A flight of fancy - or a really big problem?

This picture of an oversize man on an American Airlines flight has heightened the debate about obese passengers who cannot fit into economy seats.

It was sent to www.flightglobal.com's Kieran Daly. He says it was from an AA Flight attendant with the assurance that it was genuine.

"Sympathise with the guy or not, he's a major safety hazard in an evacuation, a gross inconvenience for the cabin crew, and I would suggest a totally unacceptable travelling companion for the guy next to him," says Daly.

One poster on the site, who also claimed to be an AA flight attendant, said the passenger was allowed to stay but "the guy in the middle seat was pulled from the flight and given $$$ voucher for future travel + f/c [free carriage] on the next available flight".

Daly added: "A good friend of mine had a similar experience sitting next to a guy who was big but I don't think as big as this, for a long-haul flight and was effectively injured by sitting for several hours in a contorted position with his fellow pax half on top of him. The airline that did that to him was utterly unsympathetic throughout a lengthy correspondence afterwards. OK, Emirates since you ask. Ironically my chum is now in a senior position with another carrier."