Too Fat to Fly? Overweight Pilots to Undergo Mandatory Testing

New FAA rules target overweight pilots and air traffic controllers.

After numerous incidents of pilots and air traffic controllers falling asleep while on the job, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently announced a new policy that will require overweight pilots and controllers to undergo testing for obstructive sleep apnea, reports CNN.

The sleep disorder, which causes a disruption in breathing patterns during slumber, is extremely common in overweight people, and often results in excessive daytime sleepiness. Under the new rules, pilots and controllers who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater and a neck circumference of 17 inches will have to be tested for sleep apnea as part of their routine medical examination.

The FAA released a statement on the new policy, saying that it is, “designed to help airmen and aviation safety by improving the diagnosis of unrecognized or untreated obstructive sleep apnea.”

What do you think of this new rule? Does it make sense, or is it discriminatory? Tell us in the comments.

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By Caroline Morse Teel

Unfortunately for her bank account, Principal Editor Caroline Morse Teel is powerless to resist a good flight deal. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

Caroline joined Boston-based SmarterTravel in 2011 after living in Ireland, London, and Manhattan. She's traveled to all seven continents, jumped out of planes, and bungeed off bridges in the pursuit of a good story. She loves exploring off-the-beaten path destinations, anything outdoorsy, and all things adventure.

Her stories have also appeared online at USA Today, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Yahoo,, TripAdvisor, Buzzfeed, Jetsetter, Oyster, Airfarewatchdog, and others.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "Earplugs. A good pair has saved my sleep and sanity many times!"

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro.

Travel Motto: "Don't be boring."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle (when the first class private suite isn't available)."

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