Welcome to the Person of Size website. This site is for everyone.
The goal of this site is to bring awareness to Person of Size and Customer of Size issues and to advocate for lawmakers, policy-makers, and businesses take steps to improve the safety and comfort of all people who are persons of size and those around them.
There is no single precise definition for Person of Size. Although we can define the term broadly, the specific situation may use a narrower definition. The broad definition for person of size, is a person who is on a tail of the distribution curve of human beings in one or more dimensions.
What do we mean by “dimensions”? There are many dimensions to consider - such as height, weight, shoulder width, hip width, upper leg length, and so on. There is no standard list of such dimensions. The applicable dimensions of concern are specific to each situation.
What do we mean by “distribution curve”? If we make a graph of human population along any particular dimension, there is a normal distribution curve that is high in the middle where most of the population falls, and tapers off towards each end. There are two tails to each distribution curve - those that are on the smaller size tail, or those that are on the larger size tail. We won’t specify standards of deviation or percentiles of the population. The set of people whom are classified as “persons of size” is determined by the specific situation.
While we recognize that there are many issues that persons of size encounter in the real world, we will focus on issues that affect large numbers of people. The first issue we will address is airline seating, and in particular coach seating. It is well known that coach airline seat dimensions, in general, have been reduced over the years. Meanwhile the average dimensionality of people in some countries, particularly the U.S., has increased. These opposing trends have increased the number of cases where a Person of Size does not fit in some dimension of the airline seat.
The people of concern are both those “of size” and those who may be impacted in some way by a person of size. So for example, a tall person may find that they do not have enough room for their knees or that they cannot use the headrest properly. A wide person may not be able to lower the arm rest completely, or may encroach on an adjacent seats space and possibly inconvenience a fellow traveler. A passenger adjacent to a person of size could be inconvenienced, encroached upon, uncomfortable, or concerned about their safety.
There is no government or FAA mandated person of size law, regulation, or policy in 2017. Each airline documents its’ particular person of size policy. Each airline defines what they mean by “person of size” and provides rules, guidelines, and potential remedies.
The most progressive airline is Southwest Airlines. For persons meeting their definition of person of size, Southwest recommends purchasing an additional adjacent seat, and guarantees that they will refund the cost of the second seat after the travel is completed and upon request.
Alaska Airlines policy is similar to Southwest, but Alaska will only refund the second seat cost if all legs of the journey had at least one unoccupied seat in coach. Alaska policy seems to be saying - “We will meet you half-way, but only when it doesn’t cost us any more”.
Many other major airlines recommend a second seat purchase, but do not provide a refund.