Public Accommodations

Large size people have a number of difficulties with public accommodations. Some of these include: seating in restaurants, waiting rooms, transportation terminals, buses, trains, cars, airplanes, offices, movie theaters, auditoriums, and many other places. The most difficult seating is attached seating where the seat is attached at a fixed distance from the table, or to the seat next to it. Other difficulties include chairs with arms that are set too narrowly to fit wider hips; restaurants that have only booths, or a limited number of tables with movable chairs; bathroom stalls that have narrow doors; and picnic tables where the bench is attached at a fixed distance from the table.

Airline seating is notoriously small, even for people of average size. Airplane bathrooms are very small, and difficult for people of size as well as people with disabilities.

In subways, some stores, and other checkpoints, there are often turnstiles that are too small for large bodies to fit through.

One difficulty is that sometimes bathrooms are renovated to help people with disabilities, but the end result is that the bathroom is made less accessible to large people. For instance, sometimes they install hand grab bars on either side of the toilet so that people who use wheelchairs can lift themselves onto and off of the toilet seat. But if the grab bars are not set wide enough apart, a person with large hips cannot fit in between them.

Architects, furniture designers, interior decorators, and other planners are often not aware of the needs of the larger people who will frequent the places they design. There have been some improvements, however. Some new movie theaters, for instance, have installed what they call “love seats” that can fit two average size people or one large person. Newly built sports arenas often have wider seats in certain sections (for which they charge more money).

The Council on Size & Weight Discrimination considers public accommodation a serious issue, and encourages consumers and members of the public to complain when there is no appropriate seating in a public place. Letters can be sent, or phone calls made, to the owners or managers of the property. We urge activists not to be angry or aggressive, but rather to suggest changes in a constructive way, and to point out how much better the facility would be if it could accommodate people of all sizes.


Statistics on Discrimination
Studies on Discrimination
Rude Businesspeople
Denial of Insurance
Airline Seating
Public Accommodations (currently open)
Discrimination FAQ
Taking Legal Action
Weight Discrimination Bibliography