Air France-KLM is to introduce new rules aimed at providing comfort for overweight passengers in its economy-class cabins, offering a conditional full refund on the purchase of a second seat.

At present, corpulent travellers are encouraged to buy a second economy seat to ensure they have sufficient space, with the incentive of receiving a 25% discount on the second seat.

But from 1 February, the entire cost of this second seat will be refunded, says Air France, provided there are unoccupied seats in the economy cabin. The airline claims that unoccupied seats are available on 99% of flights.

Obese passenger

An Air France spokesman says the reason for the change is "to be more friendly" towards overweight passengers.

On rare occasions where a flight is fully-booked and a second seat is not available, the decision on whether to allow the passenger to fly will be taken by the captain on safety grounds, adds the spokesman. Overweight passengers pose a risk to quick evacuation.

Air France vehemently denies reports that the new rules will lead to fat passengers being banned from flying.

It says discretion on whether to allow a passenger of "high body mass" to take a single economy seat has rested with the captain for many years, and is the case on other airlines.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news