‘I’m a travel expert – airlines penalise plus size passengers for cost-cutting’

This year, plus sized travellers have suggested that airlines need to "do more" to make space for larger passengers. One activist even suggested that they should provide larger or extra free seats.

Some airlines have asked to check the weight of passengers to ensure their planes are balanced as people get heavier. While tourists claim that small airline seats may be discriminatory.

In response, one travel expert has claimed that tiny plane seats are part of "cost-cutting measures" for airlines. He claims that it’s "reasonable" to expect airlines to make space for passengers of all shapes and sizes.

READ MORE: Plus-size influencer demands airlines make bigger seats after 'getting bruises'

Speaking to the Daily Star, Justin Francis, CEO of holiday company Responsible Travel said: "People come in different shapes and sizes. If a person needs a little more legroom or space to travel safely and comfortably, I think it’s reasonable for airlines to accommodate that and not penalise them to save themselves a few more quid."

He added that shrinking seats are all part of a wider money-saving scheme. Justin said: "It’s part of a much broader pattern of cost-cutting measures from airlines. Heavier planes need more fuel, so they’re more expensive to fly and more polluting. Airlines want to lighten their loads to reduce their costs and emissions.

"They do that in lots of ways – from luggage fees to scrutinising food tray design and food and seat weight. Japan Airways is even offering in-destination holiday wardrobe hire to shed the pounds. That’s a perfectly nice, PR-savvy idea, but it’s also classic deflection – a way to place the burden onto passengers to ‘cut their footprint’, while saving the airline money."

He continued: "Aviation’s seen meteoric growth, and it’s only rising – so its real emissions will too. The responsibility for that should lie with airlines, but instead they’re enjoying massive tax breaks.

"When we fill up our cars, we pay fuel tax. When airlines fill their planes, they don’t. It’s an exemption to the tune of billions of pounds every year, which could go towards decarbonising the industry and improving our railways. Where’s the accountability and scrutiny there?

"We all need to pack light, and fly less, to cut emissions. But we also need actual system change – the Government should be holding airlines to account, not letting them off the hook.

"The question isn’t whether a person who needs it should have a bit of extra space – it’s why aviation is being given a free ride at our expense."

When asked whether the tiny seats are an example of "discrimination", Justin said: "Legally, whether it’s discriminatory can be unclear and laws vary from country-to-country. Different airlines have different policies and there’s a lack of consistency and clarity which can cause confusion."

One travel expert previously argued that it is a matter of "human rights" for passengers of a larger size. He said that plus sized passengers should get free extra seats as airlines do not give discounts to slim passengers or children who add less weight and height, but do save on fuel and therefore costs.

In relation to larger passengers having to shell out for two seats, he added that he did not "see any justification for charging these people a double fare".

Gabor added that being plus sized is "not a choice" and that using "immutable characteristics" to apply added costs to passengers is a "slippery slope" for airlines.

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