Thursday, February 18, 2010

Too Fat to Fly Southwest


When Southwest Airlines told Kevin Smith to get off their plane, they pushed him to a place where he could not quietly retreat.

Listening to Smith rant about his Southwest drama, I nod my head, my heart swells. I feel his pain. When he says he just wants to blend in, that no fat person would choose to draw attention to themself in this way, I silently move to stand behind him as he takes the bullet for both of us. This is about more than one fat man who's been kicked off a plane.

Does a Rosa Parks comparison rankle your feathers? Careful now, you may be repeating history. Imagine yourself in 1955, and put yourself in the mindset of the white majority. The place for a black person was the back of the bus. Who was she to say things should change? Black people weren't allowed to ride unless they sat in their designated spot -- apart from the white folks. Fat people aren't allowed to sit on an airplane just like the average size passengers. They may not be segregated, but they pay twice the fare, or face ejection.

Kevin Smith was humiliated. Now he is staring right into the face of his bully. Is it going to take a court order (a boycott, a riot?) to require the airlines to provide seating that accommodates people who are wider than 17 inches?

There's a rumbling of posts on the internet asserting that fat people don't have the right to encroach on other passengers. This shouldn't be a turf war over a few inches of seat, it should be about human dignity and how we treat those who are in the minority.

Man invented the wheel, combustion engines, flight and airplanes. We've even put a man on the moon. Surely we can devise an equitable solution for airline seating that doesn't involve arbitrary ejection of passengers or doubling fares. The problem is the seats, not the people.

Come on Southwest, do the right thing.

(Please forgive the momentary diversion from TravelScoot talk, to post about something important to me.  If you'd like to hear Kevin Moore talk about being taken off a Southwest flight, go to .)


  1. I was forced to pay for an extra seat on a SW flight even though the person sitting next to me was my husband who did not mind that I "encroached" on his turf. We argued, complained, wrote to customer relations, etc. but all to no avail. That was the last time I flew SW. No other airline has hassled me.

  2. This is the act of fat shaming that just keeps on giving. Southwest refuses to admit they didn't even follow their own policy.

    I agree that the seats should be larger for everyone. I have yet to read about anyone who says they are actually comfortable in the existing seats.

    With the existing seating and "customers of size" policy Southwest pretty much says to me "no fatties". Their concern is for their "real customers" the thin ones.