When we hear the words “too fat to fly,” the airline that immediately pops up is Southwest. Of course there was the famous incident with Clerks director Kevin Smith back in 2010, as well as another woman who said the airline allegedly booted her from a flight for being overweight and sued Southwest to clarify its somewhat fickle “customers of size” policy. Now another man is claiming that he was pulled off a flight for being overweight, even though he says he used to be even heavier and never had a problem with the airline before.
According to him, he’d boarded his flight already when a Southwest official said he had to leave the plane. He says the official then asked him if he knew about Southwest’s policy for overweight passengers (which asks that “customers of size” buy an extra seat ahead of time if they can’t fit in a seat when both armrests are down) and he said he was aware of the rule.
At that time, he claims, the woman said, “I just want to explain what I can and can’t do. I can yank you off this plane right now.”
He says he was told the flight was overbooked, and that’s why he’d been pulled, but that he felt singled out.
“What made it worse was there was two guys on there that was bigger than me, and they didn’t get pulled off the plane,” he says.
He was finally let back on the plane — and no one ended up sitting between him and his brother, despite the flight being apparently overbooked. When he arrived in Denver and filed a complaint, he says Southwest offered him $100 but that that’s not enough. He’s now seeking legal advice.
“We sincerely regret [the man's] unhappiness over his experience,” said a Southwest spokesman. “We have personally called [him] to offer him our apologies and better understand his concerns. It’s important to clarify that he did travel as scheduled—we did not deny him boarding. Our Employee informed him of our policy, and he proceeded to travel as scheduled.”
Most airlines have a variation on the “customers of size” policy, but often aren’t consistent in when they enforce it. It’s that fickleness, along with claims from passengers of insensitivity or creating an embarrassing situation, that have many fliers up in arms.
*Thanks for the tip, Lenny!