United Blocking Some Middle Seats As Americans Get Heavier
Americans are getting bigger and heavier and now at least one airline is starting to block middle seats to adhere to FAA’s rules on weight averages for travelers.
The percentage of adults considered overweight in the U.S. has increased from 30.6% in 1999, to 41.9% in 2020. Nineteen states now have adult obesity rates over 35 percent, while a decade ago, no state had an adult obesity rate at or above 35 percent.
FAA’s 2019 updated average weight requirements are as follows:
- average female summer weight goes from 145 pounds to 179 pounds
- average female winter weight goes from 150 pounds to 184 pounds
- average male summer weight goes from 185 pounds to 200 pounds
- average male winter weight goes from 190 pounds to 205 pounds
The change in weight between summer and winter is not just because of beach bods. People bring heavier items onboard during the summer, especially clothing. The reason airlines use averages is because they don’t want to weigh each passenger as they board.
Because of the updated passenger weights, now United Airlines is blocking some seats on its flights, according to a story published this week by Live and Let’s Fly. Specifically, United is will block seats on its Boeing 757 aircraft between November 1, 2022 and April 30, 2023.
In a memo sent to employees, United is advising flight attendants to “monitor these seats throughout all phases of flight to ensure they remain unoccupied.” Up to six seats will be blocked.
When you book one of the flights that have these blocked middle seats, you will notice that the seats are completely removed from the seat map. Rows with blocked middles are still marketed as standard economy seats, so for now you can get some extra elbow room for the same price as any other economy seat. The blocked middle seats will have physical signs saying “Do not occupy”.