Airlines Discrimination Equal RIghts Obesity Richard Simmons

A Simple Solution to a Major Problem

I’m back in New York, and I’ve been a bit quiet about this topic lately because I needed a little time to think on everything that has been happening as a result of my story that has been featured on MSNBC, The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, AOL.com and several other major networks.

Several major news organizations have picked up my story, and since then, I have received hundreds of e-mails, comments and tweets – many of which have been supportive. Of course, I’ve also been on the receiving end of thousands comments by people who have simply missed the point completely so it’s time for me to address this…again.

As I said, I am back in New York to discuss this issue on The Today Show this morning. The first part of my interview took place place Saturday morning in Beverly Hills with Richard Simmons before our workout. You can see me on The Today Show during the 7 o’clock hour before I do interviews with CNN and other news programs.

I’ve spent the last two years blogging about anything and everything pertaining to my weight-loss, but right now, there’s a much bigger issue than how Kenz was treated at the airport. And there seems to be some major misunderstandings about this issue that affects millions of people across the nation.

Let me start by addressing those of you who do not have a weight problem. This is not about me asserting that I have the right to encroach on your space. This is a problem with the design of airline seating that can, in fact, be fixed.

It is a matter of equal rights to equal access. Equal rights to equal access.

Our society has come to accept what the airlines deem as the correct size of a human being without regard to the actual size of human beings. One third of Americans are obese.

We are, historically, a nation that evolves and addresses its shortcomings so it is time to consider that the airlines could change the size of some of the seats to accommodate its passengers.

At 400 pounds (and at 300 pounds) I purchased two tickets. And it never occurred to me that I could do anything other than purchase those tickets. I had to fly so I did it.

But in the last week, I have received hundreds of e-mails, tweets and comments from people who refuse to fly because they are afraid to face the same experience that I faced when I was singled out and openly criticized. I have also spoken with those who dread flying because of the agonizing discomfort as well as those who stay at home because they simply cannot afford to buy two tickets.

One reader commented that she regrettably passed up a weeklong, all expenses paid vacation by her employer because of her uncertainty and fear of public humiliation.

Another shared his story in which he missed his daughter’s wedding that was across the country because he simply could not afford to purchase two seats.

And I have heard from people this week that opt to drive 20 or more hours rather than board an airplane. If these people are driving over 20 hours then that means that they can afford to fly and the airlines have just lost a sale.

I am a free market capitalist. I understand that the airlines’ goals are to make money, but it has become blatantly obvious through this, that the airline industry would make considerably more money if they could accommodate all passengers. And it would not require a major restructuring. It’s as simple as changing out a few seats.

The fact is that airlines are simply not required to accommodate all members of the public. Instead, they fail to recognize that as a nation, we are bigger than we were 50 years ago. They cram us into small seats and offer us snacks and drinks that are loaded with fat and calories and preservatives. Does that really make sense?

If they became more aware of their passengers, we would not be discussing this. We would not be worried about encountering public humiliation, and no one would be asking me to appear on a news program.

It is in the interest of airlines to accommodate every guest. Americans who have the money to pay for flights are waiting for someone to create a solution to this problem, and the solution is simple. The airline industry, which is a public service, should provide that public service by providing equal rights to equal access to those who are currently excluded. It would relieve passengers of size and increase sales while relieving those passengers who are smaller in stature, easing the potential discomfort of being encroached upon.

It’s time to address this problem, which can be a win-win situation. It’s time to fix what is broken in the airline industry, and as consumers, it is our responsibility to express desire for change.

Update: Click here to see my appearance on the Today Show.  Please note that Southwest Airlines did not provide “monetary compensation” to my mother or myself apart from refunding the cost of the tickets we purchased for that flight which I stated in a previous post.  Again, this is not about monetary compensation.  It’s about equal rights to equal access.

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58 Comments

  • Reply
    safire
    May 18, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I saw you on the Today show today! I enjoyed your take on the whole situation.

    I have a relative who works in Boeing so I'd be interested in what he thinks of the situation.

  • Reply
    Jules
    May 18, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Very well said! It is Equal Rights plain and simple. What I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE about you is that YOU believe in YOU!

    I for one am blessed to have met you!

  • Reply
    Melissa
    May 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Stupid post. 1/3 of Americans are obese so we as a nation should accept that? Are you kidding me? Let's make it socially acceptable to be fat and unhealthy so you can get a publishing deal.

  • Reply
    Maria_NJ
    May 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Saw you on the today show too, very confident looking, I might add…I do want to comment on one thing though…

    You said in the interview and in your post that you have had many people leave messages about not being able to fly because of their weight. I so totally get that you are talking about equal rights for all people, women of size included, but…I hope by them not being able to attend an important event like a wedding of their child or a FREE vacation that they took that as a wake up call that they need to do something about their weight and health. We all have had that "wake up call" moment and I hope that something like that would get them motivated to get the weight off…

  • Reply
    Sarah from Onmyweightohappiness
    May 18, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Way to go for standing up for yourself and your mom! You did an amazing job presenting it all!

  • Reply
    Melissa Wolf
    May 18, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    You are AMAZING!! What a great job you did on TODAY and you looked beautiful too.

  • Reply
    ♥ Shrinking Kenz ♥
    May 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Maria,

    You know me. You know that I am working toward my own weight-loss goals, and you know just how important that is to me personally.

    That being said, I don't have the right to judge others based on their choices/hardships. I do wish success for every person who struggles as I do with this issue as well as other issues.

    But it's a simple case of equal rights and making money, and both sides can win.

  • Reply
    ♥ Shrinking Kenz ♥
    May 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Melissa,

    It's reality whether you choose to accept it or not. Regardless of your choice on the matter, basic human decency should exist. Equal rights should exist.

    And a publishing deal? Why have I heard nothing about that? If you took a few moments to read my blog you would figure out that I am committed to making my life a healthy one, and that I won't need this fiasco to get a publishing deal.

  • Reply
    HS @ Our Debt Blog
    May 18, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Do you have YouTube links to your videos? I'm never home to watch the Today Show…

    HS

  • Reply
    Shelly
    May 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Great post! It all goes back to the Golden Rule "Treat others the way that you want to be treated". I think we (as a society) have fallen so far off that wagon….and that is incredibly sad.

  • Reply
    Mystic Horseman
    May 18, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Hi !
    I read about you and the unbelievable story about Southwest Airlines; That's a terrible behaviour and they have to be punished. And they will, for sure.
    I'm just came here to say that :
    You are a VERY beautiful woman ! Very !
    You're gorgeous !
    Don't be sad because this problem. That never will be bigger than your beauty.
    Regards

  • Reply
    downsizers
    May 18, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I think we are calling something a "right" that really isn't. I understand what you are saying and feel sorry about the humiliation but it isn't anyone's right in my opinion to fly in an airplane. My sister had her moment when she and her daughter had tickets to a dance show and had tickets for really good seats. My sister couldn't fit in the seat and they had to ask to be moved so she could sit in a chair somewhere. She was so humiliated and had to stop and go into restrooms because she was sobbing so bad. That was when she decided to do something about it and had the surgery. She did not try to make the auditorium make seats to accommodate her size. I have weighed 250 pounds and understand the limitations that extra weight causes. The world does not revolve around me. I do not have a right to fly, to have a seat in an auditorium just for me, or a toilet that will hold my weight in public restrooms. "Rights" is an overused concept in America. Personal responsibility needs to replace it.

  • Reply
    Simple Girlee
    May 18, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Hello, I am just an average girl that enjoys reading blogs, and I wanted to give you a big hug and a high five! Congratulations on your amazing journey and keeping your head up in the face of haters & adversity! Remember doll – SUCCESS IS THE BEST REVENGE!

  • Reply
    ♥ Shrinking Kenz ♥
    May 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    As an American, I believe that you have the right to your opinion whether you believe it's cliche or not just as I have the right to partake in public services like air travel.

    That being said, my heart goes out to you downsizers. Thanks for utilizing your right to speak freely here in a respectful manner.

  • Reply
    fatboy kris
    May 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I like you as a weight-loss blogger, you seem like a very nice person and I can relate to your efforts to lose weight. I am working on it, myself.

    However, you are not an airline industry expert.

    You said, "…the solution is simple. The airline industry, which is a public service, should provide that public service by providing equal rights to equal access to those who are currently excluded."

    There is nothing "simple" about the business of air travel. The price of a ticket and size of the seats (as well as a huge list of other details) is precisely determined so that as many possible people can efficiently fit on each individual plane, making for a SLIGHTLY profitable business.

    The industry is ABSOLUTELY NOT a public service nor is it obligated to provide equal access to extraordinarily tall or obese travelers.

    Air travel is a privilege to be purchased, not a right. If you don't appreciate the service, than do not partake of it. You can walk, run, ride a bike, take a car, bus, boat, train or stay at home. You do not have to fly.

    Again, I love your thoughts on weight-loss. I just disagree with your perspective on the so-called rights of the obese …a group I am trying to leave.

  • Reply
    downsizers
    May 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Shrinking Kenz – you have the right attitude I believe about public discourse that is civil. One of my pet peeves is when people reduce a disagreement to name calling and cursing. I can give you my opinion with maturity and you can respond in kind. We can still be friends. Civil public discourse is another thing America is losing – how sad.

  • Reply
    Lindy
    May 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Hey…can you post links of your interviews? I would love to see them and unfortunately don't have cable so I watch everything online, and I would love to hear what you had to say 🙂

  • Reply
    lanae
    May 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Bravo Kenz Bravo!

  • Reply
    Missy
    May 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts, until this one.

    I respect your position, and would never be a commenter that slanders but I have to say that I disagree. If I choose to live in a way that makes some aspects of life difficult than I choose to deal with the consequences as well. If my choices make it difficult for me to sit in an airline seat, then it is my consequence to avoid flying or to pay for an additional seat. Obesity is not a disability. It is a serious of choices. And unfortunately all choices have consequences.

    That being said, I am horrified for you and the situation the airline put you in. That was completely unacceptable.

  • Reply
    Maria_NJ
    May 18, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    if there were "rights" in everything that is proper in America…then why do I have smoke blown in my face while working at the casino? Everyone else in the State of NJ is granted a smoke free work place, how come I'm not? Isn't that discrimination? Yes I get it, were not talking about smoking but we are talking about rights…Like everything else, "they" can change the rules as they go along…trust me are right are compromised…

    But what I was trying to convey is, if your weight is getting in the way of living your life, you owe it to yourself to do something about it and have the best life possible. (Kenz, is was not talking about you, I know you have been doing an awesome job of getting the weight off and getting healthy, I apologize if you took it personally)

  • Reply
    Kate
    May 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Thanks for this post – and, now that I'm reading back through your blog, for chronicling your weight loss experience in general. You have a powerful, eloquent voice.

  • Reply
    Chubby McGee
    May 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Amen, Kenz! I'm really sad that I missed you on The Today Show!!! I had it on TV, but I was busy cleaning and not paying attention to what was on the TV. I am so mad at myself.

    And, again, you were being mistreated even before you were called out in line by that other lady. So…still…the airline is a big meanie. 😉

  • Reply
    Yasmin*´¯`*.¸¸.*´¯`*♥* Rumo aos 68 kg...
    May 18, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Hi ..

    Okay with you?

    I read a story about what happened to you and your mother … I found the cumulo … I am Brazilian, but now I live in Baharin … Also I have a blog for weight loss … already eliminated 23 pounds and still intend to eliminate 16 more …. Will I get it?

    I'm following you

    Kisses

  • Reply
    Lynn
    May 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Dang people, you know she's trying to lose weight right?! Sheesh! Don't worry girl, you just keep up those jumping jacks. I think many people are missing the point. You weren't complaining that they didn't have a seat for you because you have shown in the past that you are willing and able to pay for the extra seat. But the manner that you were dealt with is where your rights were violated. I don't know about "downsizers" but the right to not be embarrassed and made to feel terrible in public just because of how you look sounds like a pretty good one to have. Maybe she just has much thicker skin than the rest of us. Anyway, I saw you on my TODAY Show podcast this morning! And now I will start following your progress too.

    My best, Lynn
    *and your bigger seat pitch is just good business sense, why no one has thought of it yet is beyond me.

  • Reply
    A Fat Girl's Perspective
    May 18, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    How do you keep a level head when replying to comments such as some of the above. I tried to that on my blog, but I ended up just getting mad at people for blatantly ignoring that there are two sides to every story and we could both be right (or wrong). I ended up quailing a lot of my more "controversial" post and headed in a more mutual style (Fashion) to stop the feelings of frustration. I still post outside of the fashion range when there is something truly upsetting to me. I will Google your Today Show appearance later today. I'm 326 and have gone down from 352 (at 5'7). I've flown at my highest and at my lower weights. I've always fit (tightly), but have always needed an extender. I've come to the realization that I'm a big girl and I will not be changing that in a day, so accommodations need (not must) be made for me. And don't think I'm shy about asking. I've openly asked for a chair without arms (large hips) and ask a steward for an extension with no problems. I don't ask for people to feel sorry for me, but just to have some understanding an empathy. Open ridicule is not how you solve the obesity problems in this country. That was longer than I expected, but you must have brought it out. Thanks. Good Luck.

  • Reply
    Adam
    May 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    I saw your story on The Today Show this morning. What difference does it really make if the conversation had taken place down a hallway? Everyone sitting waiting on that plane was thinking the same thing regardless of what the gate agent told you.

    And the athlete was a full foot taller than you? Hm, I am guessing his arms are longer than yours as well? Maybe that weight difference is because he has a great deal of muscle mass and is taller than you… just a thought.

    The problem isn't that people are driving or staying home. The problem is that 30% of the nation is obese is not something the airlines should adapt to. People need to recognize it is a problem for themselves and own their problem. If we didn't have obesity issues or smokers our health care system might actually be sustainable.

    Evolution of material things is not the answer in this case. I mean, based on your reasoning, everything should be made bigger. Can you get in the back seat of a 15 passanger econoline van? We should probably ask Ford to redesign their vans. There are thousands of other implications that could be considered based on your suggestion.

    I heard you say you have lost weight. How much weight has your mother lost in recent years? Maybe NBC should have offered to have both of you go on the Biggest Looser. I love that show, it is amazing how over the course of several months people shed half their weight or more.

    Best of luck with your continued weight loss. But I do not apologize for being someone who sits in airport terminals thinking, "boy, I hope I do not get seated next to…."

  • Reply
    Joie
    May 18, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    The people that are saying that it's not a "right" to fly, or that as a fat person we are wrong to want things that thin people have access too.

    Listen here – being fat is NOT easy. Nor is it always a choice. Sometimes it's an addiction, sometimes a disease, sometimes medications. And sometimes yes, it's laziness.

    But yes, ALL PEOPLE THAT CAN PAY FOR A PLANE TICKET HAVE THE RIGHT TO FLY. Even fat people have rights! Shocked?

    And to say that us fatties should just lose weight and stop promoting obesity? My mom just flew last week to Arizona and back. She weighs 132 lbs and is 5'3". She is a size 6/8. She was EXTREMELY uncomfortable in her seat on the plane. She could not bend down without her hips hitting the arm and it popping up. And she could not sit comfortably in her seat without her arm and her neighbors arms touching quite a bit.

    Also, how would all of you skinny folks like it if all of the airlines took up your same opinion? Ok, so no fat folks on the plane…guess what? Prices sky rocket…and then you would all be bitching about that. They would have to make up for the money they wouldn't be getting from the folks that are still willing to fly.

    Just sayin.

  • Reply
    Adam
    May 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    @Joie… according to the blogs host, most obese people do not currently fly. Prices are what they already are. Not too worried.

  • Reply
    5579024c-817a-11e0-a7af-000f20980440
    May 18, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Hi, I liked that you pulled out your camera on the flight attendant at the desk, and how his attitude changed. If he did say you where to fat to fly, that was just wrong. I like that you bought two seats most of the time because you didn’t want to encroach on my space.
    I don’t believe that air travel is a public service; just like rental cars are not a public service. They are a for profit company. Yes putting a few bigger seats in might fix the problem but every one would want that seat not just the plus sized adult, some planes have bigger seats in business and first class you pay more for a bigger seat and better service. I am sorry for your humiliation in front of the gate that was not right, but if they put in three seats for plus sized customers I would also want a bigger seat if I paid the same for my ticket why give a few special treatment? There are some people that can’t fly because they are so large they cant get in the door, there is some personal responsibility. I’m glad you have become so healthy and active. Good for you!

  • Reply
    Maria
    May 18, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    I'm saddened, but not surprised by all the controversy over this issue. It's obvious the airline needs to set a policy and make sure all their employees know about it, and train them in how to implement said policy. You and your mother should never have been put on such public display.

    You did a wonderful job on the Today Show! You got your point across in a very eloquent manner! I'm so proud to know you and have you speak for all of us "fatties."

  • Reply
    trippingtiffies
    May 18, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Kenz,

    I am completely proud of you. You used your voice in a calm, eloquent manner and brought to light an injustice that happens not only to you, but countless others all over the world. NO ONE should be forced to hold in their pain or humiliation when they've been treated unfairly. Sitting there and taking the verbal abuse would have had worse ramifications – if no one spoke up, they might have done that to someone else. Holding in pain & humiliation hurts your self worth and self esteem. Maybe SW will see the error of their ways. I surely hope this is a lesson to those who treat people differently just because they can.

    ♥tiff
    fashionintheforest.blogspot.com

  • Reply
    Samantha Maddin
    May 18, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I had a similar experience with Southwest a couple of years ago. I was in my seat, on a return flight from Vegas to Denver when a customer service rep came on the full flight, and basically tried to get to me to say I couldn't fit in the seat, the seat I was sitting in btw, and appeared to be trying to get me to leave the flight in front of everyone. I quietly, but firmly, told her clearly I was fine. I will never, ever fly Southwest again, I haven't had problems on any other airline including budget ones. Still makes me feel ill thinking about it. Good for you for standing up to them and publicizing this.

  • Reply
    Shannon
    May 18, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    You just popped up on my tv screen!!! How cool is that?! The story is coming up next on the news, so I'm waiting to watch it! Can't wait!

  • Reply
    MAFW
    May 18, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    It's not just the airlines. I tried to go to a concert last year and I wouldn't fit. The concert was a standing room only crowd and there was no place for me to stand and watch the show so I just left. I had jury duty last year and was totally mortified that I wouldn't be able to fit into the seats.

    Ask any fat person if they enjoy being big? We all know what the answer is to the question.

    We're not lazy, we don't saunter up to the buffet three times a day and we don't inject butter into our veins with an IV drip; I know I certainly didn't wake up one morning and say, "Hmm, I think I'll be fat for the rest of my life."

    It's all about courtesy: I also don't want to sit next to the fat person on the plane.

    I also don't want to sit beside that woman who talked on her cell phone for 16 hours or had an infant that screamed for three consecutive hours or the man that just kept talking about himself and cleared his nasal passages, scratched himself repeatedly and had a case of halitosis that would kill most people. No, I didn't see the airplane telling them that they were too whatever to fly.

    Because one thing for sure is that the above mentioned people were definitely occupying my personal space and I wasn't rude to them…

  • Reply
    contrari
    May 18, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    It's a PLANE. It flies based on wind and weight…I don't know all the details, but I understand this one fact.

    When I look around and see heavy people on my plane it scares the crap out of me. The airline is not weighing people as they get on (but they should). Personally, I think you should buy a plane ticket for being male 200#/woman 150# with a 25# allotment for luggage, more to check, but they DO weigh that. If you exceed that, you pay more. And that's that. Once you exceed a certain amount of weight, you get two seats. DONE.

    No one should be rude to you in a customer service situation, but trying to pour 300+ pounds into a single seat clearly designed for far less is nuts…and seriously affects flight safety for EVERYONE on the plane. Not having a policy in place for this is entirely idiotic of the airline.

    I'm glad you're taking the initiative to lose this weight and I wish you the best.

  • Reply
    Agatha Christie
    May 18, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Hi Kenz! I just saw you on CNN and have to applaud you. As someone who is also in the middle of a weight-loss journey, flying is something I have been very concerned about. I haven't gone as far as to say that I avoid flying, but I am always very conscious of how much space I occupy on a plane so it doesn't seem like I'm encroaching on someone else's space.

    I admire your ability to stand up for yourself and demand an apology for a very blatant violation of your privacy. You look wonderful (I found myself saying that I liked your shirt!) and keep up the good work! I will definitely follow your blog and wish you the best in the future!

  • Reply
    coopermktg
    May 18, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    I weigh 98 pounds. I have never broken 100 lbs. in nearly 50 years of life. And one time on a flight a very large woman sat next to me who didn't have to purchase two tickets, but she had to get the seatbelt extender. She was miserable. I was using about 1/2 of my seat, so when we were under way I asked her if she would like to raise the armrest and be more comfortable. She nearly cried from gratitude, and I still have plenty of room. I think the way airlines treat people is ridiculous. Thank you for reopening this dialog.

  • Reply
    Baffs
    May 18, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Hi there,

    First, it really sucks that you were treated so rudely on your trip. That is totally uncalled for, and it seems that you handled the situation with class and restraint. Good for you.

    However, I respectfully disagree with your proposal here. While air transportation may be a public service, the PRICE of that service depends on the number of people that can be transported per airplane. If the chairs get bigger, the seat count goes down – and if the seat count goes down, airfare prices go up. It's supply and demand. And frankly, I feel strongly that I shouldn't have to pay more for my seat because of the lifestyle choices of others.

    (Not to mention the MAJOR additional expense of restructuring all of the airplanes. It all costs money.)

    I fly constantly. Planes are already overcrowded. And with gas prices these days, people can't afford for airfare to get any more expensive.

    I understand your desire for equal rights to equal access. But in the end, losing weight is a choice. In my opinion, if obese people choose not to lose weight, they should pay for the extra space they require. Just because obesity happens to be an issue in this country doesn't mean that the rest of the population should enable it – or pay the price for it.

    Best of luck,

    Kim

  • Reply
    A Fat Girl's Perspective
    May 19, 2011 at 1:48 am

    I don't think that Kenz is suggesting she should be treated differently b/c of her weight, just like any other customer who is a person. If airlines are going to make stipulations on sizes then they should post them accordingly on their websites, tickets etc. They do this with several requirements when you enter into the ticket agreement. It is a for profit company, which is run to make the most profit it can and customer service is part of that. So…..skinny or fat…….they should work to make customers happy. Maybe they should start requesting you enter your weight when you purchase a ticket and give you a seat assignment accordingly. Maybe they should require that you have to purchase 1st class or two seats. But they have to make some kind of statement, otherwise its really unlawful and un-American. If I'm fat and I have to buy two tickets to fly……I will. Its my problem, but I don't deserve to be treated inhumanly and I think that is all she was saying.

    I also make it a point to thank anyone who is nice to be on a plane. I sat next to a woman once in a express plane (never again) and it was very squished. She read her book and went to sleep. When we got up to leave, I thanked her for being so nice about the seating arrangements. She simply stated, "Why wouldn't I be dear."

    Of course if we keep talking about profit margin…….68% of the American population is obese. Or read as…the Majority of Americans are obese. Nothing to brag about, but statistics drive the market.

  • Reply
    af4c9aa2-81bd-11e0-823c-000bcdcb471e
    May 19, 2011 at 2:14 am

    COMPLETELY agree with you, and not that it matters, i'm average everything. when a 5'6" 130 lb person can sit in an airline seat and have her hips rub both armrests, something is wrong.

    I WOULD PAY MORE FOR A BIGGER SEAT IF THE CHOICE WERE AVAILABLE. after i-can't-even-tell-you-how-many-ridiculous-flight-experiences, i know my 6'2" husband would too.

    anyone who thinks having that choice available is not reasonable, is a trolling idiot.

    keep it up, you're doing great in so many ways!

  • Reply
    The Pilot's Wife
    May 19, 2011 at 2:41 am

    I watched your story on cnn and as pilot's wife and a woman who has struggled with weight, having lost 100 pounds myself only to gain 30 back and then to get back on the journey and lose 35( only 10 more to go)… I am so happy you are puting yourself out there. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for that. I also want to thank you for mentioning Jetblue, that is the airline my husband flies for…

    I appreciate you being an advocate! Again, THANK YOU!

    Anna, The Pilot's Wife
    http://www.pilotwife.blogspot.com

  • Reply
    shoranyc
    May 19, 2011 at 8:48 am

    I'll try to say this as respectfully as I can. Obesity is a personal choice. It may be more difficult for some people than for others to lose weight, but it is possible for everyone to lead a healthy lifestyle. What is impossible is for me to ever be taller no matter what I do. It is not the airline's responsibility to adapt to your own personal choices in life. Anymore than it is the United States Navy's responsibility to adapt to my height. You see my life long dream was to become a Naval Aviator. But at 5'4" I was medically disqualified to fly. And there is absolutely no diet, no weight loss fad, no tv reality show, or blog that can change that. Though my dream ended as a result, I still don't think it's my RIGHT to have a career as a Naval Aviator anymore than it's anyone else's right to fly in on a commercial airline. It's not fair to blame Southwest for the way they treated you. You were TWO people on a flight of many others. Whether you fit in the seat with an extender is irrelevant. You will necessarily encroach on the comfort of any passengers sitting next to you. I'm really getting tired of the self centered attitude that is permeating our society these days. It's all about me me me me, and not about our behaviors effect other people.

  • Reply
    Christine
    May 19, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Just wanted to applaud you for telling them "Stop – being big is not a free ticket for being humiliated"! I am also a big woman – due to a medical condition – and I have been flying Southwest this April… I also still fit into their seats and have not been approached by anybody because of my weight but to be honest, it is a great fear of mine that this might happen and your story has inspired me and proven to me that you don't have to take anything people throw at you just because you are big.
    Thanks and good luck with your continuing weight loss!

  • Reply
    Formerly known as Frau
    May 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I'm late to the party but kiddos to you and I support what you are saying. I'm sorry you and your Mom went through this.

  • Reply
    2b210c54-8217-11e0-b223-000bcdcb8a73
    May 19, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Folks who argue that "the industry is not a public service nor is it obligated to provide equal access to extraordinarily tall or obese travelers" are DEAD WRONG. Airlines operate in a space of finite capacity and are a vital component of US commerce. This is exactly why the industry has been regulated in the past, and one of many good reasons why it should be regulated to a reasonable extent again today. It is in the prevailing public interest that airlines be required to accommodate passengers irrespective of height in particular. While there is a shred of gravitas in the debate over weight, I find it personally offensive that anyone thinks a tall person should not be given equal access to air transportation. Yes, airfares will increase. That's a small price to pay to ensure that honest, hard-working Americans who happen to have been born a certain way do not suffer humiliation and physical pain as a result of simply trying to go about their business.

  • Reply
    TRAVIS
    May 19, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I agree that airlines need to respect all of their passengers' human dignity, and I do agree that airplanes could and probably should offer larger seats. That said I think it is important that we acknowledge that airlines are in the business of moving things from point A to point B. We have to pay more for luggage that exceeds weight limits, this is true with the USPS, FedEx, UPS, etc. So making options available to overweight passengers is perfectly fine, but who should bear the expense? Every other shipping business charges based on the weight of cargo shipped. Why should air travel be any different?

  • Reply
    27d49792-822a-11e0-9694-000bcdcb5194
    May 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    I am 6'2" and 255 lb, and was above the 300 lb barrier a couple years ago. I sympathize with your situation, having traveled a lot for both business and pleasure in the past. I often found myself wedged into seats, the arms digging into my hips and my knees crushed up against the seat in front of me. Then, I found two solutions.

    The first, you are already working on, as it is the purpose of this blog: weight loss. For that I applaud you. It's a difficult journey, and at times you may stumble and fall, but get back up. After breaking 300 lbs, I got serious about my health, and dropped down to 255 lb. I have made long term changes to my lifestyle, with the hope that they will make my life both longer and more enjoyable.

    The second is to tell traditional airlines you are fed up with their BS and fly on Jetblue. Their "even more legroom" seats are actually only $10-$20 more, so less than you mentioned on TV. What you may not realize, however, is that their standard seat is both wider and has more legroom then on traditional airlines. I fly at least once a month, and I am able to do so both comfortably and affordably on Jetblue.

    So, combine those two, and enjoy your new fitness in a tropical destination reached via Jetblue.

  • Reply
    Basil
    May 19, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Just saw your vid on CNN. You were terrific. I loved the way you accepted personal responsibility and yet still didn't let the airlines off the hook! You are 100% right on this issue.

    I think that the bigger problem here is best summed up in a post on this blog from someone named Travis who ended his post by saying: "Every other shipping business charges based on the weight of cargo shipped. Why should air travel be any different?". Travis – simple answer is: Because people aren't luggage. They're not "cargo". They are human beings. Your suitcase doesn't have feelings and emotions and struggles. The airlines need to stop treating people like "cargo" and seeing them for the fellow humans that they are. And to your question of "who should bear the expense?"…. all of us, that's who. "We" as a society, bear the expense. We bear the expense for social services programs even though we may never use them. We bear the expense for schools, even though we may not have kids. We bear the expense for maintaining roads, even though we may never drive on them. That's the point of society. We pull together and make life better for ALL members. Or better yet – why not let the airlines themselves suck up the expense. It's no secret that they have exorbitant profits every year. They can't spend a little of that money to make accommodations for ALL of their passengers? Sometimes the greed in some sections of corporate America baffles me.

    I fly often and I am always thoroughly disgusted to see the way overweight people are treated by fellow passengers. It seems to be okay if you are loud, stinky, obnoxious, rude, or stupid – but heaven forbid you should be a little larger than the acceptable size 6. Sadly, I guess the old adage "treat others as you would want to be treated" no longer applies in today's society.

    Society pushes unhealthy foods and body sizes that are truly unrealistic for most people and then has the nerve to ostracize the folks that can't fit their mold. Just ridiculous. I am a size 16. As of last dr's visit, I am very healthy. I love myself. I love my body. But I am finding myself getting more and more upset when I go into dept stores and see that my size is considered "plus" size. What is that telling my daughter?! That if you're over a size 6 the world will consider you fat? ugghh. sigh. Sorry, I'm ranting. I think this topic just makes so many people upset. And to those of you who think that this doesn't apply to them I say – be careful. A size 16 used to be considered pretty normal 100 years ago. Maybe it'll be your size that is considered "fat" in the future.

    Anyways – thank you so much for tackling this head on and fearlessly. And I wish you the best of luck on your journey!

  • Reply
    Todd
    May 19, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    At 450… previously 560… I am one of these people "…refuse to fly because they are afraid to face the same experience that I faced when I was singled out and openly criticized"… In fact last week I drove from PA to FLA for a conference so I wouldn't have to fly. Thanks for getting your message out there and hopefully starting some good, positive discussion.

  • Reply
    Paula
    May 19, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    While I disagree with them asking you your dress size and how much you weigh, I don't disagree with the airline for denying a seat.

    Perhaps 1/3 of Americans are overweight, but not to the point where they need to purchase 2 seats of have seat belt extensions. Airlines are struggling to make a profit as it is, by making larger seats, it's less revenue.

    Should amusement parks change all their rides so the lap bar can come down on an oversized person too? Parasail? Water ski? Horseback riding? We can't all do all things. I'm tall. I wanted to take ballet when I was young and was told I was too tall. Okay, so be it. Onto better options.

    It also becomes a safety issue with an airline. If someone had to get past you, if you were by an exit door or just to get to an aisle.

    Airlines don't intentionally discriminate against it's passengers. This is uncomfortable & sensitive for them to address to. There are so many areas they have to watch out for. Please don't distract them with this issue. Let them do their jobs and look for terrorists who may be boarding, not this. I've sat next to a person who could "barely" squeeze into a seat while flying, and it was not a comfortable flight for me as I was squeezed into my corner of the chair.

    I commend you for choosing a healtheir life-style and your journey to loose weight. You're very well spoken and I do emphathize with restrictions. I question your motive with recording the conversation and getting an apology.

  • Reply
    Randy
    May 19, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    It is not as simple as you cut it out to be. While I give you credit for not playing the victim card, in my opinion you’ve got it all wrong. You insist that the solution is as simple as making airline seats bigger. What do you think will happen as soon as the airlines cannot fit as many people into an airplane? Do you really think they are not going to raise fares? I understand that there are many people out there with valid medical reasons why they are overweight, but the vast majority of overweight people are overweight due to lifestyle choices – plain and simple. For you to suggest that we all pay higher airfares because of lifestyle choices of others is downright selfish. Your solution is not a “win win” like you insist it is. I lose, as well as everyone else who fits into the seats as they are. And as for the equal rights you keep mentioning, there is nothing equal about penalizing those of us who choose a healthy lifestyle. I was on your side until I saw your interview on CNN. the only conclusion I can now reach is that you are a very selfish woman.

  • Reply
    Matthew
    May 19, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Enough of this echo chamber. Your very blog is evidence that not all obesity is immutable. Yes, there are a few folks with medical conditions, but that's too bad; it's life. Pay for two (or more) seats, Southwest has a clear policy.

    Being fat is reason for being humiliated. As a formerly obese person I was quite aware of the impact I had on other on the boss, in terms of increased medical costs, the potential to develop obesity, decreased productivity, and other bad side effects.

    We don't expect uneducated and under-qualified people to be higher to do engineering for Google, Microsoft, or Intel– why do we expect obese folks to get a free pass?

    I read Good Calories, Bad Calories. Did paleo/low carb diet for two years, started power lifting and now I'm transitioning to CKD (trying to get sub 10% body to set a record).

    Props for making an effort to lose weight. Shame on you for trying to shame Southwest into changing their policies. There is no regard to being a human being. Where's the tears over not allowing smoking on planes? I don't see the difference between to self-inflicted maladies that discomfort other people.

  • Reply
    Nina Patricia @ The Adventures of Nina Patricia
    May 19, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    I'm only 180lbs but still overweight for my height. I think we are missing the point here. Just because you are fat that does not give anyone the right to blatantly disrespect you. To me this is a case of discrimination, like making a black person sit in the back of the bus. No, you don't have to accommodate me but you certainly have to respect me.

  • Reply
    Cool Kitten
    May 19, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Hi Kenz,

    Have been a reader of your blog since last year. I didn't know about this incident until I saw you on CNN today. I was shocked to hear about the way they treated you and your mom. I can never tolerate anyone treating my mom with disrespect. It must have been so hard for you out there all by yourselves. Just know that we support you.

    As always, your beauty shines through!

    Love,
    Sara

  • Reply
    Princess J
    May 20, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I don’t know if there is an economical, sensible solution or not. I do know that 90 lbs ago, I would not fly, and it is still a very tight squeeze. I applaud your efforts in making this an issue people need to talk about–and putting yourself out there in a very vulnerable way.

    What bothers me (as much as the equal access issues) is the subjective way policies are enforced. No one should go to the airport fearful that a fat phobic airline employee is going to enforce a rule that another would not–and be humiliated in the process. If the airlines cannot be all-accommodating (which I am not certain if they can or cannot) they need to be clear on restrictions, in advance and kind and consistent in their administration of them. Period.

    Thanks for being so incredibly brave! You rock! Have fun at fitbloggin—hope to be there next year. 

  • Reply
    Princess J
    May 20, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I don’t know if there is an economical, sensible solution or not. I do know that 90 lbs ago, I would not fly, and it is still a very tight squeeze. I applaud your efforts in making this an issue people need to talk about–and putting yourself out there in a very vulnerable way.

    What bothers me (as much as the equal access issues) is the subjective way policies are enforced. No one should go to the airport fearful that a fat phobic airline employee is going to enforce a rule that another would not–and be humiliated in the process. If the airlines cannot be all-accommodating (which I am not certain if they can or cannot) they need to be clear on restrictions, in advance and kind and consistent in their administration of them. Period.

    Thanks for being so incredibly brave! You rock! Have fun at fitbloggin—hope to be there next year. 

  • Reply
    Shal416
    May 22, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Hi there,

    I just saw you on CNN and I wanted to commend you for the maturity, poise, and intelligence you exhibited during your interview.

    I am not overweight, however, I know all too well that food can, and often is, used as a coping mechanism for emotional pain that hasn't been properly dealt with. I'm not saying this is the case with everyone, but it was for me at one time, and it became a true addiction of sorts. It wasn't necessarily the chocolate that drew me to it, it was the emotional pain within me that drew to to chocolate as a way to self-medicate.

    I was lucky though. I was able to afford and access GOOD therapy over a period of many years that helped clear my psyche of that pain. I also used Mindfulness Meditation (and found a good therapist who abides by that) to help me develop new ways of dealing with stress that would keep me from falling back on old bad habits.

    It was only then that I found myself no longer needing food to help me through tough times. Again though, I was lucky. I had the means, and I had the motivation for change, which wasn't so much strength as it was a debilitating anxiety disorder that made my life hell.

    So I am for allotting at least 3-5 chairs on planes to accommodate those who are larger. You don't know what a person is dealing with on the inside, and making them feel bad for not looking like everyone else only increases the cycle of pain.

  • Reply
    Cherry
    September 8, 2011 at 4:08 am

    Just got sent to this post via skinnyemmies blog so I’m sure this whole issue is over and done with but really, who can resist adding their own two cents.

    I think you have every right to be sticking it to the airline over their (lack of) customer service but as many others have pointed out flying is not a public service. If you’re going to use that line ecplain to me why only the middle and upperclass are able to afford the cost of a flight? Do the struggling lower-class not deserve the same benefits as the obese? I’m sure free flights for pensioners would be as much of a hit as bigger chairs for bigger people.. But it’s a business not a public service and to be frank, they business’ just dont care that much.
    I agree that there probably is a reasonable solution to your problem but your use of ‘public service’ really grated on me. That’s my two cents, over and out.

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