Southwest Airlines Picks On The Wrong Fat Guy

Southwest Airlines, the pride of Texas, has picked on the wrong fat guy.

Kevin Smith, the director of Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, was tossed off a Southwest plane this weekend in Oakland because he was deemed a safety risk because of his weight.

Like any modern person, he took his outrage to Twitter, and ever since Southwest HQ has been humbly backtracking.

His version of events, pieced together from the 140-characters-at-a-time narrative:

I was told 5:20 flight was packed, but I could go Standby. They sent me to gate. Told lady whole story, and she said there wouldn't be seats on that earlier flight. I said I only needed one seat & that I didn't buy an extra seat because I'm fat (which I am), but because I'manti-social and didn't want to sit next to someone & possibly have to make convo (in person, I'm very shy). She said she understood.

I was issued the solo ticket. I get on the plane: open seat in the front row. Put my bag away, the sit between two ladies. As I'm about to bucklemy extender-less seatbelt, the woman who issued the ticket to me appeared in the doorway of the plane, came over to me and said the Captainsaid I wasn't going to be allowed to sit there because I was a safety risk. I asked for clarification and was given none (also asked "Pleasedon't do this" but that, too, fell on deaf ears. Ladies on either side said I wasn't a problem.

SWA-lady said arm-rests the decider. Arm-rests come down, and voila! I'm legit! I've passed the stinkin' arm-rest-test. And still, the lady asks me to get up and come with her offthe plane. I get up without a fuss at all, quietly grab my bag, make eye contact with a fellow Fatty who was praying he'd pass, and leave.You think I wanna fuck around on an airplane? I was right: I fit in that seat. But I can't risk not complying: I'm more afraid of AirFeds.

Like any big company, Southwest monitors Twitter and the web for customer complaints, and they responded. Several times. (Their official release on the matter is headlined "Not So Silent Bob.")

"Again, I'm very sorry for the experience you had tonight. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do," one tweet read.

But Smith fans were bombarding the airline -- they crashed the server at one point -- and the media are all over the story.

Said Southwest:

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....You've read about these situations before. Southwest instituted our Customer of Size policy more than 25 years ago. The policy requires passengers that can not fit safely and comfortably in one seat to purchase an additional seat while traveling. This policy is not unique to Southwest Airlines and it is not a revenue generator.

"A customer of size"? The Euphemism Hall of Fame has a new member!

We're sure Smith will dine off the story for years, and will either continue the battle of wits or come to an amicable settlement, whichever gets the most publicity..

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly