Man stands for Anchorage-Philly flight to make room for 400-pounder

November 25, 2011 

US Airways' Anchorage-Philadelphia route is among the longest domestic U.S. nonstop flights. Now, imagine not having a seat for almost the entire seven-hour flight. That's what happened to a Pennsylvania businessman leaving Anchorage in July when he lost half of his aisle seat to a 400-plus-pound man who purchased the middle seat but didn't come close to fitting it. The businessman, 57-year-old Arthur Berkowitz, told ABC News this week he wedged himself into his half-seat for takeoff and landing -- unable to reach his seatbelt -- but spent the rest of the flight mostly standing in the aisle.

"He was very apologetic," Berkowitz, 57, told ABCNews.com. "When he boarded, he said: 'I'm your worst nightmare.' " ...

"My issue first and foremost is that this was a safety issue," Berkowitz said. "The airlines and regulatory bodies need to have protocol when it comes to this."

He said he brought the problem of his large seatmate to the flight attendants' attention and asked if he could sit in one of their jump seats.

They apologized and said there was nothing they could do and that sitting in their seats was against FAA regulations.

Berkowitz told consumer advocate Christopher Elliott that his "polite" request to US Airways for a refund of his $800-plus ticket was met mostly with indifference from officials. Repeated correspondence netted him a $200 voucher from the airline. A company spokesman, speaking to ABC News, actually blamed Berkowitz for violating airline safety rules by not wearing his seatbelt.

Read more about Berkowitz's ordeal at ABC News and Elliott.org.

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