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Southwest Airlines Community

My Conversation with Kevin Smith

Employee
Employee

I had the chance this afternoon to speak directly with director Kevin Smith. I let him know that in my 18 years here at Southwest, I have never dealt with a situation like what has been unfolding in the last 48 hours. I let Kevin know we have refunded his airfare. I told him we made a mistake in trying to board him as a standby passenger and then remove him. And I told him we were sorry.

 

 

Now, 48 hours later, after talking to many involved, we know there were several things going on that day and that our Employees were doing their best to get his flight out safely and on time, including finding seats for everyone and trying to accommodate standby passengers. The Captain did not single Kevin out to be removed, but he did ask that the boarding be completed quickly. At that time, our Employees made the decision to remove Kevin after a quick judgment call that he might have needed more than one seat for his comfort and those seated next to him. 

 

 

Although I’m not here to debate the decision our Employees made, I can tell you that I for one have learned a lot today. The communication among our Employees was not as sharp as it should have been and, it’s apparent that Southwest could have handled this situation differently. Thanks, Kevin, for your passion around this topic. You were a reasonable guy during our conversation.

 

 

Southwest, like most carriers, has a policy to assist passengers who need two seats onboard an aircraft. The policy is an important one for the comfort and safety of all passengers aboard a plane, and we stand by that 25-year-old policy. This has our attention, and we will be reviewing how and when this delicate policy is implemented.

1,804 Comments
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Wow, that was lame. So you're sort of saying you're sorry, you're also strongly suggesting that Mr. Smith does need to purchase 2 seats, otherwise you think it would be fair to pull him again. So really, you're not sorry at all, you could have handled it "differently" (not even better?) and it's the fatty's fault. Got it.
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I am very disappointed in SWA. If you read Mr. Smith's side of the story, it is evident that the situation had NOTHING to do with his size. He fit in the seat, with armrests down, and did not cause the women on either side of him any discomfort. I appreciate the policy that requires a person to purchase two seats if they need it, but that was not the case here. Bottom line: Is he a large man? Yes. Did he fit in the seat, with seat beat buckled, no extender needed, and without infringing on the space of fellow passengers? Yes. Did SWA screw up royally, and lose my business? YES
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Southwest Airlines seats are too small on purpose so they can cram people in like "Shindlers List", Why? Money Money Money, it's all about the Benjamin's. To make matters worse Southwests over worked and under paid employees over reacted. Anyone with half a brain could have talked Kevin Smith or anyone else off of that plane with little to no hassle, but you dimwits had to get nasty. Don't worry, the economy is so strong I'm sure a 1 to 3 % decrease in sales for a week or two couldn't possibly hurt your industry. (how much to rent a pillow?!) And as Americans go, Kevin Smith is a Medium. Shame on you Southwest and your non-apology-apology Linda.
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I understand that you have a Customer of Size policy. However, I do not understand how someone who is already seated, buckled in without an extender and has the arm rests down doesn't fit in the seat and has to be ejected. The people seated next to him were asked if he was encroaching on their space and they said 'no' But your staff, who are obviously fat-phobic decided that he was a safety risk. I am not a skinny girl, in fact, the first time I flew Southwest I was terrified of being singles out for your policy even though I am nowhere close to the size of Kevin Smith because I have read many stories of women and men in the 200's being forced to purchase a second seat even though they can fit in one. Thanksfully, I was not told I had to buy a second seat...but I am not flying your airline again because I can see that all Southwest cares about it money...It isn't about safety or comfort, it is about money. The more seats they can fit on a plane, the more tickets they can sell per flight...especially when they are charging some people double! The average airline seat of 17-18 inches is smaller than a small office chair, movie theater seat or car seat. It is pretty bad when I am 5'6" and my knees are hitting the seat in front of me...I feel sorry for the tall people in the world...
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The reality is that maybe Southwest sees this as good publicity compared to this...From the Dallas paper a few days ago...way to go Southwest!!!!! WASHINGTON – The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating violations of safety directives by Southwest Airlines, the third such probe of the Dallas-based carrier's maintenance record in two years.
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I am outraged by your treatment of Kevin! I am an overweight woman who can sometimes lower the armrest and sometimes not. I find it depends on the actual plane. Yes, there are differences between planes. In addition to being wide-bodied, I am tall, and I'm sick of cramming myself into an airline seat. As a matter of fact, I hate flying. When is the airlines industry going to realize what modern cinemas have realized for about 10 years now - Americans like wider, more comfortable seats! I'm boycotting SW Airlines until they change their policy and somehow make things right for People of Size or whatever the hell you're calling us now!
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Southwest Airlines seats are too small on purpose so they can cram people in like "Shindlers List", Why? Money Money Money, it's all about the Benjamin's. To make matters worse Southwests over worked and under paid employees over reacted. Anyone with half a brain could have talked Kevin Smith or anyone else off of that plane with little to no hassle, but you had to get nasty. Don't worry, the economy is so strong I'm sure a 1 to 3 % decrease in sales for a week or two couldn't possibly hurt your industry. (how much to rent a pillow?!) And as Americans go, Kevin Smith is a Medium. Shame on you Southwest and your non-apology-apology Linda. Why didn't you post this?
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I am outraged by your treatment of Kevin! I am an overweight woman who can sometimes lower the armrest and sometimes not. I find it depends on the actual plane. Yes, there are differences between planes. In addition to being wide-bodied, I am tall, and I'm sick of cramming myself into an airline seat. As a matter of fact, I hate flying. When is the airlines industry going to realize what modern cinemas have realized for about 10 years now - Americans like wider, more comfortable seats! I'm boycotting SW Airlines until they change their policy and somehow make things right for People of Size or whatever the hell you're calling us now!
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How about just making the seats a little bigger and not trying to cram so many people into one death rocket? Then EVERYONE can be comfortable and they don't have to worry about "the fat guy" tipping the plane over. Concentrate more on getting people from A to B as quickly as possible in comfort, instead of always thinking about the $. Snoogans!
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I hardly call this an apology. Further, I have beem stuck next to fat people and for many years, I was the fat guy in the seat. I've done my best to lose a great deal of weight and am in no danger of being kicked off. But, regardless, if I were a passenger on the plane and the guy next to me was treated the way Kevin Smith was, I, myself, would get off the plane as well. I've flown Southworst (No, that was NOT a typo) airlines several times and have NEVER once been pleased with the service. Southwest is the wirst airline I've ever flown on and this is yet one more example of why. Don't expect to see me flying as a passenger.
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I really do LOVE Southwest Airlines, as I fly the BWI-BUF route quite often. And I will continue to fly SWA after this incident. But you seriously F-D this up, guys. 1) He fits in the seat. The armrests were down, and no belt extender was needed. 2) His row partners were not complaining about his girth. I've been on flights (on smaller aircraft) where a larger customer "spilled over" into my seat. Had I had the opportunity to complain, I would have... -Paul in DC-
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I really do LOVE Southwest Airlines, as I fly the BWI-BUF route quite often. And I will continue to fly SWA after this incident. But you seriously F-D this up, guys. 1) He fits in the seat. The armrests were down, and no belt extender was needed. 2) His row partners were not complaining about his girth. I've been on flights (on smaller aircraft) where a larger customer "spilled over" into my seat. Had I had the opportunity to complain, I would have... -Paul in DC-
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I really do LOVE Southwest Airlines, as I fly the BWI-BUF route quite often. And I will continue to fly SWA after this incident. But you seriously F-D this up, guys. 1) He fits in the seat. The armrests were down, and no belt extender was needed. 2) His row partners were not complaining about his girth. I've been on flights (on smaller aircraft) where a larger customer "spilled over" into my seat. Had I had the opportunity to complain, I would have... -Paul in DC-
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That is a weak corporate apology. Obviously the powers-that-be are not realizing the severity of this issue. If Southwest wants to save face, they should take his challenge on the Daily Show. And if he fits in the seats, as the rules state, he should be issued a proper apology. If not, SWA was right along and $10k goes to charity. Moving forward they need a more clear, upfront, fair and humane policy in regard to large passengers.
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YOU SUCK @ APOLOGIZING! YOU WERE WRONG. WRONG. WRONG! EVEN WITH THAT HALF-ASSED APOLOGY I SMELL ARROGANCE AND SELF-RIGHTGEOUSNESS! STOP HARASSING PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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This is b.s. While I understand the policy, I don't think that is what happened here. Clearly employees were lying to cover their you-know-whats. I will not fly Southwest again until they admit there were employees who were lying and made biased decisions.
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That is a weak corporate apology. Obviously the powers-that-be are not realizing the severity of this issue. If Southwest wants to save face, they should take his challenge on the Daily Show. And if he fits in the seats, as the rules state, he should be issued a proper apology. If not, SWA was right all along and $10k goes to charity. Moving forward they need a more clear, upfront, fair and humane policy in regard to large passengers.
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No APOLIGY necessary to "Mr. Smith". As a frequent flyer I am TIRED of sharing my seat with FAT people. Lose wieght or take a bus.
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Wow. Just wow. What kind of half-assed apology is this to Kevin Smith? I was stuck sitting next to a fat guy on a flight from KC to STL. This guy easily overflowed my armrest and allowed me to only use 3/4 OF MY OWN SEAT! No one said anything when I complained to the flight crew - they only said it was a full plane and no other seats were available.
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No APOLOGY necessary to "Mr. Smith". As a frequent flyer I am TIRED of sharing my seat with FAT people. Lose wieght or take a bus.
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It's a delicate issue. It's important to require fat passengers to have two adjacent seats, but it's embarrassing to them to remove them from the plane. Ideally the passenger should be intercepted earlier in the process, but airport layout and procedures make this difficult. And a problem in this case is that, judging from photographs, Mr. Smith has been gaining considerable weight, year-on-year. He's flown before and thus expects that he is qualified to fly in a single seat, but I guess he hasn't been monitoring his weight, and he wasn't aware that he's finally reached the point where he's passed over onto the banned list. One thing that might help him is to go back to normal clothing and ditch the XXXXL hoodies and hip-hop pants. When you wear normal clothes it's easier to notice and be aware that you are gaining weight. Moo-moos and hip-hop pants are not going to give you that feedback.
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"... At that time, our Employees made the decision to remove Kevin after a quick judgment call that he might have needed more than one seat for his comfort and those seated next to him..." Okay, I wasn't going to jump in to the fray, because right now I'm too angry about the way Southwest treats their PAYING CUSTOMERS (those two words together mean you should be bending over kissing every one of our asses, big or small, tall or short, smelly or clean), but this phrase in your so-called apology is what threw me over the top. WHY WAS A JUDGMENT CALL MADE? You have a litmus test - both armrests down and seat belt fastened, and Kevin clearly passed that test. And why was he boarded at all if they knew there was only one seat left on the plane if, in their JUDGMENT he was too large???? Southwest seems to think that it is okay to embarrass people of size. It's not. Southwest seems to think that standing behind a 25 year old policy without question is okay. It's not. And, it's great to see how Southwest is working hard to make things up to someone that has a voice and is famous like Kevin Smith and not to the hundreds/thousands of others they have embarrassed and harassed. It's not okay for any company to treat their customers in this way, and it's time for those customers to speak up - with their wallets. I will never set foot on a Southwest airplane again, and for anyone else to is unconscionable. If you do, you'd better hope that you don't fall into some unboardable, unflyable category based on some Southwest employee's JUDGMENT.
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Bullshit. The policy is discriminatory to fat people, and the airline obviously only cares about the comfort of its thin people who complain because they're afraid of fat people. Airplanes are uncomfortable for EVERYONE, especially on a budget airline like Southwest. This is only an issue because Kevin Smith is famous and made a big stink about it (as he rightfully should have). If he wasn't famous, you wouldn't give a damn about it because your airline and most other airlines out there discriminate. RIDICULOUS. POLICY. THAT SHOULD BE CHANGED. You can bet I'll never fly Southwest.
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Southwest's Linda Rutherford's statement is fair although the whiners won't be happy unless Southwest pays for Kevin Smith's gastric bypass surgery as compensation for not being able to accommodate him with two (2) seats which he had prior to attempting to fly stand-by. To those who say they'll never fly Southwest again.....I highly doubt your idle threats when low fares are your reason for choosing Southwest. It's not as if you're now going to charter private planes to boycott Southwest for not being able to accommodate Kevin Smith's failed attempt to change his flight. You whiners can't afford private planes. Seriously. Smith chose to exploit the situation for publicity via Twitter. Twitter is for self-indulgent, narcissistic pinheads.
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This apology is weak. Southwest is still clinging to the line that Kevin Smith was too fat to fly; yet if he had his armrests down and seatbelt fastened, the policy should not have been applied. I must have some good Karma- I live in the southwest and I've never had to fly Southwest Airlines. This fact makes me enjoy the tiny blessings in life.
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Southwest new slogan should read... Go be fat somewhere else.
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"Silent" Bob should remain so.
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This apology is weak. Southwest is still clinging to the line that Kevin Smith was too fat to fly; yet if he had his armrests down and seatbelt fastened, the policy should not have been applied. I must have some good Karma- I live in the southwest and I've never had to fly Southwest Airlines. This fact makes me enjoy the tiny blessings in life.
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I have to say that despite all of this- I really am both a fan of Southwest Air and Kevin Smith. I think Southwest has ALWAYS treated me fairer and better then any other airline(including Delta, united, etc.) and they don't charge extra for check in bags which is a major bonus these days since everyone else does! SWA is cool for EVEN TRYING to remedy this situation despite that it's kind of opinion oriented on both sides(its a he said she said thing)- most airlines could give a rat's ass and would just ignore it since they know you'll come crawling back anyway if you have to fly. SWA has the best customer service out there for the regular economy passenger, I think and that means alot after dealing with rude, uptight airlines that charge to breathe air almost. Continental airlines for instance is now charging $6 to watch tv in their planes.. ridiculous! anyway.. I also like Kevin Smith but he is just trying to salvage his rep as a dude who isn't THAT fat- just semi- normal fat. He doesn't want to be known as that one whale.. hey, there are tons of fatties in America and tons I've had to sit by.. it happens. Some morbidly obese people go above and beyond the normal fat limits- I don't think Kevin Smith is one of these people and that's a wrong thing to accuse him of. but hey maybe this will inspire him to slim down!! 🙂 hope some good comes out of this
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Many people here are missing an important point: the passenger in question did not meet the "needs a second seat" level of fatness by Southwest's own definition. He hadn't bought two seats previously because of his fatness - it was more of a "simulation" of first class seats since that is not offered by Southwest (but it's the most convenient airport/airline/etc for him to take from home). Since he has the money, why not buy the second seat, or even the entire row (which he had also done before)?
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How about you cover the WHOLE conversation with Kev? Why are you leaving things out, Linda? Why does Southwest hate fat people? Why can't you admit that you were wrong? http://silentbobspeaks.com/?p=393
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The point is that Kevin followed the rules (he bought two seats though it was not necessary) and was able to sit in the seat and buckle the seat belt without a belt extender. He admits he's fat (I'd never get on the plane) but not fat enough to break any of the rules and justify being expelled from the plan, especially after already seated without difficulty. First they give a back-handed apology / insult and then they release this "puff" piece, which really doesn't amount to much. And people claim this is Kevin trying to use his celebrity status... well, good for him. The treatment of *any* passenger like this should be publicised and the average Joe just isn't able to do that.
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What does your "passenger of size" policy have to do with this situation? Seriously, I cannot even begin to understand how you're handling this situation. I really used to respect your airline, but now I feel like you're fumbling up every opportunity you have at redemption here.
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Truth be told I never thought that Kevin Smith was too large for his seat. He had just KA-BLOCKED me via twitter earlier in the day and this was my chance at revenge. KA-BLOCK indeed Mr. Smith. Revenge is mine.
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Well... here's one airline that I will NEVER fly! Absolute amateurs!
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He sat in the seat, not encrouching on others, hand rests down, seat belt on. There was no reason to treat him or the other woman who was rudely discriminated against in such a manner. Also why won't you admit that by your own POLICY that what you did was wrong!? He did not violate your policy but SW still refuses to admit it. Let's be clear here, this isn't about someone who needed two seats, this is about discrimination and a blatant money grab at anyone they feel like it. Can we start charging for crying babies and children? How about people in wheel chairs? I'm sick of really tall men who take up all my space too! Shouldn't they have to buy two seats?
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He sat in the seat, not encroaching on others, hand rests down, seat belt on. There was no reason to treat him or the other woman who was rudely discriminated against in such a manner. Also why won't you admit that by your own POLICY that what you did was wrong!? He did not violate your policy but SW still refuses to admit it. Let's be clear here, this isn't about someone who needed two seats, this is about discrimination and a blatant money grab at anyone they feel like it. Can we start charging for crying babies and children? How about people in wheel chairs? I'm sick of really tall men who take up all my space too! Shouldn't they have to buy two seats?
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Truth be told I never thought that Kevin Smith was too large for his seat. He had just KA-BLOCKED me via twitter earlier in the day and this was my chance at revenge. KA-BLOCK indeed Mr. Smith. Revenge is mine.
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Truth be told I never thought that Kevin Smith was too large for his seat. He had just KA-BLOCKED me via twitter earlier in the day and this was my chance at revenge. KA-BLOCK indeed Mr. Smith. Revenge is mine.
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I don't believe what you did to Kevin Smith was right at all. I heard about it and came specifically on your site to tell you this. FUCK SOUTHWEST AIRLINES.
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Following this logic, people who smell bad should have to charter their own plane so they don't infringe on my olfactory comfort. And stink travels a lot further in the plane than fat.
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I heard about what you did to Kevin Smith and think it's horrible. I came specifically on the site to tell you this.
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I think one of the biggest problems is that your enforcement of this policy behind which you hide pretty egregious and humiliating actions is arbitrary at best. Mr. Smith could demonstrate that he met your policy requirements (his armrests went down, he could buckle his seatbelt without an extender) and he even went beyond the letter of the law to its spirit -- he asked his seat partners if it was OK and they said yes. And yet he was removed. If someone can meet the requirements that you set forth, you should let them fly. Your employee made the wrong decision, and instead of admitting she was wrong and letting Mr. Smith fly, she bowed her head and kept down the wrong path. I think the arbitrary nature of your enforcement has led to the "humiliation" claims in your more famous removal incidents and are the source of the lawsuits and PR crises. These people all insisted that they had flown in one seat before without a problem only to have this policy thrust upon them - with no opportunity to prove themselves capable of meeting the airline's own requirement. These decisions seem to be left up to an individual employee's whim - which Mr. Smith's case proves is a dangerous thing. What has been frustrating so far in the company's response to this issue is that most of the public (your supporters, judging from the comments on this blog, are limited to hateful and ridiculously intolerant people) wants to hear you say that what the employee did was wrong and what we get is a lot of your support for a policy (that wasn't even fairly implemented) and complaints about employee communication. Even Mr. Smith has admitted that your policy may not be unfair in and of itself but that its enforcement (when and how and in the face of his clear demonstration of compliance) was wrong.
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I personally would not have minded sitting next to Kevin Smith for an hour, especially if I had a window or aisle seat as in this case. Kevin Smith would much more likely mind me asking him to listen to my pitch about Chasing Amy 2: Chase Harder.
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The southwest people who made that decision should be fired.
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Customers, regardless of size, should be treated with courtesy and respect. A business that values its customers does not humiliate a passenger. At no point should their personal travel information or practices be published online or made available to news media. I'm not a Kevin Smith fan. I'm just a woman who cannot imagine how embarrassing and undignified it would be if I were ever asked to leave a flight. I'm not overweight, but I am 6 months pregnant. How easy it would be for one of your employees to deem me as the next customer asked to leave a flight. For all of your poor PR responses to this whole situation, your lack of empathy, or even the ability to admit that you may have been in the wrong, you have lost me as a future customer. Sincere apologies don't have a "but this is why I did it" at the end. Sincere apologies don't require you to justify your actions. Sincere apologies simply admit that a mistake was made and offer remedies to avoid similar situations in the future. Sadly, that's all it would have taken to avoid this whole controversy in the first place.
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i think south west was wrong,in regards to mr smith,and anyone eles they treat in this manner.why dont you fools come out a butt box.that way you can ckeck everyones butt before they get on your dumb plane...or even better yet just stop being a bunch of asses.
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Some people commenting have NOT heard every part of the story. Kevin Smith fit in his seat perfectly fine; arms rests DOWN, able to buckle his seat belt, and not "bulging over" into the other seats. Therefore he was not in anyone else's space, AND the two women on either side of him also said they were fine. So, lets see: He fit in the seat, and even if the Employee didn't think he did quite well enough... the other passengers were content to sit by him. And for the other people who defend them because "larger people make it more difficult"... are you suggesting that larger people should now be not allowed to fly at all? Are we going to start segregating between the "fat" and "thin"? Really, it's disgusting.
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This is an uncomfortable subject for both parties. Having read Kevin Smith's side, it seems unlikely that he made up that he could fit in the seat easily- he's the sort who admitted that he broke a toilet when he was heavier. And publicly. Nor does it seem that he's doing this just for publicity. Nobody wants to be reminded that they're fat. While it's nice to see that a much more even handed post was made, it still essentially blames Kevin Smith for being heavy. I'll admit, I've shared an row with people who were heavier than I was and felt smooshed into my seat. I've sat next to screaming kids and drunken men. And while I might not have appreciated any of it- they're people too. And people who need to get from point A to point B, just like me. I'm sure that there are plenty of other overweight passengers who've been in Kevin Smith's place- removed while they weren't yet too big to require two seats. But most were probably too shamed to speak up. Hopefully, we can all remember that all passengers are just normal people, no matter what their size.
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I'm fat. I know I'm fat... but am I too fat for Southwest? Gosh, I don't know and I don't know if I want to go through something like Kevin Smith went through. So, I pay a little more for my airfare and fly another airline that doesn't single people out for their size. The difference? I'm not a famous person with a platform and I don't throw four letter words around like they're sand on the beach. I would have just gotten terribly embarrassed and let the situation happen and do my best to float into the background. Are fat people a safety hazard? Maybe... but then so is an elderly person with brittle bones who can't run quickly, or someone on oxygen because of heart issues or mom with a baby. You aren't going to get passed her in an emergency, she's going to protect her child. Obesity isn't pretty (and who wants to think about fat rolling over), but please remember there is a person underneath all that fat and that person is probably very very fragile. You would treat every single person listed above with kindness, please treat fat people the same way.