Floor VeldhuisDesign Strategy and Innovation MA
Hello! I am a Product Designer and soon to be Design and Branding Strategist. As a creative professional I have experience in Design, Visualisation, Communication, Planning and Management of ideas and projects. If you would like to meet me, see my portfolio or receive more information, please get in touch!
Too Fat to Fly?
How the growing obesity problem affects airlines and passengers
Obese passengers have difficulty fitting into a single economy class airplane seat. This is uncomfortable for them and other passengers around them.
In 2009, 23% of the adult population in the UK was obese and experts believe that by 2030, this number will rise to 45%.
The World Health Organisation describes this global epidemic of overweight and obesity as ‘globesity’. Some airlines have implemented a policy for bigger passengers; others have not, or are in the process taking this unavoidable step. Unfortunately, even the airlines that do have policies on accommodating ‘customers of size’ on their flights, do not always communicate this information to their passengers in the best possible way.
Research shows that issues arise at all stages of the flight experience; from arrival at the airport until leaving the airport upon arrival at the destination. Various airline websites do not provide information about seat dimensions, neither do they support the option of booking 2 economy class tickets online. Bigger passengers also experience greater difficulty when walking long distances to gates, sitting in the relatively small seats in waiting areas and walking through the aisle of the aircraft to reach their seat. Once seated, there are other issues such as lowering the armrests and the tray table, making it difficult to eat or drink aboard the plane. Also, having to ask the cabin crew for a seatbelt extender can be humiliating, an experience intensified by the fact that some airlines provide brightly coloured seatbelt extenders. All of the issues mentioned above can be resolved by applying better product design, service design and experience design. As the number of obese people is increasing, there is no way to avoid changes being made to airline policies and products. Short term solutions should involve changes to the airline website and policy. Where long term solutions should include physical changes to accommodate the changing demographics, such as alterations to airplane aisles, seats and tray tables, as well as airport seats and transport tasks.
This project is an investigation into the aforementioned issues and suggests viable solutions to make the flight experience of the larger passenger more comfortable and enjoyable.