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Man forced to stand for seven-hour flight due to 400-pound seatmate

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A man named Arthur Berkowitz has a beef with Arizona-based airline US Airways, after he was forced to stand for the entire duration of his July flight from Anchorage to Philadelphia, over seven hours, due to a 400-pound man seated next to him, usurping his personal space. The morbidly obese passenger ultimately required two seats, and the flight was booked full.

Berkowitz had settled in on US Airways Flight 901 that July 29th, finding, to his relief, an unoccupied middle seat next to him. But Berkowitz's tranquility was soon shattered, as the late-boarding obese passenger in question was directed to that empty adjacent seat, the last available one on the plane as it turned out. Said Berkowitz, "His size required both armrests to be raised up and allowed for his body to cover half of my seat."

Berkowitz notified the flight attendants — who were sympathetic — about the situation, but they weren't allowed to let him sit in their jump seats. Besides making for a very uncomfortable flight, Berkowitz cited potential safety issues. He said, "It did not allow me to use my seatbelt during takeoff and landing, as well as required me to stand in the aisle and galley area for most of the seven-hour-plus flight."

After finally touching down in Philly, the inconvenienced Berkowitz tapped out a polite email to the airline, stating his case, and requesting a full refund of his fare, or at least a voucher covering the full amount. US Airways responded with an apologetic email, though sounding like a robot had written it. As the airline put it, "Our intention is to offer the best travel experience possible. The details you have provided indicate that we have failed to meet our intentions."

As compensation for Berkowitz's nightmare flight, the best the airline could do was offer him a $200 voucher after he paid more than $800 for his ticket. Berkowitz thinks the airline is ignoring safety problems created by allowing overweight passengers to pay for only one seat when they end up requiring two. What do you think? Should Berkowitz have been refunded the entire amount of his ticket?