This is basically the question My rights if seated beside passenger needing more space wanted to ask or perhaps should've asked but of course the entire situation sucks. Enough rambling :)

So you board the plane, sit down, buckle in and someone of size sits next to you. It's uncomfortable. Perhaps they are blocking your access to the aisle, too. How do you deal with the situation? Asking a flight attendant can be tricky because you perhaps do not want to yell over said passenger that "hey, could you please throw this person off the plane, they are too big" which is essentially what you are asking. And yes, the attendants totally should do it on their own volition if said passenger violates rules but no one wants a conflict... Standing up and finding an FA is also tricky because boarding is chaotic and especially with low costs very time limited.

So how do you deal with this situation? Unlike the parent I am painfully aware if you don't deal with this at boarding time then you are done for, the attendants can't do anything once the plane closed the doors and compensation won't happen.

And yes, I am just as painfully aware this is a bad bad situation for the person of size, too. see this blog post :(

  • 1
    The entire situation doesn’t suck, IMHO. Airlines have passenger of size policies because there’s a risk, particularly during eg emergency evacuations. They must be able to ensure the safety of all passengers. So all passengers should inform themselves of the requirements and no-one should be embarrassed about politely asking for the policy to be upheld, be that the passenger of size or the person sat in the next seat.
    – Traveller
    Aug 21, 2022 at 22:18
  • I remember a flight where the passenger besides me had very wide shoulders, should I have complained about him being oversized? Nowhere near the seatbelt but still eating my space.
    – Willeke
    Aug 21, 2022 at 23:23
  • Take the train or fly business class ;-)
    – gerrit
    Aug 22, 2022 at 15:00

1 Answer 1


If the flight is full, the best course of action in this situation is usually to do nothing -- in practical terms, there is no course of action that is going to result in a net improvement of the situation. That is unless you really want to get your seatmate kicked off the plane, which has the effect of making their day a lot worse than it would make your day better.

  • 4
    Doing nothing means that you’re letting the airline get away with not complying with an important safety policy. Even on a full flight there might be some rearrangement of seating possible, at the very least notifying the airline’s Customer Service team of the policy breach after the flight should be done.
    – Traveller
    Aug 21, 2022 at 22:27
  • This implies that you have some way of knowing that "the flight is full", which you generally wouldn't. Even if you knew it was full before boarding, you won't know that the family of 4 sitting several rows behind you misconnected and thus didn't make the flight - leaving several seats free.
    – Doc
    Aug 22, 2022 at 14:19
  • 1
    In principle, the airline could also rectify the situation by kicking you off the plane... Aug 25, 2022 at 5:35
  • @Doc: It depends. For instance, on Southwest, the gate agents and FAs will routinely announce during boarding that the flight is completely full. Since seating is open, I think they figure this will discourage passengers from wasting time trying to sit next to an empty seat. It also might encourage them to gate-check their large bags. That said, a couple times recently, when they said the flight was "completely full", the seat next to me was empty anyway :) Aug 25, 2022 at 5:40

You must log in to answer this question.