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Not So Silent Bob

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Many of you reached out to us via Twitter last night and today regarding a situation a Customer Twittered about that occurred on a Southwest flight.  It is not our customary method of Customer Relations to be so public in how we work through these situations, but with so many people involved in the occurrence, you also should be involved in the solution. First and foremost, to Mr. Smith; we would like to echo our Tweets and again offer our heartfelt apologies to you.   We are sincerely sorry for your travel experience on Southwest Airlines. 

As soon as we saw the first Tweet from Mr. Smith, we contacted him personally to apologize for his experience and to address his concerns on both Twitter and with a personal phone call. Since the situation has received a lot of public attention, we'd like to take the opportunity to address a few of the specifics here as well.

Mr. Smith originally purchased two Southwest seats on a flight from Oakland to Burbank – as he’s been known to do when traveling on Southwest.  He decided to change his plans and board an earlier flight to Burbank, which technically means flying standby. As you may know, airlines are not able to clear standby passengers until all Customers are boarded. When the time came to board Mr. Smith, we had only a single seat available for him to occupy. We are responsible for the Safety and comfort of all Customers on the aircraft and therefore, we made a judgment call that Mr. Smith needed more than one seat to complete his flight. Our Employees explained why the decision was made, accommodated Mr. Smith on a later flight, and issued him a $100 Southwest travel voucher for his inconvenience.

You've read about these situations before. Southwest instituted our Customer of Size policy more than 25 years ago. The policy requires passengers that can not fit safely and comfortably in one seat to purchase an additional seat while traveling. This policy is not unique to Southwest Airlines and it is not a revenue generator. Most, if not all, carriers have similar policies, but unique to Southwest is the refunding of the second seat purchased (if the flight does not oversell) which is greater than any revenue made (full policy can be found here). The spirit of this policy is based solely on Customer comfort and Safety. As a Company committed to serving our Customers in Safety and comfort, we feel the definitive boundary between seats is the armrest. If a Customer cannot comfortably lower the armrest and infringes on a portion of another seat, a Customer seated adjacent would be very uncomfortable and a timely exit from the aircraft in the event of an emergency might be compromised if we allow a cramped, restricted seating arrangement.

1,760 Comments
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Over 90% of obesity in America is self imposed. Its called slothfullness and I think we should tax and charge these sloths more for their drain on healthcare, the public, and teaching their children to carry on the same excesses. Expecting that its their right to be accomadated with no penatlies or extra requirements is sending the wrong message to future generations, and the ones who work hard every day to care for and control their bodies. Reguardless of genetics, enviroment, disease, or disability.
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Airlines sell seats on flights ... motels sell rooms for nights. Imagine if a family of four paid for a motel room that met their needs, but in the adjoining room was a family of eight that was bursting at the seams in the same sized room. Imagine if the second family forced open the door between the rooms and began using the space (beds, floors, bathroom) that the first family had paid for and had the right to. Would that be fair or just for the first family? Each family had paid for a finite amount of space for a finite amount of time. If you defend a Customer of Size encroaching on another passenger's seat space, would you also defend the second family in the above example taking over part of another family's motel room. I hope not!!
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I am only leaving this anonymous because Kevin Smith is a big bully on Twitter and don't have time for a million trolls to clog up my twitter feed with nasty comments (as Southwest has found). First: just because Kevin Smith says on his podcast that something happened in thus-and-such way, or that someone phoned him and said they were wrong, doesn't make it so. The guy has a big mouth and not everything that spills out of it is exactly accurate. Second, as a passenger not "of size", I expect that when I buy a seat, I get to occupy 100% of it. Mr. Smith's expectation that these "slight, squishy" ladies he sat between should give up some of their seats to accommodate his girth? F- him. He knows he needs two seats if he flies coach, and can afford something larger in Business or First Class on another airline. So: THANK YOU, SUZANNE. And Southwest, keep up the good work. 🙂
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my congratulations and gratitude to southwest, for standing up and protecting the "rights" of the rest of us "normal size" people, who actually do fit into a single seat, and do not "spill" over into the adjacent seat and the laps of their fellow passengers! I have a simple message for Kevin Smith, and all the obese, fat "asses" whose health care costs are subsidized by the rest of us who try to take care of ourselves and maintain a healthy existence: either lose weight to fit into a single seat, or buy two tickets... No "standby" flying....period; it's just that simple, end of story!
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What a farce! If Southwest offerd him an earlier flight, when changing his ticket they knew he had two seats why did they allow him to board only to turn around and embarrass him by telling him to leave the aircraft? How mortifying. The boarding agent should have looked at him whist changing his ticket, saw he was a big guy, and ensured he had the same BEFORE allowing him to board. How many people has southwest humiliated in this manner before picking on someone who has a public voice? Now they apologize? I'll never, ever fly SW again - and I book ALL the flights for a MAJOR customer of yours. I'll do my best to ensure my clients fly a more sensitive and kind carrier. I'm sure you dont need the business if you treat people in this manner.
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my congratulations and gratitude to southwest, for standing up and protecting the "rights" of the rest of us "normal size" people, who actually do fit into a single seat, and do not "spill" over into the adjacent seat and the laps of their fellow passengers! I have a simple message for Kevin Smith, and all the obese, fat "asses" whose health care costs are subsidized by the rest of us who try to take care of ourselves and maintain a healthy existence: either lose weight to fit into a single seat, or buy two tickets... No "standby" flying....period; it's just that simple, end of story!
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Not buying it Southwest. Your fancy, slick commercials, customer friendly image has been shot. I myself am 6'5" and weigh 290. i have never had a problem fitting in any seat from the numerous airlines I have used. Somethings not right here. You say you have a policy? Then how can it be arbitrary? Who decides if the person "fits" correctly or safely? The person in the next seat, the pilot? And how do they make their determination. There is no clear policy, because there can't be. This is subjective. Else, you will have to set firm height/weight guidlines and you WONT go there. I have waited on flights for 10-20 minutes before while the flight staff have moved children and others around so kids could sit with their family, etc. You could have done the same and found him a seat. A pilot should be just that...a pilot and not a southwest policy enforcer. I fly a dozen times or more per year and have, on occasion flown Southwest. You can spin it all you like but I however will not be flying Southwest anytime soon.
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I'm a big girl. A really big girl, in fact. I probably weigh more than Kevin Smith. However, I've flown on the tiniest of planes (Delta, I'm looking at you) cramped up like a ball with bags on my lap due to unforeseen flight issues and still have never even had anything said of my weight. I'm flown on 7 different carriers--both domestic and international. I've never caused anyone an inconvenience. However, when trying to book a Southwest flight after a recent layover, I was asked--before even getting on the plane--asked if I 'only' wanted to buy two tickets. Why is it I can comfortably and with accusation fly on other carriers but can get accosted at the customer service desk with Southwest?
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What a joke SWA's is and talk about a BS response. If Kevin Smith was able to buckle his belt without an extender and have the armrest down how dare they boot him from the flight. You can't suck and blow at the same time....he did not violate the size contraints, so howcome he was kicked off? Sounds like the person at the gate or on the jetbridge was an idiot, good job costing your company a black eye! I personnally will never choose to fly on the "Greyhound" of the Air.
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Its not hard to have compassion for passengers of size and still agree with the policy many airlines (including Southwest) have. I think even persons of size would be empathetic of an adjacent passenger who is forced to deal with the inconvenience and uncomfortable situation when their purchased space is encroached, whether from an adjacent passenger or a forward seat reclining into your face. The fact of the matter is that all airlines cram so many seats in coach on planes as to make even those without extra weight incredibly uncomfortable. I see little difference between being encroached from the side or from the front - except that encroachment from the side is generally unintentional. You can't recline your seat without knowing you are going to be jamming your seat back into the passenger behind you - and thus that action is probably intentional on the part of a reclining passenger.
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I heard that he was kicked off the plane for trying to light his bong in the bathroom. If that's true then he should have gotten more than just being kicked off the flight.
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What a crap apology! I've never flown Southwest and I sure as hell will avoid having to do business with you. What a bunch of assholes. Hell - an average sized person can hardly fit in an airline seat.! I'm glad Kevin Smith is being vocal about this ... you bastards deserve it!
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You suggest in this article that your policy is defined by arm rests. Before I entered the plane, in December at LAX, but on my return flight, and after I had checked a bag, talked to an agent, and all that good stuff, I was still asked by an agent (as we were boarding) to buy an additional seat. When I told them that the seat rests come down, the agent told me that wasn't the test. It was a long-standing policy for "anyone big like you." At what point do you stop defending a policy and start training your staff to implement it well. No one of size gets upset if things are clear, consistent, and courteous in the way things get handled. But you guys don't seem to be "getting it."
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So instead of admitting you are wrong, firing the parties responsible, you make fun of your customer, post personal info about his purchases, and give half of an explanation. I (used to) fly weekly on SWA, but I just canceled my next 4 flights, and moved them to Jet Blue.
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If Southwest Airlines advertises it is making its "too fat to fly in a single seat" policy black and white (i.e. using a measuring device) and they'll stick to it, I will fly Southwest as my primary carrier. Best Regards E Anderson
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So instead of admitting you are wrong, firing the parties responsible, you make fun of your customer, post personal info about his purchases, and give half of an explanation. I (used to) fly weekly on SWA, but I just canceled my next 4 flights, and moved them to Jet Blue.
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Southwest Airlines sucks for this!!!!! He's not that big--this is indeed ridiculous!!
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Smith, I kicked you off the plane for that dumb movie you made-Dogma. Let this be a lesson to you.
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Thanks for enforcing your rules. Yes, I hate to be squished by a seat neighbor into the cold window. I pay for my seat and would like to occupy it alone. The Mr. Director's behaivor is childish, ego-centric, and arrogant and simply does not speak for him at all. All he is concerned with is with himself, that potentially even his seat neighbor may have raising the flag -did this though ever occur to him and why? Although I have to give him kudos for usually buying two seat, which leaves the question - why isn't he flying first class??? Is he too cheap for this or too wide? I am aware your airline does not feature 1st .....
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I am in the same boat with this: I love Southwest for protecting me from having to sit next to fat people squished into one seat.
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Southwest, I congradulate and thank you on exercising your RIGHT to make others (ie normal size folks) safe. But, I caution you, one day you will be in violation of some law for "hating" fat people and will forced to widen your seats. Just look at some of these posts..."he's not that fat" ...ummmm hello, he is "that" fat, but compared to the rest of America...oh never mind, Southwest you better start setting aside some money now.
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Southwest, I congradulate and thank you on exercising your RIGHT to make others (ie normal size folks) safe. But, I caution you, one day you will be in violation of some law for "hating" fat people and will forced to widen your seats. Just look at some of these posts..."he's not that fat" ...ummmm hello, he is "that" fat, but compared to the rest of America...oh never mind, Southwest you better start setting aside some money now.
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I will NEVER fly SWA again!!
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SW Airlines, please don't apologize. If you really wanted to do something to inconvenience your customers, you could've shown one of Kevin Smith's films as the in-flight movie. I can't imagine anything closer to hell than being stuck for 90 minutes having to watch Clerks, Mall Rats or Clerks II. Mr. Smith's movies are as boring as they are profane.
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This is ridiculous. If you want to institute a ridiculous policy like this than at least have the decency to tell someone before the flight. I guarantee there is a better way to institute this type of policy (appropriate or not is another question). I guess Southwest doesn't have to bother as they would rather take advantage of the bias against large people in this country. Southwest you should be ashamed of yourselves, and I hope the bad publicity hurts as much as you've emotionally abused your larger passengers
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I would like to know who was the person who was supposedly going to be inconvenienced by Kevin Smith's girth? Did he not know this was Kevin Smith? I would have gladly consented to being inconvenienced by sharing a seat beside him. It would be small repayment for all the hours of fun watching his movies.
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I will definitely try to Fly SouthWest now that I know they are vigilant about enforcing this. Last time I flew Delta, I got stuck next to someone who could only fit the arm rest between her rolls. Moreover, her but was so big, part of it was on my leg for the whole flight. While I understand how engaging it may be to be singled out due to one's size. It's completely unfair for me to have to deal with someone sitting on me. Moral of the story, if you are over-weight and have a problem with this, BUY AN EXTRA SEAT. Just as Fed-ex isn't going to allow you to ship a 3'x3'x6' package for the same price as a 1.5'x1.5'x6' package, don't expect Southwest to have to ship you to your destination for the same price as smaller human cargo.
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So, you guys hate us fat people well you lost my business. I will never fly your air again. Wow I hope you guys lose some business over this besides my money. What about body builders? I beat you jerks do not remove them.
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The captain of the plane has the responsibility of all passengers and his decision is final. The man purchased two seats, knowing he needed two seats. If two seats were not available together, he should not have accepted. The captain was right to make the decision he did since the man himself noted he required two seats. What's the issue? I've seen many people flying stand-by who have been removed from the aircraft due to lack of seats and miscounts. That's what happens when you go stand-by. Stuff happens - live with it.
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Good job Southwest! You've earned a new customer: me.
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We hear your side, we can hear Kevin's side on his SModcast, and make our own conclusions. I've concluded that Southwest behaved like asshats, and that I will not fly Southwest or any airline that violates their own person of size policies. Not that you care, because I'm fat. And I can tell you don't care, because from this "apology", it's clear Southwest doesn't feel that it did anything wrong.
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First off, to all you Southwest Supporters, "SS", who mostly post anonymously because you're too much of a pansy, you're pretty much all wrong. The man buys two tickets because he'd rather enjoy a comfortable ride on what now has become a greyhound of the sky. Flying sucks these days. There is no customer service, the food is horrible and it's rarely fun. He buys two seats so he doesn't have to sit next to one of you idiots. That's it. He's may be a big man, but he's not that big. Do you even know how it went down? Probably not. Suzanne, ID # 84175, says Captain Terence Lee Leysath made the call, yet this appears to be a completely bogus cover. Word on the street is that the agent on the jet-way made the call, on his own. As for the 100 dollar voucher? Wow, that takes balls or at least the lack of a brain to offer something like that. I will be opting to fly on other airlines in the future, not that I normally fly SW, but I will go out of my way to get from point A to point B if SW is the only option, (in addition to sharing this story). Also, for the record I weight in at 156lbs.
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Sounds like the guy is just whining to me. He voluntarily changed his flight plans. Than he could not be accomadated and is now making a issue of a policy he was already well aquainted with. Southwest is by far the most accomdating airline I have ever flown.
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I am sick of this corporate GREED-- even an "average" person feels like thay are sitting in a sardine can! I WILL NOT FLY SW ever again! Bout time they care about their passengers COMFORT and make their seats wider for ALL of us.-- I think Kevin is a very attractive man JUST the way he is!
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My husband is LARGER than Kevin Smith and we have flown Continental, Air France and Delta (you know...real airlines) with no issues. You guys sucks. I'll never fly you again. Never. You're going to lose this one. You picked on a very wired, connected person. Idiots. "Customers of Size"? God, that makes me roll my eyes.
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I am sick of this corporate GREED-- even an "average" person feels like thay are sitting in a sardine can! I WILL NOT FLY SW ever again! Bout time they care about their passengers COMFORT and make their seats wider for ALL of us.-- I think Kevin is a very attractive man JUST the way he is and I we do not need SW or Michelle Obama to tell us how much we should weigh!!
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I'm a physically fit senior who will promptly pop in the mouth any fat tub of goo seated beside me who attempts to put the armrest down. Especially a demonstrative egomaniac like Kevin Smith. I have my rights as well.
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shame on him for endangering everyone else for his own convenience. apparently the only thing as big as his body is his ego of entitlement.
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shame on him for endangering everyone else for his own convenience. apparently the only thing as big as his body is his ego of entitlement.
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Kevin smith is a fat f$$k and already knew the policy. He's been quiet lately and not making any real money, which is why he is flying southwest in the first place. This d$$k head just needed some publicity.
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So glad KS called you out, formal apology and truthful explanation or you lost your self another customer but i guess one more doesn't matter to you at this point any way
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I wasn't on the plane, so I can't speak on the situation that led to this post. I can see this with my own eyes, though, and what I see is inexcusable. It is egregiously unprofessional to disclose a customer's purchasing habits, a claim that may or may not even be accurate. Even a customer who complains about your service in public is entitled to that small modicum of privacy. If you thought this explanation was going to save your public image, you were severely mistaken. It's obvious that you don't know how to treat paying customers, and I don't need to accept Mr. Smith's version of the events to arrive at that conclusion. You've demonstrated it beyond any doubt with your own words here.
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I fly every single week on just about every single airline. SWA is working hard to keep it's passengers safe and comfortable... and I hope all the other airlines follow with stricter enforcement of their policies on this same issue. My mother is a person of size, and we drive to events and limit long distance travel because she just doesn't fit comfortably in her airplane seat. It's not fair that I have to be uncomfortable sitting next to her as she spills out of the seat... and I LOVE her... she is my own mother! While I understand their needs when traveling, as a passenger, sitting next to a complete stranger spilling all over me is the WORST! SWA and it's team on the ground can and should learn a better and more sensative way to address a situation like this moving forward... but no, the policy should not change and it should be enforced... even for my mom!
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So you fall all over yourselves to apologize to Mr. Smith, because he's famous and this is being splashed all over the internet. But if he were just your average fat slob, you would have continued to treat him with the contempt that is your trademark. As many have pointed out, you had several opportunities to avoid this. But in fact, it is a standing practice of your company to do your best to publicly humiliate overweight people. Why sell him the single ticket at all? Because, obviously, you have no standard criteria for determining who is too big for one seat. Why handle it discreetly at the counter when you can make a spectacle out of removing the fat man from the plane? Your response is laughable. Trying to pose this as a safety issue is absurd. He's too heavy to safely fly but if only he had a seat next to him, suddenly it would be safe? How dumb do you think we are? There were empty seats on the plane, the fact that they were not in proximity to Mr. Smith doesn't make it any less safe than if he were surrounded by empty seats. You've handled this badly. Mr. Smith made out fine, but it's the no-name customers who are humiliated and mistreated by SWA that I feel badly for.
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What bothers me more about the Kevin Smith incident is Southwest's poor customer service and lack of accountability. I will never fly Southwest again.
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Would you have justified your pilots actions if the passenger was a woman? How about if the passenger was a person of colour? To my mind, discrimination is discrimination and it's made worse by being justified by corporate policy. As a professional travel agent, I can't recommend SW to my clients any longer as several of my regulars are, perhaps, larger than your company's view of "safe".
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Seriously Southwest?!!! This is the best "apology" you can make? Did you even listen to his side of the story - or is it too inconvenient to hear a customer out? First, I get the there are cases where 2 seats may be required - I get it and appreciate it. HOWEVER, this obviously was not one of them. You are only saying something because you were caught bay a semi-popular celebrity. Also, if you are concerned with someone blocking the aisle... how does allowing someone who "requires" 2 seats to get on the plane at all help? So, according to your own policy - it is okay to have someone so big that they could block the aisle on the plane so long as they pay for an extra seat. Ummm.... isn't the "safety concern" still there? How does paying for an extra seat change the size of the person when they get to the aisle? Ohhh.. it doesn't, but at least you can bring in some more cash - so, really, you don't even care about the safety of the rest of the passengers.
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I sold all of my Southwest Airlines stock (Ticker: LUV) today. Thanks for the gains but because of your complete lack of respect for your passengers, I am out. It's back to united for me. You really should have handled this better.
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Way to go Soithwest!!!!!
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sounds like an opportunity for him to get some free publicity for his next movie. hmm, which happens to open on the 24th.