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February 15th, 2010
07:22 PM ET

Southwest: Not So Silent Bob

Program note: Tune in at 10pm ET tonight for more on the controversy surrounding Kevin Smith's removal from a Southwest flight.

Christi Day
Southwest Airlines

Many of you reached out to us via Twitter last night and today regarding a situation a Customer Twittered about that occurred on a Southwest flight. It is not our customary method of Customer Relations to be so public in how we work through these situations, but with so many people involved in the occurrence, you also should be involved in the solution. First and foremost, to Mr. Smith; we would like to echo our Tweets and again offer our heartfelt apologies to you. We are sincerely sorry for your travel experience on Southwest Airlines.

As soon as we saw the first Tweet from Mr. Smith, we contacted him personally to apologize for his experience and to address his concerns on both Twitter and with a personal phone call. Since the situation has received a lot of public attention, we'd like to take the opportunity to address a few of the specifics here as well.

Mr. Smith originally purchased two Southwest seats on a flight from Oakland to Burbank – as he’s been known to do when traveling on Southwest. He decided to change his plans and board an earlier flight to Burbank, which technically means flying standby. As you may know, airlines are not able to clear standby passengers until all Customers are boarded. When the time came to board Mr. Smith, we had only a single seat available for him to occupy. Our pilots are responsible for the Safety and comfort of all Customers on the aircraft and therefore, made the determination that Mr. Smith needed more than one seat to complete his flight. Our Employees explained why the decision was made, accommodated Mr. Smith on a later flight, and issued him a $100 Southwest travel voucher for his inconvenience.

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soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. gwensadler123

    I hope this will give food for thought to airlines. He is not that big. How embarassing for any one over weight to have to be told to exit the airplane.

    February 16, 2010 at 12:19 am |
  2. Quinn

    I think Southwest was right. Large people don't want to be treated unfairly – I understand. But neither do the people who have to sit next to them on the plane. When I buy a seat – I want exactly that – the seat. Not part of it or without armrests because the person next to me is too big for his/her own seat. Try flying to Europe with some man's elbow in your ribs for 8 hours because he is too large to keep his arm on his side of the armrest. You can't smoke on flights because it bothers other non-smoker – same principle.

    February 16, 2010 at 12:00 am |
  3. Rick

    I have had people spill over into my seat and its not comfortable for me so why should i be made uncomfortable because of their eating habbits.

    February 15, 2010 at 11:54 pm |
  4. John

    Really, we're debating a fat guy getting thrown off a plane. I applaud Southwest Airlines. As someone who flew 99,000 miles last year I understand. I agree with your guest, that flyers should not have to endure a flight with someone hanging halfway in the seat you paid. I can't believe this is a debate. Perhapes he some loose some weight, and not make this a publicity stunt.

    February 15, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
  5. maggie

    I fly SW every single week. If I had a penny for every elbow I had to swallow and every armpit that was in my face for an entire flight because the passenger next to me could not properly fit in their own seat, I'd own the airline. Yes, many can put their arm rests down, up and around big blobs of fat that end up in my seat. I don't mean to sound gross but it is the truth. People make the lifestyle choices they want to make. To then feel entitled about it without regard to anyone around them is in my view just plain self absorbed. If you are too fat to fit in one seat, do yourself and your neighbor a favor - buy two seats. If you can't afford it, take your own car or stay home. Your problem is not my problem.

    February 15, 2010 at 10:58 pm |
  6. Claudia

    Mr. Smith should of course have his entire cost of tickets refunded. BUT he was told by the people to board the plane. Then suffered the embarrassment of being taken off the plane. If he can sit in the seat and buckle up, then what is the problem. This is discrimination! The woman who was talking in favor of the airline was attacking Mr. Smith's lifestyle instead of offering any reason for putting a person in the position of being embarrassed because of his size.

    February 15, 2010 at 10:57 pm |