Consumerist reader Laura writes in to share the story of how her stepfather was given the boot from a Horizon Air flight because of his 6’9″ frame.
Laura says her stepfather, an MD with many miles of travel under his belt, always tries to book exit row seats whenever he flies in order to give his long limbs the extra inch or two of room. But when booking a recent flight, those seats were completely booked.
Calls to the airline and appeals at the gate for scoring an exit row seat were fruitless. In fact, one Horizon customer service staffer had jokingly stated that the passenger’s long limbs were now the flight attendants’ problem.
And that’s exactly what he found when he finally boarded the flight.
Here is some of the letter Laura’s stepfather sent to Horizon:
My legs do indeed stick right out into the passage and since the plane was full there was no option to get a single seat where I could put them out of the way. Of course I realize that it will always be necessary to get the carts etc up and down the aisle and when I have been faced with this situation in the past [as I often have been], things have worked out just fine.
At this stage the flight attendant walking up the aisle tripped over my legs and asked me to put them out of the way. I told her that I could not take them off and that I had tried several times to get a seat change. I then quoted what the phone operator had said and [she] immediately took offense, “What do you mean that your legs are MY problem?”
This did not go down at all well and she took off to the front of the plane… I sensed that she was miffed by this exchange.
Shortly thereafter, I was approached by perfectly behaved ground staff and told that I would have either to fold my legs out of the aisle or I would have to be removed from the flight. At no time did another flight crew come back to see me and at no time was there discussion of a possible seat change. I told this gentleman that this was no new situation and that I had never been faced with this ultimatum before. He left… but shortly thereafter a further official appeared and asked me to get off the plane.
In the past, when I have been landed in this situation, the attendants have always been most attentive and have made every effort to get me reseated in a more suitable seat such as the exit rows. In this case these were right in front of me and occupied by two rather small females neither of whom volunteered to offer their seat in exchange for mine but also none of the flight attendants even bothered to ask them if they would do so… At no time was my voice or [the attendant's] raised so there was no altercation or confrontation which could certainly have triggered a removal.
Not only were my travel plans totally disrupted but the humiliation of being led off the plane was very unpleasant. My whole experience over this has soured me on what until now has been a very happy flight partner.
I’m not exactly what one would call statuesque (unless it’s a statue of a short person), so I’ve never had this problem. But I know a number of you out there are tall folk. Was there a better way for either the airline or the passenger to resolve this?