The Day Southwest Airlines Turned My Old Fears Into A New Nightmare

by Kenlie Tiggeman on April 26, 2011

I fly pretty regularly and, perhaps, a bit more than the average person.  Over the last few years, I would guess that I’ve been on about 50 flights, and never have I experienced the kind of public disrespect, humiliation and blatant discrimination that I experienced last night on my Southwest Airlines flight

A few years ago I weighed over 400 pounds.  I tried to avoid flying, but when I had to do it, I purchased two seats – even after being told that it was unnecessary by customer service representatives from my airline of choice – JetBlue.  I choose JetBlue as often as possible because the jets feel more spacious and the customer service is consistently extraordinary.  But yesterday, I could not fly JetBlue.  They don’t offer service between my location points so I traveled with my family on Southwest Airlines.  It was, by far, the worst experience that I’ve ever had – even before they made it personal.

At the time the first photo was taken, I purchased two seats.  I weigh less now than in the smaller pic here.

My mom and I missed our original connecting flight due to delays  and weren’t sure when our bags would arrive at our destination.  When I asked the man at the gate before the last leg of our flight, he cursed under his breath and called me stupid for not remembering my first flight number.  That was annoying so I responded by asking him why he bothered whispering that I was stupid because I was right there.  He looked away, and that, believe it or not,  was not the worst part of my experience at Southwest Airlines.

At that point, Mom and I asked (as directed by the gate representative in our departure city) to be placed on the next flight out of Dallas which was scheduled to leave approximately 15 minutes from the time we asked.  We were told that it would be no problem.  The flight was not full, and we were given new boarding passes

My mom and I typically board early so we were waiting in line when we noticed the gate representative (who had just printed our new tickets) publicly and loudly discuss the weight of a larger woman and clearly distraught woman who was brought to tears.  The woman, Barbara, was told in front of everyone at the gate (including Mom and me) that she would have to purchase an additional seat to return to her home city.  As a self-proclaimed frequent Southwest flyer, she said that she had never been so embarrassed, nor had she ever been asked to purchase an additional seat.  Then she said “what about those ladies?!”  Enter Mom and me.

At that time, the man who said that we’d have no problem and the flight wasn’t full as he printed our new boarding passes, asked to speak to us.  He asked if we had ever been approached about buying an extra ticket.  Mom said “No, and I’m insulted that you asked since this is our return flight! If it’s an issue now, why wasn’t it an issue on my first flight? And why has your conversation with that woman has been so public?”  After talking down to my mother, Barbara and myself for the next several minutes, Mom was angered and crying which made me angry.

The woman is Barbara, and the man was Dale or Dell, the 2nd gate rep.

At that point, I chimed in. I urged Mom to stay calm and let me sort it out.  I asked what the official weight restrictions were, and his response was that he was unaware of any particular standard and that we were just “too big to fly without an additional ticket.“  So the representative said “Look, let’s make a deal. If you three ladies sit together then we can just forget this ever happened, and I’ll let you board.”  I probably don’t need to tell you what happened next.

I agreed to do it though my mother and the other woman, Barbara, said that it was ridiculous to suggest that we pay for tickets and not sit where we wanted to sit on an open boarding flight.  Barbara prefers to sit at the back of the plane while my mother prefers to sit close to the front.

My mother and Barbara agreed that they should be able to choose their own seats so at that point, Jennifer – a supervisor -  entered the picture.  She said it was “their policy to makeoverweight people pay extra” though she could not provide the actual policy or specifics related to that policy.  At that point, I was livid.  I kept my cool though I did remind the original overweight representative, Mr. D. Bucchanan, that I could complete a half marathon and probably faster than he could. ;)

Jennifer, the supervisor who later admits enjoys shows like The Biggest Loser and offered us $200 vouchers after we mentioned that they might be breaking a law or two. 

Note: There were several other very large people waiting at the gate.  As I looked at them, they looked away, perhaps hoping I wouldn’t drag them into the conversation.  At no point during this half hour ordeal did anyone  from Southwest say anything to the gigantic African American male who plays football for LSU.  For the record, according to his roster stats, that football player is 6’5″ and weighs 315 pounds!   That makes him well over a foot taller than me and almost 50 pounds heavier! Hey Southwest Airlines, are you kidding me?!

I typically pre-board because on some flights, I still require an extension, and it’s far less embarrassing to ask for one in front of 10 people than 110 people.  It helps to ease my anxiety, and makes it easier for the people around me.  I like to be seated with my extension (if applicable) before the plane is filled because when I’m settled in my seat, it’s less awkward than trying to climb over other people.

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. 

I couldn’t comfortably sit in one seat when I weighed 400 pounds, but I can now.  I can do many things now that I couldn’t do at 400 pounds.

 Back to the conversation at the gate…

When we mentioned that discussing these things in public was humiliating, unacceptable and potentially against the law due to their public discussion of our medical issues, their tunes completely changed.  The supervisor, asked for our tickets then returned moments later with $200 credits for each of us to use on a later flight.

They began apologizing profusely, offering to bring us cokes.  Look Southwest Airlines…I don’t drink sodas – diet or otherwise.  And by the way, I’ve lost over 114 pounds which helps me fit into your stupid airplane seats so no thanks.  I would not like a coke, but I would love it if you’d give my dignity back.  I’d also appreciate you wiping the tears from my mother’s face that YOU put there - a woman who has battled her weight most of her life – who stays out of the way on flights and fits into her seat.

I am acutely aware, as a result of my personal experience, that it is socially acceptable to mock people who are overweight.  And there was a point in my life when being insulted because of my size was a daily occurrence.  And while it is no longer a daily occurrence, it was infuriating to be publicly humiliated in front of an airport full of strangers as I was asked to share my weight, my clothing size and my reasons for weight gain and weight loss. 

As embarrassed as I was for myself – and I was – I was even more embarrassed for my mother and the 65-year old woman who was visibly larger than myself.  I agree, in that, if you cannot fit into the seat that you should buy another.  I’ve done it before, but not since losing the first 100 pounds.  My mother and I both fit into our seats, and I can’t speak for Barbara because she sat at the back of the plane.  But I don’t have to because regardless of size, number of seats and/or medical issues that allow for pre-boarding, etc.  the utter lack of disrespect and humiliation in lieu of decent customer service is unacceptable. 

I have come a long way, and I weigh less right now than I weighed when I arrived in New York last week.  And I weigh much less than I weighed when I first posted about my flight anxiety due to size.  What happened yesterday was something I feared for years, but I was apparently naive in thinking that I could release those fears at this point.  I am still a moving target, and the people at Southwest struck firmly yesterday – turning what used to be my worst fear into a real-life nightmare.

I realize that, for myself, this will eventually be a memory of my heavier days.  I am changing.  I have changed.  And now I have to figure out how to process this humiliating slap in the face by Southwest Airlines. 

If I had been asked to purchase another ticket in the same manner at 400 pounds, I would have graciously paid the price, understanding that it was only fair while believing that I wasn’t worthy of respect and/or human decency.  I did pay the price.  I used to buy two seats!  But as someone who can fit into her seat and has a shred of confidence in herself, I think it’s deplorable that they publicly embarrassed us rather than speaking to us in a private room or even around the corner in the empty hallway.  Calling me stupid is not okay. Announcing that I’m “too fat to fly” is not okay.  Turning an issue with one passenger into an issue with other passengers that were minding their own business is not okay. 

So here’s my biggest problem with the flight yesterday. If the folks at Southwest in Dallas had such a big problem then why didn’t the folks at Southwest in New York City have a problem first?  And why didn’t Southwest in Denver have any problems with us either?  Both flights were completely full yet no one suggested that I purchase an additional ticket.  What gives, Southwest? Why is it that this was not an issue until the last part of the return flight?  Why didn’t someone say something sooner?  How do you charge an additional ticket for the fourth flight purchased as one trip?  And, again because it bears repeating,  why didn’t they attempt to handle privately as opposed to handling it in front of the other approximately 132 people counted at the gate?  My answer: they didn’t see the need to treat overweight humans with the human decency because they don’t see us as regular people.

So Southwest Airlines, if you don’t want overweight passengers on board then state it in your next commercial.  If you do have a policy that excludes passengers and/or requires the purchase of a second ticket then post it on the front page of your website, tweet about it or make the small print bigger.

As your flight attendant said at the end of each flight, you know that I have choices when I fly so I will not be choosing to fly on Southwest.  And your $200 voucher is laughable at best.  It’s not even enough to cover a round-trip flight.  And can you promise me that I won’t face the same harassment on the next flight if I did fly Southwest again?

The personal attack after what had already been a tumultuous travel day is unforgivable.  And, in truth, I doubt anyone at Southwest Airlines cares that my mother and I suffered through humiliation and discriminatory behavior via Southwest.

It is sad, unacceptable and unforgivable.  They cannot give back the pain that they put us through yesterday.  They wouldn’t be allowed to disrespect me in such a way if I were black or gay or an alcoholic, but because I weigh more than average (for now) I’m an open target.

I plan to fight back.  My mother and I will be filing separate formal complaints against the airline, and that’s the just the beginning for me.  I’ve been fighting for myself for two years, and I’m going to continue doing just that.  But I want Southwest to know that every passenger willing for fork out the dough for a flight on their planes deserves equal respect.

I deserved respect yesterday.  My mother deserved respect and so did Barbara, but we did not get it.  I did receive one video apology, but if you watch, you’ll see Mr. Bucchanan laugh as I ask him why he’s saying he’s sorry.

I’m sorry for one thing.  I’m sorry that I wasted my money for such a horrific travel experience.  In short, I’m sorry that I chose Southwest Airlines.

Monday evening update: 

Shortly after I blogged about my experience, a small outpouring of tweets and comments caught the attention of @southwestair – the official twitter account for Southwest Airlines.

I received a tweet and an email and have learned that I will be contacted by Southwest in the morning.  For now, I will say that I’m glad they’re reaching out, and I’m willing to listen to what they have to say tomorrow.  I will, of course, keep you all posted.

And thank you to each of you, as always, for your opulent and unwavering support. 

{ 236 comments… read them below or add one }

Megan Harmeyer April 26, 2011 at 2:08 am

Un freakin believable! You're right: they didn't treat you with respect in any way. They could have easily taken you (and your mom and Barbara) to a separate area away from people. And if they're going to cite "policy", you'd think they'd be clear on that "policy". At first that guy seemed like he was being crass, but he looks sincere by the end of your video. I'm sorry you had to go through this. I don't fly often, but I have a feeling that next time I do, I won't be flying Southwest.

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Stacy April 26, 2011 at 2:09 am

Aaarrrrgggg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That pisses me off SO bad for you guys! And the stupid voucher. As if you'd ever want to fly them again. I've heard horrible things about Southwest for years and I don't even fly.

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Cassie April 26, 2011 at 2:15 am

OMG… that is horrible. I've never flown into Texas, but I've always flown Southwest and NEVER have I been treated the way you've been treated. That is unspeakable! They handled it completely the wrong. And I even weigh more than you do. I've never been asked to purchase an additional seat.

There aren't even words for how disrespected you, your mom and Barbara were.

I think you are doing the right thing and filing formal complaints. Like you said, if Southwest has such a policy, they should make it known and available to everyone before you purchase the ticket.

I have to think that the problem is with the gate attendants in Texas, like I've said, I've flown several times on Southwest, even at a heavier weight than I am right now, and never had it questioned.

I can't wait to hear Southwest's follow-up, I hope they do SOMETHING to address this disrespectful nature.

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Alan April 26, 2011 at 2:16 am

Wow so shocked by the lack of respect for you all! I avoid flying like the plague, I want to travel but its just too much anxiety for me at the moment. I am so sorry you had to go through that, this pisses me off. This story needs to go viral!!!

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Deb Willbefree April 26, 2011 at 2:21 am

What an awful experience! So embarrassing.

I have one question, tho. The LSU football player who was 6'5" tall & 315 pounds…was the fact that he was African American make him take up more room in the seat? Interesting that race somehow factored into this size size issue for you.

Deb

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Krystal April 26, 2011 at 2:22 am

I really do not know how to comment on this. That is crazy and unacceptable how they treated the situation. I do think you should send a letter to the airlines and I hope that they offer some kind of acceptable apology. Just remember that for every person against you, you have someone cheering for and encouraging you. You are doing great. Keep up the good work!

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Jane Cartelli April 26, 2011 at 2:23 am

I can imagine the anger and trama you are feeling today. Thank God feelings are not facts and the negative actions of Southwest reps do not make you any less of a dignified, considerate, intelligent human being. All their actions have done is show their airline is in a sad state of being.
Even at 385 pounds no airline ever asked me to purchase I second ticket (even Southwest) but I was always prepared if it was necessary. It never occured to me that the reps might have been so outrageous in their actions. I would have been crying if they had publicly humiliated me. And then my attorney husband would have sued. Again, it never happened to me. Now, after losing 220 pounds it never will but I will be praying for my larger family members to never be emotional and spiritually injured by the likes of the Southwest reps you had to deal with yesterday.
Whatever you do – don't eat over it!

Jane~
Keepingthepoundsoff.com

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Skinny Emmie April 26, 2011 at 2:24 am

Girl, I am LIVID for you. Just LIVID.
I do not fly Southwest (nor will I ever) because of their "customer of size" policy. I've unfortunately heard 1 too many stories like yours (and 1 is way too many). I fly quite frequently and almost every time I have near panic attacks about issues like this – despite losing 110 pounds. Keep us posted on how your complaints are handled. Many hugs to you and your mom

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Melissa E. April 26, 2011 at 2:26 am

Oh no! What a horrible experience. I never flew before I lost my weight, and it was mostly because I was afraid of what happened to you happening to me. If you fit in the seat, why do they care? Why humiliate you? No one deserves that. :( It's amazing how much weight discrimination goes on, and usually from people with super fast metabolisms.

Best of luck finding an airline that will treat you with the respect you deserve.

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♥Amber Filkins: Silver Lining♥ April 26, 2011 at 2:27 am

Wow, that is UNacceptable. I am so glad that you are taking further actions. I'm so glad that you took pictures, and I'm so glad that you got a video. Can't wait to see what becomes of this.

And because I KNOW that someone from Southwest will see this and hear about this,

I will not be flying Southwest.

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Brandie April 26, 2011 at 2:29 am

This is aweful and I'm so sorry you had to deal with it . Reading this makes me think twice in using SW I'm an over weight person myself

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Debbie D. April 26, 2011 at 2:30 am

Crazy! Sure changes my opinion of SWA.. I am so sorry y'all experienced this.. I'm glad you aren't just dropping it.

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Daisy April 26, 2011 at 2:31 am

Oh my goodness. It amazes me how little tact people have today. How can you treat people this way and expect to have repeat business?! Not very smart.

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Perfectly Unperfect April 26, 2011 at 2:40 am

Discriminating against overweight people is the last acceptable form of discrimination!

So sorry this happened to you and your mom. And to Barbara.

This is why I do not fly. I would NEVER fly Southwest. EVER!

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healthytasha April 26, 2011 at 2:55 am

I, too, am absolutely livid for you. He apologized for the manner at which the situation was handled, but there should never have been a situation in the first place. He made it a situation. I've never flown Southwest, but I can assure you that I never will and I will inform people that they should not do business with a company that is so absolutely discriminatory.

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Diana Lynn April 26, 2011 at 2:56 am

Un-Freakin_Real…and so unacceptable !!

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| PN | April 26, 2011 at 2:58 am

I am so so so so sorry to hear about your experience. I cannot believe how poorly the people of Southwest treated you. And I am even more embarrassed that some good ol' Texas folks were total asshats to you. I'd (please forgive me) expect that from some elitist state, but Texan's normally have more heart.

File your complaints and go all the way, don't let them shut you up.

*hugs*

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alma April 26, 2011 at 3:03 am

There is something utterly deplorable about the fact that people think they can treat another human being as if they weren't one simply because they are overweight. When did that become okay? I'm glad you wrote and took a stand for yourself. You are standing up for your right to be treated as a living breathing person. I've never flown them and now I never will.

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Sneaker Teacher April 26, 2011 at 3:03 am

WOW. Kenz that is awful and I am so sorry you had to go through that experience. I can't even imagine how awful it must have felt and I am glad you are filing a complaint!

You can't change other people, but at least you can go through your life knowing that you are making positive changes within yourself and that you know how to treat people with dignity and respect.

KT

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Kelly April 26, 2011 at 3:03 am

I am very interested to see if Southwest has the balls to respond to this post. What disgusting, unprofessional behavior. Who do they think they're kidding with those $200 vouchers? Seriously, Southwest?

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Dad April 26, 2011 at 3:13 am

It's unthinkable to me, given the weather conditions and late hour of the flight that a representative for Southwest could be so rude. It is unthinkable.
This is certainly an example of the blatant prejudice that society has against overweight people. And it's an example of Southwest's prejudiced against its paying customers.
This is not what I would expect from an airline that has one of the nation's best reputations.
I'm glad that I was not there to watch my daughter and her mother be insulted. Shame on you Southwest. I despise people who abuse their authority. In short, I hate bullies.

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Mari Adkins April 26, 2011 at 3:13 am

I'm sure you've seen this already – but Southwest did the same thing to Kevin Smith in February of last year. http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20344142,00.html

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Mandi @ Finding Home April 26, 2011 at 3:13 am

Honestly – you should contact a news program like the Today Show. Seriously. Southwest has been known for their weight discrimination. They did it to actor Kevin James and I believe someone else who I'm not sure of at this point. I think the more publicity you give this issue, the better. You have photographs and video of their employees and the very fact that their "policies" aren't strictly stated is a problem in itself. Get public about it girl. Do it for all the Barbra's who can't fight a battle like you can.

On a different note, congratulations for all the battles you've won. You are truly an inspriation. Now go call the Today Show. Seriously.

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Jill April 26, 2011 at 3:22 am

This is absolutely despicable. Is this what passes for customer service these days?! If anything they should be even nicer to you if they want you to spend twice as much money – which like you said, you don't need to do!! I understand that this can be a difficult issue, everyone has had a plane situation where the person next to them encroaches on their space (it's not even just large people! I've been seated next to men who must think they have a baseball bat between their legs!!) and it's not fun for anyone. But at the same time I have a hard time defending why one person should have to pay double for the same service.

Additionally, if that woman said it's their policy, she should be ready to back it up and show you in writing that it is indeed an actual policy.

I"m really sorry to hear about what happened, but I think that you did a very brave thing by sharing your story – I bet that there are a bunch of your readers who will not be booking with Southwest!

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Monique April 26, 2011 at 3:23 am

Wow…I can't believe they would act this way. Especially, since they try to act all friendly in their commercials. It's so sad you ladies had to experience that. I think it's awesome that you stood up for yourself and are writing this. Many others have probably gone through this and never said anything. Hopefully, SW will think twice about how they treat their customers. And I will definitely remember your experience the next time I choose an airline when traveling. It definitely will NOT be SW!!

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Mandi @ Finding Home April 26, 2011 at 3:27 am

I'm so sorry…I meant Kevin SMITH. He's an actor/director who was in "Jay and Silent Bob" and some other productions. Whoops, whoops, whoops!! Here is a link to an article People did about it. http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20344142,00.html

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Anonymous April 26, 2011 at 3:27 am

totally unacceptable on their part.

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Anonymous April 26, 2011 at 3:32 am

Booo Southwest! Yeah Kenz! You call this a nightmare, but you stood up for yourself and didn't just purchase the extra ticket even though it was unnecessary. That shows confidence in yourself, that shows a strong person. It is terrible that you had to go through it, but perhaps you made those people think twice about how they treat others in the future. The laugh the gate attendant gives while apologizing is clearly a nervous laugh…he clearly does not know how to deal with the situation appropriately. Maybe now he will make a more concerted effort to treat people with a bit of dignity, and maybe he will use some logic in the future (they already fit on one plane without having to buy an extra seat, why would they need one now???) Airlines need to stop charging customers so much extra money for made up fees, and spend some time coaching their employees on how to deliver good customer service. I wish you good luck with filing your complaints, and hope you get some resolution that will bring you some peace. Thank you for being brave and for sharing your story.

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Teresa April 26, 2011 at 3:35 am

It happened to me a few years ago with the same airline!I was on the way to a conference and wheelchair bound! And yes they did the same exact thyng in front of everyone! As a Fat Black womyn I can tell you yessssssssss it does cross color boundries as well when it comes to total disrespect! So my friends ,family and Loved ones actively boycott the Dilwads at Southwest! I wonder if the people who inspect their planes are fat with them falling apart and all!! KARMA TREATS YOU AS YOU TREAT OTHERS FOLKS!! ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS!!

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JadziaDragonRider April 26, 2011 at 3:38 am

I stopped reading at "gigantic African American" because I didn't see what the guys race had to do with anything. Sorry you had a bad flight tho. Congrats on your weight loss and healthy lifestyle.

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Anonymous April 26, 2011 at 3:39 am

The Southwest Contract of Carriage states the item below. Seems odd no one could quote this to you while you were at the gate.

Purchase of Additional Seat. The purchase of more than one seat for use by a single
Passenger is required in the following circumstances:

(i) To accommodate a Passenger who, in the Carrier’s sole discretion, encroaches on
an adjacent seat area and/or is unable to sit in a single seat with the armrest
lowered.

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Heidi April 26, 2011 at 3:42 am

Oh. My. God.

I can hardly believe that they would be so disrespectful. They're running a business, for heaven's sake. That kind of incompetence and – well, assholery, really – is a quick way to shrink your clientele.

I won't be flying with them – while I'm fat, once I'm fit, or ever.

Thank you for sharing this experience with us, despite it being such a difficult one. This way we're able to support you, and choose to NOT support their business.

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♥ Shrinking Kenz ♥ April 26, 2011 at 3:44 am

Jadzia, I do think that his race may have had something to do with it…or perhaps he was not approached because he was male. I can't be sure, but in my mind, it does perhaps play into it. Thank you for your kind words though..thank you.

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Mary (A Merry Life) April 26, 2011 at 3:45 am

Like Emmie I don't fly Southwest (EVER) because of their "customer of size" policy and the fact that this isn't the first time I've heard a story like this. I've heard similar things many times (often from people without a platform to be heard) and almost always it is stories about Southwest. The policies must mean employees can just feel free to have no respect for overweight passengers. It's sad that it's such an acceptable form of discrimination still.

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♥ Shrinking Kenz ♥ April 26, 2011 at 3:47 am

Anon – It is odd that no one (including the supervisor) would direct me to that. I read it after receiving an email from Southwest tonight, and as previously stated, I did meet the requirements so it shouldn't have been an issue at all.

http://www.southwest.com/html/customer-service/extra-seat/index-pol.html

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Anonymous April 26, 2011 at 3:54 am

That supervisor should be written up then! If there was any question about it, she should have pulled out the CoC and said this is our policy! Is there anything else you can share at this time from their reply to you?

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Shelli Belly April 26, 2011 at 3:57 am

I am so sorry that this happened to you and your mother. It's so unkind and unfair. A little customer service goes a long way. I will never fly Southwest! I also wrote a post on shellibelly.com about this kind of experience. http://shellibelly.com/2010/02/17/too-fat-to-fly-southwest/

Keep going in the healthy direction.
Smiles to you
Shelli

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Anonymous April 26, 2011 at 3:57 am

sorry, one more thing, cuz this has me so worked up! How come they say something to you, your mom and Barbara, but no one ever stops people from carrying 20 bags on, when the policy clearly says 1 carry on and one personal item!

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Anonymous April 26, 2011 at 4:04 am

So sorry that you, your mother, and Barbara had to experience this. No one deserves to be treated as inferior. I don't want this to sound wrong–I'm NOT glad that this happened in any way, but I am glad that YOU of all people were present because you are strong and confident and willing to share your story where many would not be able to. You have a lot of people cheering you on and that means a lot of people unhappy with Southwest.

And man, I despise Southwest because of a traumatizing experience I had. I accidentally bumped into a woman in the aisle when we stood up at the same time. She screamed at me while I repeatedly apologized. I was horrified that I had completely unintentionally made her so upset, and then her husband came up, cursed at me and shoved me down on the ground. I was an 18 year old girl. I looked up and two of the crew were just standing there watching. Neither of them said anything to me as I got off the plane in tears. I wish I would have taken action at the time, I was just so shocked!

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Julianna April 26, 2011 at 4:07 am

I am outraged that this happened to you! In general, Southwest Airlines has the worst customer service I have ever encountered. I flew to Florida on Southwest last summer and I swore to never fly with them again. I do not know where on earth they find their employees but every single one I encountered on my round trip was outrageously rude. My family and I got yelled at (actually berated) for being in the wrong boarding line. Also, the flying was particularly bad. I have never experienced so much turbulence in my life and I've flown a lot.

I'm glad you are making a complaint and I hope that you will go further with this. Southwest is not so much of a bargain to get away with stunts like this. I hope this makes the news.

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Lisa April 26, 2011 at 4:09 am

I am outraged! I hope you go through all the channels available to get the word out about your experience. That's unacceptable behavior!!!!

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PJ April 26, 2011 at 4:14 am

Hey there, am reading your blog thx to a retweet by mmarzipan. I am so sorry for your really crappy treatment! But you should be so proud of yourself, not only for how for you've come on your journey, but also for how you held your ground. Do you read Lynn's weigh?
http://lynnsweigh.blogspot.com/
Really inspirational and motivational. If you've never read it I'm sure you'll love it!

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LaraG April 26, 2011 at 4:26 am

I am at a loss for words… I've heard stories like that before, but I honestly didn't believe them, until now. I hope you hand their @sses to them on behalf of every single person they have objectified and humiliated!

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AndreaClaire April 26, 2011 at 4:37 am

I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I remember hearing about their treatment of Kevin Smith, you think they would have learned a thing or two about tact after that event. Apparently not. I've never flown SouthWest but have looked at them once or twice as a cheap alternative when flying south to see friends. Thankfully, Alaska always matched the SouthWest prices and would usually throw in a connector to Victoria (where I'm from in Canada) for dirt cheap.

I am very glad that you are going forward with this. The more people who speak up against this type of treatment and cause a stink, the more likely SouthWest will be in re-evaluating their handling of the policy. And that's the key for me: it's not the policy, it's their treatment of their customers in the name of this policy.

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Kat April 26, 2011 at 4:40 am

This is awful! Thank you for sharing your experience, I am sorry that you you all had to experience this. I am glad that you are going to file a complaint. I will not be flying Southwest anytime soon!

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Melinda April 26, 2011 at 4:50 am

This is actually bone chilling! I have flown Southwest quite frequently and, personally, have never had a problem with them. However, I've always had to deal with that apprehension every time I stepped on a plane.

Southwest really should reconsider, if not their policy, at least how they approach it. Sadly, yours is not the only story I've heard–but your platform does provide some hopefully constructive negative publicity for them.

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shortmama April 26, 2011 at 4:53 am

I saw you post this on FB and had to come over and read it. I am just at an utter loss for words. I am so sorry for your truly awful experience. I hope you take this as far as you can because NO ONE deserves to be humiliated like this! Shame on them!

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D... April 26, 2011 at 5:14 am

Oh my goodness, this exactly why I avoided any kind of long distance holiday for 15 years!!!!
How rude, how disrespectful and totally inhumane. I am so angry for the way you guys were treated and am stunned that people still believe it's ok to behave this way. Sure I get that there are safety and comfort issues here, I know I wedged my very large arse into a plane seat twice over the Summer and I am glad I wasn't any larger, for me or the person next to me but I was dealt with kindly and sensitively when I had accidentally been booked into an exit row.
This kind of thing gives other airlines a bad name and encourages larger people to avoid heading out and exploring the world, totally unacceptable! You poor things that's a horrible experience!

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Anonymous April 26, 2011 at 5:21 am

A 200 dollar voucher? What are you supposed to do with that? Did your mom and the other lady get one too?

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♥ Shrinking Kenz ♥ April 26, 2011 at 5:23 am

Anon – We all got a voucher, but yeah…that's not even enough to buy a trip anywhere..nor is it even close to what I paid for my tickets originally. We'll see what they say tomorrow.

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Lyndsay @ Thinspiration April 26, 2011 at 5:29 am

This is absolutely crazy & ridiculous!! Nobody deserves to be treated like that at all. I'm very glad that you are filing complaints against them & hope that you recieve the proper apology you deserve.

I am so sorry that this happened to you. Southwest is the airline that Kevin Smith (Silent Bob from Jay & Silent Bob) had the same problem with a year ago & this proves that they learned nothing from the experienced and are full of awful people.

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Roz April 26, 2011 at 5:53 am

Hi Kenz, I am HORRIFIED that you and your Mom (and Barbara) were all treated soooo badly. I have yet to ever need to fly Southwest, but after reading this, I'll go out of my way NEVER to fly with an airline that obviously has NO respect for it's clients!!! Look forward to seeing what they come back with tomorrow. Take care of youself!!!

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dianabanana510 April 26, 2011 at 6:16 am

Thank you for sharing this story!

First and foremost, I am so sorry that you had to go through that traumatic experience. I completely agree that people do not understand that weight discrimination is just as bad as any other kind of discrimination. It is a serious problem and it can be really disheartening when you want to believe that people are good.

Secondly, don't let them suck you into accepting an apology designed to cover their a$$es. Even if the person you speak with is sincere and you do accept their apology, you still have the right to take legal action if you decide that is what you want.

Best wishes…. you are so brave!

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Dizzy Girl April 26, 2011 at 6:33 am

Girl I am SO PROUD OF YOU FOR STANDING UP for yourself and your mom. My blood is boiling- this kind of shit pisses me off so bad. You have every RIGHT to be treated with respect. I am so mad!!! I wish I could've been there- I would've gone berserk. Well, maybe it's better I wasn't. But I just know about your flight anxiety anyway so this just sends me over the edge.

Good luck dealing with them- remember you are in control of the situation- not them.

LOVE YOU TONS!

xox-

D

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alwaysjessie April 26, 2011 at 6:56 am

Oh my god. I am SO sorry that you guys had to go through that! That's horrible! I have NEVER heard of airlines being SO disrespectful. Honestly! I definitely wouldn't have been able to keep my cool! Ugh.

I look forward to seeing what the hell they have to say to you tomorrow!

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KCLAnderson (Karen) April 26, 2011 at 9:29 am

GO KENZ!! That is TOTALLY unacceptable and I proud of you for standing up for yourself and for all of us, really!

I have to say that I am seriously surprised because Southwest is my favorite airline! They always go the extra distance and have always been accommodating…please keep us posted!

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Barbara April 26, 2011 at 10:55 am

Congrats on your weight loss! Keep up the good work…I've been through Weight Watchers and know how hard it is to change eating habits and the challenges of losing weight. Be proud of all that you have accomplished! I feel sorry for the employees you witnessed from Southwest…they need to go through some sensitivity and compassion training. Thank you for sharing. I will actively avoid Southwest Airlines. I do not want to support a service organization who treats it's PAYING customers this way. I'm sorry that happened to you. Hold your head high, stay strong and be well!

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Anonymous April 26, 2011 at 10:59 am

I'd be pissed at Barbara. Why did she have to bring you and your mom into it?

Jen

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Sara April 26, 2011 at 12:02 pm

I am so sorry you had to have such a horrible experience. I have never flown Southwest but now I am thinking twice about doing so. I hope they attempt to make this right in some manner. Although I would still never fly with them again. You just made my decision easier… Delta it is! :)

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aperfectversionofmyself April 26, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Woah.

I'm Canadian, so Southwest isn't usually an option for me but rest assured, I will not choose them even if they are. This is disgusting. So sorry you had to go through that.

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Tammy April 26, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Wow! I don't even have words for this situation. I'm sorry it happened to you, and I hope you are able to get some answers from the top brass at Southwest. It makes my sister's travel troubles with Delta on Sunday pale in comparison. Stay positive – you are a role model for many of us!

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karenislosingtowin April 26, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Unbelievable! I'm sorry you had to deal with this. How appalling.

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Shannon B. April 26, 2011 at 3:16 pm

I am so sorry that you had this experience. Like you, I would be INFURIATED. Keep complaining and go to the top of the chain of command at Southwest! It's ridiculous!!! I'm dumbfounded by your experience and the lack of respect Southwest gave you!

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Anonymous April 26, 2011 at 3:20 pm

The sad part is, that no matter what they do in terms of saying sorry- or vouchers- or tickets- nothing can take away the embarassment or pain that moment cause to you and the others. I hope you won't let this embarassing moment hurt you for too long. You have come a long way, and no need to have any negative stuff rolling around in your head.

People can be very insensitive, and if anything I hope this will cause Southwest Airlines to conduct some training with their representatives. It surely could have been handled in a better way.

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Nina Patricia @ The Adventures of Nina Patricia April 26, 2011 at 3:27 pm

I heard so many horror stories before…this is so horrific. Well Southwest, you just lost another customer…actually 4 because I wont allow my family to travel with you either.

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WildGift April 26, 2011 at 3:38 pm

The rules are made up as they want. What a shame. So sorry you had to endure this.

I've been next to extremely tall people who cannot put there legs parallel to each other and have to sit with them spread apart into my leg space. Do they have to pay for an extra seat?

The greedy airlines and high fuel costs have made air travel this way.

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Steph @ Thoughts From Cali April 26, 2011 at 3:55 pm

This is unbelievable. I really hope they are able to make it up to you. Not that I travel a lot but when I do Southwest will be at the bottom of my list!

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Melissa April 26, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Wow! I am so sorry to hear about how you were treated. I sure hope that they make appropriate apologies and that you never have to face that humiliation again.

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PlushBelle April 26, 2011 at 4:04 pm

This was heartbreaking for me to read. I'm really sorry you had to go through this. Southwest should be ashamed of themselves!

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Wrenched and Wrought April 26, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Kenz, I have been silently following your journey for a year – but I need to tell you that I am with you on this one – airline discrimination is despicable and the way the Southwest Airlines gate agent and supervisor handled this situation last night is egregious. As a fellow overweight person who makes every effort to be conscious of fitting in the seat, keeping my thighs, arms and other parts to myself on a plane, asking for an extension – but still knowing that I fit in one seat… I can only imagine how frustrating, angering and publicly humiliating it would be to have this issue discussed in public, and to see someone you love (let alone your Mommy) be made to cry because of it. I would lose my s*&t… You are handling this well. I will support you through this and wanted you to know that even though I’ve been silent, I’m behind you all the way.

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Formerly known as Frau April 26, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Unbelievable I'm so sorry you and your Mom plus Barbara had to go through this. There is no excuse for such behavior. I hope you get answers and if not don't stop fighting. I wish others had stepped up and defended you, I would have for sure.

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Jessica April 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm

So sorry this happened to you!

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Denise April 26, 2011 at 4:59 pm

This is so outrageous and wrong. I know you will keep us posted!

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Vivienne @ the V Spot April 26, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Craziness! Kenz! I cannot BEE-leeeve you and your mom (and Barbara) were treated this way. I just tweeted about it and will share on FB too. You should be the proud owner of an airline when all of the dust settles. geez.

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Amanda @ Serenity Now April 26, 2011 at 5:15 pm

I just read your story, and *I* am practically in tears that a company would treat paying customers or anyone (!) this way, publicly or not. I Tweeted a link to this post and I posted it on Facebook as well. I hope you get lots of press, and I hope SouthWest Air changes its tune.

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MiMi April 26, 2011 at 5:19 pm

First, I just have to say, Barbara, thanks for bringing Kenz and her momma in on it when they were minding their own business! Geez. How embarrassing.
She was embarrassed, I understand that, so she had to have company. Misery loves company, I guess.
Anyway. This is my worst nightmare. I need an extender, and if I didn't have small kids I'm positive they would make me buy more than one seat. Having the small kids makes it easy for my butt to take up part of their seats too. LOL
I've lost 60 lbs and still have a long way to go and I hope to God I don't have to fly before it's gone.
I'm so sorry this happened to you. Do you ever notice the "invisible" thing? Like people don't look directly at you when they see that you're heavy. It's like you're invisible. :(

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Cindy April 26, 2011 at 5:41 pm

how do they figure out just by looking if you're too big to fit into a seat? I can't guess my own weight when standing next to someone so really this seems almost impossible. I supposed you'd have to wait until another passenger complained over it, right?

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Jennifer April 26, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Just terrible. I can't believe people treat others like this. So sorry you had to go through that. Lesson learned, DO NOT FLY SOUTHWEST!

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Anonymous April 26, 2011 at 5:56 pm

I'm sorry for your experience but you can't be mad at the entire company for a couple of employees. They can't control everyone and some people like riding on a power trip! Southwest is my favorite airline and has always been nice to me so I hope they, as a company, can make it up to you for a few individuals that happen to work for them. Perhaps better training but as you said their employees in 3 other cities did not say anything about your weight. I wish you the best with your continued weight loss journey and I congratulate you for all you have accomplished thusfar!

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lanae April 26, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Wow! Kenz that is just unacceptable and unbelievable. It is my nightmare and worry as well. You've handled yourself with grace (no big surprise). Southwest messed with the wrong girl!!

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Marissa April 26, 2011 at 6:08 pm

there are NO words…

My goodness, I have a friend that works for southwest and she WILL hear about this. I hope you do fight this. You are a far better person for not causing a MUCH bigger scene…I sure would have. None of the other passengers stood up for you all as you were being disrespected? that's shocking because I sure would have said something. my goodness, so sorry about your experience and I don't blame you for NEVER riding southwest again, and I'm PROUD that you broadcast this story for all to hear…

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♥ Shrinking Kenz ♥ April 26, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Ahh latest anon – obviously, you have a right to fly and enjoy SOuthwest if you choose to do so. And you have a right to your opinion much like I have a right to fly on an airplane (that I do, in fact, fit on for the record) without being publicly mocked and humiliated.

I'm sure that Southwest Airlines employs some good people too, but they don't make up for the utter lack of respect that I faced as a paying customer by their other employees.

I am absolutely angered and disappointed by the company because the responsibility for this incident falls squarely on them.

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Lindsey Lu April 26, 2011 at 7:18 pm

HUGS to you. Absolutely ridiculous how poorly they handles this entire situation. Im outraged for you, Barbara, and your mother!

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Sarah Williams April 26, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Wow….I am just speechless by the events. I am so sorry to you, your mom and the other lady that had to endure such things. Fight tooth and nail againest Southwest, that is insane!

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Amanda April 26, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Kenz, what a terrible experience! I really do hope they are somehow able to make this right. It sickens me, though, because this isn't the first or even second time we've heard of Southwest behaving in such a manner. It appears to me there is a corporate culture of discrimination against people of a certain size. I understand they have their policy and that's all well and good — we want everyone to have adequate room in which to sit — but when Kevin Smith goes through what he experienced and now you and your mother have to go through this along with even more public humiliation?

It's flatly ridiculous. And it tells me that Southwest appears to be incapable of learning a thing about how to treat people. If an angry celebrity wasn't enough to get them to straighten out and fly right (sad pun intended), then I'm truly at a loss.

Count me as another consumer who won't be flying Southwest until I see a sign that the corporate culture has truly made a change regarding this issue.

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Kelty April 26, 2011 at 8:46 pm

That is awful! How dare they treat customers with such disrespect! I am glad that you're strong and able to put up a fight, because who knows how many people have been treated like that, but were too uncomfortable to really report it.

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Marci April 26, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Hullo. I just wrote to Southwest's customer service and told them they just lost a customer due to their treatment of you. I also told them that the blog is spreading like crazy on facebook. I think EVERYONE should write to them…maybe they will sit up and listen. In the meantime, ((((HUGS)))) and keep your chin up! You're doing wonderfully and you have inspired me to lose the 60 pounds I need to lose. Thank you. <3

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Karlie April 26, 2011 at 9:41 pm

I've come across your blog more than once and NEVER have I realized where you have come since you started!!! I'm amazed at your progress, congratulations. It is unfortunate that this happened to you and your mother. I feel so badly when my husband is given a dirty look or laughed at because of his weight. It hurts. It brings back those feeling of hurt reading your story. I'm glad you shared this with everyone. I hope Southwest learns something from this. They sure messed with the wrong person :)

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Laurie April 26, 2011 at 9:41 pm

I am sure I can't say anything that hasn't already been said, BUT I am almost in tears thinking about how brave you are and your immense self-confidence as you went through this.
I have thought you rocked since I first read you, now you are just beyond the rock!!!

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Stacey Thomas April 26, 2011 at 10:25 pm

I am appalled at what you had to endure. I will never fly Southwest if I can help it, and I will be sharing your story on my Facebook, and quite possibly my blog. I am enjoying your story because I too am on a weight loss journey of my own. Keep up the good fight girlie!

S.

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Drazil April 26, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Honestly I just don't have words. My God – this is wrong on sooo many levels. My thoughts are with you.

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Chubby McGee April 26, 2011 at 11:13 pm

I'm so sorry you guys had to go through that. What IGNORANCE on their part. Ugh!

I will NEVER fly Southwest. NEVER. I promise you that. ;)

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Mommy of Two April 26, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Oh my goodness, I am SO sorry for how you were treated. That is ridiculous! I have been reading your blog for awhile and I am amazed at how much progress you have made and how much you have persevered to reach your goals. I only have 25 lbs to lose and I can't find the motivation most days. I'm very glad that I have stumbled upon your blog and I sure do hope that never happens to you or your mother again.

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Miss S. April 26, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Simply appalling. I am proud you plan to make yourself heard.

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Mary April 26, 2011 at 11:52 pm

No. Unacceptable. Fight for the respect you, and every other passenger on that airline, deserve. Wrong, wrong, wrong, and I'm so mad on behalf of Barbara, your Mom, and you. Keep us posted about tomorrow's call. Grrrrrrr.

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Aunt Brenda April 26, 2011 at 11:58 pm

I can't believe that. How rude and barbaric can they be. I'm sorry you and Joan had to go through that. That makes me so angry. :-/ I'm guess they are regretting some of what they said at least. Good for you that you are not going to just let it pass without doing something. I love you girl.

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X April 26, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Wow that is totally unacceptable. I truly hope you and your mother never again have to live thru an experience like this. I totally agree with you blog it's not ok to humiliate people no matter size, gender or medical condition. Good luck on your fight for respect.

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Toni April 26, 2011 at 11:58 pm

outraged with you!

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Rhonda April 26, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Ridiculous is an undedrstatement!!! I'm so sorry you all had to face such disrespect and rudeness! Hugs my friend!

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Vivienne @ the V Spot April 27, 2011 at 12:37 am

And I am still so pissed about this that I just sent a letter of complaint to SW Customer Service and told them if they treat any passenger this way, I have no interest in giving them any business in the future. Grr.

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safire April 27, 2011 at 1:27 am

That is insane! I am so angry FOR YOU AND YOUR MOTHER. It's one thing when people hurt me but another to hurt my parents. This is so traumatic. Flying is aggravating enough as it is without their awful service. I am interested to see how they respond. DEPLORABLE

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Ty April 27, 2011 at 2:16 am

So glad that you spoke up! I'm sorry that you, your mother and the other woman were so disrespected. :(

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Lilly April 27, 2011 at 2:20 am

came here via Skinny Emmie. I'm so horrified at their behavior, every last one of them. I'm so sorry you had to go through that AND THEN not even get proper apologies and retribution.

They'd better come through tomorrow.

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Zepherine April 27, 2011 at 2:32 am

So I guess he didn't realize that he is overweight also. Did he get amnesia. Southwest is a joke and you have every right to be pissed about this.

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Steelers6 April 27, 2011 at 4:00 am

Omw, horrible.

I just read all 104 comments. I imagine there will be MANY more. Looks like there are quite a few ppl who are NOT "Nuts about Southwest", as their website says.

I am SO glad you are not letting this drop. Riiiidiculous. It really disturbs me that it was not an issue until Barbara dragged you into it. (THANKS A LOT BARBARA!)

Deb W, I understood race to be mentioned in regard to the athlete, bc the staff was probably afraid to even mention anything about size w/him precisely because of people crying foul due to race. Now ppl will be crying foul for very unprofessional behaviour.

And yes, I totally agree with Mandi and was going to say same thing. Contact a TV show about this. I think it becomes even more relevant, or interesting coming from you given your WW involvement, knowledge, and all around journey.

I do wonder what they could possibly do that could begin to address/repair this situation, though. Obviously it is something you and Mom need to discuss in advance.

Thanks for handling this very ugly situation with grace, strength & determination. I appreciate your voice speaking out on inappropriate treatment, and unprofessionalism, which was offensive enough without even addressing the size factor itself.

Chrissy

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Candace April 27, 2011 at 4:20 am

What an amazingly awful experience. I watch "What Would You Do" pretty regularly, and I would like to think that people would have stepped up to support you. That is an unacceptable way to treat another human- regardless of race, religion, weight, age, etc.
Thank you for fully documenting this painful experience. It was eye opening to a serious problem.

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Anonymous April 27, 2011 at 4:52 am

Shame on you Southwest, and your employees. I have flown on your planes many times but, not any more! Shame, Shame on you!! Many people are over weight due to genes, its not from over eating! Don't they teach you this at Southwest?? God bless these three women. I hope they sue you, maybe this will teach you how to treat over weight people with respect!!!!

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Kristi April 27, 2011 at 7:51 am

Wow! What a horrible experience. I will never fly Southwest after reading your story. They should be ashamed of themselves for treating people the way they do. You think they would be embracing their customers not driving them to tears.

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Dana April 27, 2011 at 11:05 am

You're awesome!! Such an inspiration!

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*tarazza April 27, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Some friends brought this story to my notice, and it's even more horrible than I imagined it was going to be. Major hugs and props to you for taking action and not allowing yourself or others to be treated this way. I live in fear when I fly, and it sucks. I know that despite the awfulness of this situation, hopefully it will make the experience of all our future flights better. Best of luck!

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Megan April 27, 2011 at 4:16 pm

This is something that I worry about a lot. I have never had a problem with Southwest, but I always know it will be. I take extra procautions; do everything I can to be as invisible as possible when I fly because I don't want this to happen. I am so sorry that you went through this. This is something that should NEVER EVER happen. Thank you, for being brave enough to share your experience, and I am happy that you are using it as fuel to your weightloss goal. You are beautiful and an inspiration to all of us like you.

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Megan April 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm

I forgot to mention this in my previous comment, but I was planning a trip to NYC with a friend over Christmas and this was something that I was concerned about. So I looked up Southwest's policy (which was not easy to find, by the way) and this is the list of FAQs that I found. http://www.southwest.com/html/generated/help/faqs/extra_seat_policy_faq.html

Specifically, I'd like to point out the following:

Q: What is the definitive gauge for a Customer of size?
A: The armrest is the definitive gauge for a Customer of size. It serves as the boundary between seats, which measure 17 inches in width. Customers who are unable to lower both armrests and/or who encroach upon any portion of the adjacent seat should proactively book the number of seats needed prior to travel. (If this is true, then you and your mother should have been fine to travel, and the Southwest employee was clearly using discriminatory behavior.)

AND…

Q: Isn't this policy discriminatory toward large Customers?
A: Southwest Airlines does not condone discrimination in any form. We have Employees and Customers of all races, ethnicity, religions, shapes, and sizes. Our Mission and our responsibility per our Contract of Carriage is to provide safe and comfortable air transportation for each and every Customer. This policy has been upheld in court and is supported by the Department of Transportation's stance that the purchase of a single ticket offers the use of a single seat. (Based on this response, at the VERY least… that employee should be reprimanded for his clear violation of "policy".)

Anyway, I just wanted to point those out because I remember specifically looking at that a few months ago.

Thank you again for sharing your story, and I hope that you receive some justice for the humiliation that you experienced.

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Ellie April 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm

I cannot believe that this happened to you. I would most definitely try to report this issue and the employees involved to corporate, or even the local news. This sort of thing should NEVER be allowed to occur.

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Debbi Does Dinner Healthy April 28, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Wow! What a horrible world we live in. So glad you took your stand!

http://debbidoesdieting.blogspot.com/

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Morgan @ Endorphaholic May 6, 2011 at 12:00 am

That is awful! I'm pretty shocked that "Barbara" would call you and your mother out. How sad that someone would bring that upon another person.

It sounds like you encountered some unfortunate people, but it seems that the offenders were personally ignorant as opposed to Southwest, especially with your other positive experiences. It gives me hope that it was just individuals, and not the company that was so disrespectful and rude. I'm so sad that you had to deal with this!

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Amy May 6, 2011 at 4:07 am

I'm so sorry you and your mom had to go through this upsetting experience. Thank you for sharing your story – I am really inspired by your strength and your determination. Every day I feel like either I experience or read about someone else who experiences treatment as less than human, just because we are overweight. I'm adding your blog to my rss feed – again thank you for fighting back!

Also, I think Chrissy summed it up well, in regards to the football player – that's exactly what I thought when you mentioned his race.

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SUEB0B May 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm

I wish airlines would just charge everyone by weight and be done with it. You step up to a scale with all your luggage and they weigh it and you together, then you pay the price and get an appropriately sized seat so you would be comfortable. It would at least be fair. (And I say this as a large sized woman (213 lbs, 5 foot 7). I would love to have a seat wide enough for my butt.

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rins May 6, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I feel sorry for you, your mom, and Barbara, for having to experience such discrimination from an international airline. But I am happy that you shared your story so that other people may become aware.

I am a very slim and petite girl. Does that mean they should give me a discount whenever I fly with them? It has to go both ways, right?

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Deb May 6, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Not only am I angry, but I am sickened by the behavior of these people. I've heard a lot of complaints about bad service on Southwest Airlines, and so chosen to never fly them. This is over the top though and cements my resolve. I don't know if anything they could do would be enough.

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Anonymous May 6, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Am I the only one chiming in now & wondering where the rest of the story is? Kenz, I am very interested to know what SW said to you!

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Anonymous May 7, 2011 at 5:18 pm

It's a shame that you were treated so poorly, though I have no idea why the race of the football player mattered. Perhaps you can clarify?

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♥ Shrinking Kenz ♥ May 8, 2011 at 1:35 am

I will clarify again. When I asked the guy after the flight if he felt comfortable and if anyone approached him he said no..and that they never would because he's black and a man.

As I have already stated, I have no idea if it mattered or not…but I believe it may have.

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foolsfitness May 8, 2011 at 6:07 am

I heard about this happening to that movie star director guy kevin smith (silent bob) a while back. I think it really shook him as he was booted off a plane (honestly who wouldn't be humiliated)

Even when he was larger I never really thought of him as huge. I think he avoided travel for a while, bought a bus for traveling, and even lost 70 pounds. But you shouldn't loose weight because of shocking trama.

After that kind of experience I'm not sure if I'd want a voucher, Id want a refund. Im sure I wouldn't give them my business a "next" time.

I'm trying to understand there are rules and honest issues with size and weight sometimes, but there has to be a way to go about it with respect and tact, without cruelty or being mean about it.

I'm glad I haven't flown in ages. Someday I had hoped to visit Florida… but Boy, if I ever do a plane again, I'm not looking forward to it at all now after hearing these stories.

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Headacheslayer May 11, 2011 at 8:42 am

OH MY GOD. I am just horrified and sick that this happened to you–it is one of my deepest fears that this will happen to me (though it has not yet, whew). It's bad enough I had to get off a rollercoaster, I cannot even imagine how you and your mother, and the other people they abused, felt.

I belive I have flown SW before but I will definitely reconsider in the future. I asked for an extension, and sat next to the window, my hub on the other side.

You handled it far better than I would have. Brava–YOU have class.

May you have continued success in becoming and in rejoicing your new self!

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♥ Shrinking Kenz ♥ May 12, 2011 at 2:30 am

Repeating myself….."I will clarify again. When I asked the guy after the flight if he felt comfortable and if anyone approached him he said no..and that they never would because he's black and a man.

As I have already stated, I have no idea if it mattered or not…but I believe it may have.

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Grammy Blick May 12, 2011 at 2:58 am

You've added another follower. I need an extension on some flights — not on others. There are no 'standards.' You are so right that in our present society 'fat' people are the only ones facing discrimination without support. A recent MSNBC article about what such discrimination is doing to children raised my ire, too. Discrimination is discrimination is discrimination!

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Bryony May 12, 2011 at 4:38 am

You made the news in Australia :)
You look great by the way. Well done on all your hard work!

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Trace May 12, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I think that the attitude and lack of professionalism is rampant in all industries. Every person should be standing up and letting all the bullies know that they are not welcome.

As for an early comment, about race, I may be wrong, but I took the insert to mean that Southwest did not have the cajones to address the large male issue because of his race. I did not take it be an attack. However anyone can switch the issue and the direction at any time. We all need to be respectful of all people, even the jerks.

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Of Revolt May 12, 2011 at 2:53 pm

I came across your blog as a result of the news coverage from this incident and I had to comment: I really admire that you stayed cool and calm even as the Southwest people continued to humiliate you and your mother. (Honestly, I probably would have lost it when they brought sodas as an "apology." Are they kidding?!) Kudos to you for maintaining your composure!

Your progress photos are terrific – congratulations on reaching your goals and continuing to strive for the next level! Best of luck.

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BETH May 12, 2011 at 3:55 pm

How sad and very sorry to hear that. I think they should make seats that fit all different sizes. Not everyone is the same. We are from all different diversities so why can't we all have different options when these issues arise??

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Heidi May 12, 2011 at 6:17 pm

That anonymous commenter above has clearly never experienced life as an overweight or obese person. If they think we're "welcomed with open arms" they're sorely mistaken.

I dislike smoking like you dislike obesity. But I'm not going to call you disgusting for it. I'm going to treat you with respect and not make assumptions about the reasons you do or have done what you do or have done.

As far as the football player's proportions, if his shoulders were encroaching, it doesn't matter how in proportion his body was. He was over the seat, too.

I'm very confused about the "Ivy Leaguer" dig. That is a personal slam that has nothing to do with the argument, which makes me take the entire comment with a grain of salt.

As far as people saying Kenz has a long way to go… well, yes. Kenz frequently and repeatedly says so. She is working very hard and does not have less worth as a human being than someone who has been working hard for longer, or more worth than someone who hasn't been working on their weight at all. And to believe otherwise IS discrimination, plain and simple.

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Lisa Romeo May 12, 2011 at 6:30 pm

It was so disheartening to read this.
I haven't read through all the comments, so perhaps this has been suggested already. I have heard that airlines urges its gate attendants, when a flight is half empty, to be on the lookout for ways to increase profits – such as making passengers check carry on bags (for a fee)…and who knows, one other way may be to force larger people to buy two seats. That may be the reason you were not approached when the flight was full.

In any case, good for you for speaking out.

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suzanneinoz May 12, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Just curious

I am 5 foot 7 and I weigh 175 pounds
who makes the rules, according to the weight people I am over weight-who and what gives-we are all imperfect in some way?

sorry for the trouble-but good luck with the weight journey, I used to weigh 250-it just takes time-it does not go off as fast as it goes on.

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suzanneinoz May 12, 2011 at 6:57 pm

by the way-people are really mean

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Lynda May 12, 2011 at 7:06 pm

It is a sad day when any small person sits next to a big person who needs more room. be that weight or size. I have had people who's legs are too long and must be slightly sideways in my space or towering huge people that just spread out or the obese that spill over. It makes me unhappy they all feel entitled. It makes me uncomfortable to sit by them. They always claim the armrest and push me aside. When you actually lose the weight you will share our perspective. It is rude to assume your oversize(whatever that may be) should be accommodated by my under size. I paid for it and it is mine.

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SweetSassyDiva May 12, 2011 at 7:10 pm

oh i so feared something like this when i won a cruise to the caribbean and had to fly from wi to fl. I even didn't want to fly as a plus sized woman and stressed over it for months before. I even avoided trips just becasue I didn't want the stress and feared I might get treated badly. It's so unfortunate that it is ok for them to treat people who are plus size badly and make jokes and such. Luckily, we had a pleasant trip for our 10th wedding anniversary and the only hick up was delayed flights due to weather.
i did fit within the seats and I also am mindful and my dh (who is not plus size) usually sits in the middle seat if we need to. He likes to snuggle with me. :) :grins:
hugs,
http://sweetsassydiva.com

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Melissa Weisbard May 12, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Something like this happened to me in Phoenix, Arizona by a Southwest employee. I had flown from Kentucky to Arizona the previous week on Southwest and I had no problems. However, while waiting for our return flight to board, a very "thin" Southwest employee walked over to me in front of all of the other waiting passengers and began telling me how I was probably going to have to buy another seat. I explained that I had flown out the previous week on Southwest and no one told me that I needed another seat so I shouldn't have a problem. I am able to sit in the seat and put down the arm rests, but I do need a seat belt extension because the seat belt is about 2 inches to small for me. She became more and more aggresive with me telling me she "didn't care" what other Southwest employees said, I had to pass "her inspection". I was so humiliated that I was crying. Then she marched me onto the plane and continued to berate me telling me it was "her decision" on whether or not I needed an extra seat. After I was able to demonstrate that I could pass "her inspection", she finally said, "Well, you can fly this time, but next time you will probably have to buy another seat." I cried all the way home on that 4-hour flight. What was even worse was there was a man waiting for the same flight that was MUCH LARGER than me, and she never said a word to him about his weight. Southwest is the ONLY airline that has EVER said anything to me about buying a 2nd seat. On top of that, they humiliated me in front of hundreds of people. It is time for the discrimination against overweight people to STOP!

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Victoria May 13, 2011 at 6:24 pm

I wish NBC would do an expose of this kind of nasty treatment by the fatophobes who are being empowered by their companies.

Why don't the airlines have a test-seat available discreetly at the terminal? If you dont fit "here", you need two seats. People could use it discreetly to determine for themselves what the requirements would be–and there would be a consistent standard of measurement for all.

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Victoria May 13, 2011 at 6:26 pm

I wanted to add: I would love to fly all over the world and take vacations, but this is exactly why I don't.

My boss tried to send me on a 1-week trip to a fabulous conference, and I turned it down because I was afraid I'd be humiliated at the airport or be asked to disembark by a shabby employee.

A savvy airline CEO would figure out they could make a fortune by catering to the larger consumer.

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Anonymous May 13, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Please don't let this horrible experience derail you on your journey to become healthier.

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David May 13, 2011 at 8:34 pm

First of all, congratulations on being so successful with your weight loss. I know that this can be trying and that it takes real discipline to make that kind of change in your life.

Sounds like a humiliating experience, for sure. And there are certainly better ways to handle something like this.

With that said…

Flying is frustrating for most everybody. I'm 6'3" and around 175 pounds. I'm considered "thin" by most standards and I still find the seats on planes uncomfortable when it comes to both legroom and lack of proper width. And it gets even more uncomfortable when I'm packed next to somebody who wants to spread out, use both arm rests, sit with their legs apart, etc.

I'm also annoyed by screaming kids and people who smell bad…or want to talk the entire trip.

But that comes with flying…

The solutions are simple. Get another seat, get earplugs, put headphones on, fly First Class, etc. Why get into an argument with a low-level ticket agent and make a bigger deal about it? Get through the flight as easy as you can, get home, and take the issue to somebody who can actually do something about it.

Best wishes on future flights!!

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Anonymous May 14, 2011 at 12:30 am

Hey Blogher…you hang in there! No one and I mean no one should ever have to go through what you and your mom went through! There are so many things wrong with your experience, from reading others comments I see that it is probably a reoccuring theme for many. Good for you for bringing it to light. Southwest should be ashamed of their employees and their apparent lack of training, most of all shame on them for their lack of humanity. You rock! Best of luck with your weigh countdown, I don't even know you and I am proud of you!

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Anonymous May 14, 2011 at 4:19 am

I've just contacted SWA and informed that they have a new customer for trying to protect the rights of all people. It's obvious that you simply have a victim mentality. What about the poor people that have to sit beside you? Yea, the armrest goes down, but there are still parts of you hanging over on them. Selfish.

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Anonymous May 14, 2011 at 4:21 am

It's obvious you are only approving positive comments on your blog. Again, another proof of your victim mentality–falsely building up your image in front of others.

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JenX May 14, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I agree; sorry, but I say this even as a fat (240 pounds) woman. I have also lost a great deal of weight, but realize I am still very large and would not want to impose on another person who ALSO paid good money for their seat.

I truly think you are milking this for all its worth. I'm sorry you were humiliated, and while your weight loss so far is awesome, I just think you expect too much. When you reach goal and then have to sit next to a very fat person spilling over on to you, you will understand.

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Debra May 15, 2011 at 12:55 am

What is up with Southwest Airlines? I happened to catch a rerun yesterday (how timely!) of a Dr. Phil episode where they gave a woman a hard time for what one employee felt was inappropriate attire.

It seems to me that they have a problem with women travelers. Perhaps a boycott by women (and the men who respect them) should be proposed.

Here's the story about the woman in the 'inappropriate' outfit. They treated her almost exactly the same as you, although no voucher was offered until Dr. Phil's staff contacted them.

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/20638479/ns/today-today_people/t/thrown-plane-outfit-deemed-too-skimpy/

Good luck on your continuing weight loss and all your other journeys through life — in flight or not!

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0babf23a-7eac-11e0-8fef-000bcdcb8a73 May 15, 2011 at 4:32 am

I have to tell you I just had a very similar experience with Southwest on May 4th…Leaving Ohio & coming to Florida. However I had a much more horrible experience then you had. At least I think it was. I was forced to buy another ticket and was humiliated infront of many people. It was just horrible…I not only missed my flight, they made me miss the next one & then had to sit at the airport for over 5 hours. I would love to talk to you about this. Since I have not contacted Southwest yet about it, but plan on doing that in the next day or so, since I will be leaving Florida & heading home. If you can please let me know how to reach you. I did try and email you at what I thought your email was. I was definetly amazed 2 days ago when I saw your story come out & that I wasn't the only one that had to go thru it.

Thank you so much,

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Andrew May 15, 2011 at 6:07 am

You lost me with the "African-American" comment. What does that have to do with anything?

And for the record, I don't disagree with the Southwest Airlines policy…and I'm about 100 lbs overweight. Probably more.

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Impio May 15, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Good evening ma'am,
I truly am happy for your dedication and ability to lose weight. This said, I would like to express how uncomfortable it is to sit beside someone on an airlane who overflows into your private space. I am a frequent flyer (over 120 flights annual) and its not only gross to be rubbing upto a stranger for hours, but insulting to have even the little space you're provided be robbed from you.

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Ruin Christmas May 16, 2011 at 12:23 am

fat

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jevans May 16, 2011 at 2:20 am

I agree this needs to be done with sensitivity (although not sure where you'd find privacy at an airport), but I wish more airlines enforced size restrictions. I feel for you, but I've sat next to too many people who should have bought a second seat.

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Twoapennything May 16, 2011 at 8:14 am

Oh, how awful. Shame on Southwest Airlines! I had a weird experience with Southwest in 2003. I was flying from Orlando to Denver and I fell asleep with my chin against my chest. I woke up because I heard people laughing, and when I opened my eyes I found that the flight attendant had placed a fake dead mouse — complete with fur! — on my chest. First of all, GROSS. Second, don't get near my breasts, thanks. Third, what the hell kind of customer service is that? I was so shocked I didn't know how to react. What if I had been phobic of mice? I'm not, but some people are. As a fellow big girl (I've lost 140 pounds), I'm appalled and livid on your behalf. I'm truly sorry that you, your mother, and Barbara had to endure this. Good for you for standing up for your rights as a traveler. While I appreciate that Southwest offered you some vouchers, that the situation happened at all is entirely inexcusable. – Julie, Denver CO

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Laurie May 16, 2011 at 9:39 am

Hello Kenlie,

I found your blog via the article about the Southwest incident.

This story reminds me of the Rosa Parks "back of the bus" story. How dare that airline treat three women so awfully. If it were three men, that wouldn't have happened- because the employees would have hesitated, thinking the men would have spoken up and made a scene.

And what is even more sickening, female Southwest employees took part in this as well!

I realize the discrimination issue is more about being "overweight" – yet I still think you were mistreated more harshly than a man would have been because those employees thought that "nice women" could more easily be bullied.

I'm sure your mother is proud of you …I know that I am a stranger to you, but I am very proud of your eloquent posting on this blog. I applaud your intelligence and encourage you to seek out guidance from legal advocates who can help prevent future discriminative behavior against passengers.

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Russell May 16, 2011 at 1:41 pm

They shouldn't have treated you that way. I agree that it could have been handled in a better way.

With that being said. Have you ever though of how the person next to you may feel? You may be able to fit comfortably in your seat, but the person next to you may be extremely uncomfortable.

I've had to suffer through unwanted 'snuggling' with the person next to me because they spilled over into my seat.

It's not just about you…

Just saying.

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Anon5YzaDege May 16, 2011 at 2:32 pm

The policy fails in that it relies on the subjective opinions of an employee.
The policy needs to have concrete terms. Use Body Mass Index (BMI). Use height and weight to determine a threshhold. Flyers over that threshhold buys 2 seats, regardless of whether they fit in the seat, no questions asked or answered.

Dealing with this in public is ridiculous. As a fat person, I can put myself in the shoes of a skinny person and understand having to sit in a spilled-over seat. Unfortunately, skinny people are unable to get into the mind of us and will never understand what fat people deal with every day.

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dannymac63 May 16, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Anon5YzaDege, what's so special about your mind? I was fat as a child/teenager, then someone knocked some sense into me, and I've now got a BMI on the lower side of "normal"…19-20.

Your mind is EXACTLY the same as ANYONE ELSE that is embarrassed about a physical characteristic of their body. Jesus. I know fatty acids are required for brain function, but I think yours are starting to get in the way of normal cognitive reasoning.

That being said, the handling of such a matter doesn't need to be done in public. If there were a person with any other severe physical deformity and they also were unable to utilize a seat normally, (IE. without making the person next to them physically ill) it would be handled privately. Same should be done for these disfigured people.

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c2d42ef4-7fd4-11e0-8188-000bcdcb471e May 16, 2011 at 3:54 pm

stop with the (fat)ctivism ladies and just lose some weight , think about it

AIrlines charge people for going over 50 POUNDS on a piece of luggage

FUel prices are going up every day

people want to/get offended because of their weight , yet it would take the airline close to if not over double the same amount of fuel to send that ONE PERSON the same distance as a person of average weight

emotions and sensitivities aside it's pure economics people so if it isn't 'official' policy now it's probably already on it's way to getting there when financial burdens finally 'outweigh' bigger people's 'rights'.

Believe me it will happen as they've been taking away everyone else's rights at airports as of late slowly but surely…(see full body scanners, increasing instances of TSA misconduct , etc)

Just lose the weight

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e8c9cd6c-7fd4-11e0-9fda-000bcdcb2996 May 16, 2011 at 3:55 pm

You're too fat for one seat. I am with the Airline in this one. Fat people should either lose weight, or face the consequences of their epicueran lifestyle.

Have you ever thought what may the person next to you may feel? a person in his/her ideal weight? Yeah, I thought so.

This is selfish and self-indulgent. Disgusting in my own words.

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Zombiefruit May 16, 2011 at 3:59 pm

asd

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c2d42ef4-7fd4-11e0-8188-000bcdcb471e May 16, 2011 at 4:01 pm

also FYI

AIr FRance supports this policy since Jan for obvious safety reasons

"An aircraft has to be evacuated in emergencies within 90 seconds. If you have difficulties sitting on your seat … it could have a serious impact on security," he said.

"Several US airlines, such as Delta and American Airlines, say that, when flights are full, passengers who cannot fit into a single seat will have to buy another.

as stated before, get used to it…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/20/air-passengers-buy-second-seat

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Jack May 16, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Here is a tired thought; lose the goddamn weight. As an ex-fatty myself, you disgust me with your flagrant disregard for your own health as well as the well-being of those around who. Do you really think you deserve the same treatment as those who put in the effort to not look like a horrendous pile of flesh? Hell no, you do not.

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drunk May 16, 2011 at 4:48 pm

For the original poster: SWA screwed up, yes. Glad to see that they actually did apologize and attempt to make up for it somehow. People are human, and mistakes happen.

But to the comments that this wouldn't have happened if the passenger was a man? Oh please. I know this blog (being on 'blog her' and stuff) obviously has a feminist slant, but that is just ridiculous. Kevin Smith wasn't the only male told to get off a flight. Just as many (if not MORE) MEN have been told they are too large. Even feminist blog Jezebel has a list of some of the recent ones, and more men have been booted than women.

This is NOT a "women are treated differently" article at all. Don't even try to make it one. Ugh.

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♥ Shrinking Kenz ♥ May 16, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Uhh Jack, note the nearly 130 pounds I've lost lately..ha I'm working my ass off – literally.

Regardless, I do deserve the same respect…of course.

This is not about me asserting that I have the right to encroach on another passenger's space.

Some of you simply seem to be missing the point. I'll clear it up for you on national TV later this week.

Until then….

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Sue May 16, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Just a couple of thoughts…I am a previous employee of Southwest (customer service center). I have never worked with so many overweight people in my life, and Southwest provides OVERSIZED chairs for them. Interesting, yes? And although they claim to treat their employees so wonderfully, they offer nothing in terms of healthy food or exercise opportunities at this center. I am appalled that the situation in Dallas took place.

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Funny about Money May 16, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Hideous! This kind of customer disservice, taken together with the TSA outrages, is exactly the reason I don't fly anymore. If I can't get there by driving, I don't go.

No one deserves to be treated this way. Not by some airline, and not by rude and uncivil fools like "Jack." (BTW, Jack, m'boy, just in case you decide to get rude to me, too: I'm 5'6" and weigh 145, well within the normal weight and BMI range).

Insufferable and inexcusable.

Some years ago, before the advent of the Brownshirt behavior at airports, I was on a Southwest plane that developed engine trouble shortly after take-off from San Antonio. Things got scary when the pilot took an obviously round-about return route to the airport over sparsely populated desert after he had taken off over heavily developed residential tracts. We were seated near the front of the plane, and the flight attendants came and strapped themselves into backward-facing (i.e., safer) jumpseats preparatory to a crash landing.

I'm not afraid of dying, but I don't relish dying in a flaming coffin crammed in elbow-to-elbow with 200 shrieking companions. When one of the stewards noted that I was looking around for ways to get out quickly, he remarked that no one should be surprised when Southwest's planes develop the occasional "emergency." They're decades old, and, he remarked, no one would expect a car to keep running 20 or 30 years.

Right. And no one would expect any sane person to ride in a vehicle likely, because of its age, to fail catastrophically.

Bad enough to risk your life to get from point A to point B, but to be insulted while you're doing it is beyond the pale.

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boston02116 May 16, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I agree with the airlines. Americans especially, complain about the airlines constantly. About how they don't get a free drink anymore or they didn't like the way they were treated. But they don't seem to remember the demanding attitude they had when they stepped up to the counter. I see it all the time when I fly. And everyone is standing as soon as the plane hits the ground and never listen to flight attendants.

If you don't want to feel humiliated then take care of yourself. Would you feel any better if they had taken you over to the UPS terminal to check your weight on a freight scale?

The only reason Southwest contacted you is because whether the employee was right or wrong, this blog is bad for business. Airlines work on narrow profit margins. How else can you go coast to coast in a few hours for $300 r/t with the high cost of fuel? So stop complaining and take a bus if you don't like it Just because you are oversensitive about your weight doesn't mean they aren't doing their job. Get over it.

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The May 16, 2011 at 7:46 pm

While you may feel that the way SWA treated you was indelicate, the reality is that those gate agents were representing the concerns of those of us who are height/weight proportionate and do fit in our seats without a belt extention and without spilling over or under the arm rest. If I pay for a seat, I do not want to share it with a stranger. Being obese should not be a right. It is an individual responsibility. To that end, congratulations on your weight loss to date — please keep up the great work. You may have a different perspective on this situation once you are a healthy size and are jammed against the window because your neighbor is hanging over into your seat.

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Lelia May 16, 2011 at 8:29 pm

I found your blog through an MSNBC article.. and I have to say I am astonished at how horribly Southwest handled this. Completely inappropriate. Best of luck to you in your weight loss journey

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Bonnie May 16, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Congratulations on your weight-loss, on your outlook and you quest for a healthier life-style. I am very sorry about the disrespect you were shown.

I am a runner too! Good luck on your 10 5ks!!

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Jenny May 16, 2011 at 8:46 pm

National tv? For someone who doesn't want anything out of this, you certainyl are milking your 15 minutes of fame. You are taking an isolated incident and turning it into a circus. Good for you for losing the weight…now perhaps you can work on gaining some self respect and a spine. ENOUGH with the fat-entitlement garbage. Really hope I don't see anymore of you in the news!

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Erin May 16, 2011 at 9:30 pm

I agree that SWA should have handled their concerns privately, but their failure to do so doesn't mean their concerns weren't valid. Barbara was going to spill over on to the person's seat next to her. You and your mother might very well have done so as well. I can appreciate that the situation was humiliating, but you seem to be missing any concern for the ability of the other passenger's comfort. It is not discriminatory to say you are too big, just as it is not discriminatory to limit play areas to kids under a certain age, roller coasters to certain heights, etc. That is just reality…your size, like my height, requires various accommodations and acknowledging that is not cruel.

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Lynn May 16, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Thanks for your story. The problem is poor employee training. Airlines are a "hospitality" industry. Some people get "drunk with power" and try to dominate others. They pick on those who are "powerless".

The Southwest employees thought they could be rude to you because you would be too embarrassed and humiliated to fight back. They did not pick on the black football player, not because of his race, but because they knew he wouldn't put up with it. In what world does someone have the right to ask what size clothing you wear or the reason for your weight gain or loss ? (It's almost comical he thought it would be okay to ask you those questions.)

Why exactly should people be embarrassed or humiliated for being overweight ? Should all of us who aren't perfect be embarrassed ?

You are standing up for all of us, not just for overweight people.

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Lynn May 16, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Thanks for your story. Southwest obviously has poor employee training if employees don't realize they are in the hospitality business. In what world does an airline employee have the right (or desire) to ask you for your clothing size or the reason for your weight gain/loss ? (If it hadn't been so painful for you, it would actually be very funny.)

People "drunk with power" have a way of taking advantage of others when they can (must make them feel better about themselves somehow). The black football player wasn't given a hard time because they knew he would not put up with it – not because of his race.

Why exactly should anyone be embarrassed or humiliated for being overweight ? ? Should any one who is "imperfect" be embarrassed for not being "perfect" ? ?

Thanks for speaking out because you are standing up for all imperfect people, not just for overweight people.

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griffy May 17, 2011 at 12:14 am

Southwest had a reality TV show quite a few years back. I was always appalled at their insensitivity and rudeness towards customers then and obviously nothing has changed. I will not fly with them. Shame on SW Airlines! And shame on "Jack" too!

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Eccy May 17, 2011 at 2:21 am

The entire ordeal is terrible, and it's a good thing Mr B apologized, although I don't think you should take his interruptive chuckle as a negative on its own. It was his way of acknowledging that what he was apologizing for should be plainly obvious, but recognition that he was going to have to – regardless – vocalize it for the purpose of record. You, yourself, apologized to him for asking (politely :)), also acknowledging that it was a reason which was out of the local context, but necessary for the context of a recorded apology. He certainly does appear sorry – I'd regard that sincere. Although probably not for your experience, but rather the negative effects it could have on him or the airline. As he says – he's sorry for the way he handled it (ie, the consequences it brings), not for the embarassment caused.

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physicianswife May 17, 2011 at 3:21 am

I don't even know what to say. I think I mainly want to applaud your ability to stand up for yourself! I wish more women could do that and I hope this inspires some of them to do so. Regardless of weight, appearance, race, sexuality or sex, we all deserve respect!

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Tiffany May 17, 2011 at 4:53 am

I have a solution – FatAir: complete with double wide seats, super powered air conditioning, and lots and lots of free snacks. Keep the obese customers happy and the smaller ones can fly Southwest, free from doughy arms and thighs taking up $40-$50 worth of their seat. Pretty soon we'll have one for the babies too and everyone will be happy.

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David May 17, 2011 at 9:20 am

Sorry, but I'm with the airline on this one.

Southwest seats are only 17in wide, so I find it difficult to believe someone who weighs 265 pounds could fit in that space without squeezing and spilling over.

I, myself, am 120lb/5'10"/male, and I am 15 inches wide when seated! Now, I don't know your height, but you're more than twice my weight and female. In general, females of the same height and weight are larger than males, due to their higher body fat content.

You also seem to be confusing weight, height and width. The "African American footballer" (tell me – why is race relevant?) may be heavier and taller than you, but you can sure bet he would have a lot of dense muscle tissue too. The issue is WIDTH, not weight, height, circumference, etc.

Sorry if it's confronting for you, but it's very uncomfortable for normal sized people to be squeezed up against the far armrest during long flights. We pay the same fares as you, so we expect to at least have our fair share of the seating space.

Another issue is weight – considering the high fuel prices, I think it's a disgrace that a 120lb person is charged the same fuel levy that a 265lb person. Sure, it would be inconvenient to weigh all of the passengers, but I get quite offended when they charge me for every extra pound of luggage. At the same time, an overweight person can carry an extra 100 pounds onboard and not pay a cent for it!

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Cole May 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm

This person above me is joking right?!?! Ack!

BRAVO to you for having the courage to write this post and face the disrespect and rude ways, you are awesome!

I think everyone else already said what I feel but I do hope this ends in some positive changes for airlines and they way they treat ALL people.

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Danny May 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm

I empathize with your feelings being hurt, but really??? Lose weight! And if you choose to be fat…yes it is a choice, then you should have to deal with the problems associated with being fat.

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Brittany May 17, 2011 at 3:23 pm

That is infuriating! Go you for fighting back!!!

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Stella May 17, 2011 at 6:06 pm

As someone who battled an eating disorder in my teens, I can empathize with the pressure that many young girls face to be thin and perfect.

It's about time we start accepting the fact that "thin" does not equal normal and that what we think is normal isn't.

Amen sister! LOVE YOURSELF AND LOVE YOUR BODY!

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Vanessa May 17, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Just wanted to give you my support. Good on your for fighting. I'm sure that there are other people out there that were like how you were in the beginning, too scared to fight back and hopefully this gives them the strength to realise they deserve respect just like anyone else.

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saultczy May 17, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Fight the good fight, sister!! This is a deplorable story that demands a public outcry. My good thoughts are with you, your mother and Barbara.

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the Pool Guy May 17, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Couldn't agree more with David… you're feelings getting hurt are NOT worth more than the comfort level of the person sitting next to you. Like David said, just barely fitting in your seat (which I also doubt) isn't the entire point… how about a leaving 1/4" "of air gap" for personal space? Try putting it into perspective… let's say you boarded early, selected a seat and tried to relax, only to have someone twice your size sit right next to you, taking up the comfort zone you thought you had. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't appreciate it.

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Gurugirl May 17, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Hi
My name is Samantha. I am from Australia and had aa very similar problem with our local carrier Jet Star when they wanted to charge me $60 to put the 2 seats I purchased together. I think that most people think people who are not "skinny" are lazy and eat to much and are a burden on society, when this may be true for a percentage of overwieght people, it is time these people to reliase they there are other reasons for being overwight, medical and phycological. Personally I find it appauling to be forced to buy 2 tickets, but I do it for comfort for myself. I am overwieght due to a reaction from drugs I was given as a child for ahstma.

Anyway good to see someone else had the inititive to make this horrid thing public

Cheers

Samantha
Cairns Australia

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jack May 18, 2011 at 12:23 am

Well I Just read every comment posted here… Alot of these idiots are just jerks for being so rude.. However, I fly alot. Over 175 times a year. I have had MANY time when I have had to sit next to a large person. I have to handle this situation many different ways. I dont care who you are, or how its done, its an akward situation. If its a 3 seat row and only 2 passangers, no big deal. I have been also in the middle seat. Not a good thing. My worst story. Im coming out of Detroit. Middle seat. Overbooked flight. Had to make a deadline. No other seats available. I could not sit down. Im on a deadline. I ask the flight attendent what we can do. The plane was held for over 45 min cause I cant sit in a seat I paid for. The 2 large people, husband and wife, say they booked the isle and window seat so they could be comfortable. What about me!!!!. They refused to move. They were rude and could care less about anyone but them. The Airline tried to offer both of use all kinds of stuff. The large couple refused any type of offers and told me "either sit down, or get off the plane".
So I forceable sat right in the middle of the 2 Large people. Sitting right on top of their rolls that hung over to my seat. I pushed and pushed and pushed them with the help of 2 flight attendents. After realizing this was no way going to work, the Airline then started to make offers to other people on the plane. No one took their offer. I then held up a $100.00 bill, and the airlines offer, and 2 young girls took the offer. ( I know, long winded).. So after 45 min delay we were on our merry way. Sometimes its no big deal for large people to fly. Sometimes it is……. Its not the Airline fault, nor is it their responsibilty, for the fact that you are a large person. You say you have your rights. Do your right include infringing on my rights? Do you not think of the consequences of you actions? Do you think large people have larger rights than, um, un-large people? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are the one with the problem. If you agree that we all share the same rights, then you must relize your situation and make arrangement to handle it… By the way, VERY GOOD JOB on your weight loss. You must be proud…. Thats it.. Cheers to All. JACK From Phoenix

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Icebot May 18, 2011 at 3:50 am

I fly anywhere from 3 to 5 times a month for work, I have been in the unfortunate situation where I have had to sit next to what South West deems "A Customer of Size" while I can not applaud the treatment in line, I do have to praise South West for standing up to overweight individuals that make flying a nightmare for individuals who watch their weight.

Countless times, I have had to ask an overweight individual to lower their armchair because they are taking up half of my seat, or due to them being so fat their back fat is protruding into my seat when they have their arms crossed in front of them. Not to mention the disgusting breathing sound through out the flight. It makes my stomach turn just thinking about it. I am glad to hear that other overweight folks on this blog will not be participating in flying South West, it makes my life a lot easier.

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Spammy May 18, 2011 at 4:16 am

Thank god some logical comments are starting to flow in. Your thoughts on why the athletic (and TALL) gentleman are irrelevant–did you measure his waste?

If you push up against my body because of your size, you're infringing on my personal space and making me uncomfortable for several hours. Where's my voucher? Where's my consolation?

Southwest could have shown a bit more discretion and tact, but they were absolutely right to make you and your mom buy another ticket or boot you from the plane. Show some humility and keep losing weight until this is a non-issue.

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anonymous May 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Just watched the Today show,and the way Southwest air lines delt with the situation was wrong!But you on the show you said "30% of our nation is obese and we are changing" I agree that our nation is fat,but why should a air line change there seating?It should be up to the obese Americans to change their eating! I understand having special seating for handicap, but years of bad eating habits and no or little exercise is not a handicap!And if there is a health issue that made someone obese,then extra effort in eating right and exercise is needed!I'm not trying to put you down I wish you the best on your weight loss and hope you inspire and motivate others to do the same!But obesity is NOT something America should get used to or make accommodation for.If a person with out health problems leading to obesity or with health problems causing obesity,that doesn't make the extra effort to improve and care for them selves then why should any one else!

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Maybelline May 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm

My family and I will never fly Southwest again. This is just wrong. I am tired of companies using weight as a criteria to spread hate and discrimination towards larger people. Why aren't "under weight" people given a discount? Why aren't "over tall" people charged more for taking up the leg room in front of my seat? Or how about the guy with the "over sized" feet taking up too much floor space. Do they get weighed and measured? Hey SW Airlines – you are missing out on more opportunities here! Not only do people come in all different colors, but they come in all different sizes. Get over it you idiots with fat phobia. How about you be charged extra for your lack of intelligence and the inconvenience to me for having to sit next to you.

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DARALYN May 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm

My 4 sisters and I wanted to take a trip to Reno and it is too far for us to drive. My obese sister could not afford to by 2 airline tickets so we didn't go at all…

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Karen May 18, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Saw you on the Today show. I am a very overweight woman. I always admire people who are able to articulate calmly their objection to poor customer service due to weight. So thank you for doing that for those of us who can't. I would never fly SWA simply because of their poor customer service. They were on that show "Airline" which I watched several times. It was amazing to me how passive aggressive and condescending their gate agents frequently came across. For instance, while dealing with agitated passengers, the gate agent would speak to them like children while saying something along the lines of "look at me; I'm very calm; you should be calm like me" all in a tone guaranteed to acerbate the situation. I could not believe SWA didn't recognize how off putting their participation was on that show. I don't know the answer to the debate over seat size and weight. I like the idea you mentioned about a few rows being available for purchase for overweight people. Like two seats per row versus 3 being sold for 1.5 times the rate since 1.5 seats is typically what someone needs. I always just buy two seats. I tend to be claustrophobic as well, so having 2 seats always insures I have plenty of room for me and my things without ever feeling I'm taking advantage of anyone. Two coach seats are wider than one first class seat by far so if your problem is a wide bottom, you're better off in coach, I think. I'm always the last person on the plane because it's calmer to me for everyone to be in their seats when I get on. I always ask the flight attendant who greets you at the door to get me a seat belt extension. A lot of the time they ask my seat number, then get the coach flight attendant to discreetly hand it to me. While I'm not remotely happy about being overweight, I fail entirely to understand how my being overweight is the source of concern to anyone but me. Comments about fat people being repulsive are just outside the realm of my comprehension. If it's not you who is overweight or it's not your spouse, why would you care how much someone else weighs? And it also defies my comprehension that I would be more socially acceptable if I were anorexic or a drug addict or an alcoholic, just so long as I wasn't fat. I read many years ago a similar comment about actresses – they can be any unhealthy thing there is so long as it isn't fat.

I'm glad I found your blog. I'll be checking back on it. Thank you!

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L May 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Wow! I cannot believe how Southwest handled this!! This isn't the first time they've pulled this garbage either. What cracked me up is that the gate agent guy is pretty heavy himself!! You would think he would have a bit more sensitivity to others given the state of his waistline.

Don't pay any mind to such awful comments (like Icebot up there – SERIOUSLY?? What a HORRIBLE person!) from other readers. The problem here isn't the "buy a second seat" rule. The problem here is the deplorable treatment from Southwest and that their staff is untrained on the "people of size" policy and that it is not enforced consistently.

Way to go for standing up and saying something about this! Great job on Today Show and great post! My husband and I fly all the time. In fact, my husband flies Southwest twice a week – every week (out on Monday and home on Friday). We will NEVER use Southwest again after this horrific treatment. Thanks for getting the word out and exposing such rotten behavior on the part of Southwest!

You really are an inspiration and great job on your weight loss! :)

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Materiyal May 18, 2011 at 6:37 pm

How about a class action suit.. Im in on it! Anybody else Im over this whole fat flying issue. Let's sue the pants off the industry and shut up ever sizist!

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Connie May 18, 2011 at 7:57 pm

What ticks me off here is that SW Airlines is terribly inconsistent with this "policy". I am your size, and flew on their airlines last Christmas with no problem. I was so afraid they were going to call me out as well. I don't necessarily have an issue with the policy, I do think that they need to be consistent and professional and dare I say, polite! Sorry you had to deal with this mess.

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Mark May 18, 2011 at 8:06 pm

I Agree with you and I am angered for what has happened. Although I understand the flip side issue. When I am on a flight from LAX to Chicago, and my neighbors body extends far into my personal space, well that sucks , too…

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billmart May 18, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Look, you can weight as much as you want, but try not to represent an obstacle to my normal activities for god sake!! . . . If you are going to take the space seat of 2 or 3 people at once, not only you should pay double but, consider the rest of us who are going to have problems caused by your volume. Nothing personal by the way, but at least don't try to take advantage of the situation, ok? . . . what you are going through by now, it's only your own fault and the rest of society should not suffer the consequences.

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Alan May 18, 2011 at 8:29 pm

I personally am 100% for what Southwest intended to do. Protect the majority of the flying public to a reasonably comfortable flight. It is a fact that people of your size prespire more than a "normal" sized person. I have flown sitting next to a person of your size and I dispise that her sweating body was hanging 6" into my purchased space touching mine! You should play by the rules and respect others rights. Sorry that you can't stop the twinkie habit.

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James May 18, 2011 at 9:36 pm

I am simply floored by you and the previous commenters supporting this farce of a cause. The one point I will agree with you on is the fact that Southwest should have taken you to a discrete location to discuss this entire incident. That is simply common courtesy.
Speaking of common courtesy… If any of you can justify why I had to endure an 8 hour flight completely cramped up in my seat due to the massive obesity of the passenger next to me I am listening.
"Encroaching"?? That is the very definition of encroaching. I don't hate fat people. I seriously dislike anyone that takes something from me or causes me discomfort.
Newsflash! The airlines are in business to maximize profits by maximizing seats. They are not going to enlarge seats to accomodate you so do all of us a favor and hit the gym.

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tripwire May 18, 2011 at 10:44 pm

I've got a suggestion. STOP SHOVING FOOD DOWN YOUR NECK.
Why should I, as a normal sized person, have to be squeezed up in my seat because the person next to me is obese. It's not my fault they have no self control & are basically greedy. No sympathy from me sorry. Not only are you causing major health issues to yourself but you also want to sook because you've been labelled fat by an airline. Good on them I reckoon. People are too scared to point this out these days.
PS – do fat people ever stop & think about how much they eat? Their daily food intake would horrify a starving person in a poorer 3rd world country. And we wonder why some of these countries hate us so much…
Call me "sizist" or whatever term you have but when it all comes down to it – its no-ones fault but your own.

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Nancy's Kids May 19, 2011 at 4:17 am

Part 2 – Long story – but worth it – Buying the Extra Seat – A True Southwest Airlines Nightmare

She told us to just "go over that way" and go right through Security. When we got to Security, there was a large line and I knew we would miss our flight, so I went to the A-List line (which was empty) and the woman there yelled that we did not have A-List boarding passes. I tried to explain to her that we were about to miss our flight, because we had been kept at the counter for an entire hour, she still told me "NO YOU PAY", and I told her again we had to go through because we were going to miss our flight and then she yelled at us that "NEXT TIME YOU PAY".

When we got to the gate, the person taking boarding passes was boarding B1-60. He had our passes and told us to go wait for our number to be called (C24 or something). When you pay for 2 seats for one person, you are allowed to Pre-Board, and I should have boarded a long time ago…. and eventually, he decided to let us board.

Being held at the ticket counter until 10 minutes before the flight, and then being sent to go through security without any consideration of our need to get to our flight quickly, and then being told to wait until our boarding pass was called – all these things were WRONG.

But the return flight home experience really takes the cake.

We arrived at Ontario and went to a counter with someone who could help us. Again, she could not print our boarding passes and had to call for help. This time, instead of making us wait until 10 minutes before the flight, this agent printed one boarding pass and a security pass and sent us to the gate 20 minutes before. We went to the gate and asked for our boarding passes, and were told they were at the gate counter. We retrieved them from the gate counter and returned to board the plane. At this point the gate agent (Karen, gate 407) told us that only one of us could board early because only one of us had an extra seat. Every flight we have taken (rightly or wrongly), they have allowed us to board together. In Phoenix, both the ticket agent and the gate agent told us we were allowed to board early with one flight companion. I thought I'd read it on your Customer of Size policy so I asked to see a Supervisor. THAT WAS MY MISTAKE. Your supervisor came over to agree that in fact, only one of us could board and the other would have to wait. I decided to board. While I was on my way down the jetway to board the plane, and unbeknownst to me, she began to tell Judith that in order to board this flight Judith needed her OWN extra seat as a Customer of Size. Judith told her we were sharing an extra seat in a row. The supervisor told Judith no, she was required to pay for her own extra seat. Judith told her that she couldn't very well pay because I had the credit cards and I was getting on the plane and that if the Supervisor wasn't going to allow her to get on the flight, her underwear was in our luggage and she would have nothing clean to put on if she was forced to remain in Ontario.

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Nancy's Kids May 19, 2011 at 4:18 am

Part 3 – Long story – but worth it – Buying the Extra Seat – A True Southwest Airlines Nightmare

The Supervisor caught up with me when I was on my way down the jetway and asked me if the extra seat was for myself or for Judith, (who is my legal wife). I said it was for both of us. She informed me that no, it was only for one person, and that each Customer of Size was required to purchase their own extra seat. I said well then it was Judith's. Then she wanted to know why Judith was not boarding the flight and why I was. I said because we are sharing a row so it really doesn't matter. She told me that sharing an extra purchased seat was not the Southwest policy and that this was a full flight, with no extra seats and that we would be required to purchase an extra seat if we could both not put the arm rests down comfortably. So, the supervisor demanded to know, was this extra seat for myself or for Judith, which way was it? because Judith was going to have to purchase an extra ticket and there was not an extra ticket. Could I or could I not fit in a seat? All this in front of all the other customers on the jetway as we are moving towards the entrance to the plane with the people boarding in the A boarding group. As we got to the door of the plane I asked her where she wanted me to sit down to show her whether or not I could fit into a Southwest seat. She said she didn't care where. She got a lot quieter when she was in front of the Southwest Flight Attendants. There were two men in the front row with an empty middle seat, so I asked if they would mind if I could sit there for a minute. It was obvious that I could sit down between them and there was no problem. I asked your supervisor ( I WISH I HAD HER NAME BECAUSE SHE DESERVES TO BE FIRED) what was next and she unhappily told me to go sit down. Meanwhile, I did not know if they were going to allow my wife to board the flight. She went back out to argue with my wife about needing to purchase another seat because the COS policy is that each COS must have their own extra seat.

First of all, that is a RIDICULOUS AND DISCRIMINATORY POLICY. If two people, related or not, are travelling together, and one of them purchases an extra seat, they should be allowed to share a row or cluster of three seats. I always sit with my travelling partners. Everyone I know, on both business and personal trips sits with the people they are travelling with, unless there are more than three of them and then they split across an aisle in a single row or in rows in front of and behind each other.

The very last person to board the flight was my wife. The Supervisor got off the flight, called someone to determine whether we had to purchase two extra seats or not, did not get an answer she liked, and hung up. The Supervisor never told her she was allowed to board the flight – just finally looked at her and said – she's saving a seat for you.

So no $200 coupons or apologies for us – just mortifying embarrassment in front of an entire plane full of people. Judith will never get on a plane again. I have to, I fly for work. But not on Southwest.

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Lindsey May 19, 2011 at 4:28 am

So sorry you had to deal with such people. Congrats on your weight loss!

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James May 19, 2011 at 5:12 am

So sick of seeing you on the news, Your still heavy and I shouldnt have to sit next to someone of your obvious girth/ Proud of you for losing the weight but you still have a ways to go. Get over yourself. Buy 2 seats next time so we dont have to feel your body scrunched up next to us. You say you fit in the seat? Ha ask to poor sap that has to sit next to you Poor bastard. Get on with your life, theres always going to be obsticles so deal with it and move on you attention whore

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straycat00 May 19, 2011 at 7:23 am

It's obvious the fat haters were beating down the door to get to your blog to spew their pent up hostilities at you. I especially love the comments that include "lose the weight," when in fact you are losing the weight. Not only are these folks limited in their ability to recognize the psychological and physiological issues that contribute to obesity, but they can't read and comprehend either.

Too bad there isn't an extra charge for stupid.

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straycat00 May 19, 2011 at 7:31 am

It's obvious the fat haters were beating down the door to get to your blog to spew their pent up hostilities at you. I especially love the comments that include "lose the weight," when in fact you are losing the weight. Not only are these folks limited in their ability to recognize the psychological and physiological issues that contribute to obesity, but they can't read and comprehend either.

Too bad there isn't an extra charge for stupid.

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Tallahassee Techie May 19, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Several things need to be addressed. 1) There is NO "right" to fly. Flying, like driving, is a privledge. 2) I am not perfect, I am overwight, but no obese. But I have been made to sit next to someone that was spilling over the armrest due to their size and it made for an extremely uncomfortable flight. Now I am not saying this is the case, because we have not seen a picture of you in the airplane seat to see if you spill over or not, but how is it fair to the person next to you if you are spilling over? How is it fair if you are taking up space they paid for? I applaud you for losing the weight and wish the best of luck in that journey, as I too, am doing my best to lose weight. I agree that Southwest handled this badly by addressing this issue in front of other passengers. But I think society as a whole needs to back off this entitlement attitude and what is owed to them. Because I have just as much of a right as you to a nice flight experience. And if you are large enough to interfere with my experience and make me uncomfortable, you should be forced to pay more for accomodating your problem, just like I should pay more if the roles were reversed. Don't like it, then drive to where you are going, because flying is not a right of anyone.

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highspeedcu May 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm

The policy is quite clear (http://bit.ly/izLwNm). They decide who needs to buy a ticket but they also offer a refund if the plane is not overbooked (i.e. your extra seat does not keep someone off the plane). You are doing a great job taking responsibility for your size and working to lose weight but you could have prevented this situation by proactively purchasing the extra ticket.

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Elijah Wolford May 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I guess you delete the numerous people who don't agree with you. Its totally disrespectful for you to encroach on another persons seats. I hope the air lines stipulate size that before you are allowed to purchase a seat just like they stipulate luggage. I seen the video there was no harm done. Thanks for making this a big deal i believe now the airlines will wise up.

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gcbron May 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm

More reason for me to never fly on Southwest Airlines. They're terrible!

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James May 19, 2011 at 7:23 pm

As a society we should not have to inconvenience ourselves to accommodate obese people. That's right I said it. Having a fat person spilling into your seat is a gross invasion of our personal space. I wish Southwest enforced their policy across the board 100% of the time, that way people would not complain that it has never been a problem before. Before you decide you hate me please finish reading. I used to be the fatty spilling into the next seat, I was very aware of that fact. I believe that being fat is a choice. It is not like being handicapped by genetics or by accident, which society must accommodate (which I believe is right). People need to learn that fat is a choice, actually it's many poor choices piled onto our bodies. Should Southwest have handled the situation with much more discretion? Yes. Is their policy unfair or unreasonable? No. Take the stairs instead of an escalator, eat fruit instead of candy, drink water instead of soda, get a little exercise, and finally realize that as a society we eat way more than we need to. If everyone did these things their would be no need for Southwest's policy.

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Tenchy May 19, 2011 at 7:27 pm

While I give you kudos for losing all that weight. And for standing up for yourself. I don't think the airline is at fault. I do think the flight attendant could have handled it in a better way. I actually feel sorry for the flight attendants, because they are the ones that have to tell LARGE customers to buy another seat. I can bet they dread doing it and in fact don't say anything unless they ultimately know other passengers will complain (which is what im guessing happened on your other flights). From looking at Babara's picture, I cannot see how someone could sit comfortably next to her.

The fact of the matter is, airplane seats are small. So average sized people are already confined to a small space, but to have someone squeezing their bodies into a seat and touching/rubbing/ or falling over on their body. Thats just unacceptable.

Plain and simple, if you and your mother can sit in a 2 person row comfortably, all the power to yah. But if you have to sit next to one other person, you better make sure not one part of your body touches them, because of it does. YOU NEED An additional seat. Its just cheaper to buy a business class or first class seat, bigger seat and more space between you and the other person.

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Cowboy May 20, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Sorry you had to go through that , Medical issues don't seem to be recognized as a problem by the people that think they are the norm . But back when I flew I wouldn't of pissed on SW myself .

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anonymous May 20, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Just saw you on the clip on the Today show – there's no way that you don't extend into the other person's seat. If you honestly think that you don't then you must have a delusional view of yourself.

This whole situation reeks of you seeking publicity.

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Brad May 22, 2011 at 11:50 am

My God woman, I'm with James. You are obese and that obesity in the cramped confines of a plane impinges on the comfort of others. You don't need to 'overflow' the seat to do this, the bulk of your upper body is likely to cause problems as it did in a flight I recently undertook. I applaud your weight loss efforts but your "cause" is flawed and, perhaps worst of all, a selfish attempt at justification.

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Beth May 22, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Until now, I have always been a fan of Southwest Airlines. I, too, am overweight at around 250lbs. My mom also has a weight problem. My mom flew on SWA in 2008 and I flew SWA in 2008 and 2009 with no problems at all. My mom was very worried about having to buy two seats before we left even though she has never had any issues with her weight while flying. She was afraid that she might be embarrassed by the airlines. Just a gut instinct that she had, I suppose. Me, on the other hand…it hadn't even crossed my mind. Of course, now it's on my mind more than ever!

We are flying to Florida from NC in a few weeks and yes, you guessed it, we've booked flights on SWA. They were the cheapest flights we could find and it's very nice that our bags fly free. Now I think I'm seeing why our flights were so cheap: you pay the extra fees in pain and suffering (if you're overweight anyway) with the worry of being embarrassed. If I had read or seen this news story before booking our flights, I would've booked on Jet Blue instead. There's a lot to be said for peace of mind flying. Thanks for sharing your story with the world! Crossing my fingers that we'll have no issues on our upcoming flights (June 17 and June 20).

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Carolie May 22, 2011 at 5:17 pm

For all of you folks who believe that overweight people "encroach" upon your space, then I guess you will also support rules that disallow anyone with a cold, the sniffles, or any sort of illness to board a plane. After all, their germs could infringe upon your air. Anyone with bad breath or flatulence should be denied boarding as well.

While we're at it, anyone who talks loudly (and rudely) on a cell phone while the plane is on the tarmac should be denied boarding, because their conversation is infringing on my right to not have to listen to them.

Anyone who tries to put his or her carry-on in a bin that is not directly above his or her seat should have all of his or her luggage thrown out onto the runway, preferably in the rain.

Crying babies and children infringe upon everyone's ears, so perhaps they should be denied boarding as well.

Oh, and all of the "frequent fliers" who unbuckle before the plane gets to the terminal should be taken outside and shot.

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eric May 22, 2011 at 6:51 pm

first off, congratulations on the weight loss- i know that is extremely difficult. however, shouldn't the issue be why americans are so large as opposed to 5o years ago? America is a capitalist society, therefore, we do not have the rights to tell them how to run their business. Fly is not a right, but a privilege. I wish you the best on your goal to a healthy body and lifestyle.

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tripwire May 23, 2011 at 4:18 am

Carolie, Thats BS.

For starters – I recently travelled overseas with my wife & found I had a flu at around boarding time. I ended up cancelling flights & re-scheduling once I was better to do EXACTLY what you say people dont.

I'd still prefer to be physically comfortable in my OWN chair with someone's crying baby next to me than have a fat person overflowing all over me.

Interestingly the last time I flew I was forced to squeeze in alongside an obese person who not only encroached on my space, but wheezed the whole way, snored, scoffed food with disgusting noises AND had body odour and foul breath. Oh and then they proceeded to drop their luggage on my head as they removed it from the overhead compartment…

Whats your answer to that Miss "blame everyone else but the fatties"?

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Fabianna May 23, 2011 at 12:29 pm

You are one tough lady! I am glad you were able to stay strong for your mother and for Barbara.

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Mary June 23, 2011 at 10:17 am

They were very disrespectful to you. However, as someone who has had to sit next to an overweight person, it’s not fair to us. The person that sat next to me spilled into my seat and I was squashed up against the wall for the entire 8 hour flight. I did ask for another seat, but the flight was fully booked. How is it fair that this person took up half of my seat?? And made for a very uncomfortable flight. It wasn’t just the lady next to me that was overweight, her husband next to her was as well. This I find unacceptable. If you are that much over weight that you make the person next to you uncomfortable due to taking up some of their space, then you should purchase 2 seats. When I sit waiting to get on a flight I pray that the extremely large people I see waiting don’t sit next to me. You may say I’m cruel for thinking this, but let me tell you. That 8 hour flight was horrendous due to being shoved up against the wall. I don’t agree with how the airline treated you or any other over weight person. Every one deserves the same kind of respect. It could have been handled differently.

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Susan September 15, 2011 at 10:43 pm

This is ridiculous! There’s a time and place for everything. The line where passengers board the plane is not the right time and/or place to handle a situation like this. It should have been handle more professionally in another area. The $200 voucher was really an insult and something used to try to cover their mess up. They knew they were wrong from the beginning. If the policy to purchase another ticket wasn’t in black and white, it’s not a policy. It’s just another way to bring in more money. When it comes to hiring workers to work with the public, employers need to be sure they are hiring the right people. Workers could ruin a good business if their customer service skills aren’t up to par. I wish you the best of luck with your outcome.

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Laura Harper September 16, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Wow!! I am totally blown away by this. I’m very intrigued by customer service but this just blows my mind. How could anyone in their right mind act like this and expect to get away with that? I tip my hat to her because I would not have been as calm as she was.

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Marilyn September 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Thank you for stepping up to the plate, and letting people know how you feel, yes you all was disrepected,and if there were a problem it should have been address before that time, and if the policy stated that, it should have also been address before taking your money for the tickets, not only that the policy should have been in writing,so you did well with making known your feeling and experience with Southwest Airlines.

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Sherry September 19, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Whatever happen to kindness and respect? The Southwest employees definitely handled your situation improperly. Even the guy making a smart comment. If personal weight limitations were overlooked when you booked your flight the attendants should have used more discretion and tact in addressing the issue upon your return flight. Preferably having the conversation in privacy if it were me. Good luck in taking steps for a healthier lifestyle.

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Sherry September 19, 2011 at 10:51 pm

What happened to kindness and respect? The Southwest employees definitely handled your situation improperly. Even the guy making a smart comment. If personal weight limitations were overlooked when you booked your flight the attendants should have used more discretion and tact in addressing the issue upon your return flight. Preferably having the conversation in privacy if it were me. Good luck in taking steps for a healthier lifestyle.

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MH October 10, 2011 at 4:37 am

Do you still have a working video? The link says it’s no longer available. I am flying Southwest in a few weeks and have always had this fear. Did not realize that it had come horrifyingly true for someone else. Thanks for sharing your story, you brave woman.

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Diana November 11, 2011 at 12:05 pm

About a year ago, I was in Reno, NV waiting for my flight with Delta (Who, by the way, I have never had a problem with). Since their gate had no available seats, I sat across the way at a SouthWest gate. Can you believe it? Without even asking me who I was flying with, one of their gate agents approached me and said “I am sorry ma’am, but all our flights are overbooked today and I don’t think that SouthWest will be able to help you with your travel plans today”
I was shocked! It took me a few seconds to realize what was just said to me, then I responded that I was Delta’s problem and I would NEVER EVER fly with them anyway.
Congratulations on your success and you are helping more people than you know.

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PinkMuslimah November 15, 2011 at 5:12 pm

I have always struggled with my weight. I am also a convert to Islam and wear the clothing which is generally associated with being a Muslim woman. I will not fly Southwest if I can at all help it because of what I have heard about how they treat Muslims, people of colour, and overweight travellers.

I do wish that you had left the race of the LSU football player out of the discussion.

The class/privilege issues which you raised in mentioning him, though, stands out like a sore thumb: it was obvious that Southwest was treating him differently than they were treating the rest of you because he had that privilege, that higher standing in life, the wealth, the power, the fame.

Kudos to you, Kenlie, and a tip of the hijab. Go get these knuckleheads for all that they’re worth, and then some. Money is the only language that they understand.
-Pink

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Miss April December 1, 2011 at 11:19 am

This was an even worse experience and for 3 ladies…. yuck. You really are a trooper for even giving them a second chance. Now, I guess you know to not fly with them next time and you won’t have a problem? It does make me nervous that I’ll be in the wrong city with the wrong agent at the wrong time and I could be called out like this next. That’s why I continue to lose weight, keep up progress on weight loss. You have a lot going for you right now (I read your blog, but don’t comment very often). I hope this situation has some sort of acceptable ending for you. Take care.

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David May 20, 2012 at 8:41 pm

I know this is responding so very late – but I had to respond.

Firstly, I can understand one part of Southwest’s response: it’s not the weight, but the breadth that matters. However, that’s no excuse for bad manners and customer humiliation.

Secondly, I don’t think you should have to buy two seats at all: if the seat is too small, then that’s the problem of the airline, not the customer. The customer should not be made to feel like a second class person, and should not be humiliated publicly or privately.

We already have a problem when airlines sell things they do not have (that is, seats are overbooked) – customers should be number one and their well-being should be paramount.

I love to fly – but have sworn off flying on commercial airlines in America, mostly because of the TSA and their heavy-handedness (including invasive searches, fondling of women, children, and the disabled) – but this treatment of you by Southwest is also appalling.

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Matt September 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm

According to Southwest’s own policy, they “(do) not condone discrimination in any form.” Well, what exactly do they call what happened to you, your mother, and Barbara?

Their web site states that they have specific measurements as to what they consider to be “oversized” customers whom would be required to purchase a second seat. At no point do I read in your blog, that neither the gate representative nor the supervisor offered to DISCREETLY measure anyone…an objective way of determining whether or not an extra seat was needed. What they DID do was judge all of you based on their own, subjective, biased criteria. When this subjective judging takes place, discrimination rears its ugly head.

I too have struggled with my weight; however, I have never been confronted in such an outwardly malicious manner. I deeply feel for you. I hope that Southwest was smart enough to compensate you well beyond the $200 voucher. If it were measurable, Southwest would need to purchase an additional two additional seats for their insensitivity!

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Miss Nancy May 1, 2013 at 11:57 am

I came across your article and just had to respond. I too had a terrible experience. I was sitting in my wheelchair in line waiting to board a flight to Florida on Southwest airlines two years ago. I too am overweight. Im was in a wheelchair because of arthritic knees ( I have since had both knees replaced). A Southwest employees came up to me and ask me in front of everyone at the gate, “You have one ticket to get on this flight”? I said “Yes,why?” She said, “Well look at you, just look at you” I was stunned and told her I had flown many times on Southwest and no one ever said anything to me. She left to go to her ticket counter and keep looking at me.
Seems to me Southwest Airlines needs to educate their employees on how to treat people, talk to people and they also need to give them more work to do instead to giving them permission to publicly humiliate the very hands that feed them. I hope you won or win a bid lawsuit and put a dent in their employees pockets, a BIG DENT.

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Amonymous February 13, 2014 at 5:59 pm

No one should be treated this way at anytime, or anywhere. Everyone deserves respect.

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whitney February 17, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Seems to me that southwest airlines should educate their employees on legitimate “policies” and manners. People who have never struggled with being over weight don’t understand the emotional and physical struggles that come along with it. God created us all equal under him despite size, race, personality, social class, etc. I hope the airline has done everything possible to ensure their apology to you.

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