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Southwest Airlines Community

An Unfortunate Event

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We have seen several blog posts regarding a recent trip taken by one of our Southwest Customers who was asked to purchase an additional ticket in Phoenix for his return flight to Sacramento because he required more than one seat. The blog posts associated with this situation are very emotional. Unfortunately, however, some of the online postings have contained inaccuracies which have led to misunderstandings about Southwest Airline's Customer of size policy. In a nutshell, Southwest Customers who occupy more than a single seat are asked proactively to book and purchase the number of seats they need as a means of notifying our Company of a unique seating need. For accurate and complete information about this policy that aims to ensure the comfort and Safety of all Customers, we invite you to click here.)   We regret that this unfortunate situation occurred, and we are in the process of expressing our regret to this Customer and his family. Out of regard for their privacy, we can't comment on the specifics of the circumstances in a public forum like this blog. But I hope you realize that, as a Company which has a longstanding reputation for compassion, we are always striving to do the right thing.
64 Comments
Drew1
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Dwayne, A customer of size who has purchased a second seat, either on their own or at the request of a gate agent, will be permitted to preboard. As a rule, preboard passengers are not permitted to sit in the exit rows.
TC2
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Get stuck on an overbooked flight with someone who needed to buy 2 tickets but wasn't required to and you will find out how valuable this policy is!!!!!!!!!
Barbi
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TC- I don't think it's a bad policy at all. I just think some changes need to be made requiring other people who cause discomfort to others to also purchase additional tickets. While having someone "hang over" the armrest isn't comfortable, nor are a lot of other things. The man who is too tall so his knees constantly press into the small of your back through your seat, the parents who can't control their children or don't choose to and allow them to drive their Hot Wheels over the back of your head, the woman who hasn't discovered deoderant (enough said!), and others like these. If the point of the policy is to ensure comfort for as many customers as possible, these other issues also need addressed because they all cause discomfort as well. In addition a change to the policy needs to be made that would allow more uniformity. We don't all have airline seats at home and it would be nice to know ahead of time if you are going to be required to purchase an additional seat. This would also save the ticketing agents a lot of uncomfortable confrontations. Most people would pre-purchase their second ticket if they knew they were going to be required to do so. So listing the width for requiring a second ticket somewhere on the website would be a nice addition. Other than these things, I think it is a smart policy. If you use 2 seats, you should pay for 2 seats.
Rob3
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I fully support Southwest's policy of requiring obese passengers to purchase two seats. I see no reason why I should have to provide half my seat because the other person did not fit into their's.
James1
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yes ive got a comment southwest is the best airliner that i want on but when i flow brit airways i want to grate briten and ill jest say this it depens on the airliner that that men or women wants to go on and for somone to make fun of a men jest becouse hes big and wide makes no reson to act nasty and ill say somthing eles to if people can.t be nise and act up and have sence in there heads then in my mind thay don.t have to fly the airliner so be nise and don.t be an asho
Jodi111
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I am a COS, I haven't flown for years. How will I know if I am going to fit in the seats before I get there? That's what I would really like to know. I am flying for my company and therefore this isn't a pleasure trip. I really can't afford to go anywhere frankly. If I am forced to buy another seat when I get there it's going to be rather uncomfortable.
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[...] I’m really disappointed that I just now found this. Over at BlogSouthwest.com, Kathy Gloria, Manager of Executive Office Customer Communications at Southwest Airlines, posted a [...]
Michael2
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Oh! very sad to hear that!
L__Davis
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The problem I have with Southwest's "customer of size" policy is the guidelines are not clear. If you can put the armrest down your ok? Wrong, you can still be required to purchase another seat. It is left up to the Southwest employee to decide. Southwest should publish acceptable waist sizes and hip sizes it that is the criteria. Also why do they demand a large person purchase a second seat when the large person is traveling with a family member that does not object to them spilling over to their seat? Another issue is a large person can fly a southwest flight and have no problem, not asked to purchase a second seat. So they think their body size is accepted by Southwest. They then purchase another Southwest ticket, but this time the southwest employees decide they need to purchase a second seat. I do not fly Southwest at all because I never know if I will be asked to purchase another seat or not. Due to my work I fly 3 to 4 times a month, I have flown without a problem on southwest then the next time asked to purchase another seat. To avoid the embarrassment I fly United, American, Delta, etc and have never been asked to purchase a 2nd seat.
Solibill
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I applaud your plan for the new boarding policy of assigning numbers when you online check-in. This eliminates a very tacky practice of people sittinf on the floor in line waiting to board. Thank you! You minor change for people with younger children boarding in the A section but not first is very acceptable to me. My understanding is children beyond infant stage (2 years?) do not qualify. Keep up the great work. Bill in Orlando
Sue1
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How can a person in advance determine if they need another seat? I am overweight but I'm not the heaviest person. I am not a frequent flyer so how can I tell? When I go to the movie theater I fit fine in that kind of seat
nonnimouz
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As a customer that flies, almost exclusively, as part of business, I admit that I have avoided Southwest since their policy on "customers of size" has been posted. When I fly, I am either being assigned as part of a relief operation for a national disaster (and, let me tell you, there are a number of "customers of size" associated with this particular agency!), and will not have purchased the ticket on my own. In fact, I often don't even get to choose which airport (and there are 3 within 50 miles of me) I will leave from. If I move to available status, I could get a phone call and be required to travel within 24 hours. Other times that I fly, it is to represent an agency or school district that I am working for at a conference, or to chaperon students in a community service club. While the vast majority of "customers of size" have the issue because of their own eating patterns, I am not one of them. I have a team of medical professionals who have diagnosed a significant endocrine disorder that causes a number of medical issues, including weight gain. I see my primary care physician once every 6 weeks, where she goes over my food & exercise logs. I am a certified lifeguard, and swimming instructor. I spend a minimum of 6 hours in the pool per week. My food logs indicate that I never go over 1300 calories daily, and often not over 1000. The only way i will ever l lose weight is to remove the adipose tissue that collected in one spot (and a true indicator of an endocrine disorder as opposed to an eating issue). I have enough problems dealing with how I look because of the disorder, and do not need any reminders from a skinny gate guard about how I look. I also don't need any helpful suggestions on how to lose weight.
JN
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Why I will NEVER FLY ON SOUTHWEST. These are actual things that have happened to me or to friends of mine. 1. Flew 3 times in a year, on the 4th time was asked to purchase a second seat. Didn't have enough money in debit card account to pay for second ticket. Had to leave a half full plane, was unable to get a refund for the first ticket which was unused. Customer service agents were firm and unrelenting almost to the point of being rude. Again this plane was NO WHERE NEAR BEING FULL. 2. Have flown over a million miles on Northwest, have NEVER had a problem. 3.. A friend of mine carries his own seat belt extension to reduce the chance of being asked to buy a second ticket. (I don'[t use a seatbelt extension, but despite posts to the contrary, if a person asks for one they usually are asked to purchase a second ticket) 4. Have flown over half a million miles on Continental and have NEVER had a problem. 5 The policy implementation is at best capricious. 6 Southwest people need some serious instruction on compassion. Its all well and good to make comical announcements and jump out of the overhead bins, but your business is moving people. It's not selling seats, but transporting live people with feelings. To avoid the embarrassment or potential embarrassment I have stopped flying Southwest and have discovered what a delightful airline Continental has become. What human being would want to subject themselves to the chance of being humiliated by the airline they are depending on for transport. So that is the one thing I thank you for, Southwest, giving me the chance to discover a better airline. JN
CK3
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I have to say, if I'd known that Southwest was the one with the COS policy that's been so hotly debated, I would have saved myself the stress and gone with Delta or American, which I have flown with before and had no problems. I haven't flown for a little over a year, and, as I am a 'customer of size' as Southwest so sensitively puts it, the ride was a bit cramped, not a big hardship, but I wanted to see the seat widths to figure how comfortable/uncomfortable I'd be... After a few hours searching on the internet as well as the SWA site, I've decided not to fly Southwest again, regardless of how well this trip goes. I find it interesting that not only did Southwest not offer any information about seat sizes, but they also offered no links to any sites with that information (I found on a separate site that an economy seat on a Boeing 747 has a 17 inch wide seat...), then I had to do an off-site search to find their 'COS' Q&A, because it was nearly impossible to find it through the site itself. At one point, the Q&A states that SWA 'can no longer ignore the complaints' etc, etc, of people whose seats were 'encroached upon'...and yet, when asked why the information about pre-boarding, second seat, etc, isn't in any of their ticketing information, online or offline, the answer was that 'less than half of one percent' of passengers would be effected... Does anyone else see the discrepancy? To my mind, the 'COS' terms seem to give the airline way too much leeway in determining whether or not a person has to buy a second seat. SWA claims to be implementing this for safety and comfort reasons...but I highly doubt it, it seems more about turning a higher profit, and targeting those who are unlikely to fight back... and to the person who claimed that the armrests must be down for safety reasons, could you tell me exactly why? Because I'm sure I've never heard that said, ever, on any airline.