Today I took my first Southwest flight since posting Flying While Fat. I took the window seat, as usual. Coincidently, a lovely woman who did not quite fit in the narrow airplane seat took the aisle seat. The inevitable announcement came on that the plane was nearly fully and almost every middle seat would be taken. Guiltily she looked around. “I hope someone very thin chooses this seat,” she confessed. “I can’t help it. I spill over a bit.” My heart ached for her.
In the end, it was a non-issue because “nearly full” isn’t the same as full. The last passenger to be seated chose the empty seat behind us, next to a woman with a baby on her lap. You could see him debate which was worse, and while I felt bad for the woman with the baby, I was glad to have a little extra wiggle room myself.
Once the seating drama was settled, I debated mentioning Southwest’s policy to my seatmate. Would I embarrass her? I didn’t want that. But at the same time, if I could help her avoid embarrassment on future flights, wouldn’t it be worth it? In the end, I pulled the website up on my phone and showed her, outing myself as a fellow fat person. I wanted her to know how many flights I had worried if the seatbelt would fit or if I would be “called out” in front of everyone as being too fat to fly.
She said she was grateful for the information, and would use it for her return flight. We chatted a bit and I even shared my blog address with her (J., if you’re reading this Hi!) Then we morphed into normal air-travel manners (she with her book, me with my headphones and laptop.) End of story.
Did I do right? When is it ok to intrude on someone else’s story? I never know. It worked out this time, I think, but I don’t even know if I would do it again.