T Nation

Skinny Woman Booted Off Plane for Fat Passenger


#1

http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/fat-fly-southwest-airlines-skinny-woman-booted-off/story?id=11262521&page=1

Skinny Woman Booted Off Plane for Fat Passenger
Teenage Girl Was Too Fat to Fit Into One Seat on Southwest Airlines Flight
By SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
July 28, 2010 â??

Southwest Airlines recently kicked a skinny woman off a plane to make room for an oversized 14-year-old girl who needed two seats, a move that has prompted at least one expert to call for airlines to start selling a handful of special big seats on flights for bigger Americans.

Normally, we hear about passengers who are too fat to fly -- people so obese that they can't squeeze into their chair and never thought to purchase a second ticket. Remember when Southwest booted Clerk's director and actor Kevin Smith from a flight in February because of his heft?

But this time it was a 5-foot-4, 110-pound Sacramento, Calif.-area woman who was forced from the plane.

"It didn't seem right that I should have to leave to accommodate someone who had only paid for one seat," the anonymous woman told the Sacramento Bee.

The catch here is that the woman was flying standby and paid full fare for the last available seat on the flight from Las Vegas to Sacramento, and the extra-large passenger here happened to be a 14-year-old girl traveling on her own.

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Southwest spokeswoman Marilee McInnis said via e-mail that sometimes the airline is "faced with extenuating circumstances and we try to make the best decisions possible." The woman was placed on another flight to Sacramento "within the hour."

"The flight was completely full and after boarding an adult passenger who was not originally booked for this flight, we learned a young customer traveling alone once onboard needed more than one seat to get safely to her final destination," McInnis said. "We requested the adult customer take the next flight to accommodate the young, 14-year old traveler who was being met at her destination."

McInnis acknowledged that the airline should have first sought volunteers and said Southwest apologized to the woman and refunded her one-way airfare.

Southwest Airlines' Obese Passenger Policy
It is normally Southwest's policy that passengers who are too big to fit in a seat buy two tickets in advance and then are refunded for the extra seat if the plane isn't full.

Southwest's coach seats are 17-inches wide, according to SeatGuru.com.

Southwest wouldn't say if the girl had purchased two seats. It also refused to say how many passengers each year are required to purchase two seats.

In fact, none of the airlines that ABC News contacted were willing to share such information about how many passengers are too fat to fit in their seats, and the government only keeps track of total number of passengers on planes, not actual seats sold.

"Our customers are not required to explain the reason for the purchase of a second seat and because of this, we're unable to break down numbers," JetBlue spokeswoman Alison Croyle said in an e-mail. "Anecdotally we see second seat purchases for people bringing instruments, buying a seat for their service animal, couples purchasing and not wanting anyone to sit between them, disability, or personal comfort for customers of size."

George Hobica, president of airfarewatchdog.com, said a ticketed passenger normally has precedence over one flying standby. However, whoever was picking up the 14-year-old girl might have panicked if she wasn't on the flight.

"I think Southwest probably did the right thing here, and I'm pretty sure they'll make it right with the displaced passenger, who clearly has a very legitimate gripe," he said. "I'd probably be hopping mad if it happened to me, although when I fly standby I realize I'm taking my chances."

But not everybody is so forgiving of Southwest.

"This is crazy. The gate agent obviously made a bad judgment call," said John DiScala, a travel blogger known as Johnny Jet. "Did they ever think how embarrassing it is for someone to be taken off the plane? Other passengers might have thought she was a terrorist. The agent should've made the 14-year-old wait for the next plane. After all, she was late."

Bigger Airplane Seats for Fat Passengers?
Regardless, Hobica said this is symptomatic of a larger problem -- so to speak.

"The solution for obese passengers is for airlines to install at least one row of extra-wide seats in economy class -- in a two-by-two configuration rather than the normal three-by-three -- that would be made available in advance to 'passengers of size,'" he said. "Airlines already sell extra-legroom seats, but while passengers aren't getting much taller year by year, they sure are getting wider."

At least one U.S. airline does just that. Spirit Airlines sells two rows of "Big Front" seats at the front of their plane for anywhere from $25 to $75 extra. While they are only an inch wider, the seats -- set two-by-two -- have large armrests and more room for overflow.

Hobica added that in Canada, airlines can't make passengers pay for two seats if they're extra wide.

"Whether or not we treat obesity as a medical or mental condition, facts are facts ... there are a lot of wide people," Hobica said. Adding extra-wide seat -- sold at a premium -- "protects not just the dignity of the clinically obese or someone who's spent too much time in the gym, but also those passengers who are sometimes forced to share half their seat with them."

Copyright © 2010 ABC News Internet Ventures


#2

Before you make any comments, consider that airlines seem to be trying to cram as many passengers on their planes as possible.

How soon before some of us are "too big"?


#3

They should have strapped the fat girl to the belly of the plane. Then, when they landed, not drop the landing gear.


#4

Wait... so now we're calling a 5' 4" woman SKINNY?

Fuck, that's NORMAL weight for a woman that tall.


#5

Very true. Apparently, 'not obese' means "skinny" now.

As far as airline seats, those things are too small for me as it is. I mean, my waist isn't the problem, but flying for hours with your shoulders in someone else's seat isn't cool. They often move me if they have two open seats together so I can have more room.


#6

I just back from a 12 hour flight where I fortunately had the aisle as I had to constantly lean a little out so the guy in the middle seat didn't die.
I looked like I was farting the whole time.

How big is Kevin Smith that he was booted? He's quite chubby but i didn't think he was that big.


#7

He's like 320 pounds now.


#8

Yeah, that dude is built like a parade float now. I guess too much traveling through the valley of the munchies...


#9

Would you be surprised if they made you buy an extra seat if the plane was nearly full?


#10

I just flew to/from Denmark-- all of 8+ hours each leg. I have my travel coordinator put me in aisle seats now because I'm tired of being crammed up against the window (I've always preferred window).

The plane each way was a 757, so two rows of 3 and the seats are somewhat accommodating (even my fat squatting ass never has a problem with the seat).

However, I got hit in the shoulder at least a dozen times from stewardesses moving in the cabin. Wide shoulders are a BIG downer on airplanes. Plus my back cramps from leaning out into the aisle so I don't crowd the fatty next to me.


#11

This is why I like the window better. I'd rather cram myself against the wing than be bumped every 5 minutes and slammed with the drink cart.


#12

Somewhat related:

FUCK FENWAY PARK and their seats built in the early 1900's!

I try and take my son to a game, and have to sit next to some fucking douche bag, who sees my shoulders are quite a bit wider than the seats. But this fucking cock smoke HAS to lean into my seat to try and pretend he is big and bad for his FAT DISGUSTING wife.

Not to mention, anyone over 5'10" is not going to fit their upper legs in those fucking seats.

FYL if you are in the bleachers.

okay, I feel better, lol.


#13

Yes, because I haven't ridden on a plane yet where there isn't some hugely obese person taking up two seats worth literally.

Any guy much over 220lbs and muscular is going to have problems with those seats.


#14

The man ripped a toilet from the wall just by sitting on it.


#15

I don't have anything against fatties personally. It is only when they encroach on my space (like smokers), that I become offended and defensive.

I will say this, if I were seated on a bus or plane next to a Kevin Smith-sized fatty, I'd be uncomfortable and disgusted. My judgment of his character would overwhelm my thoughts to the point it would destroy an otherwise good conversation I might have had with him.
On the other hand, if he were a Ronnie Coleman-sized BBer, I may be somewhat uncomfortable, but damn the conversation might be excellent, because my judgment would be that of great admiration.

How's that for a Shallow Hal response?

lol


#16

The good news for you, I.D., is that you fit nicely in the storage space under the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartment. You shouldn't even need to check yourself at the front gate!


#17

my avi says it all


#18

May an angry mob of torch and pitchfork-wielding dwarfs, midgets, gnomes, elves, jockeys, and small children with sticky fingers converge on you and yours while you sleep.


#19

"protects [...] the dignity of [...] someone who's spent too much time in the gym,"


#20

I hate the aisle because of this. I'm not that big so it's not that I'm crowding the entire aisle. The problem is that alot of the stewardesses now are fat slobs with huge asses that barely fit down the aisle. I'd personally rather be cramped against the window than bumped by a disgusting slob every 10 minutes.