Kevin Smith v. Southwest Airlines

It appears that Kevin Smith is upset he was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight.  He claims it was because he was too fat.  Read the CNN Story for yourself, but I’d like to point out something he said:

Smith did purchase two seats for the flight to Burbank, but he was allowed to board an earlier flight as a standby passenger, and only one seat was available on that flight.
The extra seat is not a necessity, he said, but a luxury because “Southwest flights are cheap.”

“I’m flying on the welfare airline, food-stamp airline,” he said. “So I think I can indulge myself with two seats, and I can afford to do it.”

So, according to Mr. Smith, anyone can purchase an extra seat as a luxury.  Not according to Southwest Airlines’ Contract of Carriage (PDF).  From Section 15-G (page 12):

 Additional Seat Purchase – The purchase of more than one seat for use by a single passenger is required in the following circumstances:

(1) To accommodate a Customer of size who encroaches on an adjacent seat area and/or is unable to sit in a single seat with the armrests lowered;

(2) To transport a Customer who, because of his or her particular disability, would be unable to travel without the purchase of additional space on the aircraft; or

(3) When necessary to transport large musical instruments or electronic audio/video, medical, or other sensitive equipment unsuitable for carriage as checked baggage, as specified in Article 46.F.

It is the passenger’s responsibility to notify Carrier of a unique seating need. In accordance with Article 10.F., Carrier may refuse to transport individuals who are unable or unwilling to comply with Carrier’s seating requirements. Except as specified above, purchase of more than one seat for use by a single passenger is otherwise prohibited.

Note the emphasized section.  It states that it is prohibited to purchase a seat for “luxury.”  This makes Mr. Smith’s claim of “luxury” dubious at best.

Mr. Smith got pulled because he was mistakenly allowed on an overbooked flight as a standby passenger.  Considering he regularly buys two seats (not for “luxury,” in my educated opinion, but because he’s a “customer of size”), and he was on standby because he tried to get on an earlier flight than he was ticketed for (a change that would cost up to $100 on other airlines), he was pulled for a legitimate reason.  In my opinion, Southwest Airlines is totally in the right, and he’s just “indulging” the “luxury” of being an attention whore.

p.s. – Here’s Southwest Airlines’ FAQ on their Customer of Size policy.

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