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The average American man weighs 15 pounds more than he did 20 years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The average American woman weighs 16.2 pounds more.
The average seat pitch, a rough measure of legroom, has dropped from 35 inches in the 1970s to about 31 inches today. The average width has shrunk from 18 inches to about 16.5 inches.
Airlines are more sensitive to territorial seat skirmishes than ever. But air travelers have developed their own tricks, too. More: President Trump signs that will regulate airline seat sizes
What airlines do with oversize airline passengers
Oversize airline passengers fall into two broad categories. Some travelers can not fit into the seats because of their hip size. Others are too tall to contend into an economy class seat with limited legroom.
That's what happened to 73-year-old Sam Cristol. He found himself seated next to a 6-foot-7, 500-pound passenger on a 5.5-hour JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco.
"He looked like an NFL lineman," says Cristol, a food broker from Lake Worth, Florida.
Cristol complained to JetBlue, which apologized for the inconvenience.
JetBlue offers seat belt extenders for oversize airline passengers on its site, but otherwise silently on its passengers- of-size policy.
Crewmembers try to fix these onboard confrontations before takeoff. For example, a flight attendant would have tried to re-seat a passenger like Cristol. But unfortunately, it was a completely full flight.
What passengers are doing about oversize airline passengers
So beyond the usual lawyer – change seats Casey Gardonio-Foat, a small business owner from St. Louis.
A little kindness would probably take you a long way, says Casey Gardonio-Foat, a small business owner from St. Louis ,
"Have empathy for the taller person," she says. Suzanne Dixon, a dietitian from Portland, Ore., Agrees that being "remember, they are probably more uncomfortable than they are nice can make the trip more survivable.
"When I'm seated next to a large passenger, I greet them with a smile," she says. A positive and nonjudgmental attitude is important.
A request can help, too. On Stacy Caprio's last flight, her seatmate took over her armrest and encroached into her personal space. "I asked him, 'Could we please keep our arms in our own seats?'" Says Caprio, who works for a Canadian coupon website.
Ken Friedlander what so concerned about passengers who spill into someone else's space that he invented something to fix it. It's a partition called Create-A-Space (http://www. createaspace.net, $ 39) that pushes against your armrest, clearly delineating your personal room.
"the armrest really makes a difference," he says.
Jen Lowe shared one of the cleverest techniques I've heard, though it's not necessarily one I would endorse. She told me the story of a "super-intrusive" seatmate on a recent flight who refused to move.
"What's the rude and unapologetic about taking my personal space in my seat," says Lowe, a swimsuit designer from San Diego.
Halfway through the uncomfortable flight, the cabin turned cold. And she had an idea.
"I just snuggled up and put my head on her cuddly shoulder," she says. 
• Fly later.
What is your rights with a space invader? If you're seated next to someone who can not sit in your seat. If there's room on the next plane, you might be better off traveling later.
• Know your legal rights. Unfortunately, you do not really have that many. The contract of carriage, the legal contract between you and the airline, does not have a full seat. Generally, the crew's attitude is that you can sit in the seat and use your seat belt.
• Know what to expect when you complain. As a practical matter, airlines wants to apologize and maybe offer a voucher for your discomfort. Discreetly take pictures of the incursion and send them with your complaint. If the airline does not respond appropriately, consider requesting a copy of your pictures on social media.
Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit elliott.org.
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