A recent incident on a cross-country flight has sparked a debate over passenger rights and etiquette after a plus-size woman was criticized for refusing to surrender her second airplane seat to a toddler.

While some sympathize with her insistence on keeping the additional seat she had paid for, others believe it was a matter of inconvenience.

The 34-year-old woman had initially booked two seats for her journey, citing previous discomfort when attempting to fit into a single seat due to her weight. Her plans took an unexpected turn when a young mother requested that she “squeeze into one seat” so her son could occupy the other.

On a Reddit post, the woman openly acknowledged her weight, saying: “I am obese. I’m actively working toward losing weight, and I’ve made progress – but I booked an extra seat because I’m fat.”

She went on to describe how the situation escalated: “[The mother] made a big fuss over it, and she told the flight attendant I was stealing the seat from her son. Then I showed her my boarding passes, proving that I paid for the extra seat. The flight attendant asked me if I could try to squeeze in, but I said no, that I wanted the extra seat I paid for.”

The woman argues that the toddler – at just 18 months old – was not required to have his own seat and could have sat on his mother’s lap for the duration of the flight. “The mom was hoping for some respite from a squirmy toddler,” she wrote.

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The woman’s post divided social media users. Credit: Stefan Tomic / Getty

Passengers on the flight witnessed the tension, with the woman apparently receiving “dirty looks” and enduring “passive-aggressive remarks” throughout the journey.

She then asked the people of Reddit: “I do feel a little bad because the boy looked hard to control – but am I in the wrong?”

Responses to the incident have been mixed. While some passengers slammed the mother and the flight attendant for their behavior, criticizing the lack of planning and entitlement, others faulted the obese passenger for causing discomfort to fellow travelers.

One critic argued, “If you are so fat that you have to have more than one seat on an airplane, then you are selfish,” adding, “Flights overbook all the time, especially during the holidays – how can you justify having two seats to yourself?”

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Credit: Karl Tapales / Getty

On the other hand, supporters of the woman’s decision questioned the purpose of booking an extra seat if passengers are expected to relinquish it. They argued that passengers should not be forced to yield seats they have paid for.

“The mom is an a**hole for not buying a seat for her son and assuming someone else would give up a seat they paid for,” one person commented. “Odds are she was hoping there’d be extra seats on the flight so she didn’t have to pay and used the lap thing as a loophole.”

A second supporter wrote: “People buy entire seats for high-end musical equipment. Not even people. Their lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on your part.”

And one confused social media user commented: “What’s even the point of the extra seat if the flight attendants are going to let entitled people bully others into giving it up?”

The incident raises questions about the balance between accommodating passengers with additional needs and ensuring a comfortable and fair experience for all travelers. But who do you think is in the wrong? Let us know in the comments.

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