A man has inadvertently sparked a furious debate online after taking to Reddit to ask whether he was wrong to charge an obese passenger for taking up some of his seat during a flight.
The traveller posted a description of the incident which unfolded during a five hour flight, claiming it culminated in him asking the passenger to pay him $150 up front - half the cost of the flight.
According to his account, the Redditor specifically booked an aisle seat in a row of two in the hopes of a comfortable flight. After a man who he describes as 'very obese' came and sat on the window seat adjacent, the man decided tell him: "Sir, I'm sorry but this situation is not working for me, you're taking up quite a bit of my seat".
Here's how the rest of the story went down: "He wasn't rude, but sort of gave me a shrug as if there's not nothing he can do - although he did sort of tighten his arms in to try and be narrower.
"It just wasn't enough, though. He still was overhanging over the armrest about 1/4th into my seat even when squeezing his arms in. I'm talking about fully hanging over the armrest into my seat.
"I end up stopping a flight attendant and ask her what can be done about the situation. She instantly tells him that he is likely going to need to purchase another seat. She goes to the front and comes back saying that there aren't any open seats on this flight, so there wasn't a way to move people so he could have two. This causes a very awkward silence.
"The guy seemed embarrassed and didn't want to get up. He mentioned how he can't wait for a later flight. I felt bad for him but I was also thinking about my own comfort on the long flight - the comfort I paid for.
"The flight attendant tells him that unless someone on the flight agrees to let him take up part of their seat, he'll need to book another flight. The guy seems really flustered by this ultimatum, and here's where I made my offer.
"I told the guy, 'Look, I'll put up with this if you give me $150 - that's half the cost of this flight and that would compensate me enough for the circumstances'.
"He instantly agrees, pulls out cash and pays me. He even told me he appreciated it."
He finished the post by asking: "This leads me to beg the question, AITA (Am I the a**hole)?"
The post has since gone viral and has divided opinion. Some reckon the man was right to charge the passenger for taking up his seat room, others claim it was cruel to make the man pay upfront.
"The problem here was that this large dude stuck you with being uncomfortable on your flight, right? Well, the $150 didn't make you any less squished in your seat, so it really feels like you just blackmailed this guy for being fat," wrote one commenter.
On the other side of the coin, one user declared: "Having less than one seat to yourself for five hours is worth less than having a full seat to yourself for five hours. OP was compensated for his discomfort."
Many others chose to blame the airline for 'cramming people into smaller and smaller spaces', contributing to the longstanding debate over whether larger passengers should be charged for an extra ticket - or whether such action is an insidious form of fat-shaming.
When it comes to the guy in this story, there is no definitive answer - as it stands, public opinion is split down the middle over the answer to his question: "Am I the a**hole?" We'll leave that to the Reddit community to figure out.
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