I am disgusted.
First, this "apology" is anything but. "We're sorry, Mr Smith, but you ARE too fat to fly" is possible the worst thing Southwest could say right now, but here they are saying it. Clearly, they're not paying attention.
Second, in both cases (Kevin being ejected, and the girl on the next flight being "talked to"**) the arm rest was able to go down. The Southwest policy and the half-assed apology both state that the policy applies when the armrest can't go down. So there was indeed no grounds for either incident.
Finally, Southwest is bending over backwards to apologize to the famous person who has the audience to hold them accountable for their policy, but doesn't mention or address the poor gal on the second flight, or the fact that this kind of treatment is apparent commonplace on their airline (what are the odds of it happening on two flights in a row?). Which clearly shows that they're just trying to placate a PR nightmare, and aren't actually paying attention to the fact that it is their policy - or more accurately, overly aggressive enforcement of their policy, and piss-poor customer service - is in serious need of an overhaul.
Cristi Day, I do not envy you your position. I know you weren't involved in the original incident, and you're stuck between PR's and Legal's likely conflicting instructions. I've held your position for other large corporations. But as a customer service representative, your responsibility is to fight tooth and nail to make sure the Powers That Be in your organization understand what the real issue is, and make the appropriate policy changes to correct it.
I sincerely hope that you take your position seriously, and are willing to fight the good fight from within the organization. Southwest's PR folks clearly think this is an issue of people not agreeing with their +size policy, when it is in fact anger at the policy being inappropriately enforced, and - worse - enforced rudely, overzealously, and with little regard for the customer.
The folks who were responsible or mis-enforcing the policy (both on Kevin's first flight and especially the second flight) have lost my business. Hopefully you can convince your higher-ups to address the real problem and stop making matters worse with such blatantly hollow apologies that fail to address the actual points of contention, before this turns into a full-on boycott of what is otherwise a pretty decent airline. Good luck. I'm afraid you're going to need it.
** See Kevin Smith's podcast on the topic for additional details regarding the armrest being able to go down and the experiences of the girl on his second flight: http://smodcast.com/smods/smodcast106.html
... View more