Southwest doesn’t care if you’re say, a celebrity like director Kevin Smith or a normal, innocent mother/daughter duo. If they think you’re too fat to fly, they’ll tell you so, and in this most recent case, they’ll tell you in an embarrassing manner in front of a crowd of people at the airport.
MSNBC says Kenlie Tiggeman, who has lost 120 lbs. over the last two years, and her mother were told by a Southwest Airlines employee at a layover in Dallas that they couldn’t get on the flight without buying additional seats, citing the airlines'”Customers of Size” policy.
After the employee singled out Tiggeman and her mother, she asked why they were being treated different than the rest of the customers.
“I asked him what the weight restrictions were and he said that he didn’t know, just that we were too heavy to fly. Too fat to fly,” Tiggeman told MSNBC. The policy requires passengers who are unbale to fit between armrests to buy an additional seat. Kevin Smith was barred from a flight on Southwest for the same “too fat to fly” reasoning.
On her blog, Tiggeman writes: “For the record, I can sit in any seat on the plane with the armrests down. I can use the seat tray table to place my laptop or water comfortably in front of me. I can cross my legs, read a book and/or listen to my iPod without encroaching on the seat next to me.”
The policy is meant to be implemented by talking to a customer in a private area, but Tiggeman and her mother were involved in a 45-minute conversation about their weight and what size clothing they wear in front of 100 people, she says.
“I know that I have a lot of weight to lose but I am definitely not too fat to fly. I do it all the time, domestically and internationally, and I have never had anyone approach me and particularly in the way that they did,” said Tiggeman.
The employee then offered to let the woman fly if they’d sit with a third overweight passenger, which wasn’t okay with Tiggeman’s mother, who said she should be able to sit wherever she wants. Finally, a supervisor let them on the flight and gave them flight vouchers and an apology.
After Tiggeman wrote about the experience on her blog, All the Weigh, Southwest apologized again, offering more flight vouchers. But all the free flights in the world isn’t enough to make things even between Tiggeman and Southwest.
“Their sensitivity level needs to change, period. It needs to be different,” said Tiggeman.