“Too Fat to Fly”
The Twittersphere and blogosphere have been abuzz with the news about writer/director Kevin Smith being removed from a recent Southwest flight for “being too fat.”
Per the L.A. Times piece, “The plus-sized writer-director behind such potty-mouthed comedies as “Clerks,” “Dogma” and 2008’s “Zack & Miri Make a Porno” was kicked off a plane at Oakland International Airport on Saturday, allegedly because the captain deemed Smith’s obesity a “safety risk” to other passengers.”
Southwest apologized to Smith via Twitter (because, you know, this is how customer service takes place nowadays … ) but stuck to its policy: if you can’t fit into the seat, you need to buy a second seat.
Apparently, Smith typically buys two seats when he flies … the problem arose because when he caught an earlier flight than planned, there was only one seat open … and given his size, he was kicked off the plane.
Needless to say, even with the apology (which was rather immediate), the damage was already done, and Smith took to the blogosphere and Twittersphere sharing his miserable seating experience.
I’m of mixed feelings with respect to this story.
On the one hand, I have no doubt that Smith’s weight was a form of blatant discrimination– and I feel terrible for him that he had to leave the plane; I imagine that must be so embarrassing and I can’t imagine what that must feel like …
But on the other side of the coin, I see Southwest’s point, too. I’ve flown next to some people on long, international flights who take up their own seat and then some.
And though I’ve never said anything about it to the flight crew or asked to switch seats or anything, (surely the seat-mate knows they’re squished in there; why draw extra attention or make someone feel bad?) it can make for a very uncomfortable in-flight experience … which is why airlines have had to create their seating policies in the first place.
I just wish there was a kinder way to go about these things … body weight is a sensitive enough topic as it is … and incidents like this just shed light on how difficult it can be to strike that delicate balance between being politically correct and pragmatic.
While I don’t think anyone should be discriminated against for their race, gender, size, sexual orientation, etc., I don’t think Southwest was necessarily in the wrong — it was following its own policy; it just makes me sad to think that people need two seats, period.
And the reality is, especially here in the U.S., many people do.
How about you? What do you think about this story?