Air France Overweight Passenger Policy Still Unclear <





Air France Overweight Passenger Policy Still Unclear

By Mike Mitchell

January 21, 2010 - A number of British tabloids over the week had reported in the news media that the French air carrier, Air France, requires its overweight passengers to pay for a second seat onboard their aircraft. If the passenger did not pay for the extra seat he or she would then be prevented from boarding for 'safety reasons'. Opposed to the information disclosed in the press, Air France has denied this claim and has stated “Air France has no intention of making heavier passengers pay for a second seat”.  

However, Air France plans to make one single change to its service starting February 1st, which is to refund heavier passengers the cost of the second seat in its economy section if a passenger has purchased a second seat as long as the Economy cabin is not fully booked.

Since 2005, Air France has been offering heavier passengers the possibility of purchasing a second seat to ensure they travel in optimum comfort and safety. This second seat benefits from a 25% discount. 


It is still unclear as to Air France’s policy on overweight passengers. There policy does not state weather an overweight passenger who has booked a flight will be guaranteed to go out on that flight regardless of booking a second seat due to his her weight.  

A typical U.S. air carrier “Overweight Passenger Policy” today requires the passenger to pay for a second seat if he or she unable to fit into a single seat in the ticketed cabin, unable to properly buckle the seatbelt using a single seatbelt extender; and or is unable to put the seat's armrests down when seated unless there is a empty seat next to the passenger. 

If no unused seats are available on the ticketed flight, then the customer must either purchase an upgrade to a cabin with available seats that address the above-listed scenarios, or change his or her ticket to the next available flight and purchase a second seat in addition to the one already purchased. If a customer meeting any of the above-listed criteria cannot be accommodated next to an empty seat and chooses not to upgrade or change flights and purchase a ticket for an additional seat, he or she will not be permitted to board the flight.


If an additional seat is purchased, the fare for that seat will be the same as the fare paid for the original seat, regardless of whether the additional ticket is purchased along with the original ticket or separately. This applies even if the additional ticket is purchased on the day of departure, when fares are normally higher. Passengers who wish to purchase an extra seat are strongly encouraged to contact their airline via phone to ensure that the passenger receives two adjacent seats at the same fare.  

Passengers are encouraged to check-in with a customer service agent at the airport, rather than online or at an airport kiosk. This will ensure that both seats are checked in properly and that two adjacent seats have been assigned. 

Baggage fees and allowances; checked baggage policies usually apply per seat, so any checked baggage allowances will be multiplied by the number of tickets purchased. Baggage fees can also be distributed among the ticketed seats. For example, instead of paying first and second bag fees for two checked bags, a customer with two ticketed seats could instead pay two first bag fees. 

One thing is clear, the onboard seating area on most aircraft is uncomfortable. Each seat is defined by two armrests that is barely sufficient to provide a tolerabe comfort level. The seats are confining, cramped and do not offer enough legroom. The standard seating configuration was not designed nor built to suite the average passenger never mind the overweight or the obese traveler. Airlines must change the onboard seating area to offer a great comfort level and accommodate all. 

All paying airline passengers are entitled to comfortable seating and airlines should not be in the business of discriminating because of weight in order to squeeze every passenger on a flight. Over 70 percent of passenger complaints are from passengers who complained that the overweight passenger sitting next to them took up some of their passenger seating area. This is easy, set aside two rows of seats to accommodate those who are overweight.

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