liveonearth (liveonearth) wrote,

Obesity as Diasability: Canadian Doctors and Airlines struggle

Two airlines (Westjet & Air Canada) have instituted policy to clarify the service that the Canadian Supreme Court says they must offer. The legal decision from last November is that an obese person, because they are disabled, should be given two seats for the price of one. On January 8 the Canadian Transportation Agency ordered the airlines to make extra seating freely available to disabled and obese travellers who require it. The original thinking of the disability law was that a disabled person's nurse/attendant should be permitted to accompany without paying the second fare.

The airlines decided that they had to rein that in. Who requires it? Anyone who thinks they do? In that case, I am obese, because I want the extra seat. No, you have to have an objective criterion, and the airlines do not want to be in charge of that. Yet they MUST separate out those who are legally entitled to an extra chair from those who just want one.

If your airline must give two seats to every fat person who wants one, pretty soon you're making half as much money running your airline. So the airlines announced in order to be considered disabled by your obesity, you must present a note from your doctor. The obese people don't like it because they say it is humiliating. And the doctors don't like it either. Through a national organization the doctors say the policy shows "a disregard for the use of scarce medical resources." The medical association said it plans to write the airlines asking that they "immediately revisit their requirements for doctor's certificates." The docs say that the question of when a person is obese enough to require two seats is a "business matter".

So is it that Doctors can't afford to write a note for someone who's obese enough to be uncomfortable in an airplane seat? Or doctors don't want to? I bet they don't want to. The new forms created by the airlines ask the doctors to measure the size of the obese individual's posterior. Seems reasonable enough, but nobody wants to do it. Maybe that will save some revenue for the airlines.
Tags: canada, disability, medicine, obesity, travel

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