Kevin Smith Spurs Debate on Overweight Passenger Policies
Kevin Smith’s ejection from a Southwest Airlines flight earlier this month has led to some heavy public debate over “Customer of Size” policies. The film director, who was asked to leave the aircraft because of his weight, stirred up a PR nightmare when he railed against the airline on his Twitter page–rejecting multiple apologies and an offer of a $100 flight voucher. Southwest claims that their actions are consistent with a 29-year policy dealing with heavy passengers.
As Americans continue to put on weight, issues surrounding overweight travelers are growing more heated. Organizations like the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) have come into play to promote civil rights for the overweight, while airlines continue to argue that their policies ensure the safety and comfort of their passengers. With 15-16% of respondents to Travelocity’s Rudeness Poll pegging overweight flyers as their least favorite people to fly with, it looks like everyone has a finger to point.
How Do Airlines Decide Who’s “Too Fat?”
There’s no universal rule regarding overweight airline passengers, although many airlines have similar policies. Both United Airlines and Continental Airlines agree that passengers must (1) be able to properly buckle their seat belt using only one extender, (2) be able to put down the arm rests, and (3) fit into the seat without encroaching on adjacent seat space. Passengers unable to meet these requirements are generally asked to purchase a second seat. Southwest Airlines uses a similar method to determine the necessity of a second seat purchase, gauging size by the passenger’s ability to sit with the armrests down.
With the pot stirred and many people arguing for larger seats on aircrafts, it will be interesting to see whether airlines stick to their policies, or begin compensating for a growing American population. What do think should happen?
Picture from xvm via Flickr.
My name: Kate Beall
How I earn my keep: Writing for Travelocity.
Best meal I've ever had: There are three: the mofongo at Jimmy'z Kitchen in South Beach, the lomito completo at Fuente Alemana in Santiago, and (for the sheer novelty factor) the cuy chactado in Arequipa, Peru.
First thing I do in a new place: Hit the shower. Anything more than an hour in transit gets me fantasizing about soap.
View that took my breath away: Seeing the endless stretch of the Sierras as I flew in to Reno/Tahoe for the first time. In the winter, it's an aching field of white all the way to the horizon, like a world wiped clean. Looking out at it gives you this unmatched feeling of eternity.
Most challenging travel moment: Sharing a pull-out couch in a cramped New York apartment. The heat wave of 2010 was in full, humid swing and the air conditioning was D.O.A. There was nothing to do but soak your clothes in the sink and hope to pass out before they dried. ...then wake up in an hour and do it all again.
Favorite way to get around: On foot. I'm still working on the motorcycle license.