comfortably into their seats." It wasn't an ideal situation.

Both of her neighbors' thighs and shoulders were pushing into Lois, who waited 90 minutes before asking to switch seats. "I walked up to the flight attendant and explained the situation as privately and gently as I could, and I asked if there were any other seats available," explained Lois. "She managed to find a seat a few rows behind mine that I could sit in." The only complication came in the form of Lois pulling out her bag from beneath the seat. Other than that, it was smooth sailing, or so she thought.

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"After I got off ... the woman I was previously sitting next to was waiting for me," revealed Lois. "She essentially told me that I had embarrassed her and the other man and that traveling while plus-sized is hard enough without 'people treating fatness like a contagious disease.'" The woman also accused Lois of making her seat switch a "public demonstration" which only leads to "more fatphobia." Lois apologized, but was still rather stumped. Was she being insensitive?

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The votes were tallied and Lois was in the clear.

While it seems rare that anyone is voted not the a------ in this subreddit, Lois actually was. Most commenters felt that she went about the whole thing with a great deal of respect for her fellow passengers. A ton of people cited the fact that seats on planes are uncomfortable for everyone, regardless of their size, and is an issue the airlines should rectify.

Reddit user tulleoftheman said, "NTA and I'm fat." They then offered a more compassionate way for Lois to have framed the situation. "The best answer would have been to say 'these seats/airlines are really fat phobic and designed to make us uncomfortable, so I figured if there was a way to give you more space it was the kinder thing to do.' But also, don't stress this."

Lois also edited her original post twice to please ask folks to stop being fatphobic in the comments. "I know hardly anyone that was going to comment something rude is really going to listen to me, but for whatever it's worth, the blatant fatphobia in the comments isn't helping anything or anyone," she said. "Cut it out."

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