The Law Suit

by Kenlie Tiggeman on May 3, 2012

Whether you’re new to my blog or not, here are some facts about what’s going on in my life right now.  I’m suing Southwest Airlines.  I’m seeking an injunction because their policy needs to be less open to interpretation by their employees at the ticket counter and at the gate.   Now… before you make assumptions and/or draw conclusions, I’m asking you to listen to what I have to say.

I am not advocating obesity.  This blog only exists because I am taking steps to change my health and my life.  I’ve lost over 100 pounds, and I’m not saying that obese people should receive special treatment.  I’m simply saying that they deserve equal treatment and the opportunity to clearly understand the rules.

It's a long road, but I'm moving in the right direction...

It’s not about money.  I didn’t seek damages in the law suit that I filed Pro Se (on my own.)   But when this is over Southwest will (hopefully) owe overweight and obese Americans a clear definition of their rules at the point of purchase.  Eyeballing people at the gate won’t cut it as I’ve said on a few different occasions (here and here.)

After the initial Southwest incident last year, I blogged about it, and a representative contacted me to apologize.  I accepted the apology and agreed to fly on Southwest again.  I flew from Baltimore to New Orleans and had no problems, then I flew from New Orleans to Los Angeles, and I had no problems.  A few months later I took another flight, and  I was once again told that I was “too fat to fly.”

Actually, her words were “Well, look at you.  Obviously you need two seats.”   It’s interesting though…As soon as the agents saw the letter of apology that I received from Southwest’s HQ regarding the last incident, their tune changed.  I was allowed to board without issue, but at that point I knew I had to do something about it.

Once again, Southwest reached out to me via e-mail before I even reached my destination.  Here’s an excerpt from the e-mail:

“Moving forward, when flying with Southwest Airlines and falling under our Customer of Size policy, we will require the purchase of a second seat for travel.”

What I need Southwest to tell me is when exactly do I “fall under” that policy?  Why does it apply one day and not on another day?  I certainly didn’t fall under it according to gate agents on the two prior flights.

The problem I have with Southwest is not that they may want me to purchase two seats.  It’s that sometimes they want that, and other times they don’t.  I don’t know about you, but I fly a lot.  And paying double because a gate agent may or may not have something against overweight people is not realistic…nor should it be necessary.  

Perhaps the solution isn’t simple, but it is definitely an issue that needs attention.   The fact that the agents in my experiences were unaware of the policy is unacceptable.  And humiliating people at the gate (or in private for that matter) simply should not be an option.

As a lay person I recognize that there are engineers and rocket scientists working for this company that figure out how to make these giant machines fly around in the air everyday without crashing into each other.  Surely, they can work to create a finite policy that takes away the gate agent’s right to discriminate against overweight people.

Again, I’m not advocating obesity.  I’m working to change my body, but it is not my right to judge someone else’s circumstances.  And that’s not the point anyway.

Clearly, Southwest wants us to be a certain size, but no one (including Southwest) seems to know what that size is.  While we may not be born with an innate privilege of flying on a plane, as paying consumers we do have the right to fly if we’re willing to follow the rules.  And in order to do that, we need to know the rules.  

Southwest cannot discriminate against people because of race or gender.  People fought for those human rights, and now I’m fighting for the rights of every American, even larger ones.  More than thirty percent of Americans are obese, and you don’t have to understand or advocate obesity to know that what’s fair for one American should be fair for all Americans.  

I hope you’ll join me in my desire to seek positive change, but even if you don’t, I’ll still be here.  I’ll be fighting for what I know is right because someone has to, and I’ve learned through my journey thus far that change is possible.  And it starts with me.



To hear more, check out what I said in my latest interview with Siemny Chhuon at WDSU  in New Orleans here.



{ 219 comments… read them below or add one }

Xazmin May 3, 2012 at 2:00 am

I’m behind you friend! You are brave and strong, and I’m so proud you are being courageous and bringing attention to this problem. I will be following closely and hoping for the change you are trying to make!


Kenlie May 3, 2012 at 2:36 am

Thanks, X. You’re a great friend, and I’m thankful for you.


Wanna T Bogme May 3, 2012 at 10:27 pm

I have to side with Southwest because if you flew with them my ticket could cost more with extra fuel costs for take off.


Diane May 4, 2012 at 12:19 am

A rocket scientist you are not Wanna. A clear policy is a great idea Kenlie. I own my own business and consistency is a must. I applaud you Kenlie for moving forward with this and your own personal weight loss success. Nice job!


Kitty May 5, 2012 at 4:38 am

i agree with you Wanna T Bogme. i have sat next to fat people on flights before & it’s awful – they take up the armrest & intrude into my space.why don’t you fat people think about other people for a change rather than banging on about how it’s everyone elses fault you ate too much


David (Keep it up, David) May 3, 2012 at 2:04 am

Well said, Kenlie!
The WDSU piece is wonderful, too. You’re an articulate and thoughtful advocate for all of us, and I’m very proud of you and what you’re doing. KEEP IT UP! (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)


Kenlie May 3, 2012 at 2:35 am

You never have to apologize for reminding me to keep it up! =) xoxo


Grace @ Grace Dishes May 3, 2012 at 2:27 am

I think you have every right to find out exactly what they mean so there is no grey area.


clintb1026 May 3, 2012 at 2:55 am

This is an amazing journey your are doing. Remember goals are good and when you reach them, it makes you feel SOO great!


Kenlie May 3, 2012 at 3:36 am

Thanks….You’ve been so supportive since I met you. I’m glad I know you. Just saying.


Amber Brown May 3, 2012 at 3:06 am

Beautiful, sweet, brave Kenlie….
As a former flight attendant I applaud you. The policies for many of the major carriers need to be clarified. I am behind you 100%! Anytime you need to have some fun in the California sun give me a ring….let’s plan a Disneyland day sometime!


Kenlie May 3, 2012 at 3:37 am

I’ll definitely give you a ring..Maybe I can head that way late Summer or early Fall. =) And I definitely want to go to Disneyland. We should invite L too! =)


Laurie May 3, 2012 at 11:22 am

Disneyland with two of my favorite ladies? Yes, please! :)


Kenlie May 3, 2012 at 11:54 am

Okay..I’ll try to head that way before the end of the year…maybe sooner! Will you come and workout with me at Slimmons?! You’ll love it! Promise! =)


Laurie May 4, 2012 at 2:38 am

I will definitely come up and workout with you at Slimmons. :)

Renée (@pinkypie) May 3, 2012 at 3:57 am

I think knowing you a little bit (even if just online) gives the lawsuit a lot more context. You were never NOT willing to buy two seats. I’m pretty sure you made that clear. You are not just an overweight person doing nothing to change your life like some people (in comments on the news article) seem to think. I totally agree that the airline needs to have consistency. NO ONE needs to be humiliated in front of other passengers nor should it happen in the first place. I applaud you for personally trying to make a change to help others. You are so brave and I really admire you for all that you do Kenlie!!


Cathy May 3, 2012 at 5:50 am

Hey – glad you’re taking them on!


Eric Van De Ven May 3, 2012 at 6:37 am

The policy needs to be consistent and transparent. It is really that simple. I could understand the stress level not knowing what you have to do until you get to the gate. What if there are no other seats left and you only have one?
Good luck to you on all your endeavors!


Tina Culpepper May 3, 2012 at 8:04 am

Thank you for being the spokesperson for so many!


Jodi May 3, 2012 at 8:09 am


You know how I feel. I am behind you 100%. Even though I am no longer a person of size I go onto every plane with that same sick feeling I used to get before flying. I used to tell people I was scared to fly. I was scared, but not of the plane crashing. I was scared of facing the humiliation. I still feel that way even now. Those awful memories linger…. Thank you for taking a step to help people. I never want others to feel the way I felt all those years and even now.

Love you!


Steelers6 May 3, 2012 at 8:19 am

I am proud of you for doing the right thing. Even though that is obviously not the easy way here.
Thanks for letting us know the current status with the SW situation.


Felicity at {Fabulized} May 3, 2012 at 9:47 am

Wow I cant even believe that! How humiliating. And you are exactly right. If it is indeed a POLICY it is something that needs to happen on a regular basis, or not at all. There cannot be times when you feel like you are being picked on by one person, and not another. I think you are doing the right thing & if you dont mind I am going to share this story on facebook cause I want people to know that has happened! And how courageous you are to fight for other s! :)


Rosalie May 3, 2012 at 9:53 am

Way to go! I support and applaud your effort! Hopefully your voice/law suit will be the one that makes the change. I started reading your blog b/c of your problems with SW when I was getting ready to go on vacation and was scared of that discrimination against me. Although it didn’t happen, I was scared right up until the time I boarded! Good luck and keep us readers updated!


Brooke May 3, 2012 at 9:58 am

I’m flying American in Nov. (I hope to be smaller by then, but I’ll still be big). These flights have the two seats on one side and singles on the other. I purposely picked the single seat, so that I would be considerate of another passengers space and maybe less of a chance of my biggest fear when flying (I think even more so than crashing just b/c of the probability of it), being told I’m too fat to fly. I don’t have SW around here, but if I did I would NOT fly them for their very obvious lack of policy. If I’m purchasing something then I want to know ahead of time what I’m actually purchasing, this is basic retail 101. You are right, its not about bending the rules for obese people its about making them clear from the beginning. I don’t want to encroach on anyone else’s space anymore than they want me spilling over my seat (not that I do.)

I even make it a point to go online and research the airline seat widths and check the plane layouts and what kind of plane it is so I know if I will have a problem. I got on a flight back from a work trip one time (no trouble on the way there) and had not realized that the “Express” meant a tinier plane, but still with double seats on each side and I would say about 15 inches. 17inches is pretty normal and that is a squeeze, but a fit for my wide hips. Can you imagine my surprise and pain as I rode for an hour and half with half my hip sticking out over the arm rest. I felt even more sorry for the lady beside me, though she never made a peep. I even said thank you to her at the end.

I’m happy to plan ahead for my size (b/c its my problem) if the correct resources are available for me to use. I go on cruises and when I’m interested in an excursion, I do go and check things like weight limits and tight squeezes or extreme movement etc.

I think you have a good argument.


Kenlie May 3, 2012 at 11:12 am

I plan ahead too. I did an interview about that and more for a news program that hasn’t aired yet. I like to be prepared too. Kudos to us for planning.


Erin May 3, 2012 at 10:02 am

You may get some hate-mail, but it won’t be from me. I have flown Southwest for as long as I can remember and have always been very happy with them. That being said, I think you are absolutely correct that their policies need to be consistent and enforced consistently. Best wishes to you!


April May 3, 2012 at 10:07 am

Southwest continues to be my airline of choice, from when I was well over 300 pounds to now and in the future. I have never had a problem with them. I commented on your last post about it and I’ll say it again. If you were that apprehensive about it, maybe you shouldn’t have used the vouchers in the first place?! I wouldn’t have given someone a second chance if I was that upset about being treated poorly. There are plenty of other airlines out there, but some people just can’t turn down a freebie. It was your choice to accept the vouchers and use them. It was also your own behavior had you at the same size on the second flight, potentially opening up the same criticism. A clear policy would be nice, but the world doesn’t revolve around the feelings of obese people (mine included). Some airlines don’t even have a ‘customers of size’ policy, so at least SWA has tried to address the issue. If a traveler has concerns about fitting into the seat or facing humiliation, there is a reason for that – it comes down to personal responsibility. I don’t think it’s their policy that is the culprit, it’s probably a matter of employee training – which all large corporations could use a little more of on their bad days. Who knows, maybe something good will come out of this?


Kenlie May 3, 2012 at 11:10 am

Oh dear…You think it’s about freebies? Sadly, you’re missing a major point…Southwest asked me to give them a second chance, and who doesn’t deserve that?

If you had read the post, you would have learned that I flew twice after that without issue and that my problem with them is their lack of consistency.

What is so sad to me about your comments – the reason that I’m willing to walk into the fire for myself and others – is because the obese do have a right to know and understand the rules.

We are humans. We are Americans. And we deserve respect too. I hope that one day you love yourself enough to understand that.


Jodi May 3, 2012 at 1:59 pm

WOW. All I can say is wow. Your response sickens me because you really don’t get it. NO one should face public humilation in order to do something everyday like taking an airline flight. If Kenlie can get SW to come up with a policy then maybe all the airlines will follow and no one will have to face it. If you knew Kenlie you would know she is smart, kind and a reasonable human being. She just wants everyone to be shown equal respect. That is not too much to ask.


Regan May 3, 2012 at 11:21 am

Good for you! While I hate that you have had to deal with that embarrassment in the past, I applaud you for standing up for the needed clarification! I have horrible memories of the one time I flew when overweight. I had 1 ticket and, like you, was forecd to purchase ahnother at the gate! Keep us posted on how things are going!


Kyra May 3, 2012 at 11:24 am

I applaud you for doing this. Their policy needs to be consistant. Their gate staff and attendents need to learn some basic manners on how to treat people and not say rude, hurtful things to them also. I have never flown SW. I may never, at this point.


Jennifer May 3, 2012 at 11:28 am

I support you 100%, and I’ve shared this piece everywhere I can think to share it. I hope people can see your point that airlines need clear, concise policies on dealing with ALL of their customers.


Lisa May 3, 2012 at 11:31 am

You go, girl! If they want rules to be followed, they need to explain EXACTLY what those rules are! When things are clearly in black and white, it makes things easier for everyone.


Ashley May 3, 2012 at 11:32 am

Good for you! I am glad someone is taken a stand for what is right.


Atalantis May 3, 2012 at 11:33 am

I am envisioning that SWA and others are going to end up with one of those measurement things that they have for carry-ons…except it will be for people. “Place butt between these bars. If it doesn’t fit comfortably, you will have to buy two seats.” I’m not sure, but it almost seems that’s what you’re asking for: A clear-cut measurement of seats and acceptable human girth.

I’m not sure that would be more or less humiliating.


Kenlie May 3, 2012 at 11:37 am

Nope….That’s not what I’m asking for at all. I’m asking to know what they want my height and weight to be on the day I purchase the ticket…period. If I know that, I can follow the rules.

Again, there are scientists and engineers who get paid to fly these things around in the sky. It certainly does not seem outrageous to think that they could reconfigure their policy and train their employees to know that policy.


Denise May 3, 2012 at 11:57 am

I don’t think it is as simple as what is your height and weight. People hold their weight differently, so someone could be the same height and weight, but hold all their weight above the waist or below the waist. It’s not so clear cut. I have read many people say they can fit into a certain size jean and they are the same weight as me and I can in no way fit that size jean. Someone who carries most of their weight around the middle would fit differently in the seat someone who has bigger legs and a smaller torso. It’s a hard thing to deal with.

I actually think the whole fit into a seat thing would be a great idea to decide who fits and who doesn’t. Of course you would be taken to a private area to try out the seat. I think it is more about teaching their employees how to deal with the situation and to know the policies that they are supposed to be enforcing.


Kenlie May 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm

I don’t think it’s as simple as HW either, but we are lay people. There are engineers and scientists who could do better than they’re currently doing.

And when I offered to show that I could fit in the seat, I wasn’t allowed to do so…

You’re right, in that their employees should know the policy, but they need it to be clear as well. And there’s no excuse for humiliating people in the process..Period.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.


Janece Suarez May 3, 2012 at 11:43 am

I grew up with a parent who worked for American Airlines, so I was flying before I could walk! I will freely admit that I haven’t flown much at all in the past twenty years, but before that, we flew *somewhere* once to 3 or 4 times a year. I NEVER saw this sort of bigotry. Never. It makes me wonder if it’s something that has more recently reared it’s ugly head in our society. Also, perhaps because we flew as employees, and on a “standby” basis, we had VERY STRICT rules, and a nifty booklet that explained these rules. We were required to dress and look and act certain ways, or we could be refused admittance to the plane. I remember my mother once saying (jokingly, for she was a teensy woman!), “Oh, I ate so much this trip I will exceed my allowed weight limit to fly!” I was a child, so I’m not certain if she meant the weight limit of the PLANE, lol, or if we did, in fact, also have weight restrictions in order to fly on the employee special standby ticket price. It wouldn’t have surprised me. My point is, that if ONE airline can decide on that many rules for people to fly, I am pretty darned sure that any and ALL of them can decide on weight restriction standards for purchasing 1 seat versus 2! As someone else who has also lost over 100 lbs but still has a LONG way to go, I am right there with you, my dear!!!



Kenlie May 3, 2012 at 11:49 am

Southwest has the opportunity to revolutionize the way people travel. They could be pioneers in equality in the airline industry! But they’ll have to admit that change is required..That’s the first step. I learned it..Who’s to say Southwest cannot learn it too?


Davebo May 5, 2012 at 1:02 pm

“Southwest has the opportunity to revolutionize the way people travel. They could be pioneers in equality in the airline industry! But they’ll have to admit that change is required.”

I wonder how you’d feel about SWA placing one of their seats near the counter to confirm size won’t be an issue? To me that would be just as humiliating but would solve the issue.

I think most people can determine for themselves whether or not they can fit in a 17″ wide seat.

The fact that you carried your emails of apology from SWA for future flights suggests that you knew you would not be in compliance with their rules.


Cathy May 7, 2012 at 10:35 am

Davebo, the problem here is that SWA isn’t clear on their “rules”. The reason Kenlie had the e-mails from SWA is because there is so much grey area in their policy and decisions on said policy are inconsistent from gate agent to gate agent. Imagine being 6′ 5″ tall and flying on a 737 with no problem, then being told on the next flight (same airline, same equipment, same height) that you are too tall to fit in the seat properly, so you have to buy two seats. Nothing has changed in the scenario except the gate agent who is enforcing whatever the policy reads. That’s what’s happening here.


Liz May 3, 2012 at 11:45 am

I’m behind you on this. I have never flown with them simply out of fear of humiliation and shame. It should be taken out of the hands of random employees and into concrete terms.


deb May 3, 2012 at 11:57 am

This is an icredible bold stance you’re taking and I, for one, thank you. Why can’t people see that his policy has nothing to do with the safety and comfort of their passengers, and everything to do with generating more profit for the airline? I bet if they starting charging extemely tall or beefy passengers more for taking up space, people would be up in arms! Give’em hell, girl!


Anne May 10, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Being 6’3, I’d be buying a second seat under rules like that! Fight for your girl Anne too, Kenlie. ;)


Tina Keller May 3, 2012 at 11:57 am


I agree 100% with what you are standing up for.

Southwest Airlines MUST take responsibility and clearly define their rules. Until then I would never fly with them.

Thanks for doing this!


Luke Boyd May 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Kenlie, I’m proud of you! These companies need to be clear in what they want and it’s going to take a lawsuit to make them change. I’m sure SW is not the only company that has unclear guidelines. This will be good for the whole industry. Your weight-loss journey is amazing and inspirational to us all! Keep it up!



Margi May 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I refuse to fly Southwest, because of this policy. I’m very proud of you for taking a stand. FWIW Delta has publicly stated they will treat all passengers with respect, and true to their word, I’ve never had a problem with them.


Sarah May 3, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Wow Kenlie, I am impressed. It is one thing to open yourself up on a blog, it is a new amount of courage entirely to stand up to SW in this way! Good for you, the world needs more with your conviction and poise.


Elizabeth May 3, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Wow, Kenlie! You are so incredibly brave! I have so much respect for what you are doing. It takes a great deal of courage to stand up for not only yourself, but the rights of millions of people. I hope you win and I hope Southwest will finally learn their lesson.

Are you in law school?


Emily May 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm

I am proud of you for standing up and speaking for what is right. There needs to be a clear policy that is enforced with the same frequency and respect that any other rule is. It’s bizarre to me that this is even an issue. The rules need to be clear and the employees need to be trained to have respect. period.


Connie May 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I haven’t flown Southwest in years and never will because of their cattle car attitude when it comes to passengers. I prefer airlines that care for their passengers. That said, I upgrade to first class whenever possible…it’s amazing how roomy those seats are. Sad.

Thanks for fighting the fight and fat phobia is running rampant right now in our society – shame on every one of them for judging.


Kenlie May 3, 2012 at 1:33 pm

I upgrade to first-class whenever possible too, but that’s not realistic for most Americans (including myself) who fly as often as I do in their own dime.

I no longer fly SW, and I always choose JetBlue if they’re available because their customer service and treatment of passengers seems consistently good, at least in my experience.


Dawn May 3, 2012 at 1:21 pm

I am behind you!


Tiffany May 3, 2012 at 1:37 pm

As always, Kenz, I am totally behind you 100%! It most certainly is discrimination when one time you’re okay to fly and the next you aren’t. I applaud you for standing up for yourself, making this issue known, and trying to make a difference!


Frequent flyer May 3, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Curious what you think the solution is. Like you said, there are educated and well paid engineers who might consider this issue and design a solution, but a simple height and weight cutoff won’t cut it. First of all, people will lie. Embarrassment will prompt prompt that; others simply just might not want to pay for two seats, even on principle or due to finances. And second, we all know that everyone carries weight in different ways/places. Saying 6 feet/250 pounds means nothing. It seems like the burden of this is on the consumer: only we know if we can fit in a seat or not. No one deserves humiliation, and those employees should be reprimanded or fired, but I honestly don’t see what the solution is.


Kenlie May 3, 2012 at 1:51 pm

I can put the armrest down and not spill over. In fact, I don’t even utilize the armrest because my fellow passengers always use it.

I say I can fit in the seat, and sometimes they agree..sometimes they don’t. They need to be consistent.

And putting that burden on the person paying to operate their business is not good enough. Period.


Cindy May 3, 2012 at 2:10 pm

I’m sure you’ve been made aware of how it works, but I just wanted to make it clear for those who now think that Southwest Airlines is the enemy, when in reality, they’re far better than any other Carrier. Here’s how it works, and in my perspective, it’s a fairly good setup:
When you buy your ticket, you go ahead a purchase a 2nd seat. If you know that you may qualify for a 2nd seat, then go ahead and purchase it to save you any embarrassment. You don’t have to wait until you get to the airport, and you can buy it at the discounted online rate. Once you checkin and get to the airport, you actually get to preboard, since you have a second seat reserved. You’re given a slip to put in the seat beside you so that you will indeed have a open seat. Then, once the flight is over, you can call Customer Relations and quickly request a refund. They’ll gladly give it to you as long as the flight was not oversold, which very rarely happens. I think this sounds like an awesome deal…it’s all in your perspective. You get to preboard, get an open seat beside you, and you get a refund of your 2nd seat. Cha-ching! I agree that it seems unfair that some Agents may stop you and some may not, so why not avoid that and just buy the seat beforehand and enjoy the benefits of it? Did you know that most airlines have a very similar policy, but Southwest is the only one that offers a refund?

I still think it’s good that you’re encouraging SWA to become an even better airline, but I think you may be tarnishing their name unjustly.


Kenlie May 3, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Your suggestion is that passengers buy a second seat and hope that the flight isn’t oversold so they can maybe get a refund? Because someone may or may not think they’re too fat? That suggestion is inappropriate.

If you read the post, you’ll see that I addressed that. No one should have to pay double so they can *hopefully* be treated with respect because someone *may or may not* think they’re too fat that day.

Sorry…you have a right to your opinion, but I believe that it’s as biased as SW’s current policy.


SKM May 4, 2012 at 5:05 pm

And I don’t know the last time I was on a flight that *wasn’t* oversold.


Lisa May 3, 2012 at 2:21 pm

GOOD FOR YOU! I am so behind you on this one. They were out of line and need to be disciplined for their behavior. Airlines these days seem to have free reign over everything and have forgotten about common sense and common courtesy.


Kelli May 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm

YAY KENLIE!!!! You go girl!!! You are such an inspiration and I love that you are standing up for all of Southwest’s “Customers of Size”. It makes me sick to think that they treat people like this daily and it’s all up to the discretion of the gate agent. Best of luck to you on your suit– I will be rooting for you all the way!! :-)


Janet May 3, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Great article and I applaud your efforts my only thought is I wonder if this judgement applies to men as well…. particularly if it is based on weight… 300 lbs football player vs woman….? any thoughts on this ?


Tim May 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Kenlie, I’ve never experienced the humiliation you went through but I totally support what you’re doing. Whatever the outcome of the case, I just hope airlines use this as a chance to improve their policies and treat everyone with the respect they deserve. I think I remember you saying this in an old interview but this is also a great opportunity for airlines to target those people who are too afraid to fly and gain their trust. This could be a win/win situation for everyone.

Good luck!


Melissa Weisbard May 3, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I went through this same problem with Southwest Airlines a few years ago. After reading your blog post about your first horrible experience with Southwest, it gave me the courage to write about my experience.

I don’t advocate obesity either. But I’ve been obese most of my life. It’s not an easy thing to overcome. I’m tired of people judging me and bullying me based on my weight. It has to stop.

I think your lawsuit is a step in the right direction. They need a clear cut policy and their employees need to know that policy inside and out!


Lorraine May 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I support you a 100%. This is super humiliating. Overweight people – including myself – have enough with what we have to deal on a everyday basis – no payment required- and there is no need to “pay” to be embarrassed by other people that are there to provide a service. Granted, if they have their policy it should be clear to everyone, especially the people that work for the company. Well done and I really hope that this brings clarity to their process and policies.


Tanya May 3, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Good for you!!! I’m behind you all the way!


Bella May 3, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Very well stated. They need to come up with specific, measurable rules. Like, “your ass must be less than xx inches to purchase one seat, otherwise you’ll need two.” ;) But you know what I mean. It needs to be clearcut and out in the open. No one should be degraded because of how they look, no matter how people view obesity.

And personally, I’d try to get some money out of the deal, because you have experienced pain and suffering in the form of humiliation. You deserve something.


Christine May 3, 2012 at 9:35 pm

I disagree. It will devalue what she is fighting for and she will change from an intelligent woman looking for positive change to a money hungry opportunistic b@#$. No one will take her point seriously. Frivolous lawsuits are one of the great downfalls of this country. Just ask Nutella who had to pay out a lot of money because it turns out the chocolate hazelnut spread isn’t actually health food. Who’d a thunk?


Bella May 3, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Well, you’re definitely entitled to your opinion, but I don’t think the lawsuit suddenly becomes frivolous because someone’s seeking damages. Sometimes it’s the only way to get a company’s attention.


Nina May 3, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Yay! I really hope you get this to change. I think I told you the terrible story of my Las Vegas trip. SWA got us to Vegas and then would not let me fly back. (Which according to what they told you, the would *NEVER* do.) Trying to get a refund has been terrible. They have been rude to me on the phone and it was a horrible experience. I am flying home to Texas in a few weeks … on Continental. I will *NEVER* fly SWA again. It is completely based on if the ticketing clerk thinks you are too fat or not … there is not seat to sit in … no measuring tape. (If they actually did that many passengers would not make it on the plane, I think a lot of time it just depends on how full/bored they are and not much else.) Besides that one time I had never had a problem with flying any carrier before or since. This policy is also anti-woman – as we have hips! So a guy with a shoulder span twice our hip-size will not get asked to buy two seats! Argh!!! Don’t get me started. Good Luck!


jules- big girl bombshell May 3, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Kenlie…I remember, clearly, our conversation right after this happened. You had just met Richard Simmons. I know exactly where your heart is with this issue and I support you my friend. xoxo


KCLAnderson (Karen) May 3, 2012 at 7:58 pm

I applaud what you are doing Kenlie! And you’ve been consistently clear in your intentions…brava!


Cheryl May 3, 2012 at 8:32 pm

A couple of summers ago my dad and sister came to Florida and we all went to Universal Studios. Most of the major rides had seats outside so that you could test them first to see if you fit. Some of them I fit into, some of them I didn’t. It was a little embarrassing sitting in one and being unable to fasten the safety harness or whatever, but it was better than getting up there and being turned away at the ride.

How hard would it be for these airlines (especially this one) to put some trial seats in a private spot so that they aren’t eyeballing people at the gate. That would end this stupidity once and for all.

Good on you for making them accountable.


Christine May 3, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Very well said. I do imagine it would be a great cost for airlines to revamp entire planes to make room for our “growing” population but I agree that these decisions should not be left to the people at the gate. And can we have a little kindness while we’re at it? “You’re too fat to fly” is just rude. It would be like telling the guy at the gate that “he’s too dumb to drive”. Why would any normal person say something like that? A well documented policy and some customer service training isn’t too much to ask. Good luck on your lawsuit and weight loss!


Coco May 3, 2012 at 10:12 pm

I admire you for following through in this way. Maybe they will change their policy before a court makes them.


Nikki May 3, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Let me begin by saying I commend you on your bravery in tackling this issue. I understand how difficult it must be taking on a issue such as this one. I agree there needs to be some consistency in Southwest policies and you, as well as everyone utilizing Southwest’s services, are entitled to that information prior to flying.
However, please do not in anyway compare this to a civil rights issue of race and gender in the slightest way. Gender and race are not options, they are not choices. And Americans had to fight many many years to equalize the playing field. This is a slap in the face to those who fought hard to do so. Weight is a controllable. It is an option. Gender and race are not.
You are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. That is a right. I wish you the best in your endeavor and hope you achieve your goal. All I ask is please respect those who fought for gender and racial equality and do not present this issue as one as important and monumental as a civil rights matter.


Amanda May 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm

With all due respect, Americans have very little understanding of weightloss. Often, weight is not a choice; weight gain is genetic by nature. Your insensitivity and ignorance is obvious by your statement.


Nikki May 4, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Please do not make assumptions. I lost 96lbs over 2 years and struggle everyday to keep it off. I chose to gain weight, chose to lose it, and choose to keep it off. You do not choose race or gender. You do not ‘eat yourself to be female’ or ‘lose weight to become Hispanic.’. My point is to stop comparing this issue with bigger, more important ones.
The fact that you called me ignorant and insensitive demonstrates your shaky understand of the point of the post.


Hollie May 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm

“My point is to stop comparing this issue with bigger, more important ones.”

No one denies the importance of race and gender struggles. But you don’t get to prioritize everyone else’s lists according to your own bias. Many people do not “find the money to buy fresh vegetables and lose weight” or “have the time and facilities to exercise adequately to get thinner”. For you, obesity does not belong high on the list of injustices. For others, it does.


Sally Moe May 3, 2012 at 10:13 pm

The prejudice against “people of size” is one of the last to give way to political correctness, and you and I know how complicated the weight issue actually is. I applaud your efforts, but I’m sad that they’re necessary. The comments lobbed at you from the bodies in charge at the airport were appalling. (“Well, look at you. Obviously you need two seats.” SERIOUSLY?) Every airline should have solid, clearly outlined policies in place that address the issue IN PRIVATE, so as not to require tactless, clueless employees to think on their feet. If for no other reason than it’s just bad business to make customers feel shame in public for buying your product.


Kelly @ No Thanks to Cake May 3, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Once again, you’re incredibly brave… and there are so many people out there who have been, will be, or could be affected by this “customer of size” policy. I love that you are asking for consistency for customer treatment. That’s near and dear to my heart… and NO ONE should be humiliated or shamed into purchasing an extra ticket to avoid humiliation. I haven’t been a fan of SWA for a while, but unfortunately flew them today for work (not my choice.) Keep us posted as to how we can help… you’ve got a world of support out here, Kenlie! xoxo


Brad May 3, 2012 at 11:25 pm

While I applaud your efforts to get rid of the weight, I wonder why you felt horrified when you were told at the gate that you needed to pay for another seat. It should have been obvious: when you made the reservation and booked the flight, you should have ordered two seats at that point. I don’t know why you were surprised. If there’s anyone that should have felt horrified, it’s the person forced to have to sit next to you. There is nothing worse than sitting next to someone of your girth, and having that person’s body pour out into your seat. I have had that experience quite a few times, and it’s disgusting.
How does one allow themselves to get so enormous? When you reached 170, did you think you might need to lose weight and stop stuffing your face? When you reached 180, did you think you might need to lose weight and stop stuffing your face? When you reached 190, did you think you might need to lose weight and stop stuffing your face? When you reached 200, did you think you might need to lose weight and stop stuffing your face? When you reached 250, did you think you might need to lose weight and stop stuffing your face? When you reached 300, did you think you might need to lose weight and stop stuffing your face? When you reached 350, did you think you might need to lose weight and stop stuffing your face? When you reached 400, did you think you might need to lose weight and stop stuffing your face? You had to be at least 400 lbs in your before picture. One has to either be retarded and have no mechanism in their brain to trigger fullness, or one has to really hate themselves or hate life to allow themselves to get so enormous. There are no words for how disgusting you look. Don’t you have a mirror? Do you have one of those circus mirrors that make you look skinny? Don’t your family and friends love you enough to tell you to put the twinkies and donuts down?
NO ONE WANTS TO BE SEATED NEXT TO GARGANTUANS SUCH AS YOUR SELF. Personally I think you need to be put in the cargo area.


brads an idiot May 4, 2012 at 1:08 am

You are a horrible, I would say you are a horrible human being but calling you “human” is to good for you. You are sad and pathetic.


Shauntih May 4, 2012 at 8:29 am

You are an idiot. Not everyone is obese because of “stuffing” their face. I myself am obese, because I had an undiagnosed thyroid condition. For 4 years I was going to doctors for the symptoms with no answers. For 4 years, since I was slowly gaining weight for no known reason, I exercised 4 hours a day and ate less and less, to where I was only eating 700 calories a day. And I still gained weight. In fact, that made it worse, because it killed my metabolism. Once they discovered the thyroid condition, the “cure” just made it even worse. I do not eat the wrong foods, the wrong amount of foods, nor do I not exercise. The fact is that my metabolism is shot and it is very hard to come back from that.

When on a flight, I’d like to not heard crying children, deal with children kicking on the seats, having to smell someone’s perfume, body odor, and the smell of the cigarette they recently smoked. All those things are preventable, but sometimes this size of your behind is not.


Stan May 4, 2012 at 3:10 pm

yes, but often times, it is! It is unfortunate for those that can’t control their weight as easily as others, but for every obese person to use this excuse, it simply can’t be true. I put on a lot of weight as a teen when my father died of cancer. Tough time in my life, immensely tough, and I dealt with it by eating and being depressed. In college, I was borderline obese, and I started exercising again, drinking only water, and not eating fast food or french fries.

I lost weight quickly and easily, but if I was another person I could have easily returned to the dark cycle and kept gaining weight until it would be much more difficult for me to lose it.

Some people cant control their weight, but if you are going to say that the only fat people around are fat because of thyroid problems etc, its time to forfeit your credibility in adult conversations.


Stephan May 5, 2012 at 3:55 am

Well of course never ever anyone is responsible for obesity … Of course not – its allways the genes, the moonlight phases and the mangnetic field of the earth but never the obese person itself …. guess what I stopped shoveling crap into me and lost 50lbs and of course changed my nutrition and did actually start sports….

But what can you expect from a country which sues Nutella because its not healthy ? Really choclate is not healthy ? I am afraid peanutbutter neither ….


Frank OHara May 5, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Stephan wrote: “Well of course never ever anyone is responsible for obesity … Of course not – its allways the genes, the moonlight phases and the mangnetic field of the earth but never the obese person itself”

I beg to differ. I’ve got the fat gene. In my family of 4, everyone except me weighed more than 300 pounds and even more than 350 pounds for a couple. I decided early on that that was not going to be my destiny. I was well on the way in my high school days but once I got into college, it hit me that if I wanted to date the really attractive girls, I was going to have to get it under control and I did. By the end of my freshman year, I had lost 57 pounds and had a girl on each arm and they were very attractive girls.

I’m now 6 feet tall and weigh 170 pounds. That’s about right for my build. My BMI is around 14. I think ideal is about 12, right?

There are other problems with being obese. My family consisted of my Dad at ~340 pounds, my brother at 330 – 370 pounds and my Mom at (probably) 260 pounds. They broke every piece of furniture they sat on!

The first thing I figured out was to eat the right kinds of foods. My Mom was a southern woman and cooked like a southern woman . . . Comfort food! That means lots of fried foods, lots of congealed salads and always desert. I figured out that was most of what was making me fat and moved away from them. I remember going home on the weekends and feeling like someone had dropped a bowling ball into my stomach after a meal.

Once I had become accustomed to the different type of food, I started concentrating on quantity. In the family home, we ate until full, very full. I started eating slowly and only until comfortable.

Mom and Dad both loved sweets and I do too. But, I cut the majority out. Ditto with chips and other snack foods.

In just 4 months, I had lost 57 pounds! I never put it back on because I had changed my eating habits. It takes time in a day when everyone wants instant results (weight loss). Instant results just don’t happen. It takes a slow and methodological change and the weight loss happens. You have to give your body time to get used to the change and it will.



Stephan May 6, 2012 at 8:38 am

No Sir, you ve been raised just like I had: my Parents just didn’t care about greasy stuff it’s not the genes it’s the missing education on nutrition.

But as well as my change ur change also caused a positive impact very fast. I still don’t believe people telling me about hormons and all this bollocks – don’t put crap into your body and you will be rewarded with a healthier yourself.

On the other hand , I would never turn down an invite for Southern home made Food once in a while – i still have up to 40 lbs to go but it lays all in a healthy balance.

Some People here are just rude , but they are right in the end most of the obese folks just can’t stop eating unhealthy processed industrial food – and I did as well – so its our own fault and nobodys elses.


Brad's an a**hole May 4, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Wow Brad. I can only pray for someone like you who has so much hate in their heart and feels they ABSOLUTELY must spew their vitriol here. Actually, I pray for any of your friends and family who have to deal with you.


Frank OHara May 6, 2012 at 11:20 am


People who want to lose weight want instant results. They try to make big changes RIGHT NOW!

It simply does not work. If your body has become accustomed to big meals, in between meal snacks and fatty or sweet foods, it is going to crave those foods and quantities if you don’t give them to it. It’s very much like drug addiction.

The change has to be slow and over time. That gives the body time to adjust to the change. But, if this change is done slowly and step by step, it is a permanent change. Just by remembering, it is remarkably easy to keep your weight under control.

Now, I do realize that there are a few people who have genetic problems. I went to school with one who was not only fat but she was very big as in tall and big boned. She had unique facial features and other indicators. Those genetic problems eventually killed her. She died in her late 30′s. I don’t know how much of a factor her weight was but I suspect it was at least one of the contributing factors.



Stephan May 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Frank: in opposite – I totally disagree … I have been obese for 15y and am still at the border but declining every day.

My experience is has nothing to do with the amount you are intaking. I changed my nutrition towards low carb, no sugar. The sugar is the main impact no sugar = no starving = normalisation of food intake.

The typical industrial processed food contains so much sugar that you are always starving after a short period ergo in buying more ….

Have a look at this approach :

However , I am not saying that I am now THE genius on nutrition and it took me 15y (!) and starting health probs in order to change my behaviour pattern , but the human organism is wonderful and after only 6 month I am painfree , 50 lbs less (still 40ish to go) and addicted to sports.

Of course there are people who really are heavy due to medication or other issues but I would put that down to pro-mille out of these people here.




Frank OHara May 6, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Stephan Wrote: “Frank: in opposite – I totally disagree … I have been obese for 15y and am still at the border but declining every day.”

Stephan, the fact that your weight is declining is an indicator that you’ve made changes and they are working. Now, the important question is “Do you know what changes you’ve made?” You may have unintentionally made changes and not recognize them as changes.

“My experience is has nothing to do with the amount you are intaking.”

I suspect it does and you may not realize it. However, you can change the type food you eat and still eat more and lose weight.

“I changed my nutrition towards low carb, no sugar.”

That’s exactly what I’m talking about. That’s small change but it works.

“The sugar is the main impact no sugar = no starving = normalisation of food intake.”

I take a little different approach. I get a bit of meat with every meal especially beef and pork. They are filling and somewhat difficult to digest. That means they stay with you and keep you feeling filled. There is an old saying about Chinese food that it’s gone in 2 hours. It’s like eating a salad for a meal. You’re gonna be hungry again in two hours.

“The typical industrial processed food contains so much sugar that you are always starving after a short period ergo in buying more ….”

I guess I haven’t gotten away from my roots. I still have a craving for sugar and don’t deprive myself. However, I do it in moderation.

However , I am not saying that I am now THE genius on nutrition”

Nor am I. I just thought it out and rationalized it and came up with a plan and it worked. At the time of my losing 57 LB, I did take a job that was very physically demanding and I don’t deny that had a significant impact. But, it was in combination with changing my eating habits. I don’t think one or the other would have worked. Now that I’m at my correct weight and only have to maintain, I do it with diet alone. And, I do not suffer. I pretty much eat what I want and as much as I want only because I have trained my body to accept that as normal.

“and it took me 15y (!)”

That I do not doubt. It depends on how much you want to lose and if you were losing 100 lb, it’s going to take time. I suspect many people expect to lose 50 lb the first month and that is not realistic. Your body is going to suffer and crave the things it has missed and all the weight is going to come back and often as not, rather quickly.

“and starting health probs in order to change my behaviour”

Well, yes, that can be a strong motivator. I never recognized any health problems. What I did recognize that if I remained fat, the opposite sex was going to have little interest in me. In my early 20′s, that was a strong motivator. Even now, I realize it still applies so I’ve been on a 30 year maintenance plan.

“but the human organism is wonderful and after only 6 month I am painfree , 50 lbs less (still 40ish to go) and addicted to sports.”

Good luck on the 40. A modification in behavior can get you there and it won’t be painful or difficult. It’ll become second nature and normal for you and your body. Losing 50 lb is an accomplishment you should be proud of.

Of course there are people who really are heavy due to medication or other issues but I would put that down to pro-mille out of these people here.

Trudy May 4, 2012 at 11:36 pm

Brad, many prayers for you…with an attitude like that, you aren’t even fit for cargo. I’m sorry for whatever has happened to you in your life to cause you to spew such venom. Perhaps there is some advocacy work you yourself should look into.


Bad Brad May 5, 2012 at 1:55 am

I’ve never read anything so hateful before. I feel bad for you. I also think you might be a SWA gate agent.


Thank you Brad May 5, 2012 at 11:48 am

THANK YOU BRAD. I’m really fucking sick of hearing these fatties complain about their problems. You’re the ones who’ve been stuffing your fat faces with food for the past 20 years and now you expect everyone else to deal with the consequences. You should absolutely have to buy two seats. What gives you the right to have your fat gut spill over into the seat that I paid for? You want to talk about your rights as a fat person? What about the right that I have to the space that I paid for. This is a pretty simple concept, if you’re too obese to fit in 1 seat you have to buy 2. And one more issue with the fatties. You mentioned in your blog that SWA doesn’t discriminate against race and gender, but by saying this you are comparing being fat to being of a ceratin race? Being fat isn’t something you’re born with. You become fat, you don’t become black. Just because you’re a disgusting person, don’t think that means everyone has to feel bad for you.


dad May 5, 2012 at 12:18 pm

a childish comment and ignorant to say the least. i doubt that anyone would like to sit by such a rude, arrogant jerk as you either.


Cathy May 7, 2012 at 10:49 am

Brad et al – what began as a comment about the actual subject once again deteriorated into a discussion of what causes people’s obesity. Here’s the thing: it truly doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what the root of someone’s obesity is, nor does it matter what the root of someone’s anorexia is. Nor their acne, nor their excessive sweating, nor their bad teeth. It’s not up to you or anyone else to decide if someone’s reason for *whatever* is acceptable. The subject here is the company’s inconsistency on its policy. The concept of my shelling out extra $$$ because a gate agent may or may not thing my son is too tall, even though he’s flown in one seat successfully on many occasions, is ludicrous. Kenlie’s situation is exactly the same as the above scenario, and that’s why she’s suing for clarification. Period.


ICDogg May 3, 2012 at 11:29 pm

First of all, congratulations on your triple-digit weight loss. I’m also losing weight, down 85 lbs. so far, still technically “obese” but no longer in danger of being asked to buy a 2nd seat. I never was asked to do that, but I was taken off a US Airways flight before takeoff once about 6 years ago because the plane was full and some other passengers were (I was told) complaining that I was spilling into the other seat. They did put me on the next flight which was almost 2 hours later, and gave me some decent coupons and stuff as if to sort of half-apologize.

I applaud your efforts to force Southwest to objectively define their policy if they must have one at all.


Michell @ Girl In Air May 3, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Good for you! It’s wonderful you don’t let these moments discourage your journey and that you have the courage to stand up for others rights….

In weight and balance issues of an aircraft…all passengers weigh the same.

I think that if a flight isn’t full there is no reason why they can’t reseat someone of larger size so everyone is more comfortable…they cram everyone in to save a buck and then expect larger people to pay extra??? Total nonsense!


Danielle May 3, 2012 at 11:36 pm

I just want to say thank you for bringing this to the attention of Southwest. My husband and I had a similar experience when a stewardess told us the flight was not full and that my husband could put his arm rest up if he wanted to. The next thing we know, the pilot actually came to the back of the plane and told us we would have to separate or buy an extra seat if he could not put the arm rest down. He was pretty loud and rude about it. We never complained because I was mortified and in tears, but I wish I had. I thank you for being the brave one and speaking out. I would love to fly on an airline that makes bigger seats, even if they charge more. I know how the other passengers feel as they come down the aisle and know they have to sit next to an obese person, you can see it in their face. I do feel bad for my size and I also, am trying to do something about that. Thank you again!


Staci May 3, 2012 at 11:48 pm

I enjoy your blog and find you to be an inspirational, intelligent strong woman…


Karen P May 3, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Would you consider mediation or arbitration since you are interested in real change rather than monitory compensation?


Shelley May 3, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Every human deserves to be treated with dignity. Thank you for what you are doing.

We can hope that your story and lawsuit will bring about changes to a practice that is both discriminatory and shameful.

Like you, I’m certainly willing to pay more , but I’m not willing to be insulted by employees of Southwest Airline who apparently haven’t trained their staff very well.

Good luck!

Reply May 3, 2012 at 11:56 pm

I support you in your lawsuit. The objective is for the airlines to set a policy by which there are clear times when someone who is overweight may have to buy a second seat or not fly at all. It is not about getting the airlines to accept obesity.


Cristy May 4, 2012 at 12:04 am

You knew you were too big to fit into one seat. It makes me so uncomfortable to be wedged in next to obese people. I fly every other week, and I do not want to be stuck rubbing up against a plump stranger. Why should the person next to you be uncomfortable during the flight? They paid for a seat too. You know you are big- so buy two seats, no matter what the airline policy is. Lawsuits just cost the struggling airlines more money- whether you’re asking for money or not. Thank you Southwest for caring about the other passengers. BUY TWO TICKETS until you reach your weight loss goals and can fit into one!


Emily May 4, 2012 at 5:54 pm

If you read Kenlie’s post, you would have seen that she DOES fit into one sit with out spilling over or “rubbing up against strangers.” She has no problem paying for an extra seat if the requirements were clear. Since it’s just up to whomever is taking the tickets – THAT is the injustice.


Bits May 4, 2012 at 12:19 am

I’ve never posted here before, but I’m a huge fan of Kenlie. What you wrote was hateful and mean, and I am going to pray for you. How sad you have so much hate in your heart.


melissa May 4, 2012 at 12:20 am

Bless your heart. You can sit next to my skinny self any time. Who needs arm rests? Now if you can get that shrieking 3 yr old to stop making my ears bleed, I’ll buy you a premium cocktail


Karla May 4, 2012 at 12:22 am

I think it is totally reasonable that there be specifics… clarity.. rules, guidelines.
Good luck with this!
In reading some of the comments I am shocked that people say some of the things they say!!
wow, just wow

Let me know when you go to Disneyland, I haven’t been in years!!! it is about an hour from me, it would be a blast!!


patricia proctor May 4, 2012 at 12:34 am

I am an obese young lady also and I would never put myself in that situation I would have bought two seats. You and I are about the same weight but we do not carry our weight the same it is impossible for southwest to set up guidelines, as we all carry are weight different and I also applaud you for how far you have come, but you still are a big girl and I think in favor to the other passengers you should have had two tickets… I dont agree with what was to said to you but you also have to remember our bad choices got us to where we are and bad choices come with consequences sorry but true…


brads an idiot May 4, 2012 at 1:06 am

OMG! Brad, plain and simple you are an absolutely horrible human being.


Gertie May 4, 2012 at 1:11 am

I am so glad you are doing this. I just want clear, logical policies about everything. I am on the fluffy side, but I have always fit in the seat. I bring a seat-belt extender with me just in case, because a couple of times the seat belt didn’t fit in the same row and seat as another plane. I always choose a window sit as far back in a plane as available. But because of stories like this and the other people who have posted in solidarity– and because I have a lot of family members who are over 6 ft tall and a sister who had gastric bypass after she reached 400 lbs– I am absolutely paranoid about somebody thinking I’m taking up or going to take up too much room, even though I know I’m not. I go out of my way to shrink up as much as I can when I’m flying alone, leaving the armrest totally open for the person next to me regardless of their size, contorting myself so that my arms don’t touch the passenger next to me, and avoiding the leg heat of that passenger. I guess it’s a good workout, holding my legs together that way and cuddling myself. Sometimes I slide up against the window and shove my feet somewhere to prop me in place so I can go to sleep without touching my neighbor whatsoever. I’m trying to be accommodating, but it’s unfair that the person next to me often has no regard for their long arms and elbows poking into my seat space, their knees being spread apart due to height that pushes those knees into my leg, their fart or perfume smells and snoring, and other things that are just as uncomfortable or annoying as somebody’s fat pushing into my seat. Also, when I’m traveling with a thin person, a child, or my also-fluffy husband, who cares if there is spillage of any kind? I know several people who are healthy weight and size, but when sitting, their butt and hips spread out pretty far just due to body shapes. My hips don’t spread as far as theirs even when sitting. Anyway, my point is just that I fly a lot too, and I just figure it’s part of the nature of an airplane’s stupid cabin shape that we’re all going to be uncomfortable for a certain amount of time in coach on every airline on a lot of flights. Everybody isn’t 5’6″ and perfectly Gumby-shaped and perfectly hygienic and fashionable. I bet the fancy perfect people who came to this post just to say mean things are as annoying for being grouches or some physical thing they don’t even realize they have, because most people have the decency to try and get along in the world and not remind everybody about their flaws. And one other thing I’d like to add is that half the time I fly, my son, who is 4, ends up seated separately from my husband and me. That is a whole other touchy subject, the attitudes we’ve had to deal with to straighten this out. Even if a person prepays for an extra seat, I am not confident that person could trust the airlines, SW or others, to move passengers around correctly to avoid embarrassing the prepaid 2nd seater anyway when boarding time comes along. It seems to be impossible to get the seating plan right in a perfect world, not to mention when there’s a storm or aircraft delay. I’ll be watching how this turns out and support how I can, Kenlie!


Laura May 4, 2012 at 1:33 am

I definitely understand where you’re coming from. Nobody deserves to be embarrassed at the gates. However, I also understand the airline’s perspective.
Making clear-cut guidelines is absolutely not as simple as you think it is.
- The policy could not be based on weight, because people carry so differently
- The only policy I could think of would be to actually measure people, or have a standard seat that they could try. But then everyone would complain that this is an embarrassing and disrespectful policy. I’m sure nobody wants some random stranger measuring their waistline or having them sit in a model chair to see how they look.
- There are, unfortunately, obese people who are (understandably) embarrassed to buy two seats or cannot afford to, and will not buy an extra ticket. Instead, they will squeeze their bodies into seats that are not meant to hold them, disrupting and being rather rude to the people next to them

My point: any airline is screwed no matter what they do. There is no policy that could actually work that would not be either embarrassing for the person involved.


Laurie May 4, 2012 at 2:56 am

Every time I fly I get nauseous and racked with anxiety. Not because of a plane crash. I’ve been in a place accident once – not really that bad. But because I’m worried that I’ll be called out in public as being too big to fly. I’ve had to raise my hand and ask for a seat belt extender and my mortification rose to an all time high. If I could be sure that I either did or did not fit the airline’s rules beforehand, the whole experience would be so much easier. You are holding them accountable for their policies and rhetoric. And that’s awesome.

Someday soon, we won’t have to worry at all whether we will fit in a seat, need an extender, or be asked personal information in public. But there will always be someone else who does worry about this and what you are doing will make an impact for them.

And the fact that you are standing up on this issue, being public, is just great and you are way more courageous than I am. This issue especially brings out the dregs of the internet and I’m very sorry for the ridiculous, mean-spirited, and ignorant comments you have received.


Lorene May 4, 2012 at 3:06 am

I agree with you there needs to be a policy. I have also flown on Southwest many times. I have business meetings that I go to several times a year. I would try and figure out ways to not have to go, due to having to fly. I would fly one time and it would be fine then the next time a ticket counter agent would approach me. Finally, I started buying a second ticket so that I wouldn’t have
to be embarrassed by Southwest employees. I have never been fortunate enough to be on a plane that wasn’t full so that I could get a refund. I would like to see a policy that is fair for everyone. Southwest has some great employees but there are also some that need a job that isn’t dealing with the public. Thank you for your bravery. I will continue to watch your blog for updates.


Kim B May 4, 2012 at 3:56 am

I do not fly very much, but I think what they are doing would be humiliating and wrong. I do have a question. Is it actually about weight, or are they visually inspecting you and then saying you need to be weighed and forced to purchase a second seat? Is a tall, muscular 300+ pound football player treated the same as a man or woman that looks obese at 300 pounds?


Cindy May 4, 2012 at 6:55 am

I totally understand where you’re coming from, but what could the standard possibly be? It can’t be by weight because people carry in different places. So, where one person might encroach in another person’s seat at one weight, another person might not. With most tickets being purchased online, how can someone tell you in advance? As for the varying experiences, no agents want to deal with an issue like that. It’s uncomfortable and nobody likes to feel mean. So, some follow the guidelines and ask you to pay, while others allow themselves to be too busy to notice. I guarantee that the people who do their job are not discriminating against you because of some kind of personal weight-hate. They’re just trying to make the flight comfortable for the people who aren’t going to end up with a whole seat to themselves. It’s a terrible situation all the way around. Nobody likes to hear it and nobody likes to say it. I really respect how hard you must have worked to lose the weight you have. And I know that you deserve respect as a person regardless of what you have ever weighed or do now. I know that it must have sucked royally every time you had to deal with this. But it is a business. Southwest is trying to do right by the people who are crammed into an already very small seat.


dad May 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm

southwest is NOT do the right thing and until confronted, they will continue to arbitrarily pick some to single out. do you know what their person of size policy is? probably not. NOR DO THEIR EMPLOYEES, and that is the issue.
i flew out of denver 3 weeks ago and there was a BIG burly guy who boarded before me, tall broad shouldered, well over 300 pounds.
selective enforcement of a vague policy, IS NOT, doing the right thing.


Shauntih May 4, 2012 at 8:15 am

I am obese (and not happy about it), and I agree with you. I do not fly, because of the enhanced security procedures at airports and because of this issue. I’ve only been on one flight before in my 42 years, and it was a short one-way flight, before I gained all this weight. It was back in 1990 (I think) and even then, the seats in the plane were very uncomfortable. Even without the weight, I’m a curvy hourglass thanks to heredity. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable the seats would be today. It has nothing to do with weight, but the size of your booty when sitting. They need to have a clear statement of what that size should be, for everyone.


Frank Garon May 4, 2012 at 10:03 am

Hi Kenlie:

I think you’re being very reasonable, actually. You’re not looking for money (and thank you for that, it shows you have integrity), you’re just looking for a clear and consistent policy. That’s only fair.

I used to fly a lot and being trapped next to someone who spilled over into my seat was never a good thing. Having said that, it wasn’t always people of large size that did it. I’ve had skinny people crowd me, kick my seat, hog the arm rest, you name it. So it isn’t just large people who cause problems…

Having said that, there was a time in my life where I probably would have been angry that someone big was crowding me. Having matured quite a bit, I would now:

a) engage them, because I’d imagine they’d feel a bit embarrased and I’d want to make them comfortable,

b) take a deep breath and realize it’s not a lifetime, it’s only a plane flight,

c) Thank God for giving me the grace and kindness to be compassionate to my fellow human beings.

Not too sure most people would “choose” to be fat, ridiculed, ashamed of themselves, etc. Food can be an addiction just like alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, etc. Maybe next time someone gets upset about somebody large sitting next to them, they could show some compassion and concern, and say “There but for the Grace of God go I.”. I’ve seen slender people get fat from being on steroid drugs like Prednisone though no fault of their own. Should we yell at them too?

Gee whiz people, how about a little kindness towards your brothers and sisters already…


PS: Great job on the weight loss. You look very pretty, and I’m sure you’re proud of how far you’ve come. Hopefully you’ve inspired others to take control of their health too – how cool is that!


chuck May 5, 2012 at 8:09 pm

$20 says Frank is a chubby chaser selfishly hitting on Kenlie, not so selfless or sincere about god or grace or kindness. Another $20 says he’ll deny that in an attempt to spare himself embarrassment.


Frank Garon May 5, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Hi Chuck:

This is the part where the “Old Me” would have called you a Jackass (putting it politely).

The “New Me” will just wish you well on your journey through life…


chuck May 7, 2012 at 6:37 am

Hi Frank:

The “new you” obviously hasn’t eclipsed the “old you” enough to hide your passive-aggressive/say-one-thing-mean-another/think-you-can-out-BS-everyone-even-when-lamely-trying-to-hit-on-internet-strangers (you *should* be embarrassed because it’s so obvious) tendencies, and you’re really no better than anyone else when you’re prattling about showing “kindness” to others. I think my point with that first $20 wager was spot on — your “old you” response proves it. Thanks for showing your true(st) colors. :-)


Bren May 4, 2012 at 10:58 am

CONGRATULATIONS on your weight loss! Thank you so much for bringing attention to this subject in a reasonable and articulate way. I’ve never been asked to buy two seats and other passengers have always been very kind to me but nevertheless I’m filled with dread when I fly. I would fly home to see my family more often but all the press about “too fat to fly” makes me self-conscious and anxious. You are absolutely right – I really wouldn’t mind paying more to fly – it’s the not knowing BEFORE you get to the airport that drives me crazy AND the fear of being humiliated in front of everyone. However, I have endured less than pleasant experiences while flying because I was seated next to passengers who gave me a headache because of their powerful cologne, chatted incessantly, had horrible breath, were traveling with whiny children/crying babies and, on a flight from Chicago, unruly children behind me kicking my seat. My point is this: I don’t mind paying extra for the additional costs my weight causes the airline but extra weight isn’t the only thing that encroaches on a passenger’s space. Again, thank you for bringing attention to this issue and I wish you continued success with your weight loss efforts.


Amanda May 4, 2012 at 11:59 am

Good for you all around. I wish you luck with your endeavors and your health.


Tristra May 4, 2012 at 1:10 pm

I admire your courage, and thank you for your hard work and thoughtful advocacy.


Meredith May 4, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Good luck. The lawyer in me wonders about the theory of the case. Obesity isn’t a protected status under discrimination laws. Are you thinking breach of contract? That seems problematic too. I worry that it’ll get tossed out pretty quickly, so hopefully you’ll at least get some press to exert some pressure.


average white guy May 4, 2012 at 2:07 pm

It doesn’t matter why you’re big. It doesn’t matter if you have a medical condition, you just like to eat like a sumo wrestler, or you actually are a sumo wrestler. If you can’t sit in the seat without touching the person next to you then you need to fly first class, buy two seats, or find some other method of transportation because you are not the only person on the plane. Why is this so hard to understand? Why is there no consideration for the other people on the plane?

The solution, of course, is to measure people who likely wont fit in the seat. Somehow, I doubt you’ll find that acceptable.


Emily May 4, 2012 at 5:56 pm

if you were to actually read her posts, you would know that she DOES fit into one seat.


Wisdom May 5, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Whatever. Not into an economy plane seat. Into a couch at home yes maybe!


Johnny3chins May 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Brad makes a good point…at one point in your life you said to yourself im giving up, i am simply to fat to care about myself and you let it get out of hand. i can personally guarantee if you eat healthy and exercise regularly than your fatness will subside. instead you choose to eat processed food and watch lifetime movies all day….picture this…3 humans of your stature in one row on an airplane! complete chaos…get off of your ass…stop blaming everyone else for being fat when in reality you did it to yourself that day when you said i give up i don’t care how fat i get…well apparently you do.


Cathy May 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Clearly you’re not a regular reader of Kenlie’s blog. Unfortunately, by not doing your homework before shooting off your mouth, you’ve made yourself look like an idiot. Congratulations on a job well done.


Lisa Joyner May 4, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Thank you I saw your story last night on nightline and I said good for her I am overweight myself and trying to lose. I too understand if we need to buy two seats but tell me ahead of time lay it out. People come in all sizes and shapes and everyone deserved to be treated WITH RESPECT! So I hope you win just to make them stand up and listen. We know we need to get healthy but it is a challenge and one you work at everyday. I am almost at 30lbs down with 75lbs more to go. I love when people who have never walked a day in our shoes speak up to what we should do or you can just take it off. I wanted to slap the chick they had on after you how she kept saying I pay for my whole seat and blah blah blah. I hope she never has a problem. I will look forward to following you journey CONGRATS on how far you have come you look amazing.


chris May 4, 2012 at 3:01 pm

No offense, but if I pay good money for an already too small airline seat I expect to not have anyone else spilling into it. If you hang over into the next seat be prepared to either buy that seat as well, or take another flight. I back Southwest “all the weigh” on this.


Alex May 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Being obese because of a medical condition is the exception to the rule. Your article is rather illogical particularly the parts where you compare the plight of the obese to those who suffer prejudice because of race, gender or age. Unlike those, obesity is choice! You choose to continue to stuff your face with unhealthy foods. You choose to not exercise. How dare you compare the two! That’s ignorant. People who are not obese pay for their seats as well, and it isn’t fair to them to have to touch the person next to them and be uncomfortable all because the other person decided to be inconsiderate and only purchased one seat instead of two while continuing to not take good care of themselves. The fact that over 30% of Americans are obese shows an epidemic of ignorance. I’ll never show any sympathy towards the obese because your plight is a choice! No one is forcing any if you to eat too much an sit on a couch all day! The seat issue is common sense. If your going to spill over into the seat next to you, buy two tickets! If an agent at the counter thinks you’re fat enough to have to buy a second ticket, buy it! Now you’re joining this pathetic sue happy culture we’re in all because you can’t take care of yourself? Eat less, cut the sugar out and exercise and this won’t be an issue! Stop complaining when you can do something about it!


dad May 5, 2012 at 8:49 am

what an uninformed, arrogant idiot. the issue is not whether or not to buy 2 tickets. it is simply an issue of unclear policy, leading to unnecessary humiliation in a very public place. just as stupidity is a challenge for some people the weight loss journey kenz has been on for 3 years, is a huge challenge as well. she has made remarkable progress and has been and continues to be an inspiration and a voice for many who would not otherwise have a voice. her lifestyle changes, have given her incredible changes in her health and weight. she is very active and while she may still be heavier than she wants to be, she does not sit by, passing uninformed judgements on others.


Rick May 4, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Just lose weight and there won’t be a problem. Having had to suffer by sitting next to large people who spill over to my seat just one word- gross


Jon Targa May 4, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Why don’t parents with crying kids be forced to buy multiple seats? I am forced to sit next to some crying and screaming kid for hours on my flight yet airlines force a fat person to but an extra seat? The message here is it is OK to discriminate against the obese.


sogirly May 5, 2012 at 12:04 am

I dont see it as discrimination. Kids cry especially when bored and uncomfortable. But as an overweight person you know that you may cause fellow passengers to be uncomfortable during a flight, Why would you want to do that. Why do you want to touch the person next to you? I think this is solely about consideration. FYI, airlines, generally, try to place those with kids in the back of the aircraft in an attempt to not disturb the entire flight.


Cathy May 7, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Actually, they don’t do that. They can’t. The only thing the airline does to regulate seating is to keep those who are under 15 years of age out of exit rows.


Jesse May 4, 2012 at 3:39 pm

I do not know how it Washington told to you, but i Travel once whit an extra large gentleman on my side and Belice me he Washington hall into my seat, he swet profusely ! It was really difficult to stand it, so for that I think it should be mandatory to buey 2 seats of you are big ver than one seat. I Aldo believe it is vera difficult to know the size of a person before seeing .


Jessica May 4, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Well said, thank you! I flew with my sister and was terrified that one or both of us would be asked to pay for a second seat or get booted off our filled airplanes. Unfortunately there’s no way to plan ahead as the airlines do not define the criteria for another seat. Fortunately, we were both able to fly without extra seats and my sister used a seat extender.

Am I thrilled or proud about being overweight? No. But I still need to get from point A to Z with the least amount of stress and confusion.

Thank you again for taking on this issue!


SKM May 4, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Kenlie – I’m wishing you all the luck in the world on this one. And I’m sorry that some internet lurkers are being assholes in these comments.

The last flight that I was on was a personal hell for me, because the last time I flew? I had lost enough weight to not have to worry about these issues. Last month found five months pregnant and wedged into a seat that was just a wee bit uncomfortable for me and my bump. I was so thankful to be seated next to wonderful, gracious people.

I don’t think this issue has an easy answer. I commend you, Kenlie, for your weight loss and for your bravery on this issue.


Deborah Weber May 4, 2012 at 5:30 pm

I used to weigh 500 lbs, and I needed two seats. Then I lost almost 200 lbs and got small enough to fit into a single seat with the arms down. I arrived for my flight on Southwest, and was informed I needed to buy another seat. I asked why, as I knew I now fit between the armrests. The attendant said it did not matter, at I must leave arm room in my seat space for my neighbor. when I asked how narrow In inches I had to be to qualify to fly in a single seat, she replied (I swear to God!) “It would be rude to measure you!”

I have actively boycotted Southwest since then.


Emily May 4, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Oh my lord. Is everyone missing the point that Kenlie DOES FIT INTO ONE SEAT?! Geeeesh. Ignorance is a horrible thing.


Stephan May 5, 2012 at 3:45 am

Did u actually see her pic ? do you ignore the size of a flight seat ???

And yes I am obese myself !

So who is ignorant right now ….



Emily May 7, 2012 at 10:43 am

She has stated in several interviews and posts on this blog that she CAN fit into one seat with out spilling over. Which is why sometimes the airlines let her buy one seat. Maybe not at the beginning of her weight loss journey, but when this whole thing went down last year.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have to buy two tickets. Just make the guidelines clear.


Emily May 7, 2012 at 10:46 am

Also wanted to add – - your “did you actually see her pic?” is exactly the kind of thing she’s speaking up against. You cannot just eye-ball someone and assume anything. Everyone’s bodies are shaped differently, and can take different shapes when sitting down as well.

I’m an obese person as well, yet have EXTRA room when I sit on an airplane seat. Maybe by just looking at me standing in line, you wouldn’t think that.


Stephan May 7, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Emily, sorry but I although thought that I would fit in every rollercoaster in Legoland unless I was proven the opposite and guess what I did not complain or thought instantly about sueing Legoland I’d started loosing weight and my kids can’t wait until I am thinny enough to join them on every funpark thingy they can think of.

I still see this as stubborness – she might even fit in one seat but still she is at the boarder – have a look at her video you do see that. Just avoid the hassle and buy two tickets for the next half year and than she will fit into anything if she continues to loose weight at that pace there will be no more questions – period.

It’s like I said why do you americans need guidelines for everything – just like the Nutella case – Nutella is not healthy … really ?? and now the company has been sued – for what ?? not telling the truth advertising a good marketing ?? Use common sense and just don’t be stubborn – use your brain for god sake – Kenlie as achieved an awesome goal already and everybody should pay her respect but not on this useless law suit for nothing, in half a year she doesn*t care anymore on this issue.

A lot of others are shouting that discrinination against obese people , bullshit – I am out of the normal average Joe’s size so what. The normal dep. stores here in Europe don’t have my size so either I am loosing weight or I am going to a shop for XXXL stuff but I am certainly not sueing them . Why is she not using another airline ?

I have been obese for 15y and still are at the border (lost 50lbs) but you only have to look in the mirror and just acknowledge where the error in “the system” is – its not them its us (the obese).


CJMcK May 10, 2012 at 12:39 am

You are!


Jennifer May 4, 2012 at 8:35 pm

It’s sad to see so many unkind people crawl out of the woodwork. My mom taught us a rule, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I applaud Kenlie’s purpose. Period.


Mandy Boucher May 4, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Well said, and thank you for your courage and being an inspiration to all of us on our weight-loss journeys.


Trudy May 5, 2012 at 12:08 am

Kenz…you are truly an inspiration to me, not just because I myself am an obese person struggling to lose weight, but as a fellow consumer. Truly, while the discrimination has taken place as a result of your current weight, that is not the core issue here, nor are you MAKING it the core issue. I also want to applaud you for not hiding from anything, including all of the ignorant, uninformed people who just want to jump on the bandwagon to hurl insults at you. Chances are, many of them are lurking elsewhere to do the same with others, regardless of the issue. It is sad that they don’t take the time to consider the real issue here, which is clearly SW’s lack of any consistency toward policy. I won’t even start on how their employees are clearly able to act or not act based on their own prejudices and biases.
Praying that this will result in positive changes in many ways!


Jimminy May 5, 2012 at 2:11 am

First I would like to applaud your efforts to lose weight. Also I agree that Southwest’s policies should be a bit more clear.

However, I don’t fly often, and when I do I prefer to be at a window seat. I’m mildly claustrophobic and being by the window helps keep my mind off things. I get to watch the land or sea underneath as we travel across the world.

One particular event happened a few months ago at a concert. I was seated in the middle of a row on the floor, fairly close to the front. It was crowded, and the person seated to my right was a very very large woman about the size of you three years ago. Her entire left thigh was crushing my right leg, and not only was my claustrophobia kicking in, I was in agony. I asked her to move down, since there were empty seats, and she refused. So my respect for her as a human being has lessened. Fortunately a concert hall is not like an airplane, and I slipped into a seat in front of me that was unoccupied. I was able to enjoy the concert, and hadn’t given the foul experience I had earlier much thought save from an evil glare toward the offending obese one.

On an airplane, things are much different. I recall a story where a man had to stand the entire flight because of a fat person took up two seats. The seats at this concert were close together, and that woman’s left thigh engulfed my former seat, but on an airplane seats are often much smaller, and often in very short or in no supply.

So I agree with policies that require fat people to buy two seats, because they cannot possibly fit in one. If they try to, they will make the person next to them absolutely miserable. If I had to sit next to you on an airplane, whether it be three years ago, or even the size you are on now, I’d be claustrophobic and would probably be tempted to sue you for the traumatic experience.

Continue losing weight, and I wish you luck with that, but if that weight bounds back up and you become what you were three years ago… stay off the planes.


passportjunky May 5, 2012 at 2:26 am

Hmmmmmm, sounds like a new low cost carrier, “Obese Air,” could make some serious money. Just sayin’.


Penster May 5, 2012 at 4:03 am

Good article – as a former flight attendant, this is an issue that can cause a fair bit of embarrassment onboard for everyone. Airline seats are standard size, I think there should be measurements available at point of sale that advise what girth would trigger an extra seat in interests of comfort for all pax and of course safety. Inconsistency that you’ve experienced is unnecessary in this day and age.


Tina Lawyer May 5, 2012 at 5:32 am

Now your story is even published in the biggest newspaper in Germany. Keep going, girl :-)


Ryan May 5, 2012 at 6:47 am

In a world where people are genuinely suffering because they don’t have access to enough food, it’s ridiculous to me that you feel offended when you hit obstacles related to your excessive consumption. The efforts made by those struggling to put food on the table are a lot more courageous than those dealing with the consequences of taking more than they need.


Dave May 5, 2012 at 10:41 am

Listen if you think you need 2 seats buy 2 seats. If when you sit in one seat your body actually goes over into the other seat, buy a second seat. Yes they need to be more clear but you know who you are when you buy the ticket. Everyone needs to quit being selfish. Think about the person next to you. Is it fair for them if they bought a ticket for a seat and only get 3/4 of it? Everyone needs to start taking responsibility for themselves. DO WHAT IS RIGHT!


Nanny May 5, 2012 at 11:05 am

The Customer of Size issue is a very sensitive subject. You were not treated right. I’m sure 99% of people have already told you this, but I am impressed with how you have held your head high and demand that Southwest educate their employees on their own policy and be consistent! I, and the rest of the SWA flight attendants thank you so much.
You look great and I hope you are feeling great too.


The fat has gone to your head May 5, 2012 at 11:55 am

Why do fat people deserve my respect when you don’t respect yourself enough to take care of yourself? And what about that poor, healthy, average-sized person who’s forced to sit next to your oversized self? Personally I don’t want all the stanky rolls and puddles of fat that you can’t physically reach when you shower touching me. I paid for my seat too, I have the right to enjoy it without being covered in you.

And now you say you’re not asking for special treatment for fat people?Sooo trying to force an international sized corporation to spend millions, possibly billions, of dollars to rewrite their policies, handbooks, and training programs; not to mention RE-training every single one of their current employees… Nooo that’s not special treatment at all.

In closing, there’s absolutely no need for this asinine policy you’re proposing. If you want to fly your unnecessarily large self around, you’re going to be embarrassed sometimes and have to buy two seats. And instead of complaining about how you only have to buy two seats about half the time, YOU SHOULD BE THANKFUL. IT SHOULD MAKE YOU HAPPY THAT YOU ONLY HAD TO SPEND HALF THE MONEY YOU THOUGHT YOU WOULD. Seriously, get over yourself (I know that’s a big hill to climb) and stop acting like the world owes you something because you’re fat and disgusting. When, in fact, you’re the one who owes it to the rest of the world to get up off the couch, put the Triple Stacker and XXL fries and super-sized soda down, and do something about the epidemic of obesity that’s plaguing our country worse than alcoholism.


The fat has gone to your head May 5, 2012 at 11:59 am

The problem’s not with the company. It’s with you.


Lily May 5, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Please consider therapy for your hatred, and tutoring for your lack of reading skills.


Lisa Joyner May 6, 2012 at 11:22 am

I think you need to read SHE DID FIT IN THE ONE SEAT its how they approached her and she had flown with them several times and was not made to buy an extra seat. Her law suit is about making rules, guidelines, consistency not on a whim and oh this person looks to big so they pay but the next one might be the same size they do not. YOU IGNORANCE is really amazing. I forgot you live and watch all overweight people all the time right one is just the same as another. We all never exercise never eat right no we are just one big lazy group. WRONG people try very hard to lose weight which we can do eventually how are you going to lose the ugliness of you. Your attitude is horrible and I only hope you do not have children that think this is how you treat people. I can’t stand all of these rude ignorant people on here.


Stephan May 6, 2012 at 12:59 pm


did you actually see the video of her ? try fitting her body into a tiny flight seat – so who is ignorant right now ??

She might fit in but whats with the neigbour next to her ? does the other have to give away another 1/3 of his / her already small seat just because she ‘almost’ fits into a seat ? that’s ignorant to the others …

I am obese myself and just don’t get it – buy another seat and keep quiet until she is not at the border between one or two seats – period.

Her law suit is about stubborness – do you americans really need a guidance that Nutella makes fat ? that you can’t put a dog into a microwave ? What about realism – hey I am obese ( I am talking about me) shall I order two seats – or ask for the XXL seats at the wings – makes life much more easier right ?

The author above was rude , but he is still right in the end. I was obese for 15y and it was my own decision rather non-decision not to care about my eating habits. So if I don’t care – why do you expect from others an obese-friendly environment.



Elise May 5, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I agree with this. There should be a policy for all airlines. Perhaps it should be based on hip/waist measurements since its a defined measurement of space in the seats. It could be a policy statement that appears when you purchase tickets to let you know that passengers taking up more than x inches in their seat would need to purchase an additional seat. As most people know, BMI can be really unreliable. And the # should change for first class since those seats have so much more space.
Sorry for anyone that writes you insensitive comments that miss the point of what you are saying and are just looking for an opportunity to complain about heavy people. Obviously no one likes their personal space getting crowded and some larger people do not fit into one seat but a consistent and fair solution must be found.


Eric Van De Ven May 5, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Wow! I rarely post twice on one article, but some of you really are “out there”!

I have a radical idea for SW and all of the other carriers. Since the early 80s, you know, when the fitness craze and low-fat diets were the rage, the entire country has gotten fatter by roughly 50%.

If the airlines bothered to do any research at all, they would make the seats larger, introduce eatable meals and perhaps, if flying were returned to the days of the “Friendly Skies”, they could be profitable and make people happy.

This is what happens when you fall into the “K-Mart” business model. Poor service, cheap prices and unsatisfied customers..until you run out of customers.

I do have a question. What if you are pregnant? I have seen many a pregnant women who were quite large…as tends to happen when one becomes pregnant.

What next, are we going to start using a BMI calculation to determine who flies?


TooBIG May 5, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Make me with I had tons of money because I would make an airline with all larger seats. Even for the average size person 17″ is just not enough.

The problem that these people miss is that when the rule is only informed some of the time then there’s a problem. Sometimes I don’t have to buy a 2nd seat and sometimes I do and only because you feel that I do but the next flight you may not. It’s just not right.


Wisdom May 5, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Nice try. If your fat exceeds one seat’s width = You must buy two seats.
AND the airline’s policy is specified in their website.
AND you knew, before buying the ticket, that you are obese.
AND you knew very well, before buying the ticket, that you don’t fit into one seat
If I fly I don’t want nobody’s lard occupying the space I PAID FOR.
If we have adjoining seats, why should you occupy 4/5 of the space and leave 1/5 to me? If you do, you actually should be paying 4 times my fare!
You fat-ass unitedstatesans are a disgrace to the planet Earth, and the last thing you should claim is the right to impose your lard on thy neighbor and make thy neighbor pay for the space you steal from them.
Greedy fool.


TooBIG May 5, 2012 at 8:52 pm

southwest has no assigned seating so the seat you pay for doesn’t need to be next to us bigger people. Nice try Dick, I mean wisdom.


Lisa Joyner May 6, 2012 at 11:26 am

SHE HAS FLOWN WITH THEM BEFORE JACKA*** and did not have to purchase another seat. They need to have specific rules and guidelines not just oh today you have to pay more next time maybe not. Can we charge more for the jerk who’s seat is reclined back onto my knees or how about the kid who keeps kicking my chair and so on


Frank OHara May 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Could be that on previous flights, someone extended her a courtesy. Companies extend different levels of authority to their employees. Could be that the ticket agent knew the flight would not be full (time of day, destination, etc) and “gave” her the second seat.

On another flight, it might have been obvious all seats would be taken and that’s the reason for the extra charge.

By selecting the flight that won’t be packed, it’s possible this situation could have been avoided.



h valenti May 5, 2012 at 1:01 pm

YOU GO GIRL!!! More power to you! Our privacy is violated continuously because our issue is visible! You are correct in the infrequencies and inconsistencies of these airlines! I have yet to travel on an airline where even the seatbelt is the same length! I avoid flying like the plague because of fear of suffering the same experience you had and I get so stressed out I make myself sick! Sometimes its just unavoidable to fly and I bring my own seatbelt extension. Sometimes I need it and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes flying causes me to bloat and then the belt won’t reach! Also another point is I’m so sick of society’s ignorant belief that all people are obese due to overeating! I don’t overeat and diets don’t work for me. I have a complicated hormonal & genetic issue. Yet another point to make is if we have to pay for an extra seat then that seat should be empty! WHAT ABOUT OUR COMFORT!!! Bottom line is its discrimination and it needs to be abolished!!! Please fight for all of us whose dignity is disgraced simply because of our bodies! I wish you all the success possible!!


Stephan May 6, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Our privacy is violated continuously ? oh you poor thingy – do you need a should to sob on or rather take your trainers and get out running.

I can’t stand obese people who constantly complain about the rudeness of the world. Yes I am still obese and am fighting against it. So from your text above it’s obvious that you are not happy with your current weight- why don’t you get moving.
And of course you belong to the percentage who of course don’t overeat and still gain weight , that’s pure bullshit ma’am. Unless you show me proof, I ll submit a full open apology. On top of that I do invite you to spend a free course with me for half a year and you will certainly loose 50 lbs.

What about our comfort ? Hallo, (we) obese are way out of the norm so its our fault its our own fault and yes you have to pay for extra’s as always .

If I have been drastic in my language, apologies but I am viewing this from an obese position fighting obesity every day and I can’t stand these whimsy nagging.



Wisdom May 5, 2012 at 1:13 pm

When you KNOW that you don’t fit into one seat, just buy two (or 3) seats from the jump! That way you won’t be “humiliated” at the check-ins! Too easy a solution for you? Tough!


Lily May 5, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Your reading abilities are very poor. For example, you’ve missed the fact that Ms. Kenlie DOES fit into the seat, but she’s being “eyeballed” as not fitting into it. It seems that you may be more interested in being snippy than being accurate. I’d say “nice try,” but …


Mary A. Gilmour May 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Congratulations on the weight loss, Kenlie. But most of all, I am so excited you are suing Southwest airlines. I was a victim of their buy another seat because I was overweight scam. I’m a very outspoken person and embarrassed the airline representative and she stopped provoking me. She turned her wrath to a disabled woman travelling with her family and several small children. The woman had hit on the lottery and treated her family to a Disney vacation. She was disabled and in a wheelchair. She also had diabetes. They made her buy another seat. When I boarded the plane I noticed she has her granddaughter along side of her, all 40 lbs soaking wet. She had purchased a seat for no reason at all. What spillage over from her weight was equalled by her granddaughters petite size. Her party had two Adults, three teenagers, and four children under 6. Southwest is a money hungry airline that intimidates the overweight. Making them feel badly because they are not normal by Southwest standards. The airline did not take into consideration the size and weight of her family that was in her party. I felt so bad for this woman, when I arrived home, I called the travel agency and told them what happened. They informed me she died in florida. I feel Southwest contributed to her death with the stress that was put upon this woman. Yes, this is a true story. I do not have the family’s permission so I can not release her name. I would like to know how many more stories like this one exist out there. I would like to see changes in the air travel industry. Why not make a row or two of seats for larger, taller people. I’m sure the seats would be sold instantly. Maybe, the industry could even make seats for the even smaller petite person. I”m just trying to get some justice for the victims of Southwest”s scam to make more money. Personally, I think they should make all the ignorant/obnoxious people sit at the back of the plane. Along with all the people with body odor and bad breath, too. Personally, I’d rather be squished than offended by a nasty smell for hours. But that is my opionon.


j.t. May 5, 2012 at 7:43 pm

that is the biggest bunch of crap i have ever read. mary, you are an idiot.


Wisdom May 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Yep looks like her arteries are clogging and preventing her from thinking thoughts that make sense


Rachel May 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm

I wanted to thank you for being brave enough to post this, and for going public with your story.

I was searching for seat-belt extenders for my upcoming vacation, and as I clicked through links I saw comments about how unprofessional and callous Southwest was being toward people they felt were too fat. Sadly, they are the airline I am booked with. I’ve gained weight since the last time I flew, and now, I worry that I will be targeted at the gate and humiliated. Had I known this policy existed, I would have thought twice about air travel.

I hope, if nothing else comes of your suit, airlines, especially Southwest, state at the time of purchase, the policy towards people they deem are too large for one seat. It could save people a lot of heartache. And it can also show up front that air travel will be a more expensive option for larger people…but then why would Southwest or any airline want to offend 30% of the population that is overweight? Because they know it will hurt their bottom line when less people are willing to fly because of it.

I never dreamed there was still such ugliness and ignorance out there towards people that are obese…if I read one more comment about how I supposedly down a Big Mac every day, and that’s why I’m a fattie, I think I may very well finally snap. It’s just mind-boggling, but then I realize that there are very cowardly people out there hiding, behind an avatar, who are probably, for the first time, feeling like they are finally better than someone. How sad.


Lisa Joyner May 6, 2012 at 11:13 am

AMEN I cannot believe the HATE what discrimination we all just sit around eating bonbons and big macs. I do not even go to fast food resteraunts. We struggle just like anyone else with addictions it is a life long battle. I wonder how many of them smoke, drink etc is that not bad as well. I think the one that feel this way should be made to wear a fat suit for a week and see how it feels to be treated in a manner in which they are talking


Leslie May 27, 2012 at 12:54 pm

After a lifetime of thinness, I developed a thyroid issue. It added 50 lbs to my little frame. Can you imagine the harassment and crap a former skinny girl put up with? Mostly from people who doubled me in size. Like the fact that I was a skinny mini or my thyroid went Hashimoto was my fault, either one. As I am allergic to or develop an allergy to any and all medications, I had to take absolute control of my diet and activity level. Not just to lose weight, but to stimulate my thyroid to work as it should and maintain the nutrients it needed to do so. This was not easy on a limited income, as the thyroid thing made me too sick to work. Your weight is not the only thing it affects. After a car accident years ago, I have residual spinal and other digestive health issues as well. I am well on my way to my former healthy weight.(Thank God and self-education) And in better shape every day. All it took is a little nutritional education, effort and a desire to regain my health. If my challenged self can do so, so can just about anyone else. We all have issues, addictions or leftover trauma, , if they affect your health, seek treatment. If you had cancer would you sit there, and feel sorry for yourself until you died? Educate yourself about nutrition and exercise. Stop eating prepared foods and nurture your body, you’re worth it. If you think you’re okay, because you have good self-esteem, then tell your kids, family or friends you want that on your grave marker. Because that’s what neglecting your health will come to.


Sam Strong May 5, 2012 at 3:41 pm

I don’t blame SW. I wouldn’t want to sit next to a fat stinky chick either!


Lily May 5, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I support your attempt to get SWA to fix this mess of theirs. I think they have quite a few policies that aren’t as people-friendly as their marketing has succeeded in making people think. I quit flying them a couple of years ago (Virgin America is an excellent discount airline with great service — maybe what SWA dreamed of being when they started!).


Bill May 5, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Hi, good post. I hope you do get some clarification on their policy. can you elaborate on how you lost 100 lbs? thanks and congrats!


Billyboy May 5, 2012 at 7:23 pm

I am lost…what do you suggest the policy be? Should airlines weigh ypu or measure you?
Actually good for you by losing the weight…I know it can be very difficlt.


J.M Grayson May 5, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I too was a large woman until 5 years ago when I lost the weight.
Now I hate to say it but I don’t like sitting next to “large” people because they are in my space. I am really ashamed to think that I was doing the same to other people.
I do have a question for you, were you in the next person’s space when you flew Southwest? Not being ugly, I just want to know.


Shelley B May 5, 2012 at 8:00 pm

I don’t understand the need to make mean comments on someone’s blog. I mean, really, is she going to get something positive out of a negative comment? Nope! Nothing good will come of it. People respond to positive encouragement, not bitter criticism and attacks.
So ignore them, Kenlie! I read your blog every day and I’m totally on your side.


Nicole D. May 7, 2012 at 5:35 pm

I couldn’t agree more Shelley!


Mike L. May 5, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Policy is policy.

Lose weight if you don’t like it, piggy.


slimjones May 5, 2012 at 9:44 pm

you fat people are sad. there is a small percent of you that because of metabolic issues are unable to control the weight. the rest of you are lazy, lack discipline and refuse to exercise in a way that is effective.

i work as nurse, i can’t tell you how many of you show up in the ICU with heart attacks and other issues. you all are so big, the nurses can barely lift you, can’t turn you over.

i don’t feel sorry for you all, you did it to yourself and now you want to force society to accept you. sorry, but it is not going to happen. your bodies overflow seats in movie theaters, buses and planes. i guess it is okay for you to take some of my seat because you are “disabled” by being fat.

there is no such thing a big, beautiful women. you all are gross, sickly and unable to even wipe your own bums. fat people smell because you don’t clean the folds of your fats and you can’t reach your bums.

also, several doctors i know who are surgeons hate you too. have you seen how much fat is blocking access to the chest on a obese person, they can’t even cut through it all without exposing you to very high risks of infection.

there should be no fat acceptance, only shame. get off your lazy bums and start exercising, stop eating pizza and a diet coke, french fries are not a vegetable nor is ketchup. you all represent the worst in humans: greed, laziness and self-satisfaction.

humans weren’t meant to be that fat, only 50 years ago, there were few obsese people. what happened? i will tell you: fat people started thinking they should be accepted as they are.

so, all you “bbw”s, drink water, eat fresh veggies, exercise for more than 1 hour a day, and maybe i won’t see you flopping around on the bed having a heart attack while pooping out large amounts of feces. otherwise, i will see you in the ICU soo… btw, buy an extra seat for yourself when you fly…


Lisa Joyner May 6, 2012 at 11:09 am

You may be a nurse and slim BUT YOUR ATTITUDE makes you ugly we may be big but we can change that. Not every overweight person is STINKY GET A LIFE I would HATE to have you taken care of me. You should not be in the health care industry. I am not super huge myself but am considered obese and I bet not for one day of your life have you ever struggled with what we do. It is not about being lazy and not wanting to exercise some people have had trauma’s in their life maybe molested, beaten and so on and food can be their way to cope. It is like any other addiction it can take years to finally beat.


Bren May 6, 2012 at 12:45 pm

slimjones – It is sad to hear such hate and venom from anyone, especially a health care provider. My sympathy lies with any patient who crosses your path that doesn’t meet you height/weight standard. Perhaps you should smother your fat patients with a pillow so the thin people who are sick can get care since, in your opinion, they are clearly more deserving. You ARE a very small person indeed.


Emily May 7, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Wow, just … wow. I’m sorry that you hate yourself so much that you have to be so vile. Ot astounds me that you are a nurse. All the nurses I know are kind and loving people. Maybe you should consider a career change … one that requires no need for empathy. I honestly hope that you can find some love in your life, and make peace with whatever/whoever filled you with such hate for other human beings.


Tina May 8, 2012 at 1:55 am

Here is a perfect example of someone so miserable that she has to drag someone down in order to feel better about herself.

YOU, are the one representing the worst in humans.

You might be thinner, but you have nothing inside you but a black heart rotting in your chest. I would rather be overweight than the thing you are. I feel sorry for anyone that comes in contact with you.


Cat May 6, 2012 at 9:39 am

Prayers for you Kenlie, and thank you for standing up for all of us. I respect you greatly for the way you are handling this situation. Can’t wait to read about it as it progresses!


Wisdom May 6, 2012 at 11:54 am

The airline’s policy states that you have to buy two seats if you invade the next person’s space even by an inch. And so it should be. Every airline should enforce this policy.
Now. If this person has managed to pay for only one seat sometimes, it’s obviously because she got lucky enough to meet a SLOPPY staff member at the check in, who didn’t bother to do their duty! Or possibly it was a fellow-fat-ass staff member who decided to do her a favor (VERY wrong and unprofessional).
As for the refrain “ohhh sob sob but she does fit in a seat”, stop already you fat-ass mob! We’ve flown economy we know how cramped the seats are, even for a slender person! No way she would fit in one seat without spilling over to their neighbors.
AND why do I have to carry tiny luggage and if I exceed by an ounce I have to pay a supplement, while you fat lards carrying an excessive luggage that is worth SEVERAL suitcases want to keep getting away with it? It’s about time you got over yourselves and paid the appropriate fees.


Wisdom May 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm

The Idiot-Proof Guide To Responsible Flying

Chapter One

Let’s say I want to take a free ride on a public transportation bus. I don’t obliterate the ticket and I hope I won’t get caught by the staff. I might get caught or I might not, because the staff get on the bus only every now and then, at random. I choose to take the risk. IF I DON’T GET CAUGHT it doesn’t mean that the company’s policy is that I have a right to freebies! It means only that I GOT LUCKY and got away with it!
The same happened to this blogger when she managed to buy for one seat only: SHE GOT LUCKY ENOUGH to run into a SLOPPY staff member that didn’t enforce the policy!

If I get caught on the bus for not having obliterated the ticket, I just MIGHT find myself humiliated in front of other passengers when the controller catches me. Do I complain? Nope! ‘Cause I chose to try for a freebie and I knew I would risk being caught!
It’s easy and simple, but many pro-freebies here keep denying what is obvious. Denial denial denial… you guys have no shame.


brads an idiot May 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm

wow! I am a thin person and have been all my life (48 yrs old) and I would never ever ever post such horrible comments about someone or to someone. I guess this sums it up best ” To all the larger folks, you can lose the weight, these mean people on here, will always be a**holes!”


Sarah May 6, 2012 at 9:18 pm

I’m so sorry you went through this, I’ve been there and it’s so painfully humiliating. The main problem to me is the rudeness the Southwest agents dish out when they notice someone in the boarding line that they don’t think lives up to their standards and also the lack of specific regulations. They can be callous, aggressive, insulting, no compassion or patience whatsoever.

I was flying with 2 family members, we were going to all sit together, so there was no risk of any strangers being affected or at risk of touching someone that disgusted them. I was humiliated by being pulled out of line by a rude, nasty male agent (In Sacramento, CA). I looked up and down the line, there were plenty of BIGGER people there, especially some huge men. But he zeroed in on me, I think because I was using a cane due to MS so I stood out a bit. I also have a medical condition in my legs called Lipedema that does not respond to diet & exercise so they are big, but I was not the biggest person in line by far. I’d like to know why any airline employee thinks it’s okay to be rude & humiliate someone in front of everyone else? All eyes in the line were on me. It was one of the most embarrassing & terrifying moments of my life.

I was offered 2 choices: 1 choice was to buy another seat at that moment and “if it wasn’t needed a refund will be issued”. The other was to walk all the way down the gate, get on the plane, in front of allllll those people, and prove to that jerk of a man that I could fit in the seat and use the seat belt. Well, I was in a lot of pain & didn’t want to go through the embarrassment of walking down there and certainly had been embarrassed enough, so I just paid for the ticket. It really felt like no choice at all to me, even though I was sure I would fit just fine I just didn’t look good enough to him. But why call me out and not anyone else? That’s not okay.

The male agent was so awful to that even a female flight attendant came up to us, apologized to us on the airlines behalf and encouraged me to write a letter and said she would be a witness. The extra seat was not needed, I fit fine into the one and the seat belt fit fine, way better than if fit around some of those big men. There was NO need for a 2nd seat! So their standards & regulations need to be outlined more specifically.

It’s rude & disturbing to do this to customers and not have sensitivity training on how to handle it. There should be a policy that punishes such rude employees and they should not be allowed to pick and choose to zero in on one person like that. That man had a chip on his shoulder about something and took it out on me. There should also be a private place to discuss these options and perhaps provide a seat there so that “proof” can be made there rather than forcing people to do a walk of shame. I wish I knew all the dates and names now (it was years ago) so I could sue them, not for money but to get those regulations adjusted.


robert May 6, 2012 at 10:50 pm

The suit vs Southwest is long overdue. I’m surprised airlines havent been sued for violating the ADA and other anti-discrimination laws. In the eyes of the law, the opinions of other passengers are a non-issue and a standard must be met by the airline. I haven’t been kicked off a plane, but I think its ridiculous Southwest is making an issue out of this and its one of several reasons why I havent flown with them since 1995.


Mark May 7, 2012 at 3:02 am

Good for you. I think u should seek damages as well.


Patty at A Day in My NYC May 7, 2012 at 8:34 am

My friend! I think you are super amazing. Bravo for standing up for yourself and for all that you have accomplished and for all you will in the future! {{{HUGS}}}


jp May 7, 2012 at 4:49 pm

They should sample seat next to where you check-in same way as some need to test their hand-luggage size some would need to sit down, if you cannot fit. You need to buy extra ticket. :)


Lisa May 7, 2012 at 8:10 pm

First, congratulations on your weight loss and keep up the hard work! And don’t let anyone get you down, living well is the best revenge! :)


Danny May 8, 2012 at 12:12 am

I just read MSNBC’s story today. Kenlie, you’re an inspiration. ;) You seem quite level-headed about all of this. The truth is that, in this case, one can completely rely on facts rather than resorting to the realm of opinion; and that Southwest’s stated policy and de facto practice diverge is empirically calculable and thus no more a matter of opinion than it’s a matter of opinion that 2+2=4. Sadly, many of the negative comments are from those who don’t even have the basic facts right, but you have quite soundly refuted their half-baked reckonings. Kudos. ;) Unfortunately, sad little internet trolls, even when their positions have been demonstrably refuted, often still hang around so they can continue to work out their own life’s frustrations by spraying their vitriol on others. Pathetic. Don’t let it get you down, friend. ;)

I just read Southwest’s “Customer of Size” policy in its entirety in preparation for MSNBC’s online poll, and I voted that it is indeed widely open to interpretation and needs to be clarified. I do, however, agree with the idea that a policy based on height/weight would not work. Muscle weighs significantly more than fat tissue, and the makeup of individuals’ bodies in terms of muscle-to-fat ratio does actually range very widely. For instance, I’m 5’10″ and weigh 325#, yet that shocks most people. I look significantly slimmer than three of my buddies who weigh 237#, 225#, and 215#. I’ve not worked out or lifted weights much at all in my life, but just have a genetic predisposition to a higher muscle mass and so weigh much more than I look. Further, our unique genetic makeups result in a wide range of different fat distributions around the body, as well as surprisingly different distributions of fat in standing versus sitting positions. All of this makes the question of whether our presence on a plane would prevent the airline from selling the seat(s) next to us quite variable even among those of the same height/weight.

All that being the case, I can’t see how a height/weight-based policy would work for an airline. However, Southwest’s policy is currently as unworkable as would be such a policy based on height and weight, and a grey and inconsistently applied policy is a slap in the face to customers. Southwest’s “Customer of Size” policy states, “Customers who encroach upon any part of the neighboring seat(s) should proactively book the needed number of seats prior to travel. The armrest is considered to be the definitive boundary between seats and measures 17 inches in width,” and goes on to say, “The armrest is the definitive gauge for a Customer of size. It serves as the boundary between seats, which measure 17 inches wide. 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.”’s contribution for MSNBC reports that Kenlie “insists she can sit in any seat on the plane with the armrests down. She wanted to demonstrate this to the gate agents during one of the incidents, she says, but was turned down.”

It’s in Southwest’s reliance upon the nebulous concept of encroachment on an adjacent seat that one problem comes into play. The airlines pack everyone in quite tightly to maximize the number of seats; there’s no denying that. Shoulders and knees often unavoidably touch and even press, so how is this not encroachment? Most passengers understand this and have no problem with it, as it is quite unavoidable and is just a part of close-quarters air travel. So why is the same sort of limited encroachment of an obese passenger who can still lower both armrests suddenly a problem? It stinks of capitulation of the airline to the complaints of bigoted customers who harbor dislike for obese people in particular but have no problem with the SAME degree of encroachment that commonly occurs with non-obese who still have larger frames. The sad truth is that long-legged or broad-shouldered people are not despised by a segment of our culture, but obese people often are.

Southwest’s “Customer of Size” policy asserts repeatedly that it is ultimately the customer’s responsibility to communicate their seating needs. Fine—Kenlie was well informed on her seating needs when she told the agents that she already knew she could lower both armrests and that she had not been required to buy an extra ticket at her current size at least twice before, and thus had had no need or impetus to proactively purchase an extra ticket. Therefore, she FULLY executed her responsibility according to the terms of the stated policy. Conversely, the gate agents could not possibly have been informed on Kenlie’s seating needs when they simply eyeballed her while she stood, inconsistently applied their nebulous policy, and told her that this time she WOULD need to purchase an extra seat. Where is the disconnect? Simple: DESPITE SOUTHWEST’S POLICY STATEMENT OF THE ARMREST BEING THE DEFINITIVE GAUGE FOR A “CUSTOMER OF SIZE,” THE DE FACTO POLICY IS OBVIOUSLY DEPENDENT UPON GATE AGENTS EYEBALLING A CUSTOMER TO GAUGE WHETHER THE S/HE WILL BE REQUIRED TO PURCHASE ONE SEAT OR MORE. Kenlie offered to prove that she passed the policy’s stated DEFINITIVE gauge, but gate agents refused to let her. Thus, a different de facto policy is being enforced by gate agents than the written policy which the customer is responsible for following. The gauge that actually fits the definition of “definitive” for a customer of size is whatever gauge is being used at the point of in-person purchase or passage through the gate, and that makes the de facto definitive gauge the inconsistent eyeballing judgment of whichever gate agent is on duty rather than, as the policy statement claims, the objective width between armrests. As the customer is unable to account for this subjective inconsistency, this is obviously Southwest’s responsibility to remedy.

If Southwest wants to keep the current written policy statement, there is in fact only one way to reconcile gate agent practice with it: We’ve all seen those frames at the airport into which one places a carry-on bag to ensure that it meets policy restrictions and can actually be carried on to the plane. If Southwest were serious about taking proper responsibility for consistently applying their current written policy, then a similar method would need to be used in the form of a chair at the gate with armrests 17 inches apart. An armrested chair at the gate takes the guesswork out for both passenger and agent, just as the carry-on frame does. This could easily be done in a discreet and dignified way. Were this kind of assurance offered, many obese passengers would even gladly come in prior to the flight within a certain required window of time, within which any changes in size would be negligible. Some embarrassment may still be a factor in this picture, but at least it is a way forward to prevent unwanted surprises and foster consistency, which are both prerequisites for anything wanting to call itself a “policy.” Speaking as a big person, we know we’re big, and we know that there are certain realities that being big entails; but basic human dignity demands cogent policies that can be communicated and consistently applied, so that whatever embarrassment may remain is at least a known factor that we can own and take personal responsibility for.

Kenlie fully executed her responsibility according to the policy statement, yet because of the gulf between the written policy and the de facto practice of the gate agents, it was still not enough to avoid surprises and to preserve basic dignity. I have seen nothing among the detracting comments to this blog entry, and certainly nothing among the petulant vitriol, that even comes close to RATIONALLY refuting this—just half-baked strawman arguments that have nothing to do with the actual facts of the case.

If Southwest officials would just stop and think this through for a moment, their needs as well as the need of passengers to not be needlessly humiliated and jerked around could easily be met. Is this concept really so difficult, Southwest? With such a festival of errors and demonstrated incompetence, it’s clear that Southwest is not serious about making the growing number of obese Americans feel welcome on their airline. (As obesity becomes ever more endemic in our society, Southwest’s marketshare will obviously shrink if they don’t pull their heads out of their asses, so shareholders should also be concerned about the company’s obvious incompetence.)

Thank you, Kenlie for going to bat. Here’s hoping you hit a home run for basic human dignity. Congratulations on your weight loss, and good luck in the future! ;)


CJMcK May 10, 2012 at 12:36 am

Well put, Bravo!


Alexa O May 8, 2012 at 7:31 am

Kenlie, Good for you! I hope you get what you’re asking for. It will always be a sensitive topic, but there’s no reason in the world for it to be a humiliating one.


The Real Chuck May 8, 2012 at 6:09 pm


My wife and I, who are both larger people, flew to South Carolina from my home in Portland this last December. I used to fly all the damn time for work from PDX to Salt Lake and various other locations via Delta Airlines. Not once was I ever approached about being too large for the seat or etc.

We fly to SC via Southworst and wouldn’t you know, they stop us and humiliate my wife in the middle of the airport.

Long story short, you go girl. Stick it to those fat cats good. Assholes.



Lisa L. May 9, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Kenlie –

I love your blog. It is so positive. And you are lovely before and after.

With regard to your suit, I think thinner people forget that inside us all is the same inner dialogue that makes us human people – to them something about being large means we can be treated as though we are not thinking, feeling, logical, smart, sexy, engaging or real persons! Similarly we do this, to varying degrees, to one another over our races, our orientations, our religions…

I am writing because I had a thought about SWA. Before I share it, I’ll tell you I read recently that they were founded on the principle that flying is for everyone and, at the time, they meant that it wasn’t just for wealthy people who could afford it, but for all people. Certainly they didn’t deny you that right to fly expressly, but if it is still a core message of theirs, they ought to extend it to mean that everyone gets to fly with their dignity in tact. In truth, I wish it had happened to some other airline, because I think most Southwest people are truly appalled.

That said, next flight I take, I may complain to a gate attendant that the very skinny people are enjoying too MUCH room for the same price I paid for my 17″ seat. I expect they will need to start offering that people who are less than 12″ wide need to start sharing seats. I think if a person is between 12″ and 15″ we could fit someone else’s baby or toddler in there with them. And small children can fly three-to-a-seat.

And of course anyone TALLER than 5-10″ and less than 17″ wide must pay a fuel surcharge, since, though they fit comfortably in the seat, they are carrying more weight vertically than others around them, adding weight to the flight.

My story? I am losing weight too, riding 10 miles a day to and from work, and soon I won’t have to pay $3 more per pair for plus-sized workout pants and hoodies from WalMart. You go girl!



CJMcK May 10, 2012 at 12:27 am

I have traveled with my thin young granddaughter,which gave me plenty of room ( my seat and 1/2 of hers) LOL. I was flying alone, and needed a belt extension. Always flew SouthWest. With all the news in recent years about fat on their flights, and no clear guidelines, I have simply stopped flying, out of fear of being turned away at the gate. I would be mortified. It is just bad business. They should clearly state a weight limit for one seat, or a measurement around the hips at which a second seat should be required, or a certain number of wider seats, 2 to a row, at 1 and 1/2 price, available for customers with special needs. It seems there are lots of options, and right now there lack of clear guidelines is clearly discriminating.


Bvon May 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm

I don’t know you, but I’d like to. I admire you greatly for all that you’re doing. Thank you for standing up for yourself, for decency and fairness, and not ultimately being in it for the money. And all while working in losing weight?! Awesome! You are inspiring!


KC May 11, 2012 at 12:56 am

Just wanted to say thank you for taking this brave step forward and standing up for this issue. It is the right thing to do. NOBODY should be subjected to humiliation and the ugliness of bigotry. Everyone deserves decency and human respect.

Incidentally. as your suit moves forward, it might be interesting to research if/how much more often this policy affects women than men. I would be willing to bet that it does. From a biological standpoint, women tend to store extra weight along the hip and thigh areas – precisely the areas that would make a person more likely to have difficulty lowering seat armrests. An obese female would then be more likely to have a problem with lowering the armrests than an obese man whose extra weight is more concentrated along the central abdomen rather than the hips and thighs. There may end up being a gender discrimination issue as well here.


marty May 11, 2012 at 11:26 pm

kenlie good luck on your endevours .In canada the airlines can not charge or refuse you for passage nomatter what your weight or other disability keep up the fight on both fronts good luck


Jennifer V. May 15, 2012 at 2:18 am

First off, Kudos to Kenlie! One thing I wanted to mention and not certain someone else has already is the fact that the seatbelts on airplanes are not equal. I have flown on many airlines and noticed on more than a few occasions that seatbelts vary in size. I live in California and fly to Philadelphia and usually change planes and the seatbelts vary on the 2 different flights in the same day. That is another thing that needs to be standardized on flight aside from policies. It is very frustrating. Good luck in your battle with SWA.


Bill May 27, 2012 at 11:34 am

I’m wondering what the policy that you want them to adopt would look like. If I understand you correctly you want it to be objective, not subjective and open to interpretation by a gate agent. That to me suggests some kind of measurement. Would you have them put “you must fit in this seat” stands around the gate like the ones they use to determine whether your carry on would fit?

Point of purchase, for most folks, is online these days. I’m not sure how you’d enforce any policy like this at the point of purchase other than the “honor system”, but that just gives folks a fairly large incentive to lie, and then you are right back to the gate agents enforcing the policy based on “eyeballing” the customer at boarding time.

I personally can’t think of a solution that achieves what you’re trying to achieve. Can you?


Loraine August 13, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Today I use Southwest for the first time and happen the same to me! I felt so bad and embarresed that I cried! I hope you can do something with your fight!


Ryan December 26, 2012 at 9:11 am

Hi Kenlie, I for one am 100% in support of you, I to am overweight, have been for most of my life, tried very hard to do something about it but nothing worked, then all of a sudden in 2001 i lost all my weight (weighed 188lbs) and it stayed off untill 2005 when i started putting on weight again FAST! For the past 4 years i have been subjected to all kinds of tests, the results say my body is unable to regulate cortisol levels and produce enough testosterone and therefore none of the bodily functions that regulate body weight amongst others. Today i am 6’3″ and have a 58″ waist The wife and I are planning to take a trip to Thailand but in searching for flights i came accross the news article about your experiences, and of course your blog, after reading it i new exactly what you went through i have had similar experiences with many large international carriers too, and frankly i am disgusted, the problem is this doesn’t come from takin up too much space in an unfairly spaced environment, they do it because they can, even with proof from multiple specialists of my condition i was still expected to pay for 2 seats then on top of it on one occasion they helped themselves to that extra seat to fit another normal weighted person on anyway, without a refund i might add, so yes i hope you do win your lawsuit, i hope these airlines finally get whats coming to them…All the best.


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