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Thin Passenger Forced Off Plane To Make Room For “Customer Of Size”

By Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger
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Size issues have once again resulted in a passenger being forced from an airline. The most recent episode was last week on a Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Sacramento. A 5-foot-4, 110-pound woman had already stowed her bags and was buckled in her seat when she was asked to leave the plane to provide room for a large person to sit in two seats. The late-to-arrive large person was a 14-year-old girl whose parents had only purchased one seat, a violation of the airline’s “Customer of Size” policies.

The passenger said in an interview with the Sacramento Bee that she was surprised when she was told to deplane, and airline employees berated her for expressing irritation. "It didn't seem right that I should have to leave to accommodate someone who had only paid for one seat," she said.

"We know this was awkward and we should have handled it better," said Southwest spokeswoman Marilee McInnis, adding that normally the airline would ask for volunteers to give up their seats. In this case, however, flight attendants may have been rushing to make room for the teen in order to save him from embarrassment.

Southwest is the same airline that made headlines earlier this year when it removed blogger and director Kevin Smith from his seat for being too large and needing to “squeeze” into his seat. Southwest said his removal was for the "safety and comfort of all customers," maintaining that a large person could block passengers seated nearby from exiting quickly in the event of an emergency.

Southwest generally requires large passengers to buy two tickets. The airline has even gone so far as to now have an online “Customer of Size” FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document. It addresses multiple concerns, including whether a pregnant woman has to buy two seats: Southwest says a pregnant woman does not occupy two seats if she can lower the armrests. While the policies only apply to Southwest, they could influence other airlines to adopt similar restrictions.

Southwest Airlines “Customer Of Size” Policy Information

Why ask large Customers to purchase additional seating?

Add a Comment10 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Thank you to my fellow anonymous posters for your support! Jody - your complete lack of common sense is truly amusing. I eat a phenomenal diet and I work out regularly. I still have weight issues from time to time, but I take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for my actions and issues. You crack me up (and I don't mean that in a good way).

August 1, 2010 - 12:40pm

I would have been extremely livid had I been asked to debark the plane to give up my seat for an overweight person who needed two seats and especially, only paid for one seat. I would refused to leave unless I received some kind of incentive, like what Susan had mentioned, that would be worth my while to leave.

July 30, 2010 - 10:33am
EmpowHER Guest

I would have refused to give up my seat, especially for someone overweight who needed two seats and turns out his parents only paid for one seat. I would have been very livid and would have demanded some kind of incentives, like what Susan had mentioned.

July 30, 2010 - 10:23am
EmpowHER Guest

Jody: You are like an ex-smoker who has "found religion." Just because you were once obese you now think you have all the answers and speak for all the rest of the fat (yes, FAT) people out there. I'd also like to know exactly - EXACTLY - how "people like [her] you" are "part of the problem?"What problem would that be? Are thin people holding these fatsos down and stuffing Big Macs into their faces? Do fat people HAVE to be/stay fat just because others are not? And so what if the other poster can eat whatever she wants (how do you know she doesn't watch her diet carefully?) - that's still not the cause of fat people being fat. Ever heard of PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, or is that concept too foreign to you? Not to mention, who died and left you the God of the boards, deciding whom to censure for their personal opinions?

To the other Anonymous poster who said that "some" obese people have NO CHOICE - yes, there are some diseases and some medications that can cause weight gain. BUT check it out for yourself - they account for less than 7% of all the obese people in the country. That's clearly not the majority.

Bottom line is people all need to take charge of their own health, whether it's their weight OR their emotional issues (like anger, impulse control, obsessive/compulsive traits, narcissistic personality disorder; any of this sounding familiar J?). AND, as was also pointed out, people should take some time to teach healthy habits to their children while they're teaching them to be so touchy-feely. Get a grip indeed.

Oh, BTW - I do not "have" to post anonymously, I CHOOSE to do so. I don't think the entire world (that's why it's called the "World Wide Web") needs to know every thought I have on every subject I choose to weigh in on at any given time. Something everyone ought to consider; boundaries, restraint, and common sense - whether it's what/how much you eat or how much of your personal information you share so indiscriminately with millions of strangers. Amazing.

July 30, 2010 - 1:51am

Get a grip? I am not the one who had to post anonymously! The fact of the matter is, we have a health crisis YES, people ARE obese, yes, but does it make it any better to be judgmental snobs? No. On the original topic, I completely think that the airlines was in the wrong to make the woman LEAVE the plane, the parents were in the wrong for not purchasing enough seats, but is it the kids fault? Well according to you all it is, would you like to check his baggage to make sure he isn't packing anything you would deem unhealthy?.

I love how we can throw common decency out the window all because you think they deserve it for being overweight, we teach our kids not to judge yet we criticize someone for what they are eating because they are overweight, yet wouldn't make a second glance at what they were eating if you could walk your merry way through the way you wanted. Ever stop to think that people like YOU are also apart of the problem?

Now who needs to get a grip?

July 29, 2010 - 4:44pm
EmpowHER Guest

Jodypag - get a grip, lady. We are in the midst of the worst healthcare crisis, EVER, because people DON'T KNOW HOW TO EAT HEALTHY DIETS and are obese. Who is sucking our system dry with ongoing healthcare issues? Obese people. I'm not saying my heart does not ache for obese people - it does. I can't imagine what it must feel like to be that way. But the other side of that coin is this - people are obese in this country for many reasons, much of them centered around behavior, i.e., a lack of movement and exercise and a complete inability (and in some cases, a total lack of desire) to feed themselves nutritiously and properly. Obesity is a disease too - but in the MINORITY of cases, not the majority.

Again, I'm not saying that I do not empathize with obese people, but before you go judging "judgemental" people like Susan Cody, look within yourself. "With people like you around it's amazing that I had the motivation to lose 135 pounds"? Really? Because clearly it was Susan's problem (and other slim people's problem) that you were fat. Clearly.

In any case, I would have made the biggest stink EVER if I was asked to deplane because someone didn't buy two seats. Are you kidding me? I would like to know if the woman asked to deplane was compensated. What if she were flying on a death/bereavement ticket? Or giving a presentation in front of an auditorium of thousands? Totally irresponsible corporate behavior on the part of Southwest Airlines. The teenager that they were too afraid to embarrass should have been booted (and perhaps given some money to fund his future gastric bypass).
Take care of yourelf Americans. ugh. Stop being lazy, get off your butts and walk or exercise, and STOP EATING fat, sugar, and execessive carbohydrates!
If that doesn't work, THEN complain. But not until then.

July 29, 2010 - 3:24pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

NICE opinion humm, have you stop to think before given your and you forgot that some people of that size have NO CHOICE, they have some illnesses (which I think with all garbag e we are eating : hormons in our food, added sugar in almost everything, evenb fresh fruits and veggies have chimicals that are affecting our budies... don;t blame some of these people, they can't do anything about it even if they tried. Don't critisize someone until your are in his/her shoes.

July 29, 2010 - 4:07pm

Susan, while you took the time to critique her food and beverage choices, plus her size , did you stop to think maybe she chose the seat because of easy-access due to her size? With people like you around its amazing that I had the motivation to lose 135 pounds (and counting). I used to sit in the front, or sides to be able to get in and out without shoving people through, and my size distrupting thier movie if I needed to beeline to the bathroom (bladder and issues such as IBS are also common in people who are obese). IS there a reason you couldn't go the other direction if she was so big that she blocked your way out, or did you want to make her feel bad as you stared at her and what she ate and drank?

Just thinking on the other side of the coin here which you clearly have not been apart of, but are very quick to judge.

July 29, 2010 - 2:08pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Susan, No I didn't know that about handicapped spots. It truly is sad to see the growth in obesity. Did you know there is now a booming market for XXL caskets? I wrote about it here: https://www.empowher.com/diet-amp-nutrition/content/supersizing-america-xxl-cheeseburgers-xxl-caskets

July 28, 2010 - 1:07pm
EmpowHER Guest

I wonder what would have happened if the woman had refused to give up her seat. Would the airline personnel have forcibly removed her from the plane? Not sure I would have been so accommodating.

July 28, 2010 - 12:13pm
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