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My Conversation with Kevin Smith

LindaRutherford
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.

1,803 Comments
Kathryn2
Explorer C
I like SWA now more than ever. I appreciate paying for one seat and being able to have that full seat available to me, not 3/4 of a seat or worse only 2/3 of a seat available to me. I hate sitting next to someone who doesn't fit into their own seat and oozes over into my seat. I also appreciate SWA sticking by it's policy for safety reasons as the ability to board an disembark is an important one. I understand that some passengers have special physical needs (such as injured or elderly passengers) with regards to boarding and disembarking however wherever possible, I am glad that SWA tries to reduce delays and safety hazards with unloading the plane. no pun intended.
Anonymous66
Explorer C
If a person requires a seat belt extension, they need to buy a second seat. If the plane doesn't fill up- refund the second seat back. And customer service and ops should deal with this before the person comes on the plane. Not fair to push it off on the flight attendants.
Howdy99
Explorer C
I LUV (SW's type luv) all of these people saying that Southwest has lost them as customers and that they will never fly SW again - GREAT - that means it will be easier to get the flight I want when I want it because all of you won't be in competition with me for a flight. Go - go to the other airlines and pay more - no, not for the actual flight but for your luggage and your pillow and your blankets.... I am flying SW to Los Angeles next week. When I was booking my flight a month ago my husband said, have you checked other airlines? I said, why bother? But I did, just to appease him and United had flights about the same time as the SW flights and the flight was $1 cheaper, so I told him that and he said, well them why don't you book on United then and I said, because the FLIGHT is $1 cheaper but it will cost me $100 extra (roundtrip) to bring luggage for my 3 week stay! By the way, by Kevin Smith buying 2 seats for his original flight, he admits he is too fat to fit in one!
Anonymous2276
Explorer C
I agree with what someone else said if they assumed there was going to be a problem they should have addressed that prior to boarding. I believe Kevin had even commented on his blog that there was a man on the plane larger then he was who was not forced off the plane. I don't care what the airline does there is nothing that can make up for the hurt and humiliation felt. He also comments that on the later flight where he had two seats a woman who was also bigger was pulled aside and advised she would have to ask him if it was ok for her to sit on the other side of his empty seat. If you ask me it sounds like this company's only intention is to embarrass passengers and I will never fly with them. All the free vouchers in the world can't make up for feeling like you are less of a person just because of your size.
Anonymous1793
Explorer C
Let me tell all of you that Kevin's version of what happened is not exactly what happened. I've heard first hand accounts from parties involved. In the end he was accomodated on his original flight for which he purchased TWO seats. This is just a publicity stunt to promote his new movie. He's acting like a typical Hollywood whiner who thinks the world owes him something. For the record I think the guy is hilarious and I like his movies, he's just acting like a baby over this. I expected more from him.
MJ2
Explorer C
southwest airlines is the greatest, and if they find this policy necessary for the safety and/or well being of their passengers, everyone should be glad they are looking out for the best interest of the majority, and not just a handfull of people that think their needs are more important. and for southwest to personally apologize, that is something you would never get from another airlines. they didn't do it because he is famous, he just got media attention because he is famous! they are one of the few businesses that do not single out people because they "think" they are famous and deserve preferential treatment, southwest treats everyone the same, all their customers are important to them. i have always been treated wonderful, whether i am calling customer service with a question, or trying to resolve an issue. ( and i am nobody "famous") they go the extra mile for everyone. try getting that kind of service ( or any service) from united or american or delta!! you cannot please everyone, but there is not another company out there that tries as hard as they do. i love you southwest 😉
Anonymous25
Explorer C
Southwest isn't "standing up for normal-sized people", they are trying to strong-arm their policy. However, the policy wasn't the issue. The issue was the way they handled their business. They flopped humiliation on a person where no humiliation was needed. I'm not really even against the two-seat policy, and I come from a family of large people... but to humiliate a person for no reason is unacceptable. The disturbing part is that it would have been a non-issue, had the person not had a voice, but the person they humiliated DID have a voice. And whether or not you think he is whining, he has EVERY right to say that this situation was humiliating and degrading and wrong. On the fat note, though: I have never seen a tall person be ejected for requiring more leg room, or a person with long hair be ejected because their hair was spilling over to the seat next to them. Why is fat still the last bastion of discrimination? When you fly, you accept that you will be in contact with the people around you. Even when you are normal sized, you have to share an armrest and possibly even touch legs with the person next to you. If someone is truly large enough to require two seats, that situation should be handled with more grace than was shown to Kevin Smith and also the woman he met on a later flight who was asked to purchase an extra seat (might I add that the seat was empty and also paid for by Mr Smith) because she was "of size". Southwest needs to stop clarifying their policies and actually apologize because the way that they handled these situations was deplorable on a customer service level. This isn't a "normal people crusade". It's not reverse size-ism. It's about their horrible handling of an unfortunate situation.
howard_reynolds
Explorer C
more spin. more corporate-speak garbage. can't just admit your employees made a mistake. fine. do so at your peril. i will no longer fly your airline. and this further refusal to just say plainly 'we screwed up' and 'mr. smith was not too big for one seat' only strengthens my commitment to spread the word of your continued dishonesty. you'd think swa would learn from toyota.
Anonymous1021
Explorer C
Good for SOUTHWEST!!!! I say let's weigh everyone before they board...they weigh my luggage before boarding and say if it is overweight... I must pay, so why can a passenger be overweight and not pay? I say if you are going to charge me extra weight for my luggae, and say it is for "Fuel Use", then weigh the passengers as well!! It is only fair that they pay for their extra weight too.
Anonymous3152
Explorer C
Thanks Southwest for sticking up for the regular passenger, not just the ones who make the most noise. Last month when I was on your airline, I witnessed a large passenger put both arm rests down during boarding, only to raise them up again after the plane took off. When I got up to go to the lavatory, this man was hanging out so far into the aisle I could barely get around him. There is no need to apologize for trying to do the right thing for ALL passengers. THANKS!
Not_So_Silent_B
Explorer C
It sounds like there could have been better communication between the gate counter and the person boarding the plane. That said, does any of this have to do with the fact that he has a movie coming out? As to being too big...the seats on the airplane are a commodity. If I go to McD's and order a #1 will they give me two sandwiches just because my appetite is larger than normal? Not a chance. You want to fly and you occupy 1.6 seats? Buy two. Only one available? Well, wait for the flight on which you bought two. This is a stupid story. Kevin Smith's venom seems to be fading now that polls show more people support Southwest's position than his. Stick to movies...you're good at that. Southwest, just have the counter, the person responsible for boarding and the flight attendants talk before pushing on that last standby. It's worth the one minute delay.
carroll3
New Arrival
Spring is in the air, if not for Sports Illustated, too short of skirts and now an unfortunate experience with a Customer of Size it is almost like Ground Hog Day. Spring is near and the press loves a hot topic. Nobody at SWA is here to embarass or disrespect anybody, this policy is difficult to enforce, approach, gage from all points of view ( no pun intended ). We serve over 100 million valued Customers , we donate time and money to Ronald McDonald House, Donate 100's of trips to various causes including Honor Flights, Home for the Holidays and Make a Wish. My proudest moment was in New Orleans -- We were the last airline to leave and the first back in after Katrina. Other carriers just left their Customers there stranded , SWA sent in employees from other cities to get folks out, allow New Orleans employees to get their plans made and out of harms way. Where was the press for that ? Why were you not covering what the airline industry did to move folks out ? SWA is defined by many great things and I do not believe for a minute anybody went out of their way to make a scene, embarass or harass Mr Smith. I speak for many , we are sorry for this unfortunate situation and hope this passes soon. So much energy could be used for much greater causes.
Anonymous3382
Explorer C
Unbelievably poor behavior on Southwest's part. You publicly shamed a man who fit into his seat. You then further shamed the woman down the aisle from him. There are many other stories, much evidence that you discriminate based on size. Why not make one row of seats in each plane larger to accommodate for larger people rather than humiliating them? I am adding my voice to those who say that this is wrong. I will be voting with my wallet and boycotting Southwest. I'm also stunned that your public relations team cannot capitalize properly. The snarky piece entitled "Not So Silent Bob" was very badly written. This one is marginally better, but again, the capitalization is improper. I can't believe that these two employees even made it through college with such poor basic skills.
carroll3
New Arrival
Spring is in the air, if not for Sports Illustated, too short of skirts and now an unfortunate experience with a Customer of Size it is almost like Ground Hog Day. Spring is near and the press loves a hot topic. Nobody at SWA is here to embarass or disrespect anybody, this policy is difficult to enforce, approach, gage from all points of view ( no pun intended ). We serve over 100 million valued Customers , we donate time and money to Ronald McDonald House, Donate 100's of trips to various causes including Honor Flights, Home for the Holidays and Make a Wish. My proudest moment was in New Orleans -- We were the last airline to leave and the first back in after Katrina. Other carriers just left their Customers there stranded , SWA sent in employees from other cities to get folks out, allow New Orleans employees to get their plans made and out of harms way. Where was the press for that ? Why were you not covering what the airline industry did to move folks out ? SWA is defined by many great things and I do not believe for a minute anybody went out of their way to make a scene, embarass or harass Mr Smith. I speak for many , we are sorry for this unfortunate situation and hope this passes soon. So much energy could be used for much greater causes.
Val_-_San_Franc
Explorer C
Thank you SW. As a woman of a little smaller size than normal I am always a target for the "larger people" as a seat mate. Then I have to squeeze into one side of my seat for the entire flight. I paid for my whole seat, not just a third of it. People of size have no regard for those around them in a cramped space like that. Personally, I think you should all make them sit together in the same row. Then they will know how the rest of us feel.
DoggyInTX
Explorer C
Well... I WAS a Southwest customer and I fit comfortably in their seats. The fact that they would not even consider that it might be a good idea to rethink the way they execute their policy is shocking. Usually Southwest reacts in a very positive and progressive manner. This, however, is a huge disappointment. And to the arrogant guy who posted how Kevin Smith is a "cyber bully", you have NO IDEA what a cyber bully is. That is absolutely foolish that someone would group him in with a bunch of sinister punks that go around harassing innocent people online. Southwest Airlines is a COMPANY, not a person. Money doesn't have feelings, buddy.
Anonymous476
Explorer C
I applaud Southwest for sticking to its guns. I'd be furious if some overweight bastard squeezed me against the window in an already cramped plane.
Lale
Explorer C
Southwest owed Kevin Smith no apology. Kevin Smith owes Southwest an apology for his classless tirade. Kevin Smith was aware that he needed 2 seats since he had purchased them for a later flight but was sure he could squeeze into just one seat for an earlier flight? Get over yourself Kevin. Obesity is obviously NOT your biggest problem nor that of your legion of "Anonymous" posters that have jammed this board knee deep with their inane comparisons, i.e. “What if I was a 700# hungry cannibal with terrible body odor and last night's dinner stuck to my chin? Would Southwest discriminate against me?" Boy, I hope so. Thanks Southwest, you are the best in the business. .
Jane_L_
Explorer C
My friend endured a similar experience on a trip she made regularly without problem. After people were seated, she was confronted by the SW Crew telling her she needed to purchase a second seat because she was fat. When she replied out of shock and embarrassment that she could not (she didn't have the money), they escorted her off the plane. I can't imagine what it must have felt like for her to be singled out in front of hundreds of staring strangers. The contempt most people have for fat people is obvious here and perhaps knowing that a fat person was "called out" was possibly even gratifying for many of the posters. This incident gave people permission to say awful things about other human beings. Instead of calling out cruel things out the window of a car to a fat person on the road, instead of giggling with another person about another person's awkwardness of size, people feel justified in openly expressing their loathe & hate. Your actions and response indicate it's OKAY to treat fat people poorly. It's puzzling to me that these people could hold so much negative emotion for another person (a stranger, no less) based simply on size. Southwest, your policy aside, you have done greater harm to respond with an insincere apology than to speak frankly and honestly about your indecent treatment of a customer. If we can't hold you to the standard of basic human decency, at least consider the impact this has on your company's image as well as profits. Yes, you are getting many positive responses, and I half rejoice that you're getting the customers you deserve (ha! enjoy your flight) but you have failed to give assurance to many others that they can expect and receive decent treatment. The reality is that Americans are averaging larger sizes. While I can't change individual minds about contempt for fat people, it is very shortsighted of SW Airlines to ignore the fact a good percentage of customers are large. A meaningful policy, better training with emphasis on respect and good customer service are necessary. You guys have a lot of making up to the image you advertise! As this blog post seems largely unconcerned about the actual issue, here's a suggestion to avoid this in the future. You might consider an internal memo to your employees to the effect that the next fat customer they choose to arbitrarily impose their policy should receive such a shameful and horrifying treatment that they won't go and post about it on the internet. Emphasize, you are fat, thus hateful and nobody will care about how you are treated. Then none of this would have to be discussed.
Jenn5
Explorer C
I am disgusted that this guy is getting so much support. He is the one who is unhealthy and he is the one that put other passengers' safety and comfort at risk. Whether he feels he fits in a seat or not isn't relevent...that is up to Southwest to decide. I have sat by overweight passengers in the past and nothing is worse. Just because he is a hollywood director looking to promote his latest movie he gets extra sympathy??? (and a free flight???) How is that reasonable. It just goes to show that if you throw a big enough tantrum you will get your way.
Stephanie4
Explorer C
People (including Southwest) are missing the point here. The issue is not about Kevin Smith's weight - it's about the fact that he was publicly singled out once he was seated on the plane. Issues like that should be addressed at check-in, not after the passenger has boarded. It makes Southwest employees look rude and embarrasses paying customers.
DD
Explorer C
Recently I flew on Air Tran and was seated next to an obese man. He sat in the middle of a three-seater. The arm rest between us was up and he came over into my seat about a third of the way. His legs spread out so far I was almost in the aisle and he did not have a seatbelt on. He fell right to sleep and started to snore very loudly. His friend on the other side kept hissing nasty things to him. I was on the verge of an Edward Munch SCREAM, when a kindly flight host tapped me quietly and slipped me to the back of the plane for a full seat. I applaud Southwest's action with Mr. Smith. If he knew that he needed two seats and purchased them, why did he opt for another flight on standby? Since my experience I have wondered why the airlines would allow people so large to sit in one of their tiny seats. Yay Southwest!
Anonymous2239
Explorer C
Way to go Southwest - I stand behind your decision to kick Kevin off the plane. If you're large enough to require two seats then you should PAY for two seats and not bury the person(s) sitting next to you with your "overflow". Boycott Southwest - are you kidding me? They have been, and still are in my humble opinion, the best air carrier out there today. No bag charges, easy check-in, friendly, efficient employees, flight credits if you don't use the ticket, etc. You can count on me remaining as one of your loyal customers. I, for one, support your decision.
Anonymous565
Explorer C
As a PR professional, I can safely say this was royally bungled by SWA. If you so casually toss aside the the dignity and business of a well-known film director and actor, using such empty corporate lip service and a 100 dollar voucher, I shudder to think the service the rest of us will get. I won't be flying Southwest again. Ever. So any overweight folks will probably find a lot of empty seats next to them as people who respect all humans, not just skinny ones, bail to other airlines.
Anonymous3216
Explorer B
News flash: FLYING IS UNCOMFORTABLE. It's not pleasant. This is true regardless of who is sitting next to you, in front of you, behind you, or across the aisle. So? Flying is an unpleasant experience that requires a measure of politeness, empathy and compassion from EVERYONE, passengers and crew alike. A coach ticket entitles you to get from point A to point B within a certain time frame and without actual physical harm. It does not entitle you to good movies, good food, or the ability to stretch out your legs comfortably. It would be nice if it did, but it doesn't. I 'inconvenience' other passengers by needing to make use of the 'barf bag' every other flight, because I get miserably airsick. If you think vomit is less gross than sitting by a big person, you have issues. I'm a thinner-than-average woman who does not take up much space and usually gets 2 weeks worth of stuff into one school-sized backpack. (I have never been offered a discounted fare, by the way, for using less space or weight or fuel than the 'average' passenger, do will happily donate that which is unused to anyone who requires it). Most of my flying is translatlantic these days, though I used to fly SW quite frequently to California and had not ever realized a policy like this existed. I once flew from Seattle to Amsterdam crammed into the corner window seat in a tiny DC-10, next to an extremely overweight Dutch woman who went to sleep moments after the flight started. It was uncomfortable, I admit--so what did I learn from it? I now make sure to take an aisle seat. End of story. The idea that this woman would not have the exact same right as me to use a ticket whch she had bought and paid for, and to reach her destination and conduct her business exactly the same as me, did not and would not ever have occurred to me, because it's utterly ridiculous. But hey, if you're that worried about sitting next to a fatty, you can sit by me next time. I'll try not to throw up on you.
eliz
Explorer C
love traveling southwest and love the big-boy-seating plan . . . unfortunate that kevin does not see how the rules would apply to him for the benefit of all, and abhor the "they picked on the wrong guy" attitude he and others have expressed. do not see that the airline "owes" him (or anyone) an apology for this most reasonable of concepts. fly, be free!
BD
Explorer C
Rich fat people can afford to fly first class or buy two seats, and I assure you they do so. The rest of all of us have to deal with the indignities of flying coach. One of those is sometimes you sit next to a fatty, or a loud talker, or perfume woman, or gigantic shoulders guy, or screaming children. If you want guaranteed comfort, fly first class. Of course, SWA doesn’t have a first class, and since they go everywhere I need to go these days (Sanibel, Omaha, Pittsburgh, Albuquerque, San Francisco, Detroit, etc.) and their prices are reasonable, I fly they almost exclusively. But I really really disagree with this policy and the way it was administered in this case and in all of the others I have read about. I am certainly going to check my options very carefully next time I fly and see if I can’t vote with my dollars and let SWA know their policy is crap.
Anonymous2456
Explorer C
The man is fat, there is no denying it why make a big deal of it? If you do not want to buy two seats perhaps skip a couple of those big macs. If airlines could afford to put in wider seats to accomodate fat people they would however as it is everyone is too cheap to pay full fare on a ticket anyway and thus all the airlines struggle to make any profit. Southwest has been very gracious in refunding the ticket price and publicly apologizing when in fact they did nothing wrong. And to the fatty's saying they will boycott Southwest- Awesome!! Now the rest of us can have our arm rests back. Thank you!!
Chrissycrunch
Explorer C
Of all the indignities of air travel, and all the things I worry about in the air and in the airport, fat people are the least of my concerns. How about this: Instead of kicking off fat people, how about addressing the fact that we are being stacked like wood into these tiny tubes? Maybe deal with the drinking on flights that defies logic and reality? Or maybe just protect us from obvious and preventable threats without forcing us to disrobe and drink our own breast milk in the security line? Nah. Fat people are the real problem. Poor you.
Anonymous1662
Explorer C
You've had this policy for 25 years, but only recently started to enforce it? Sounds like "revenue" to me. Honestly, maybe you should start charging for bags instead? At least that is an impartial fee (since a bag is weighed and measured) and does not convey the feelings of discrimination (or embarrassment) that a subjective analysis of a person's size does.
Jacob_Smith
Explorer C
As has been frequently reported in the last three days in the major media as a result of this incident, the average width of a coach or economy class airline seat is 17.5 inches. So, do the math: If your hips are more than, say, 36 inches around, that makes YOU a "person of size" too, as your hip may touch the hip of the person next to you. I am disgusted by the hateful posts here made by ordinary people who apparently have long-held beliefs that "persons of size" deserve ridicule because they should just lose weight. But now we all know the truth: Southwest, and some other airlines, think a 17.5 inch wide seat and a bag of peanuts is good customer service.
David_McDowell
Explorer C
Perhaps, SW, you are missing the point, as I think most people on this blog are missing. Why don't you just make the seats bigger? It's obvious that Americans are bigger people, despite any comments that we should or should not be. Make the seats bigger and charge more for them.
Anonymous4349
Explorer C
You can tell many of the people commenting do not fly - all boarding passes are issued before you go through security. Therefore, you don't check in anymore. Therefore there is no one to tell a person of size they don't fit before they get on the plane. They didn't call him fat, no one at SWA would do that. This is a publicity stunt pure and simple. Stick to the possitively terrific service SWA and forget Kevin's pr compaign.
beega
Explorer C
Unless you are willing to apologize to every person you ask to leave, you should not have apologized to Kevin Smith. Just because he is a celebrity is not a reason to apologize for your judgement call. He called your airline a "welfare airline". Has he apologized to you for that or to all of us who fly your airline for disrespecting us?
jcall1
Explorer C
Linda how incompetent and dishonest can you be? You promised Kevin that you would track down who booted him, but you've proved your nothing but a corporate shill. Why does'nt SW just man up and publicly apologize and be done with it.
Anonymous1582
Explorer C
I'm around the same size as Kevin Smith. I've flown Southwest before and could easily fit into my seat, put the armrests down, and use the seatbelt- just like Kevin Smith. But there's no way I'm going to fly Southwest if it means having to buy two tickets or risk being publicly humiliated, just because some power tripping employee was having a bad day. You just lost yet another customer Southwest. What you should have done is told the whole truth from the beginning (something you have failed to do with two "apologies" now) and stated some concrete steps that would be taken so that potential customers did not have to worry about fearing the wrath of some po'd Southwest employee. Anyway, so long Southwest, never flying you again, it's too risky. Jet Blue is much nicer anyway.
Jeanette01
Explorer C
I dont think he should have boarded the flight in the first place-admittedly he already knew that he normally bought 2 tickets...the flight attendant probably made her last sweep and saw he was crammed in a space way too small. Usually the gauge for this is- Does the arm rest go down? Maybe she noticed it first and THEN the person-as they are trained to look for certain things before the plane takes off-Just like seat belts and overhead storage-purses under the seats. ALSO, since it was a standby flight you have to assume there was a passenger sitting next to him..what if that were you??? Flying is not the most comfortable thing in the world in the first place, but why should you or anyone else be uncomfortable because something was infringing on your bought space? Why cant it be as simple as that? Why does it have to be some preconceived sinister plot against over-weight people? I think he and everyone else is making WAY to big of a deal about this..Southwest is not the only airline that have policy for overweight passengers!
Anonymous4509
Explorer C
I LUVVVVVVVVVVVV Southwest Airlines. They made a mistake with a "celebrity" and now they are getting some bad PR. (or sometimes even bad PR is good PR) You learn by your mistakes but SW is still the best airline there is. Their customer service and employees are the best and it's the only airline my husband and I fly. We could do a commercial for them. Keep doing what you're doing.........One mistake is not the makeup of the entire company. Live and learn.
BMusashi
Explorer C
I've flown on your airlines almost exclusively for the last 4 or 5 years, and I have to tell you that I am very reluctant to use your airline again. Looking at your policy, you seem to have two basic rules regarding "persons of size": #1 is clearcut; can the armrests be put down. In my case, I can answer "Yes. I'm a big guy, but I can put the armrests down, no problem." #2 is a much more ill-defined rule, basically a judgement call on the part of the crew; Is someone else's space being impinged upon. In Smith's case, it sounds like an arbitrary decision was made, even though the people seated next to him (apparently) did not mind his presence (or at least were polite enough to be willing to deal with what is, let's face it, one more uncomfortable thing in an uncomfortable situation - everyone, fat or thin, that I've talked to about this situation has chimed in about how small and uncomfortable your seats are). Frankly, the arbitrary way this was handled (armrest test ignored, opinions of those around him disregarded) makes me nervous about flying with your airlines. I've never had a problem with armrests, though I've certainly felt cramped. I've never had a problem with another flyer (although I do always try to sit next to my wife). I try to be considerate to those around me who need help and, though large, I am not infirm (in a safety situation that doesn't require me to fit through small holes or run a marathon, I'd be fine. I can throw a skinny person on my shoulder and get them of the plane, and should we be stranded in the Andes, I could probably feed all of A section for a few meals). In other words, I'm not worried about any real problems, but it seems that you have staff that are willing to create problems, and that you have little or no plan to remedy this. Put a chair in a private room the terminal and I'll prove I can sit in it, armrests down, if that guarantees me that someone won't feel the need to escort me (and my wife), humiliated off the plane... but don't leave a wide-open policy that says I can be seated, next to my wife, armrests down, while the plane boards, only to then be told that - armrests aside and my wife doesn't have any say - some staff member has decided that I'm too big to sit next to her. It's illogical and indefensible. Make it part of your official rules that a flyer must be under a certain weight - as incompassionate as that might be, at least it's a firm rule that heads off the chance that a "person of size" will be humiliated in public by an over-zealous (or worse) staff member. I'll admit that for a person of my size, flying your airline was never particularly comfortable, but if I ever fly your airline again, you've promised me a whole new level of discomfort...
Brenda8
Explorer C
Linda - You did great. Especially in this tough situation. I love Kevin Smith, but he knew he needed two seats and ... well, you know how blogs are - ignore the nonsense. Southwest tries harder than any airline. Sure, frequent flyers all have issues once in a while, but no airline tries any better than SWA to fix them. Keep up the good work!! With LUV, Brenda
Anonymous1817
Explorer C
I am a fat flyer, I have been flying SWA for several years now, it is usually my first choice when researching air travel. I have never been asked to buy a second seat until last year on ONE flight. I was singled out in the terminal. HOWEVER there were several other ALSO FAT SWA customers on the same flight as I, as well as on the flight preceding mine. Having arrived early for my own flight, I did not see ANY OTHER FAT CUSTOMERS pulled aside to the counter. I WAS flying with my SPOUSE and teenage CHILD, also I was a pre-boarder so I knew that at least one of them was going to be seated beside me and would not be troubled if my fat extended into their space, we would not be taking up any other seat beside our own two or three (usually the teenager does not want to sit with the parents). Here's a new policy for SWA -- after the "go F yourselves" policy: 1, go talk to some companies that offer really GOOD public relations and customer service, such as DISNEY WORLD. 2, NEVER single out ANY customer for ANY reason. Don't do it on-board, do not do it out in the terminal, do not do it at all. If a customer has some issue that makes some folks turn their heads or mutter some comment, do you REALLY think they are UNAWARE of it? And that they are invisible? 3, if you MUST have a policy based on the size of the seat between the armrests, why don't you figure out some more unobtrusive and less humiliating way of determining that before people board? Such as, say, a turnstile-type entry through which everyone has to walk? 4, only require a fat person to buy a 2nd seat IF the person/people sitting next to them has an issue. If it is family members or close friends and they don't mind, they why are you bilking the fat person out of money? 5, I know the employees at SWA are not stupid, why don't you figure out some way to make fat people NOT FEEL humiliated? 6: Get rid of your "it's the fat person's own fault, they're already fat, so let's humiliate them (because they don't already know they're fat) and in addition, maybe we can make some money off of them while we're at it / let's pre-judge random fat customers" policy. Or go F yourselves.
Anonymous1817
Explorer C
I am a fat flyer, I have been flying SWA for several years now, it is usually my first choice when researching air travel. I have never been asked to buy a second seat until last year on ONE flight. I was singled out in the terminal. HOWEVER there were several other ALSO FAT SWA customers on the same flight as I, as well as on the flight preceding mine. Having arrived early for my own flight, I did not see ANY OTHER FAT CUSTOMERS pulled aside to the counter. I WAS flying with my SPOUSE and teenage CHILD, also I was a pre-boarder so I knew that at least one of them was going to be seated beside me and would not be troubled if my fat extended into their space, we would not be taking up any other seat beside our own two or three (usually the teenager does not want to sit with the parents). Here's a new policy for SWA -- after the "go F yourselves" policy: 1, go talk to some companies that offer really GOOD public relations and customer service, such as DISNEY WORLD. 2, NEVER single out ANY customer for ANY reason. Don't do it on-board, do not do it out in the terminal, do not do it at all. If a customer has some issue that makes some folks turn their heads or mutter some comment, do you REALLY think they are UNAWARE of it? And that they are invisible? 3, if you MUST have a policy based on the size of the seat between the armrests, why don't you figure out some more unobtrusive and less humiliating way of determining that before people board? Such as, say, a turnstile-type entry through which everyone has to walk? 4, only require a fat person to buy a 2nd seat IF the person/people sitting next to them has an issue. If it is family members or close friends and they don't mind, they why are you bilking the fat person out of money? 5, I know the employees at SWA are not stupid, why don't you figure out some way to make fat people NOT FEEL humiliated? 6: Get rid of your "it's the fat person's own fault, they're already fat, so let's humiliate them (because they don't already know they're fat) and in addition, maybe we can make some money off of them while we're at it / let's pre-judge random fat customers" policy. Or go F yourselves.
NEVER_flying_wi
Explorer C
Some quotes from people on the Pro-Southwest side: "I do NOT want excess lard to invading my personal space I PAID FOR... Why should I Be miserable because the guy next to me is a hog?" "a bunch of whiney fat americans, waaaa waaa lose some weight you chunksters, you're killing everyone else either by weighing down airplanes or by hoarding all the healthcare with your obesity related illnesses. fatties will be the downfall of the USA when they bankrupt medicare in 10 years" "I hate sitting next to some fat person who smells like fast food. What's next are we going to give fat people closer parking spots, oh yea we do that already. Its called a handicap spot. Fat people cost society enough, and they should have to pay for themselves. What ever happened to accountability. That's how fat people got "THEIR" condition. There is no cure for laziness." "I think most people should be required to run a mile in under 15 minutes to fly southwest. Can we get this imposed?" "I, for one, am tired of subsidizing the fares of obese passengers. Personally, I think they should have presented him a parachute, okay - two parachutes" "should instead look in the mirror and admit they are lazy. If we stop rewarding their behavior (by refunding tickets) maybe they'll go put down the bacon and go for a walk." "Where's my apology for all the times I had to sit next to some fat-ass who took up a seat and a half?? When I couldn't even sit facing forward and instead has to twist sideways so that the blubber-butt next to me could fly??" "Lose weight people, people say it's in their genes, that's a load of crap, it's in the 4000 calorie Buffett that you eat. It's that Ice cream sandwich. I can't stand fat ass people." THESE are your loyal customers, SW. THESE are the people who agree with you. THESE are the people you are catering to. THESE are the people you have aligned yourself with. Your non-apologies and continued claim that Kevin was too fat to fly -- AFTER YOU AGREED HE WAS NOT, LINDA -- don't even matter after I see the hateful people who agree with you. You're on the side of the cruel, the name-callers, the entitled, the plain a$$holes. Your fan club makes me sick. Why would you LIKE being tarred by the same brush?
Anonymous3895
Explorer C
I see both sides: the small person who fits comfortably in his/her seat but is squished by the over-sized person next to him/her (or worse yet, having to sit in the center seat between two large people) and being the large person who cringes knowing he/she is overflowing into someone else's space. The real problem aren't the people. It's the seats. I've seen plenty of normal weight people who do not fit in airline's seats - the seats are too narrow, too tightly packed in a row and there isn't any leg room for a person taller than 5'7". Aircraft seats should be made to fit a larger than average-sized person. Why larger - because "average" size is only an average - it's not the majority. If seats were made to fit the majority, they would probably be wider and deeper.
Rick
Explorer C
All I have to say is wow! Who remembers Kyla Ebbert and the Mom/child incident? What's next...sir your hair is too long...you must leave...sorry sir no fatties allowed on our planes...oh wait they just did that!! I'm fat myself and trust me sitting next to another fat guy is no treat, but to blatantly embarrass people because of some bs policy?!? Maybe SWA should have an attendant check everyone's BMI and impose a dress code? We as consumers should maybe not fly SWA and see what changes will come of that...when you hurt someone's pockets they tend to change their attitudes and sensitivities towards people... And, yes, of course, I, as a fat person, needs to lose weight, but if you're in the process and need to fly then what does one have to do? I fly when and where I want...so should Kevin Smith and all fat people of the US!
Nick__Chicago__
Explorer C
Victoria Leight, Here are the customer of size policies from both Continental and United. In my opinion they are more restrictive than those of Southwest. Additionally the seats on some Airbus aircraft are only 1 inch wider. UNITED http://www.united.com/page/article/0,6722,52985,00.html For the comfort and well-being of all customers aboard United flights, we have aligned with other major airlines' seating policies relating to passengers who: • are unable to fit into a single seat in the ticketed cabin; • are unable to properly buckle the seatbelt using a single seatbelt extender; and/or • are unable to put the seat's armrests down when seated. If unused seats are available on the ticketed United or United Express flight, then a customer meeting any of the above criteria will be reaccommodated next to an empty seat. If no unused seats are available on the ticketed flight, then the customer must either purchase an upgrade to a cabin with available seats that address the above-listed scenarios, or change his or her ticket to the next available flight and purchase a second seat in addition to the one already purchased. If a customer meeting any of the above-listed criteria cannot be accommodated next to an empty seat and chooses not to upgrade or change flights and purchase a ticket for an additional seat, he or she will not be permitted to board the flight. CONTINENTAL http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/travel/specialneeds/customersize/default.aspx A customer flying in the economy cabin who is not able to safely and comfortably fit in a single seat is required to purchase an additional seat for each leg of their itinerary. The second seat may be purchased for the same fare as the original seat, provided it is purchased at the same time. A customer who does not purchase an extra seat in advance may be required to do so on the day of departure for the fare level available on the day of departure. The customer may instead choose to purchase a ticket for First Class/Business/BusinessFirst®, or elect to pay for an upgrade to the front cabin if there is availability to do so. Continental Airlines is not required to provide additional seats or upgrades free of charge. A customer is required to purchase an additional seat or upgrade if they do not meet one of the following criteria: 1. The customer must be able to properly attach, buckle and wear the seatbelt, with one extension* if necessary, whenever the seatbelt sign is illuminated or as instructed by a crew member. 2. The customer must be able to remain seated with the seat armrest(s) down for the entirety of the flight. 3. The customer must not significantly encroach upon the adjacent seating space. See our seat maps. Continental Airlines will not board a customer who declines to purchase a ticket for an additional seat or upgrade for each leg of their itinerary when required.
Anonymous3174
Explorer C
How about you just make normal sized seats? According to your site the seats are 17 inches and that is definitely not big enough for a full grown adult. I am a 5'8" female who is 160 lbs which is considered a normal and healthy weight according to my doctor and according to the national institute of health's BMI calculator, but I have a shoulder span that is larger than 17 inches and so your seats are TOOOOO SMALL for me, a normal and healthy sized person. It is ridiculous for you to try to cram people in like that! Until you make appropriately sized seats I will take my business elsewhere.
Lynne
Explorer C
Have you not looked at all the other websites for customers requiring an extra seat, SWA policy is the same as the next Airline. Lynne
Anonymous1659
Explorer C
As a so called "normal sized" person, a size four, 127lb, 5'6" woman to be exact, I am appalled at this sham of an apology. Yes, I have been on flights with larger individuals who took up my space, and flying from Newark to Amsterdam with half a seat is quite uncomfortable. But if Mr Smith fit in the seat and complied fully with Southwest's own safety (size) guidelines, then your employees had no business removing him from the flight. A true apology is called for, and the individual(s) responsible should be held accountable. If the Southwest's guidelines are inadequate, new guidelines must be drafted. But by removing Mr Smith from the flight despite his status as a safe customer (according to your own guidelines), your employees discriminated against Mr Smith. Regardless of the hurry they were in, they ignored their own company's policy in regard to size, and this exception to the policy constitutes discrimination. By simply admitting that this is a case of discrimination and punishing those responsible, Southwest will gain my respect and the respect of many other customers.
Anonymous1175
Explorer C
I'm not a supermodel, and never will be, but I have a normal BMI (weight falls squarely in the normal range of the Body Mass Index) and aren't excessively tall (5-6). In fact, I'm pretty much average, all the way around. I fly (many airlines) quite a bit and I, a normal weight and height person, don't fit into the airline seats all that well, as airlines have shrunk them again and again in search of the almighty dollar. I've been squished by larger people, people with long legs, those who push against my seat from behind with their knees and people who insist on thrusting their seat back to the farthest degree and ramming my tray table into my knees over and over and over again. In fact, I don't think I've EVER had a "comfortable" coach flight in my life, definitely not in the last 5-7 years. (Tolerable? Sure. Comfortable? Not even close.) The real truth is the airlines treat people, ALL people, like an annoyance. No matter how much you pay, or how much you weigh, you, the paying customer, are simply an inconvenience to them. There is no other service on Earth that we, as consumers, pay so much for to be treated so poorly. Long waits, cancelations, delays, fees ... All are standard operating procedure for the American airline industry and all occur DAILY, not only without apology but often with an "its your fault" attitude. Mr. Smith happens to be a celebrity, but I, and everyone else I know who has flown more than twice in their life, has a horror story of being mistreated or abused by on airline or another.