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Woman Posts Photos 'Sandwiched Between Two Obese People' On A Plane — Then Asks Airline For 'Reparations'

Photo: Alev Takil and Fa Barboza / Unsplash
woman with hands over face and airplane interior

An Australian woman has sparked a wave of internet backlash after posting a photo of herself on an American Airlines flight complaining about having to sit beside two "obese people." Sydney Watson, an Australia-American conservative political commentator, took to Twitter to share her experience while on a three-hour American airline flight.

Sydney Watson complained to American Airlines about being 'wedged between two obese people.'

"I am currently — literally — WEDGED between two OBESE people on my flight," Watson tweeted. "This is absolutely NOT acceptable or okay. If fat people want to be fat, fine. But it is something else entirely when I'm stuck between you, with your arm rolls on my body, for 3 hours."

Watson's complaint was met with immediate backlash from other social media users, who accused her of being extremely fatphobic and downright mean.

"This is my worst nightmare as a fat person who is not rich. I would hate to see a picture of my fat body on a stranger’s Twitter because I want a vacation," one user wrote in response to Watson's tweet.

RELATED: Woman Shares Photo Of Man Spreading His Legs On 4-Hour Flight & Asks People How They Would React

Watson doubled down on her post, saying that she doesn't care 'if this is mean.'

"I can't even put the arm rests down on either side because there's no f-king room. I'm sick of acting like fatness to this extent is normal. Let me assure you, it is not," she wrote.

The official Twitter account for American Airlines quickly responded to Watson's viral post, rebutting her claims.

RELATED: Man Posts Complaint About Dad Who Refused To Switch Seats With Him On Plane After He Sat Between His Wife & Baby

"Our passengers come in all different sizes and shapes. We're sorry you were uncomfortable on your flight," the airline wrote.

However, a week later, Watson, who demanded "reparations" for being forced to sit in the middle seat, received an email from American Airlines offering her compensation. In the email shared by Watson, the airline apologized for the discomfort and offered her a $150 coupon.

"We do our best to avoid uncomfortable situations regarding seats. I can understand your disappointment with the situation not being remedied to your satisfaction. It seems that our Flight Attendants were not able to make changes to the seating arrangement," the email stated.

In response to American Airlines offering her the coupon, Watson continued her tirade against the airline company, tweeting that she'd rather give the coupon "to someone who needs PT or a gym membership."

Unfortunately, aircraft seating is, by design, not inclusive.

In order to fit as many people on the planes as possible in order to maximize profits, seats are extremely cramped. No matter who you're sitting next to, chances are you're going to be in very close quarters and uncomfortable — but that doesn't give anyone the right to shame another person online.

People have long asked airlines to consider changing their seating to accommodate people more comfortably. Reuters reported that Congress did in fact address the issue in 2018, requiring airlines to "establish minimum seating dimensions," though this was for comfort rather than safety. However, this was overturned in 2023 by a U.S. appeals court claiming that "Unless they are dangerously small, seat-size regulations are not 'necessary for the safety of passengers.'"

However, this ruling does not seem to take into account the safety and well-being of plus-size passengers who face regular discrimination on board, whether that be being turned away at the gate for being "too big" or being called names.

Today, airlines' policies on plus-size passengers vary slightly, with most requiring passengers who "encroach" on the seats next to them to buy the adjacent seat. However, situations can vary based on how full a flight is, which is why plus-size influencer Jaelynn Chaney petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in hopes of prompting the government entity to "mandate that all airlines have a comprehensive customer-of-size policy that prioritizes the comfort and well-being of ALL passengers."

RELATED: Teenager Shamed By Plus-Size Plane Passenger For Switching Seats

Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Keep up with her on Instagram and Twitter.