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"Too Fat To Fly" Passenger sues Southwest


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#1 Rail Paul

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 12:28 PM

ABC News reports that a passenger deemed too large to fly in a single seat has sued the airline. She's not asking for money, but does want the requirement to buy a second seat to be disclosed upfront, not at check in. Southwest requires that passengers of size must buy a second seat if they do not fit entirely into the 17 inch wide seat. If the plane isn't sold out, their extra fare is refunded.


Tiggeman, who lives in New Orleans and blogs about weight loss on her website, AllTheWeigh.com, filed an injunction against Southwest in district court on April 20, alleging that the Southwest agents "did not follow their company policy and chose to discriminate, humiliate and embarrass" her in front of "airport onlookers," and that the airline uses "discriminatory actions ... toward obese customers."

Southwest currently has a Customers of Size policy, which requires passengers to buy a second seat if they can't fit between the armrests. Southwest's seats measure 17 inches across.

Tiggeman said she is not seeking monetary damages from the airline and filed the injunction application pro se, without legal representation. She said she wants an industry standard to be put in place for flyers who have to buy a second seat, including rules so that it is no longer up to gate attendants to decide whether or not an obese passenger has to purchase a second seat.

"If you're telling me I have to buy two seats, you should tell me at the point of purchase, not the day I'm flying when I check in at the terminal," she said.


ABC

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#2 foodie52

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 12:40 PM

I agree. As this happens more and more, people need to know when they book, that they are booking two seats. What if the plane had been overbooked and there had been only one seat available? There's another discrimination law suit.
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#3 yvonne johnson

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 04:01 PM

What the story overlooks is the fact she should be nervous going to the airport b/c I can't see how she can fit into a regular economy seat. She could buy business or first if she wants a comfortable flight. Or she could buy two economy seats.

The "point of purchase" point is bull, I think.
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#4 Rail Paul

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 04:47 PM

What the story overlooks is the fact she should be nervous going to the airport b/c I can't see how she can fit into a regular economy seat. She could buy business or first if she wants a comfortable flight. Or she could buy two economy seats.

The "point of purchase" point is bull, I think.



Southwest's policy is pretty fair to the person of size, and to the people sitting on either side, I'd think. Southwest, as a matter of policy, requires people who cannot fit in a 17" seat with the armrests down to purchase a second seat, at a discount. If the flight is not sold out, they receive a credit for the second seat's cost. There is no first class seating on Southwest.

But, it's pretty clear that the airline does not publicize the requirements imposed on larger folks. I went to the website, plugged in fictitious trip info and got all the way to entering credit card info without seeing any reference to the rules for travelers. I expected that their extensive list of "special needs" like peanut allergies, wheelchairs, persons needing assistance, persons with portable oxygen equipment, medications, minors, etc might include those rules, but they don't.

Then I figured the "weight and size" charges might apply, but these refer to packages and baggage. There are several points where this info could be mentioned prior to purchase.

“Jazz musicians just get better and better as the years go by. I think chefs are the same way. You know who you are.”

 

...Jonathan Waxman


#5 Orik

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 04:50 PM

She's right that they should make this part of the ticket purchase process and not surprise her at the gate.
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#6 SLBunge

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 05:07 PM

As part of online ticketing they can ask for your waist size. If you are too fat you must buy two seats.
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#7 FoodDabbler

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 06:08 PM

What if you are slim-waisted but big-hipped?

In this new world I won't want an empty seat next to mine lest
people think I was forced to buy it.

#8 yvonne johnson

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 10:14 PM

She's right that they should make this part of the ticket purchase process and not surprise her at the gate.

But most people, including this woman, know how big an airline seat is. If she can fit into one and not bother her neighbors then this is discriminatory. But can she?

Yes, airline seats are getting smaller with less and less leg room, but if you're "somewhere between 240 and 300 lbs" the traveler said (she doesn't know her own weight?), then I think it's incumbent upon her to alert the airline of her special needs and not assume she can be accommodated.
It was not a new dish, as I recognised my tooth marks. Wilfrid

#9 Daniel

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 12:45 AM

Can Southwest just become reasonable and enact this rule. Seems like they would be happy to do so. Their policy seems extremely fair.
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#10 yvonne johnson

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 02:01 AM

You didn't think this passenger (with some grudge) rolled up and wanted to be treated like everyone else? Someone who fitted into a reg seat?

That's where the problem lay.
It was not a new dish, as I recognised my tooth marks. Wilfrid

#11 Rail Paul

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 01:10 PM

You didn't think this passenger (with some grudge) rolled up and wanted to be treated like everyone else? Someone who fitted into a reg seat?

That's where the problem lay.


I'd agree that all of us would like wider seats with more room between us and the row in front. The very first 737-100 aircraft fitted 5 seats and an aisle in the same width fuselage that now contains 6 seats and a narrow aisle.

Note that the woman filing the suit was surprised in 2011. Several people posted to the website she later established, and discussed their problems with Southwest's surprises at the gate for people of size.

The suit doesn't seek money damages, merely asks that Southwest do a better job of informing large folks of the extra seat requirement when they actually reserve the seat.

(I can see a problem if a large person reserves a seat, and shows up to find the plane has been sold out, and there's no additional seat available for purchase.)

“Jazz musicians just get better and better as the years go by. I think chefs are the same way. You know who you are.”

 

...Jonathan Waxman


#12 SLBunge

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 01:33 PM

The suit doesn't seek money damages, merely asks that Southwest do a better job of informing large folks of the extra seat requirement when they actually reserve the seat.

(I can see a problem if a large person reserves a seat, and shows up to find the plane has been sold out, and there's no additional seat available for purchase.)

But how do you do this? A check box to identify that you are oversized? Send in a photo with a tape measure around your waist? The reason it happened at the counter is that's exactly when the Southwest agents got a look at her.

"People of size"? Is that really a term people use?
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#13 prasantrin

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 01:45 PM

A check box asking if your hip circumference is greater than x-inches (maybe 45"?). If you should have checked the box and you didn't, then you get bumped from the flight if no additional seats are available. Or you reimburse the passenger next to you for part of his/her seat (I say this only half in jest).

and they should be required to pay for the second seat upfront, not at the gate, with the price of the second seat refunded if they flight is not full.

#14 Rail Paul

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 01:58 PM

A check box asking if your hip circumference is greater than x-inches (maybe 45"?). If you should have checked the box and you didn't, then you get bumped from the flight if no additional seats are available. Or you reimburse the passenger next to you for part of his/her seat (I say this only half in jest).


I've had situations where the passenger next to me already had the seat rest up and had flowed over into my seat. The US Airways plane was full, and I couldn't be reseated elsewhere.

The flight attendant's advice "just deal with it". So, I did, and stopped payment on my credit card. Eventually I received a hundred dollar credit but it cost them dozens of hours to deal with my irritation.


and they should be required to pay for the second seat upfront, not at the gate, with the price of the second seat refunded if they flight is not full.


That's exactly Southwest's policy, but they don't advertise it and unless you know it, you can't do it.

“Jazz musicians just get better and better as the years go by. I think chefs are the same way. You know who you are.”

 

...Jonathan Waxman


#15 yvonne johnson

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 02:50 PM

The suit doesn't seek money damages, merely asks that Southwest do a better job of informing large folks of the extra seat requirement when they actually reserve the seat.

Again (I find this discussion pretty hysterical), how did this passenger imagine that she could fit in the seat?
It was not a new dish, as I recognised my tooth marks. Wilfrid