NZ767 From New Zealand, joined Nov 2001, 1620 posts, RR: 1 Posted (11 years 5 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 2722 times:
Just heard on the radio news:
A family of fat people have been removed from a Southwest Airlines flight after they refused to pay for extra seats.
Didn't say where it happened though.
Has anyone got details or a link?
MCOtoATL From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 474 posts, RR: 4 Reply 3, posted (11 years 5 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 2636 times:
Rick Dees, a morning radio DJ at KIIS-FM recently had a producer put on 400 pounds of fake "fat" and try to buy a ticket on SW. They wanted to see if they would make him buy an extra ticket. I don't know how it turned out.
Seiple From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 5, posted (11 years 5 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 2564 times:
Basically, two overweight people were denied boarding so they made a stink about it, got refunds, and now are Greyhounding it back to New Mexico, crying to the media at every stop.
Funny the media doesn't say how this has been Southwest Airlines policy since the early 1980's and is policy at several other carriers (if you look at Continental's contract of carriage... it's in there too).
LMP737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 8, posted (11 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 2478 times:
It's just a simple fact, an airline loses money when they give a seat away to someone who is to fat. In addition it's not like SWA force feeds these people. Instead of complaining about "discrimination" maybe they should take some of that money they spend on food and get a personal trainer.
"In the past 48 hours, Southwest Airlines has heard from many people regarding ongoing "news" stories about our policy that requires Customers who occupy two seats to purchase both seats. We have been truly disheartened by the inaccurate reports and the hurt and disappointment this issue has caused so many of you. We are further saddened that the sensationalism of this issue has encouraged many Americans to "take sides" or "poke fun" over a subject that we realize is very real and often uncomfortable to many people. Unfortunately, our attempt to "set the record straight" has continued to be incorrectly reported. As a result, we want to take the opportunity to respond to your questions and concerns regarding what has turned into one of the "hottest" topics during the past couple of days in a forum that hopefully will reach the most people. We value, want, and need your business, and we consider it a privilege each time you call upon our Company to serve you.
"No. Southwest has had a policy in place since 1980 that requires a Customer to purchase the number of seats he/she occupies. This is a policy that most other airlines also have.
"If the policy is not new, why does it go into effect on June 26 as stated in the news?
"This policy doesn’t go into effect on June 26 (it has been in effect since 1980). The only significance to the June 26 date is that is the date we expect to be fully operational systemwide with our new checkin and boarding process. As you may have heard, Southwest is doing away with our plastic boarding passes and implementing a new checkin and boarding process that involves an electronically issued paper boarding pass.
"We recently began training our Employees on this new process, which allows us the capability to note on the boarding pass itself that a Customer has purchased an additional seat (whether that additional seat is needed for a large Customer, an infant traveling in a child restraint device, a musical instrument, or other items). During that training, we issued an internal document reminding our Agents of our longtime existing policy of requiring a Customer to purchase a second seat if that Customer needed a second seat for his/her safety and comfort on the aircraft. We didn’t issue a press release—someone in the media obtained a copy of the memo from one of our Employees. In fact, the only "new" procedure involving this "old" policy is that our Agents will give the Customer a document that advises of our refund policy and lists a phone number and address the Customer can contact to apply for a refund.
"Why are you asking your Employees to request that a large Customer purchase an additional seat?
"Our entire reason for sending our Employees the reminder is because we are expecting fuller flights this summer. When our aircraft are booked to capacity, and one Customer is occupying more than one seat, another Customer is left without the seat he/she purchased. This ultimately costs us money in denied boarding compensation and inconveniences the Customer who has been "left behind." It is certainly not safe, comfortable, or fair for a person who has purchased a ticket to be left with only a portion of a seat or no seat, nor should anyone be expected to occupy less than an entire seat. Further, it’s not safe, comfortable, or fair for the Customer who is occupying more than one seat to be placed in the situation of having someone crowded in a portion of a seat.
"How much will one have to pay for the additional seat?
"If the Customer is holding an advance purchase, discounted fare, the second seat will be sold at the same discounted fare. If the Customer has purchased one of our low, unrestricted full fares, the second seat will be sold at the discounted Child’s Fare.
"When do I qualify to receive a refund for the additional seat purchase?
"As long as the flight does not oversell (having more Customers waiting to board an aircraft than seats on the aircraft), we will refund the additional seat purchase. All Customers who have purchased an additional seat will receive a document that advises them to contact our Customer Relations Department after travel to request a refund for the additional seat purchased. In addition, if there is a possibility that the flight will oversell, the Customer will be given the option to purchase a second seat and travel on a less full flight to his/her destination without paying a penalty-fee, regardless of the fare paid. And, unlike Customers who must purchase an additional seat to place a musical item, a child restraint device for an infant, etc. and who have other "options" such as holding the infant, placing the item in an onboard stowage space or in the cargo hold, we are sensitive to fact that a large Customer has no choice but to occupy more than one seat. For that reason, this is the one instance where we will offer a refund of the additional seat purchased as long as the flight does not oversell.
"Won’t this be embarrassing to the large Customer and the Employee?
"Because this is not a new policy, our Employees have held this sensitive discussion with some Customers in the past. Many Customers who are of a larger size and who travel often by air purchase two seats when making their reservations because (1) the Customer knows he/she occupies more than one aircraft seat and is more comfortable in two seats and (2) the Customer wants to avoid the discussion with Employees at the airport. In fact, by making arrangements in advance, the Customer has allowed us to deplete the inventory of the second seat so that we don’t sell it to someone else. And by the Customer having purchased the seat in advance, we are less likely to oversell the flight.
"What will happen if a large Customer has only purchased one seat?
"We also realize that sometimes a Customer doesn’t know he/she can purchase a seat in advance and arrives at the airport holding only one ticket. In those cases, we have asked our Agents to kindly and discreetly advise the Customer of the need to purchase an additional seat for everyone’s safety and comfort onboard and to give the Customer the document advising how to obtain a refund. By taking the opportunity to educate the Customer for the next time he/she travels, we have managed the Customer’s expectations by providing consistency.
"I am a large person and use a seatbelt extension, but I fit in one aircraft seat, why should I have to purchase two seats?
"Our policy isn’t about a person’s weight or shape. We have no intentions of having scales, sizing templates, measuring tape, etc. That certainly isn’t a way to treat people, and we have never considered any such thing. Many Customers may use a seatbelt extension but occupy only one seat. Those Customers would not be asked to pay for a second seat. We are simply asking a Customer who must lift the armrest in order to sit in the aircraft seat and who, at that point, is obviously occupying a portion (or all) of the seat next to him/her, to pay for the additional seat being occupied. Again, we will offer a refund if the flight does not oversell.
"Why not make your seats wider or add a few wide seats on your aircraft?
"It’s important to point out that all airlines sell seats to provide transportation between point A and point B. For 2001, on average only six seats per aircraft accounted for Southwest Airlines’ profit. Our goal has always been to make air travel affordable so that everyone could fly. The cities we serve have seen a substantial decrease in generally available air fares, a marked increase in passenger traffic, and more frequent offerings of service; a phenomenon often referred to as "The Southwest Effect." If we were to replace just three rows of three seats with two seats, each being one and a half times wider, we would have to double our fares to maintain our profit margin. Southwest provides all coach class seating; we do not have first class seats on our aircraft. Think of what the other airlines charge for "first class" seating. Let’s take, for example, the Los Angeles-Baltimore/Washington market. Our highest one-way fare is currently $299.00. The equivalent fare for a "coach" seat (same "size" as all of our seats) on our competitors is, give or take a few dollars, $1,100.00 one-way; and a first-class, wider seat is, on average, is $1,650.00 one-way. Purchasing two seats on Southwest Airlines is significantly less expensive than purchasing one first class seat on another airline. And remember, we also offer significantly discounted advance purchase fares. Our goal is and has always been to make air travel affordable, and by asking a person to pay upfront for the "product" being used, this guarantees that everyone has a safe and comfortable experience. Plus, we will refund the additional purchase as long as the flight does not oversell.
"If a flight is "open," why are you charging for an additional seat?
"In the past, when we have allowed some flexibility on "open" flights, we ended up inconveniencing our Customers who need two seats by not providing a consistent expectation. As you may know, the nature of our flights is to combine two or more short, nonstop flights to make a medium to longer haul journey. This means, to get from point A to point B, a Customer may make one or more stops along the way. While the first segment of a flight was "open," oftentimes the remaining segment(s) to a Customer’s destination were full. If a large Customer occupied two seats, but only paid for one, we often found ourselves in the dilemma of having to pay another downline Customer denied boarding compensation because we could not accommodate the downline Customer. Additionally, a Customer’s outbound flight might be open, but the return was full. The inconsistent application of charging for the extra seat on the outbound but not on the return often left the Customer not knowing what to expect and not having a full understanding of our policy. Consistent application of our policy allows a Customer to know what to expect always.
"Isn’t this policy discriminatory toward large Customers?
"Southwest Airlines does not condone discrimination in any form. We have Employees and Customers of all races, ethnicity, religions, shapes, and sizes. Our Mission has always been and will always be to provide safe, reliable, and affordable air transportation for America.
President and Chief Operating Officer"
There you have it, straight from the horse's mouth.
I would imagine these people refused to pay for an extra seat, EVEN though their fat asses would be taking up some of that seat. So Southwest refused to let them on the plane as they weren't paying for their seats. Now they are raising a big stink because they woudln't pay for the extra seat when A: They would be sitting in it and B: It would probably have been refunded unless the flight was completley full.
N312RC From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 2679 posts, RR: 17 Reply 10, posted (11 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 2415 times:
The policy sounds fine to me... For the comfort of other passengers its just plain common courtesy to buy two seats if you need to.. I dont want to be squished by somebody whos too fat and refuses another seat.
Dutchjet From Netherlands, joined Oct 2000, 7864 posts, RR: 58 Reply 13, posted (11 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 2323 times:
Since this issue has been in the news, we have discussed it here a few times.....it is really interesting to read the "official word" from Southwest as to how this will all work. The policy sounds very fair, even considerate, and it looks like Southwest has thought out all of the options and alternatives. There was concern that the policy would embarrass big people, and that does not seem to be the case.
What is disappointing is some of the remarks here, some large people are ill and have other health problems, and losing weight is not as simple as going to the gym or cutting back on the Big Macs......if we were talking about another group of passengers, say people of color, gays, or the elderly, no one would dare to make those remarks. Grow up.
Seiple From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 15, posted (11 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 2292 times:
If somebody cannot fit into their seat, I do not want them sharing my seat with me being an unwilling participate. Besides the safety issues involved, I paid for my seat and should get to use all of it.
I think that Southwest's policy is perfectly reasonable (and it isn't just Southwest, several other airlines have similar policies, but WN is getting to be the media victim this time around). If the second seat the person occupies doesn't end up being needed, they get a refund. Otherwise, they pay for the space they occupy.
I'm not afraid to assert my rights as a person who fits easily into one seat. Two weeks ago on a STL-MCO flight, I was in the aisle seat in the rear cabin of the B757. As I always do, I politely stood to allow my seat opponents to enter the row. The woman, who was heavyset, lifted both armrests and sat down in the middle seat. Where the inside half of my seatbelt was attached to the seat was no longer visibile. I politely asked if I could put the armrest down and did it without asking for a response. She still touched me below the deployed armrest. Isn't it my right as a paying passenger to have my entire seat? She asked me if we could put the armrest up again so she could "spread out a little bit" and I politely declined.
Before people go complaining about high fares and passenger rights and up with the Cartel airlines, etc. etc. etc. let me say that I paid a higher fare than her consolodator ticket. That doesn't entitle me to any special services that she would not receive (aside from accrual of AAdvantage miles perhaps) but I demand the same right she has with her ticket: One seat. That's what I paid for, and that is what I received. I realize many are not obese by choice. I understand they may have medical conditions. However, my seat is my seat and if they want to occupy it, they should have bought it.
Dutchjet From Netherlands, joined Oct 2000, 7864 posts, RR: 58 Reply 16, posted (11 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 2273 times:
Seiple, your point is well taken, and hopefully, the Southwest policy will be followed by other airlines so the situation that you found yourself in can be avoided in the future.
Maybe all of the nonsense in the media will help.........I fly a lot and take my interest in aviation and airlines seriously, and I must admit that I did not know that a pax could purchase 2 seats on an aircraft due to his or her size. I really did not know how this issue was handled by the airlines and what the options were. Not to sound obnoxious, but if I did not know the policy, I can only guess that many other pax did not the policy either. Maybe now that the issue is being publicized, large people will take the opportunity to buy 2 seats, for their comfort as well as the comfort of others. I am sure it must be very difficult for a large person having to squeeze themselves into one seat and drawing unneccessary attention to themselves. Lets hope for the best.
Seiple From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 17, posted (11 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 2264 times:
I know of several people who have purchased two years due to their size voluntarily for years. They consider it for their own comfort. They don't feel comfortable pressed against another person; it isn't just the smaller person who feels discomfort.
I know of several frequent flyers who purchase two or three coach seats on long haul flights when flying on discount fares... even if they are thin and don't need the room to sit. It is still much cheaper than just one Business Class seat and they can stretch out flat, as well as have both the chicken and the beef.
Airlines have never not wanted a person's money. Some carriers even award frequent flyer miles for the second seat.
Meechy36 From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 311 posts, RR: 0 Reply 18, posted (11 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 2255 times:
As a flight attendant I completely agree with Southwest. This is becoming a problem on our flights more and more lately. The flights are packed, last week I did 6 flights and out of those we had a total of 2 empty seats over the 3 days. On 2 flights this problem came up and as the #1 I called the agent down to deal with it, in both cases the adjacent passengers approached the crew with the problem. In the ORD one the agent came down and talked to the customer who got her bags and got off, in LA it turned into an ugly scene, the passenger could not sit in his seat with a seatbelt extension and with the armrests down, I guess that is the barometer for this. Anyway, the agent finally told the passenger that the flight was oversold, he'd have to take another flight since there wasn't anyway he could fit in one seat without making another customer uncomfortable, he refused. the agent told him that he could either get his bags and come quietly to resolve this or the police were going to come, not security the police, he emphasized that. The customer finally got up ranting and raving and left.
During the flight another customer stated that the seats have gotten so much smaller, it took everything I had to not say the seats haven't gotten smaller, your ass has gotten bigger. I did tell her that the 737 she was sitting on now was a dirivative of the 707 that entered service in 1958 with 6 across sitting and we still have 6 across seating now, she didn't like the implication.
I say way to go Southwest, at least now it is taking the responsibility off the crew or worse, fellow customers.
Also, being obese isn't a disability according to the ADA, usually the disability is a result of obesity. Southwest isn't being discrimanatory either.
Nonrevman From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 1289 posts, RR: 1 Reply 20, posted (11 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 2221 times:
I think you are right. Most people who would require more than one seat already know this fact and will purchase the two seats. In reality, the policy of being required to buy multiple seats will only alter the plans of a very small number of people. The majors have been requiring these people to purchase two seats for years, it is certainly nothing new. They have also been very discrete about it to the passenger just as Southwest has promised to do.
I also agree that this issue has nothing to do with discrimination against large people. Simply, if you pay for one seat, you should have the entire seat, nothing more and nothing less. If someone is occupying part of another passenger's seat, then the one left with a partial seat is receiving the discrimination.
Skymaster From Denmark, joined Apr 2001, 228 posts, RR: 1 Reply 21, posted (11 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 2216 times:
This reminds me of a advertising gimmic a danish charter comp. used in the seventies. When you bought a ticket it was to a fixed price per kilo! All buyers had to place themselfs on a weighting machine before the price could be calcutaled. I guess they flew a lot of slim male passengers in those days! You know, the weight of a real lady is a secret of the state.
Seiple From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 22, posted (11 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 2209 times:
I think the reason that this current round of the controversy surrounds Southwest is due to the passengers who fly Southwest. The airline markets itself toward people who do not travel often. Those who are more comfortable fitting into two seats instead of one and travel often know this and are the ones who usually purchase the second seat with no questions asked aside from the airline agent asking why the person wants two seats. It seems the majority of those making a stink about this after being booted off Southwest flights are relatively inexperienced and/or infrequent travelers. They don't know the system, and nobody can expect them to, but they are militant against it.
Dutchjet From Netherlands, joined Oct 2000, 7864 posts, RR: 58 Reply 23, posted (11 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 2194 times:
Another great point Seiple, Southwest itself has always said that its main competition is the bus and the car, and not other airlines. Many of its pax simply dont know the rules or how to handle the situation......and people usually panic or get militant in such situations. Thats why i said above that maybe all of this media attention will help.
About 5 years ago, the airlines got into a fare war and you could fly just about anywhere for $99.00 or less in the US........friends who work in the industry said it was the worst summer ever since so many inexperienced travellers were flying. This situation is similiar; maybe once the information is out, the problem in many ways will solve itself.
747-600X From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 2777 posts, RR: 15 Reply 24, posted (11 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 2093 times:
I think it's also important to point out that it never hurts to be a friend and help out if you can. Proportionately, I am a 757-300 of a person, and often have two to four inches of my seat left available. I always take the window seat and lean over against the wall for most of the journey, either to stare out the window or sleep (and give myself back pains). Anyway, if a large customer wanted to "spill over" into my extra inches of seat space, I really can't see the point in causing a fuss over it. Hopefully those of you who are fortunate enough not to have to worry about the problems of the unusually large will volunteer your extra inches, if you can.
"Mental health is reality at all cost." -- M. Scott Peck, 'The Road Less Traveled'
25 Nonrevman: I think it's also important to point out that it never hurts to be a friend and help out if you can. Proportionately, I am a 757-300 of a person, and
26 Portcolumbus: Saw the video of this on the news. They were getting off the bus, and the next thing they show: the 2 fat people buying sodas.... go figure.
27 Jhooper: WN's reasoning seems sounds; still incredibly bad P.R.
28 Shaun3000: It is not bad PR. Southwest has tried as hard as they can to correct the bad image the media is giving them. However, the media is not telling the ful
29 L-188: Like I said, If I had to do the billing and set the fares for an airline.... Charge people for only a small "deposit" to hold a seat for them. Then wh
30 Mx5_boy: Guys, Where does the fat agenda get off? I can seriously imagine these obese people actually *deliberately* kicking up a stink to get some compensatio
31 L-188: I think they may have been Tasmainian there Mx5boy.
32 Loadcontroller: Very delicate issue! If you happen to be heavier than the airline wants you to be, why should you pay more for a ticket? It is maybe neither your faul
33 Goingboeing: Loadcontroller - the problem is, those seats are still for "special" people. The rights groups will point to that as being like putting a big sign ove
34 Aerorobnz: as far as I am concerned Fat people deserve all they get, whether it be heart disease or the bill for an extra seat. If you get into the position of b
35 Seiple: If you happen to be heavier than the airline wants you to be, why should you pay more for a ticket? It is maybe neither your fault that you are "outs
36 Dasa: I cannot believe some of the comments I have seen on this thread. I DO agree with Southwest Airlines' policy of the requirement to buy an extra seat i
37 Seiple: as far as I am concerned Fat people deserve all they get, whether it be heart disease or the bill for an extra seat. If you get into the position of
38 Elwood64151: Okay, can I say something? With very rare exceptions, there are no genetic or health disorders that cause a person to be obese. Overweight? Yes. To ha
39 OzarkD9S: Maybe Midwest Express should tap into this new market... "Put Your Big Seat In Our Big Seats"
40 Lowfareair: I'm in the same boat as Elwood64151, I have genetics going against me. since late December, I lost about 80 lbs by actually exercising and eating only
41 C72: I am an obese person and have purchased 2 seats in the past and do not complain about this at all, I agree with Southwest. What angers me are other ob
42 C72: Forgot to add this, I wish the media would interview an obese person like me who is actually in agreement with the 2 seat policy and let the public se
43 737doctor: If it hasn't already been brought to light, the couple is now threatening to sue: http://www.msnbc.com/local/kxas/A1255061.asp Talk about frivolous la
44 Android: It's the skinny people who take up 2 overhead bins who should be charged extra.Too lazy to go to the baggage claim.
45 Brons2: Okey dokey, yet again here is my take: The day the obese have a right to complain about the seats not being wide enough for them, is the day I (6'7",
46 Jumbolino: Hi there ! I've a nice story which happened to me, and I've to say i'm a "half portion" 1.50 m and figure which fits to my height. and on one inner eu
47 Solnabo: Guess half the population of USA has to pay for that x-tra seat Mike/SE
48 KAL_LM: I'm not exactly petite, but not morbidly obese, and to be absolutely honest, had a small issue last time I flew. It's not that I didn't fit, but it wa
49 Re-heat: More sales for the 380!!! If the Western population continues to expand as has in the past 50 years could we see Southwest buying some 380's with doub
50 174thfwff: I don't see a problem here. Why can't people understand that if they take up more then one seat they are inconvenience someone else. They are using mo
51 Doug_Or: heres what the nation thinks according to the onions super-unscientific pole http://www.theonion.com/onion3827/wdyt_3827.html
52 SailorOrion: When I last flew MUC-SFO on LH, I boarded and fully booked Y class as last passenger. When I got to my seat, I found it, and the seat next to it occup
53 AKelley728: I almost fell off my seat laughing when I read this quote! (from the above onion website) "Perhaps the overweight passenger could help offset the pric