The Problem of Large Americans and Small Seats on Planes, Trains, and Buses

Photo: Spencer Platt/2003 Getty Images

Americans' growing bottoms are impacting the bottom lines of transportation providers, from Amtrak to New York City subways to airlines. Agencies must decide whether to fit new planes, trains, and buses with wider seats, reducing capacity, or disregard the needs of wider passengers to keep a greater number of spaces available. Metro-North settled on an optical illusion in some of its newer cars, sewing seats together to make them appear wider and "more appealing." Discussing the seating dilemma with the Times, one transportation expert remarked, “You can only make the trains so wide.” What a sad, accurate comment.