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Customers of Size: Kevin Smith vs. Southwest Airlines

February 16, 2010

Yesterday the internets were a buzz with details regarding director Kevin Smith’s Twitter battle with Southwest Airlines when he was asked to leave one of their flights after he was seated.  Why was he asked to leave the plane?  He was overweight.  Southwest actually has a policy for Customers of Size (you can read it, here) and apparently Mr. Smith was in violation of it…maybe.  (Southwest claims that a person who is unable to put both armrests down must purchase an additional seat to help protect the personal space and comfort of other travellers.  Kevin Smith claims that he was able to put both armrests down, although apparently he usually purchases an additional seat in congruence with Southwest’s policy.)

Of course, this is a sensitive issue – I can only imagine how humiliating it would be to be asked to leave a flight because of my weight – but on the other hand, I have been that person trapped between two horizontally challenged individuals of size and I can assure you that was a miserable and uncomfortable experience.  I guess what I am saying here is, I can see both sides. It’s a touchy landmine, really.

I think the thing that has stuck with me the most about this whole mess is that America’s obesity (issue?  epidemic?  I don’t even know what to call it..) urm…situation is such that it has become necessary for an airline to actually have a Customer of Size policy to begin with.  Our people are getting bigger and bigger and…I am not trying to be unkind or politically provocative, but it’s a problem that needs addressing.


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