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Airplane Photo Reveals Disturbing Reality for Large Passengers

Faced with a prolonged business slump, the airline industry has been cutting corners for the better part of a decade now -- much to the disgruntlement of passengers. Perhaps the most frustrating penny-pinching measure has been the reduction in seat size, a move aimed at squeezing more people on-board and thus marginally boosting revenue. Though it makes the average traveler feel more like a sardine and less like a valued customer, for larger passengers, the crunch is that much worse. A new photo illustrates just how bad it has gotten.

As The Telegraph reports, a flight attendant on an American Airlines flight recently photographed an obese passenger to show her manager how dire the seating situation was for him. She then sent the photo to a blog on the aviation news website Flightglobal. It's unclear whether or not the man knew he was being photographed or if the photo has been altered, though Kieran Daly, who writes for the blog, claims he received the photo "with absolute assurance" of its authenticity.

As the image shows, the man apparently paid for only one seat, which clearly wasn't enough. Perhaps more disturbing is the fact that the airline let him board. Southwest Airlines, for one, has a "customer of size" policy that requires passengers of a certain size to purchase two seats. American has not adopted this policy, though it does cryptically encourage customers to "recognize ahead of time that they may need to purchase two seats." For their part, American has said it's investigating the issue, and reiterated in a statement that its "primary concern is for the safety and comfort of its passengers and crews."

Granted, no one's sure whether or not the plane took off with the man in this position. If it did, it would be pretty appalling; the elevated safety risks for him and everyone else on the plane are obvious (just imagine hitting a wicked patch of turbulence). The photo alone speaks to a growing (and embarrassing) reality that airlines will have to face: no matter how many extra seats they try to squeeze on-board, people are getting bigger, and whistle-blowers with cell phones are beginning to take note. Compromising comfort for financial solvability is one thing. Safety, though, is quite another. [From: The Telegraph]

Tags: airlines, airplane, american airlines, AmericanAirlines, flight attendant, FlightAttendant, planes, recession, safety, top