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Second Seat - Customers of Size vs. Families

Explorer C

Has anyone read Southwest's "Customer of Size" Policy? Under the reason for the policy, it states, 

"Southwest Airlines has had a long-standing policy for more than 30 years that is designed to meet the seating needs of our Customers who require more than one seat and protect the comfort and safety of all of our Customers."

If this statement doesn't apply to parents flying with children, then I don't know what does. Also note that under the "Customer of Size" Policy, "If it is determined that a second (or third) seat is needed, they will be accommodated with a complimentary additional seat." The customer of size gets there second and even their third seat for FREE!!

It seems that southwest is happy to encourage the travel of overweight people by paying for their second and even their third seat, but have no interest in accommodating "the seating needs of [families] who require more than one seat."

Is it just me or is this a bad policy on the part of Southwest? If a customer of size is entitled to an extra seat because they take up the space, why isn't a family with a 2 year old entitled to a free seat for the 2 year old? Or what about a 22 month old who flies free? All parents want an extra seat for their child at that age but nobody wants to pay for it..


Re: Second Seat - Customers of Size vs. Families

Aviator A

I'm sure you will have lots of opinions here. For me, this is not apples to apples. It's one person vs. two. 

To be clear, passengers of size much ourchase the seats they need and reach out after the fact for a refund for the extra seats. They are not flying for free. 

On the other hand, if SW just gives seats to kids, that means they would be flying for fully free. It isn't the same. And kids under two already fly free. Also, my under-two kids flying as a lap child have more than once ended up with their own seat on a not-full plane. 

SW already offers crazy good benefits for flying families. I'm not sure you will find what you are looking for at any airline, so for me, the existing benefits seal my business with Southwest. 

-A List, Companion Pass holder

Re: Second Seat - Customers of Size vs. Families

Explorer C

This is not the case, or at least not the case any longer. While I agree that we are discussing one person flying versus two (or more) the policy states that a plus sized person DOES NOT have to purchase a second seat (in advance or even at the time of boarding). 
Directly from Southwest’s website:

If you prefer not to purchase an additional seat in advance, you have the option of purchasing just one seat and then discussing your seating needs with the Customer Service Agent at the departure gate. If it’s determined that a second (or third) seat is needed, you’ll be accommodated with a complimentary additional seat.”

While I am not trying to shame any individual, this policy is completely unfair. I do not believe that anyone should get a free seat. I am a medically retired combat wounded veteran, and I do not get free seating, nor even a discount. If two seats are required, then two seats should be paid for. If anything, I feel that the second seat could be discounted as they’re not occupying the full seat, but they are essentially guaranteed a more comfortable flight than the average person (unless they are of three seat size). This policy ensures that they’ll get to sit in a seat without someone sitting next to them. I have also been on the other side, and had someone of large size sitting next to me, and they were pushing over into my seat, causing the entire flight to be uncomfortable for me. This policy is misguided at best. It has already been abused and has forced paying customers, who already had purchased their tickets, to get bumped to a different flight because someone of plus size did not purchase their extra ticket in advance. That is unacceptable. It should be mandatory that the plus sized flyer purchase that ticket in advance. Whether or not the cost of the second seat is refunded in part or full is not my concern, but ensuring that ALL customers that have purchased a ticket get on the flight that they paid for is Southwest’s concern. If a plus sized passenger arrives at the airport and had not purchased the second seat in advance, then they are the ones that should’ve been bumped. In almost every scenario, they knew that they needed the second seat before their arrival at the airport. Others shouldn’t have to suffer for their lack of planning, or trying to cheap out on their flight. According to the policy the cost of the second seat is refundable upon arrival at their destination. 

Re: Second Seat - Customers of Size vs. Families

Aviator A

If the airline starts charging those customers of size for the 2nd seat they won’t purchase it and you will in turn be uncomfortable because they would be next to you encroaching on your space 


Alaska has a policy (or did when I looked in to it several years back) where as long as there was an open seat when the aircraft took off they would refund a COS extra seat 


if a plane has open seats why not make everyone comfortable? Full flight try to get the COS on a flight where they can be comfortable without upsetting someone by bumping them 


everyone should be able to fly comfortably and the airlines are making Seats smaller even if we were all fit and healthy we will soon all expand to the seat next to us with the smaller seats by day 

Re: Second Seat - Customers of Size vs. Families

Aviator A

Southwest is actually one of the only airlines in the industry that provides separate fares for infants and children. Most airlines do not provide this at all.


Here are some more tips for flying with kids on Southwest: