A Consequence of Over-Eating: Trying To Fit in Smaller Plane Seats

airline seats

Stephanie Rosenbloom, a New York Times reporter, has back-handedly pointed out why frequent or even infrequent flyers should be paying more attention to what they’re eating while on land. (They’re not eating nearly as much as they used to when in the air, as airlines have cut back on everything but fares!)

The shrinking-seat problem – they’ve gone from a width of 18 inches in the 1970’s to 16 or so inches today, while seat ‘pitch’, the distance from the back of one to the seat of the one behind it, has shrunk from 35 to 31 inches – has become so severe that Congress is being asked to rule on the matter as it considers how it should deal with the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act. Like most acts of Congress, you want to know as much about this one as about how sausage is made.)

Airlines want, naturally enough, to be able to squeeze as many people onto planes as they possibly can. Never mind that this often means compressing individuals’ space to something like Jews had in freight cars on their way to concentration camps or gas chambers.

Nevertheless, as all that onboard shrinking has occurred, the around-the-waist story is diametrically opposite: Men, according to Rosenbloom’s Times article, weight 30 pounds more, on average, than they did in the ‘70’s, when the airlines were deregulated. This has, of course, in addition to putting peanut farmers at risk, presented medical challenges those consumers of . . . what?

What is it American flyers are eating more of? Everything, various reports suggest, except the fresh fruits and vegetables that could be helping keep that waistline in check.

Men’s gain amounts to an unhealthy upshot from 166 to 196 pounds. And women have fared little better: They are, on average, up from 140 to 166 pounds, a belt-busting 26 pounds.

Eateries in airports don’t help: Most of them offer the same sort of calorie-heavy, sugar- and salt-saturated stuff to be found in fast food places across the country.

Meanwhile, passengers are less able to carry healthy food onto planes because of restrictions by the airlines themselves and the so-called Homeland Security teams who seemingly assume nearly every edible is a potential bomb.

(Did you ever notice that we never had a ‘homeland’ before 9-11? The insidious nature of ‘security creep’ is costing us freedom losses the Founding Fathers never could have imagined!

(‘Homeland’ has a Nazi-like ring to it – virtually a cause to rally around, and endure, while freedoms are bit by bit snuck aware from us. Think about that.)

U.S.-based  and other airlines continue to consolidate, supposedly to save money, but not for fliers – to protect the jobs and often outrageous perks of people running those corporations. And, sadly, workers’ jobs too often are lost these days through the greed of company officials and stock holders who clearly look after only their own interests – not those of the humans being around the country day in and day out.

I was a frequent flyer for 20 or so years. ‘Did far more miles than anyone should have to. ‘Got some great perks from the frequent-flyer miles programs, but in the end, I’d have preferred to be home, working as I now do – from a home office, well clear of New York City taxi- or helicopter-rides to airports, being able to ‘dress down’ and often sleep in beyond the start of the ‘normal’ business day.

But I do need to do something about that extra 20 or so pounds I’ve put on!

And Congress needs to do somethings about airlines’ shrinking space for those who pay its bills.


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