Kevin Smith Kicked off Southwest Flight for Being Fat

So, a famous person has finally been fucked by an airline’s fat policy. Director Kevin Smith got booted off a Southwest plane tonight, after he was already settled in “WITH ARM RESTS DOWN,” as he put it on Twitter, where he’s been documenting the experience. The captain apparently deemed him a “safety risk.” I’ll let Smith take that one:

@SouthwestAir, go fuck yourself. I broke no regulation, offered no “safety risk” (what, was I gonna roll on a fellow passenger?). I was wrongly ejected from the flight (even [attendant] Suzanne eventually agreed). And fuck your apologetic $100 voucher, @SouthwestAir. Thank God I don’t embarrass easily (bless you, JERSEY GIRL training). But I don’t sulk off either: so everyday, some new fuck-you Tweets for @SouthwestAir.

(That’s 3 tweets cobbled together.)

I am so sorry that Kevin Smith, human being, had to go through that. But quite frankly, a part of me is really happy that Kevin Smith, Famous Person With 1.6 Million Twitter Followers, is holding an airline’s feet to the fire over this bullshit. While watching him tweet furiously @SouthwestAir (and sending a few of my own), I could only think, “Oh, please, let this be Southwest’s Maytag moment.” And let the other airlines learn something from it. I’m the kind of person who thinks it was awesome that Heather Armstrong used her platform to shame Maytag into offering decent customer service, and I’d like to see more corporations realize that word of mouth is a whole new fucking ballgame in the age of social media. And the only way to make sure you don’t get burned is to offer decent service to everyone. Famous or not famous, fat or thin.

To Southwest’s meager credit, they’ve got somebody working their Twitter account who’s at least savvy enough to have apologized to Smith already and promised to make things right. For him. Smith is already on another flight, and has offered the airline his fattest look from there. But there are still probably millions of fat people who dread getting on flights — and not just on Southwest — because they don’t know if they’ll actually be allowed to use the tickets they paid for, or if they’ll be removed from the plane like criminals, forced to fly standby and in some cases, forced to fly standby and pay twice as much for it.  (That’s part of United’s policy, which I bitched about on CNN last April. Fillyjonk also wrote about airline douchebaggery here.) For instance, friend of SP Tari, who cheered Smith on, but then tweeted, “The @SouthwestAir / @ThatKevinSmith thing makes me acutely aware, though, that I’m flying to Atlanta this week. Delta: please don’t suck.”

I am really happy that Kevin Smith, human being, is on his way home, but I also hope Kevin Smith, Famous Person With 1.6 Million Twitter Followers keeps up the righteous indignation on behalf of all the fat people who aren’t in a position to say, “WELCOME TO YOUR PR NIGHTMARE, ASSHOLES.” And even though he is, and he did, and he doesn’t embarrass easily, and a whole lot of us thank him for all of that, his last tweet tonight says it all:

The @SouthwestAir Diet. How it works: you’re publicly shamed into a slimmer figure. Crying the weight right off has never been easier!

Update: Moving this up from comments — Smith’s back on the ground, and one of the first things he tweeted was, “Hey @SouthwestAir? Fuck making it right for me just ’cause I have a platform. I sat next to a big girl who was chastised for not buying an extra ticket because ‘all passengers deserve their space.’ Fucking flight wasn’t even full! Fuck your size-ist policy. Rude…”

Thanks, dude.

385 thoughts on “Kevin Smith Kicked off Southwest Flight for Being Fat

  1. What’s really striking to me are all the comments on his Fattest Look — “oh, I’d sit next to you, you wouldn’t encroach on me, how dare Southwest imply you’re fat enough to bother anybody.” Is there any reason to believe those aren’t the same people who regularly bitch about the fact that fatties can fly on the same planes they use, and troll posts that dare to imply that they paid for a flight and not for real estate? Whaddya know — when the headless fatty gets a head and it’s a famous head, he’s suddenly not so fat.

  2. So which airlines are we supposed to fly instead of United and SouthWest?

    That’s a real question, not snark. What are people’s general experiences with other airlines? Is there an airline that actually makes a promise to NOT act size-ist? It’s such a freaking monopoly and I can’t afford to fly when I have to (family in a different state, conferences for grad school).

    It just makes me so mad. Flights are so expensive, there’s no actual value to a seat so I could have paid half as much or twice as much as the person on the seat next to me, THEN there’s no guarantee I’ll actually get a seat, and I do, there’s no guarantee that I won’t be deemed to fat to fly.

    grrrr.

  3. Is there any reason to believe those aren’t the same people who regularly bitch about the fact that fatties can fly on the same planes they use, and troll posts that dare to imply that they paid for a flight and not for real estate?

    Nope. And I wouldn’t take that bet.

    Here’s hoping Smith can bring the powah of the network to bear on SW for this. (Google got a taste of this kind of blowback this week with their godawful rollout of Buzz, which they’re now backing down on some of the worst infractions.)

    Power to the people, yo.

    DRST

  4. If you followed the Twitter feed, Smith noted that there was another guy on the plane about as fat as he was, who wasn’t being kicked off. (He added that he wasn’t going to sell out another fat guy for his own gain, so he didn’t point it out).

  5. I fly American regularly and have never had a problem, even when I blatantly stole a seatbelt extender off a plane. BWAHAH. Er, stealing is wrong, don’t do that. Point being, I can get the armrest down but barely and I definitely ooze over into the next seat. I’ve never had anyone from AA say anything to me. I hope they never get on board with the anti-fat flyer program cause I’ll be screwed.

    I’m sad that they embarrassed Kevin Smith like that but, like Kate said, I’m glad it was fuckin’ loud mouth KEVIN SMITH and not, like, me.

  6. FJ, I’m an active member on his message board and it’s not unusual for his own fans to concern-troll him. My jaw has dropped on many occasions at the “but I’m concerned for your heaaaaaalth!!!” posts from people.

  7. Oh and I’m pretty much in charge of handling customers via my company’s Twitter and I’ll tell you, it’s a challenge. But if you have solid customer service values across the entire company and not just with the customer service department, it CAN’T dissolve into this type of epic meltdown. Things really have changed and traditional companies need to get in line. Southwest is learning what one man with a Twitter account can do.

  8. Damn it, I really liked Southwest too. Aside from this, their policies and prices were always the best. But he should *absolutely* use his influence to screw them back. Time long past for people to take the internet people seriously. (And thanks for reminding me why I love Heather Armstrong!)

  9. His latest 2 tweets (as of 11:30 EST):

    (1/2) Hey @SouthwestAir? Fuck making it right for me just ’cause I have a platform. I sat next to a big girl who was chastised for not buy-
    (2/2) ing an extra ticket because “all passengers deserve their space.” Fucking flight wasn’t even full! Fuck your size-ist policy. Rude…

    Sounds like he maybe grasps the situation.

  10. So which airlines are we supposed to fly instead of United and SouthWest?

    I think JetBlue is amazing, but they are not the most convenient airline for a lot of people.

  11. Jeff — he also just tweeted wrt his second flight: “Hey @SouthwestAir? Fuck making it right for me just ’cause I have a platform. I sat next to a big girl who was chastised for not buying an extra ticket because ‘all passengers deserve their space.’ Fucking flight wasn’t even full! Fuck your size-ist policy. Rude…” And arbitrarily enforced apparently. And bullshit.

  12. Unfortunately, Kev, shame doesn’t work better than any other diet…

    That said: Most recently I’ve been flying on Alaska, which has similar policies to many other airlines — if you don’t fit in one seat with the armrest down, you may have to buy two. If you do buy two and there are unpurchased seats on all legs of the trip, you are entitled to a refund of the cost of the extra seat. (I think the reasoning is that they could have seated you next to the unpurchased seat instead.)

    I can sit in a standard coach seat with armrests down, but it is tight and uncomfortable. I figured for a 2-hour flight I can deal; longer, I’d really rather not. Plus my shoulders aren’t exactly narrow. The man of the house is narrower in the hips than I but even wider in the shoulders (ex-wrestler and looks it). Our last trip we got 3 seats for both of us.

    We called the airline directly to arrange the second seat, so that it would be coded correctly— “correctly” meaning we didn’t pay some per-passenger taxes on the extra seat; it was listed as per “person of size” policy, which helped in getting the refund; and it was labeled as expected by security.

    I’ve also been known to fly first class. Again, it’s a tight fit, and the seats are only 4″ wider – but they also have a lot more shoulder room and legroom. Last time I flew first I heard a few people talking about how they hoped they wouldn’t be next to “that HUGE woman”. Naturally I boarded first, being in first class, so I was seated in first class when they came on board. They looked really pissed to see me seated in first class. I have no idea why — after all, they didn’t have to sit next to me, isn’t that what they wanted….?

  13. Now I am proud that I kept the faith just ’cause of Clerks, even though, you know, Jersey Girl and all that.

  14. If anyone else wants to bug Southwest directly, I found this tweet exceedingly amusing and responded to it asking whether everyone else who’s been discriminated against would get a call too.

    (ETA: Obviously don’t cuss them out or anything, they should know that people are very upset but at the same time the Twitter person does not make the rules.)

  15. Hell yeah, good for him! I’ve actually hated SouthWest since their two slut-shaming incidents a year or two ago, where they kicked those two women off of two separate flights because one had a low-cut shirt and the other had a short skirt. I could’ve used them to fly to Chicago recently, but picked a slightly more expensive flight because of that incident — and also, as a large-breasted woman, I’m not entirely confident they wouldn’t kick me off if my titty size offends some Puritan idiot.

  16. I was really happy about his comments relating to other passengers, too. I almost cried when I read about the guy who gave him the look because I can imagine what it’s like to be in that situation.

  17. If Southwest really wants to be the cool airline with awesome customer service, why not start a policy that larger customers get two seats at no extra charge. Fat people would have enough space, and nobody would have to worry about sitting next to someone who takes up part of their seat. Everyone would be happy, and more customers would want to fly Southwest.

    Instead they will probably try to compensate Smith personally and announce that from now on, new policies or guidelines will result in “pretty fat” people being left alone while only “really fat” people get screwed. “We are SO SORRY that this happened to someone who isn’t quite as fat as the people it’s supposed to happen to… from now on we will be better at identifying very fat people!”

  18. Livia_Augusta: Try US Airways. I did some searching last year before flying out to Las Vegas on my way to visit friends in UT. Couldn’t find the link I was looking for but did find this one: http://www.epinions.com/review/trvl-Airlines-US_Canada-US_Airways/trvl-review-5900-D29D25F-396B224D-prod2 – from 2000, but still seemed relevant to me.

    I have to tell my flight out story though: One of my seatmates was a real dog.

    Literally :) A soldier and his Belgian Malinois (sp)/shepherd were heading out to Ft. Irwin for training (for the soldier – bomb-sniffing dog was already trained[g]). Lovely dog, cute soldier.

    I boarded early and asked for a seatbelt extender. No problems with either one. And a very nice man put my bag in the bin for me – I’m also short.

    I too am very sorry Kevin Smith got kicked off his flight, but, yeah, I’m thrilled about the publicity this will get.

  19. Also, someone (in another venue) just told me that I’m not fat enough to worry about this issue. I responded by asking if I’m not Hispanic or Arab enough to care about immigration, should I just let that go, too?

  20. I flew Delta twice last week and wasn’t given a second look. I care (barely) get the arm down and use an extender.

  21. I’m impressed with the way he’s handling it for two reasons. One, he’s mentioned that it’s a policy that was being applied completely arbitrarily and that he realizes as a “famous” person he’s got a platform, but that it’s not exactly fair. Two, and this one really means something to me, is that he’s talked about it being humiliating. This specific language really personalizes it, makes it concrete. It’s not just an inconvenience or bad business. It’s fucking personal and it’s fucking HUMILIATING and it’s important to name that and not shy away from it.

    But, as always, it also makes me sad that so many of Smith’s fans will respond/the public reaction in general to this will respond with things like, “But he’s not even that fat! I have seen way more fat fatties fly!”

    Because, you know, that’s the point.

  22. I’d like to start a list of people I’d like to selectively and arbitrarily eject frmo a flight because they make me uncomfortable:

    – older white men who read the paper spread out
    – people in front of me who have the audacity to lean back
    – kids who kick my seat
    – babies who cry
    – people who are so tall their knees overflow into my “backspace”
    – people who are so loud their voices overflow into my “quietspace”
    – people who stay on their mobile device well after the cabin doors are closed and before the captain has indicated their use is safe.
    – flight attendants who apologetically wham into my elbow with the everage cart
    – that person next to me who wants to TALK.
    – people with carry-on luggage they can’t lift up to the overhead compartment
    – children who talk loudly/get bored/ ask lots of questions
    – adults who talk loudly/get bored/ask lots of questions
    – passengers who know and recite mechanical details about the aircraft
    – flight attendants who look dull and bored during the safety instructions
    – flight crew who say “buh bye”
    – men with mustaches (hey, why not?)

  23. I hate to say this, but I am so glad some attention is going to be drawn to this issue. It has pissed off a lot of people in the FA community for years, but no one else seemed to care that much. Maybe they will now.

  24. @fat nutritionist Yeah, the question is whether his fans will think “How terrible that this happened to Kevin!” or “How terrible that this happens.”

    @dcmazzie* and EVERYBODY, a friendly warning: We’ve already had several threads here where people started listing off the things they hate more than fat people on airplanes, and while it’s often humorous and almost always well-intentioned, it inevitably turns into a bunch of fail, of the ableist and mommy-shaming varieties, among others.

    So this time, please, LET’S NOT. Everyone is uncomfortable on airplanes. Everyone gets annoyed by all sorts of things other people do. Let’s just take those things as read and not get into the details. Thanks.

    *I realize this is your first comment, and I’m not trying to make you feel bad — just saying you reminded me of how these threads always go, and I’d just rather not this time.

  25. Although I do think the point about people who put their seats back is a good one. Everyone on the plane is empowered to impinge on the space of the person behind them, to the tune of several inches of precious legroom. If you are not only allowed but encouraged (except during takeoff and landing, natch) to make it difficult for me to use my tray table comfortably (and impossible for my husband to put it down, not to mention impossible for him to sit with his knees facing forwards), why aren’t you allowed to compress my thigh somewhat? Are we somehow privileging x-axis space over z-axis space? Because that doesn’t make much sense.

  26. I imagine the reaction WILL be one of “How terrible this happened to Kevin Smith!” Which kind of sucks, but could possibly be a first step toward “…wait a second. Maybe this shouldn’t happen to garden-variety fatties, either?”

    Or maybe I give people too much credit :)

  27. I know I’ve mentioned this in the previous threads — if someone in front of Al puts their seat back, Al politely but firmly says, “Yeah, no. I’m sorry, but I’m 6’2″, and you just can’t.” No one’s ever argued, and most people are sympathetic/apologetic. So the whole “I PAID FOR MY TICKET AND AM ENTITLED TO ALL OF THE SPACE THIS SEAT CAN POSSIBLY TAKE UP” rant doesn’t seem to apply there, either.

  28. @kate I am not intending to contribute to ableist and mommy-shaming at all, and I appreciate your pointing out the possibe danger in the comment I made and those like it.

    However, the notion that “everyone is uncomfortable on airplanes” points squarely to where the deficiency lies. Their charge (and the reason we pay them) is to get us from point A to point B. Everything else, short of thwarting actual harm, is bullshit. My point was that there is a fine line between being annoyed by people and actual harm and/or a reason to eject a paying customer from a flight. Companies like Southwest Airlines count on fat shame to enforce their rules. The same kind of shame is abhorrent when we try to apply it to other groups.

  29. @ Angie – I agree with you. From what I’ve read here and on the links you’ve provided, I think that Kevin Smith is doing this the right way and for the right reasons. Yeah, OK, many of his movies cross the line of what I consider tasteful, and I’ve never known anything about his feelings regarding size, but it really seems like he gets it and he’s going to town on Southwest. Huzzah.

    @ Tammy W – THAT is awesome. Go bomb-sniffing doggie and his soldier!

    However, I am really concerned that in response to Kevin Smith’s outrage, Southwest will be on the lookout for only the “truly fat.” Would weighing “suspect” individuals start happening? Would BMI calculation? Would they have to make exceptions for pro athletes? How would they determine the “flight safety” of a pregnant woman (I know they’re not supposed to fly, but c’mon), or a PWD that uses a chair that may be heavy? I think that there is a good chance that things are only going to get worse. I hate to be prince pessimism, but airports are already centers of privacy violation.

  30. Thanks Kevin Smith for standing up to the airlines. Sorry he got abused just like us non-famous people, but I appreciate him using his fame for all it’s worth. I haven’t flown since 2007 just to avoid the embarrassment. I used to travel a lot. Think of all the money the airlines have lost by discriminating and shaming fat people into not traveling.

  31. You know, there’s an obvious solution to this whole “nobody is comfortable on planes” issue, one we really should have in 2010.

    Transporters.

    Seriously. Where’s my fucking site-to-site transport capability? If Vancouver can make whales appear out of a floor**, I should be able to beam home for dinner.

    (Also consider what transporters would do for both health and commerce. What if you could instantly beam someone having a heart attack from their house to an ER? What if farmers could transport fresh-picked produce into a market within an hour? Etc.)

    **- HOLY SHIT THAT WAS COOL.

    DRST

  32. @ Kate – You are my hero.

    @ DRST – I am sending you an internet as a prize. Yeah, seriously – where my transporter? Why didn’t I learn enough science in school to learn how to build one? It would be the end of subway excuses in New York (yay), and perhaps the death of IST (boo).

  33. See, I totally agree with Redwoodforest – despite having flown on multiple airlines at this size (even SWest), I’m super hesitant to travel because of the fear that this’ll come up. Security Theater is another reason I don’t *like* flying these days, but it’s the fear of being humiliated that keeps me grounded. (And buying 2 seats to ‘insure’ against being kicked off would be humiliating, even if a refund were issued, so I feel stuck. On a practical note, seatguru.com is a good way of seeing whether a given flight has narrow or wide seats – it’s not foolproof, but it’s amazing how much difference an inch of seat width makes.)

    BUT! Then I read DRST’s comment, and I heartily concur. Transporter beams to solve the problem of Fatties On A Plane. Win-win.

  34. My point was that there is a fine line between being annoyed by people and actual harm and/or a reason to eject a paying customer from a flight. Companies like Southwest Airlines count on fat shame to enforce their rules.

    Totally. I mean, if they listened to all of their customers equally, the obvious common denominator would be: The seats are too fucking small. They are not providing adequate seating for all of their customers to fly safely and without pain, let alone comfortably. But as it is, they’re not responding to fat customers, they ARE responding to fat-hating customers, and they’re relying on culture-wide anti-fat prejudice to get away with it mostly unchallenged.

  35. I don’t find buying two seats humiliating. I don’t always do it (I can fit in coach with armrests down) but it is uncomfortably tight.

    (Mods – I had a longer response with info about buying two seats and a link, did it go to spam?)

  36. @Kate:

    We’ve already had several threads here where people started listing off the things they hate more than fat people on airplanes, and while it’s often humorous and almost always well-intentioned, it inevitably turns into a bunch of fail, of the ableist and mommy-shaming varieties, among others.

    So as a mommy tired of reading kid- and mommy-hate on feminist blogs, my eyes have grateful tears at your cut-off for that kind of thing.

    @fillyjonk:

    Whaddya know — when the headless fatty gets a head and it’s a famous head, he’s suddenly not so fat.

    Yeah. I think this really sums up something important.

    Not much else to add except: thanks for this post! Kate’s appearance on CNN over this was one of my earliest exposures to FA, and it was mind-blowing in an awesome way.

  37. Dear Airlines,

    Your seats are small and uncomfortable, and most people hate using your service. The only reason we continue to give you money is because we have no other tenable options for long-distance travel.

    Fix your shit, or we’ll come up with some.

    Sincerely,
    Passengers

  38. As of today, Delta and Jetblue have no “person of size policy” in place, but Delta does have a vague paragraph about people considering their comfort and the comfort of others when they book their seats buried somewhere on their website. I didn’t find anything on Jetblue’s website, but it was the last site I checked and I was tired by that point.

    Southwest, American, Alaska, and United airlines all have the same “Person of Size Policy” encouraging passengers to buy a second ticket, if they cannot comfortably put down the armrest, and offering to refund the cost of the second ticket IF the flight is not full AND the passenger calls the right people and fills out the right paperwork to get the refund.

    I spent most of my day trying to find a flight to Oakland and being angry that the only available flights were on airlines with that offensive policy. I am not able to visit a close friend for a weekend because I cannot afford to pay for two coach seats, which costs the same as flying first class without any of the perks.

    When I can complete a letter without profanity, I will be sending it to each of those airlines.

    According to http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/ Jetblue has the widest seats. According to my own experience, they also have the friendliest flight attendants and best customer service. Unfortunately, they also cover the fewest destinations of any airline. Their extra legroom seats are perfect for ease of access with my size. No falling into my seat because there is no room to stand between the seats.

  39. My email to Southwest (which I labeled as a “comment” on “disability services”)

    Dear Southwest,
    Upon hearing that Kevin Smith was kicked off of a Southwest flight for being too fat, I wanted to add my voice to the throng of people who will say this: I am fat, and I want to fly Southwest. What I don’t want is to worry every time I fly that I will be kicked off the plane.

    I love Southwest. Every experience I’ve ever had with Southwest’s prices, flights and customer service has been amazingly positive. I rave about it at length any time the topic of flying comes up. Southwest is my airline of choice every time I fly somewhere you fly to – I don’t even look at other options, because I know that the overall experience will be best on Southwest.

    BUT.

    Every time I fly, I’m worried that I’ll be humiliated in front of a plane full of people by being ejected from the plane for being fat. I’m not particularly large, in the range of fat people. I fit in the seat with the armrests down, per the current policy. Yet I know that it’s just a matter of one crew member or passenger deciding that I’m too fat to fly, and I could end up stranded far from my home.

    I fly Southwest because I live on a tight budget – I can’t afford to buy a second seat at full price, or to pay for a hotel if I’ve been kicked off the flight. And so, from the moment I check in until the plane leaves the ground, I endure the nagging terror: will this be the time I’m humiliated?

    The current policy is discriminatory at its core. Its arbitrary enforcement only makes the problem worse. That’s why all my recommendations have a caveat: If you’re fat, you may be better spending your money elsewhere.

    Fat people need to fly too. Southwest is welcoming in every other aspect – got luggage? It’s on. Your favorite pet? It’s on. (Even if it yaps the whole way and bothers the entire plane, not just the seatmate). Make your policies for fat people better, and many fat people currently afraid to fly will discover how great of an airline Southwest can be.

  40. Oh, Kevin. Thank you. Latest tweet at 1AM CST:

    Via @Ajax517 “Don’t let them muzzle you, time to make them burn for all the fatties out there without a voice” Amen, sir.

    Also, it looks like he’s listing sites that are mentioning their douchemaggotry.

  41. Oh, God, the mommy hate stuff. I sat on a flight once from somewhere in the Middle East once and the kid next to me was wailing because his ears were popping—I read somewhere once that toddlers’ ears pop more painfully than adults can comprehend because of developmental issues—and the poor mom was just distraught. Lovely, but distraught. But it happens, and you know what? Poor kid. But people have to fly to and fro and wel, it wasn’t like it was anything someone could do anything about, really. I don’t know where I was going with that, but a few years later I go into a convenience store, try out my Arabic on the counter guy and then exchange a startled look with the woman on the stool next to him. It was the mom from the plane! And the baby was two years years and quite cute. So…..

    People always whine about the same shit, but it’s always disguised. It’s mom-shaming or it’s fat-shaming, but funnily enough, it’s always at it most vicious when it’s directed at women. Can you imagine the response if this were Rosie O’Donnell? It takes very little to make assholes lash back against women. Look at Fugitivus. Talking about rape, according to Gizmodo comenters, is ‘an insult to good men’ and ‘jeez, if all her friends what the fuck kind of people does she have as friends?’

    Kevin Smith is an amusing guy, but he’s a guy, a dewd, and he’s not offending male sensibilities by taking up too much space for a woman. That’s the thing with woman-hatred; we always take up too much space, make too much noise, and don’t pay for it with enough sex, deference, beauty, docility or whatever. It’s never enough, in fact. So I’m kind of glad that this happened to Kevin Smith, famous person, but…he’s still a famous person which means male and…..I guess I’m just angry about the whole damned thing. This is no fucking way to treat people who are paying you money.

  42. @living400lbs –

    “isn’t that what they wanted….?”

    My guess is that they were peeved because you’re not more broke than they (as evinced by your first class seat) and, also, miserable. Because, y/k, fat.

    Who was it that said “It’s not enough for me to win; my enemies must lose”? Merrick? Wilde? DeGaulle? For some people it’s not enough for them to be happy; you must also be miserable.

    *blows raspberry at evil mean people*

  43. He will be discussing his experience on a special edition of his podcast (his wife Jen will be joining him). Look to smodcast.com sometime tomorrow for it.

  44. My superhero alter ego, whom I seldom permit to get out and cause havoc, is a large Viking-esque type, the sort that wears helmets with horns and sings Wagner while wielding broadswords. I call her Hrefna.

    And while this sort of thing makes me feel just kind of ashamed and sick about the culture and society that treats people like they are subhuman, I am pleased to report that Hrefna is sharpening the broadsword and preparing to enter a state of pure electric blue berserker rage. After a certain amount of righteous smiting, we will sit down together and compose a letter to Southwest. Because new media + good old fashioned written complaints = change in policy.

  45. **- HOLY SHIT THAT WAS COOL.

    It was, my husband missed the whole deal too! I’m in the other room yelling “honey, whales, come see!”

    Kevin Smith is fatter than I am, or at least rounder I guess, so I don’t get the whole deal where people think he’s not fat enough for the arbitrary policy to apply to him. Good on him for making it about all flying fatties and not just himself.

  46. Anyone else besides me think that the reason KS’s complaints got the traction they did was not just because of his fame, but also because he’s a cis man? A fat woman would probably have to have an Oprah level of fame for her complaints to make an impact, methinks.

    Either way, good for him for using it. If people won’t listen to us Whiny Fat Chix (TM), maybe they’ll believe it coming from him.

  47. @meowser –

    “Anyone else besides me think that the reason KS’s complaints got the traction they did was not just because of his fame, but also because he’s a cis man?”

    Yes.
    I also think people hurt by the policy got “lucky” KS is a man eloquent with a grudge (a lot of men seem too welded to the macho “I’m a good guy” model to want to risk that).

    It’s Olympic season. I’m sure he’ll come in behind my family members in the grudge-holding marathon, but he still has a definite chance for a medal.

  48. First cynical thought – it’s good that the celebrity this happened too was a man, because people will take his complaints more seriously. Second thought – that first though was really depressing.

  49. Some of the tweets re: @thatkevinsmith and @southwestair are really depressingly full of fat hate.

    I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but I still get sad when I see that some people are so hateful and prejudiced. I don’t think it’s that revolutionary to think that all people deserve a bit of respect just for being, you know, human.

  50. @Livia_Augusta –

    “I responded by asking if I’m not Hispanic or Arab enough to care about immigration, should I just let that go, too?”

    Did you get an answer?

    *breathlessly waits*

  51. @slythwolf – Hell yes, I find buying 2 seats expensive. Often 2 coach is within $20 of first class, and that’s when I’ll just go first class if flying alone. (When flying with another person of size, getting 3 seats together is a possibility too.)

  52. Looks like Southwest’s promises of a Customer Service VP to contact him haven’t been followed through as of yet:

    @ThatKevinSmith: Via @SouthwestAir “Hopefully you received our voicemail earlier this evening” All lines checked, no voicemail message on any 323. Try again.
    (1210AM PST)

    Either SWA’s tweets were to just mollify the public with no real follow through, or the higher ups are conferencing as to what to due about this situation.

    As Mr Smith stated, the flight wasn’t even full. I’m sure he would have gladly paid for an extra seat to spare him the humiliation, if notified early enough. But he rightly points out that he was already seated with armrests down and his bag stowed.

    As noted in the update, he tweeted that a big girl sitting next to him was also chastised for not buying an extra ticket. Does she get a public apology and an offer for a Customer Service VP to call her about the situation? SWA is only trying to make it right because he “has a platform.” Girl and other heavier fliers have no such luck.

  53. What kills me is that he was ejected as a safety risk. Every time I fly there’s someone on the plane who’s visibly ill, sometimes quite so (cold or flu being most common) and I come down sick after a lot of my flights. Last time I flew I caught ‘stomach flu’. People get sick and then they have to fly anyway, it happens, it sucks for everyone, I understand… but I’m expected to tolerate the fact that I might catch something that at the VERY least is gonna make me feel like crap for a couple days.

    The point is that flying sucks for EVERYONE and we ignore things that ARE demonstrable health risks to other passengers because they aren’t traits of a class of people we’re discriminating against.

  54. I now buy 2 seats (or 3 seats if I’m traveling with someone else) whenever I fly, and you know what? The stress relief of knowing I will be able to spread me and my stuff out into the second seat and knowing that I won’t have to touch a stranger (which I hate just as much as they do, if not more) totally makes up for the irritation of having to do it. If I ever got thin enough to fit into one airplane seat I’d probably continue to do it.

    I refuse to feel humiliated—it’s not my fault that airplane seats are designed for leprechauns rather than humans.

    It’s expensive, but I fly much less nowadays because of Security Theater. So I actually spend less on flying than I did before.

    The ironic thing is that now there’s always a moment where the flight attendants look at my second seat and get excited thinking they’ll be able to fit one more person on the plane. So I’m too fat to be in one seat on an airplane until there’s an empty seat next to me and then all of a sudden they think I fit into one seat just fine.

  55. “How would they determine the “flight safety” of a pregnant woman (I know they’re not supposed to fly, but c’mon), or a PWD that uses a chair that may be heavy?”

    Pregnant women can fly safely, pretty much up til birth (individual medical concerns non-withstanding). Flight companies obviously don’t want to be delivering babies so they have rules on how far along you can be (and require medical certificates after a certain point).

  56. Wrong wrong wrongity wrong. Throwing a person off a flight for their weight, and humiliating someone in anyway is shit behaviour of the highest order.
    People throwing themselves back in their seats however is hugely annoying and completely lacking in regard for other people. I think thats at the bottom of all our annoyances on this topic – its just pisspoor to watch other people’s total lack of thought for others.

    If I had to choose who to throw off a plane for annoying behaviour, I would have to throw myself off. When me and Mr Paintmonkey fly together, I spend most of my time roaring “AM I SHOUTING? HAVE YOUR EARS POPPED? CAN YOU HEAR? I CAN’T! LET ME KNOW IF I’M SHOUTING!” and I do this while fumbling under my seat in my bag for some crappy old bit of chocolate to hand round. What a pain in the arse. Mr Paintmonkey really needs time off for good behaviour, or at least a book token.

  57. @paintmonkey I’d have to throw myself off planes- I’m horribly afraid of them and I spend most of the flight sobbing in fear. Not loudly, fortunately…

  58. @Valerian – Oh you poor thing! I think if I wasnt shouting I’d be sobbing in fear too…I feel like that deep down when flying, but try to mask it by going to the bathroom 30 times and pressing buttons on things and reading the in-flight magazine out loud until Mr Paintmonkey snatches off me and flings it where I cant reach it.

  59. @paintmonkey And yet people persist in dragging me onboard! I can’t even explain it, I did take physics in school/college (and how), but I can’t seem to get my brain to understand WHY YES, that metal cigar with stubby wings CAN fly! It’s all okay!

    Your method of coping sounds awesome. We should fly together. We can be the two most annoying people in the air, flourishing SkyMall magazines and proudly fiddling with the weird little fan thing, all while consulting actuarial tables and gleefully calculating the percentage chance that the plane will turn into an octopus.

  60. @Valerian – You are on! We could both press that little button that makes the air stewards turn up and say “Can I help?” and then you sheepishly have to admit you pressed it by accident….and then press it again 20 seconds later, by nudging it with your elbow.
    I too can’t begin to understand why a plane flies. I’ve often been mid flight and felt horrified to realise that there isnt a giant pole holding the plane up, and it is just actual thin air underneath. Sometimes in a plane I’m struck by my own pathetic inability to grasp technology and my vision pulls back to see a miraculous plane in the sky, and there I am slouched in that plane trying in vain to poke the straw into a travelpack of complimentary Apple Juice.
    We could ponder the miracle of flight together while not being able to actually drink our drinks. Ooh! Then we could justifiably press the Air Steward button. Yes!

  61. Good for him for raising a fuss.

    I have only flown once, well twice, since I had to come home, and that was on Midwest which was refreshingly comfortable. The seats were a lot bigger than I was expecting for an airline and the flight attendants didn’t even give me a second glance. On the flight home I was seated next to a broad shouldered man who was extremely polite and even though we bumped thighs a few times, he never even gave me so much as a glare.

    I am not really afraid of flying but I am nervous about having to fly on any other airline where the seats aren’t as roomy and I’d probably be shamed into buying a second seat. Hopefully then I’d be flying with a friend who doesn’t mind my fat touching them and the airline can kiss my large butt.

  62. @paintmonkey I have a really unfortunate habit of pressing things with my elbows too! Perhaps we are long lost twins.

  63. @Valerian…Ok, here’s the big test. Do you always return your tray to the “up” position while there is still a drink on it? If so, we really need to look into our family trees.

  64. You know, I’ve never tweeted, my stance being that my life deserves more than 140 characters even on my most succinct day (which isn’t especially.) And because, you know, geez, how much constantly-available and constantly-in-touch does anybody need? It’s always looked to me like the (current) pinnacle of both consumerism and narcissism: “havin nachos at ElPac see photo OMG LOL” and you all totally need to know this RIGHT NOW.

    But consider me converted: I will find out how, and I will learn. Because please let this be true. Please let the corporate aristocracy Jefferson so presciently predicted be held hugely and publicly accountable for its ungodly privilege and greed by the very technology it has helped to create and market. Please let the grass roots rhizomes keep digging and spreading like they did on the prairies before we built Wal-Marts on top of them. And please let us use this to advance human rights on an even larger scale, like health care. Please.

  65. @paintmonkey Return tests!

    Have you ever tripped over a household pet? Extra points for a mild to medium injury (sprained ankle) due to trying not to step on the pet.

    Do you always (or much of the time) order ginger ale because you’ve heard it helps with airsickness (not that I get airsick so much as so nervous my stomach hurts), but then fail to drink it and instead bathe in it accidentally? Sprite would also count.

  66. @Valerian. I’ve tripped over many a pet and my dog actually shrieks now even if I don’t stand on him. He’s got so used to it, he actually shrieks for the sake of it, just to let me know he’s there…he is a bit of a ham though.
    As for the bathing in drinks test, most certainly…I also over-drink fizzy drinks when nervous, so I’ll actually have tears rolling down my face from the fizz…what an idiot. I havent ordered the Ginger Ale, but I will now. I’m having a long train journey next week, so I’ll do it then, and I’ll think of you when I’m drinking too fast and cry happy fizzy drink tears.

  67. @Cat –

    I’ve resisted both the Tweet and the Facebook on the basis both of some incredibly bizarre stories and the firm conviction that just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not really after you still.

    But I am with you here.

  68. I really hope there won’t be some kind of backlash against Kevin Smith for his wonderful response to this horrific treatment, it really is great that he is making it all about other people instead of taking a “don’t you know who I am” approach.

    I don’t want to seem cynical, but when he is getting concern trolled on his own twitter site it makes me wonder if this whole fat shaming/hating trait is too deeply ingrained for any kind of rational arguements to get through to people.

    Don’t get me wrong, I will continue to try and change attitudes where I can but it really gets me down some days.

  69. @paintmonkey That’s amazing. If I didn’t know that none of my relatives are married except my mum and my aunt… I’d swear… but it doesn’t matter! We can form the Sisterhood of Belching While Anxious. It’ll be grand.

    @Cat I am a remarkably un-talkative person most of the time, and yet I have a Twitter thingie. I blame it on my very talkative friends. But at any rate it’s interesting as a communication medium, even though a lot of people dismiss it as vapid, both for its ubiquitous nature and for the speed at which news flies these days. I don’t think I’m the kind of person meant to utilize it fully, but I’ve come around on it in the last six months.

  70. Someone upthread mentioned the health risk of flying with ill passengers – I recently flew through Singapore & Penang, and at one or both airports we had to walk through an extra screening gate that supposedly checked whether we had a fever or not, so we could be quarantined for swine or bird flu. I can’t wait to fly to Asia when my menopausal hot flashes begin!

    Tangential, I know – but it does seem that the high and low tech efforts to control us, the passengers/customers, rather than to improve the planes for our benefit, keep increasing – so insidiously that we keep getting used to greater and greater invasiveness (shoes off, full body scans and patdowns, they all would have seemed way too excessive and intolerable if they hadn’t been added gradually over years & in response to various events). People are awfully good at adjusting to “new realities” especially if they are pitched as inevitable.

  71. You know, the stupid airlines ought to be down on their knees thanking ANYONE who buys a damn ticket to fly!

    The airlines THEMSELVES are on their way to recreating the crash of Flight 232 – with their entire industry standing in for the airplane – and they have the gall to complain about ANY paying customer? Are you kidding me?

  72. Livia_Augusta: just anecdotal, but I fly Delta frequently (full disclosure: Dad’s a retired employee, so I fly cheap), and I’ve sat by or near fat people plenty of times, and never heard a peep from any of the attendants about it. Never saw anyone turned away at the gate, either.

  73. I was watching Twitter last night when this all unfolded. Crazy, crazy stuff.

    I flew to Texas from NYC this past Tuesday, with a layover in Atlanta. As we were boarding the plane in Atlanta, a man approached the flight attendant near me and asked quite loudly if he could switch seats, please, because the woman seated next to him was “a really big girl. No, really big.” (She was also a WOC, which seemed to offend this idiot’s sensibilities as much as her OMGFAT.)

    The flight attendant, $deity love her, told the man derisively that he would have to wait until the flight had been completely boarded to make any seat changes. He looked so put out.

    I felt so bad for the woman. I’d spoken to her briefly at the gate, and she was very sweet. She didn’t deserve to be shamed the way she was in front of the back half of the plane.

    And, because it seems to be the litmus, she didn’t seem “that fat,” or unable to put the armrest down.

    The guy just seemed like a jerk.

  74. I fly Delta on a fairly regular basis, in and out of Atlanta, and I have NEVER EVER had a problem with fat discrimination, either from passengers or attendants/staff. I will now consider myself extremely lucky.

  75. “Anyone else besides me think that the reason KS’s complaints got the traction they did was not just because of his fame, but also because he’s a cis man?”

    Not to mention that he’s also a white man. All privileges and celebrity status considered, he’s pretty much in a prime position to have his concerns taken seriously. If he had been a person of color, or a woman, or one any of the other variations on the default person (white, male, able-bodied, heterosexual, cisgendered…), I’m sure the story would be playing out differently.

    I’m hoping that this story may force Southwest to truly overhaul their practices to remove the fuckery from them. To me, it seems like airlines are grasping at even more straws to make money though, so really I can’t imagine them giving this up entirely right now. As someone said upthread, they’ll focus on the “really fat” now, but they will still get to decide who they think is “really” fat. They likely will pick the same people they did before, but this time they will try to to include any fat people of note in the bunch they throw off a flight.

    However, to focus on a positive note, I think that people are just generally sick of airlines and their practices and the fact that so many are willing to use an alternative mode of transportation when one is available will eventually hurt them. I live in New York, and if I was going to somewhere close by, say Boston or DC…I’d probably opt for the train over flying; it might take a little longer, but avoiding the airline nonsense would be worth it. If things continue as they are with airlines, I wouldn’t be surprised if we started seeing more and more options that would work for travel across even longer distances.

  76. OH MY GOD! I love Kevin Smith so much right now. He’s generally been pretty open about how hard it was growing up fat and how he developed his humor as a coping mechanism, so the fact that he was willing to stand up and make a fuss about this doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s also been willing to call out any number of people for all kinds of things even when it could gain him enemies or when it wasn’t that big of a deal (people that hold grudges sometimes can be ridiculous about it, but it works out well sometimes too).

    Whenever I watch one of his movies (I stopped after Clerks II, not sure what happened after that…) or his shows that he does I always end up thinking that he really needs the fat acceptance movement. I kind of hope that this will help him find it.

    Also, I’m an inbetweenie, so I’ve never had to deal with this sort of thing, no problems with airlines so far. I never really realized it was an issue, and I’m just really sorry that any of you have had to deal with it. Airlines really need to get their shit together, so many of their practices are sizeist and ableist and racist and sexist and….on and on. I’d much rather take a train or drive when possible.

  77. JenniferA said “I don’t want to seem cynical, but when he is getting concern trolled on his own twitter site it makes me wonder if this whole fat shaming/hating trait is too deeply ingrained for any kind of rational arguements to get through to people.”

    I think it is. I think it really really is. This year I’ve had several friendships seriously damaged because those friends could. not. hear. the science of body size. Seriously could not hear what I was saying when I cited studies about the futility of dieting, the impossibility of making everyone slim, the damage of that behavior to everyone’s health and mental well being. It’s amazed and distressed me how otherwise smart, engaged people are so invested in believing the popular view on this subject that they can’t take in alternate perspectives.

    I was about to say that I can’t think of another topic that has the same rigid insistence among its adherents on not taking in fresh information, but Dick Cheney is on “This Week” right now talking about how dandy waterboarding is, so hey, clearly there’s one. Sigh…

  78. Most of the time when I’m flying, it’s for work (’cause when I travel for myself, I rock some Amtrak, some Megabus, or some Greyhound, baby)….which means that my seats are booked through the company travel agent, and I have to get budget approval from the CFO for every aspect of it. Not for nothing, but going to my CFO and saying, “Yeah, so it’s going to cost the company twice as much to fly me to this meeting than most employees you might send,” is not really something I am willing to do. This is a whole other discriminatory aspect of this bullshit that I think gets overlooked a lot – this shit could potentially affect my JOB (you know, on top of all the other job-related anti-fat bias I have to overcome).

    On the other hand, I’ve flown a fair amount over the years, always ask for a seatbelt extender (though I don’t always need it), and have been lucky enough to never get a whiny seatmate or a stink-eye from an attendant. But every time I fly, I worry that this will be the time my luck runs out. And, frankly, while I’m stoked Kev is gonna raise some hell, I worry that it will make airlines super-sensitive this week…which could go either way, as far as I’m concerned. So, you know, you pays your money, you rolls your dice!

  79. I refuse to feel humiliated—it’s not my fault that airplane seats are designed for leprechauns rather than humans.

    … No, okay? Just stop that shit.

    Anyway, I’m with you guys that he is able to get heard on this because he’s a famous white man, and I’m so glad that he’s using the platform that gives him for good. Now I want to be like, “Kevin Smith you should read SP!!!” at him. Maybe he will!

    Cat, yes, Twitter is a useful platform for politics. But it’s also not narcissistic to want to have a public conversation with your far-flung friends, so that other friends can join in. It’s actually kind of awesome!

  80. Oh, Fat Nutritionist, if you’re ever on those little commuter planes, there’s a small square button under that armrest. Find and push it and you can get that armrest up. :-)

  81. I decided recently to take the train when I go on vacation to California next month (I live in Colorado) because the airlines are so awful I don’t want to give them any of my money if I don’t absolutely have to.

    It would be nice if the Kevin Smith incident started some real change with the airlines, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

  82. I refuse to feel humiliated—it’s not my fault that airplane seats are designed for leprechauns rather than humans

    Come on, let’s not do this. Yes, the plane seats are much too small for average adults. However, people with smaller bodies are still people.

  83. Tari: The last time I flew Southwest was when prospective employer made the travel arrangements for me to fly to an out of town job interview. I was terrified that I’d run into this bullshit treatment and would have to call the employer en-route to confess to being a fattie and having been thrown off my plane. Luckily it didn’t happen. But you’re right, so right, that these policies have serious financial consequences on those of us who have to travel for work.

  84. I have flown US Airways A LOT. They don’t have the most comfortable seats in the universe, but my body ‘arrangement’ (if I were a horse it would be ‘conformation’) is such that my weight is carried higher up, so my hips aren’t stressed too much in the seats. It is WORSE on American Eagle.

    I have NEVER had issues with anyone (staff or passenger) from US Airways. I have observed people larger than myself being treated with dignity. Every time I can, I fly US Airways. They don’t go everywhere, so sometimes I end up on United flights as codeshare. Triple YUCK. In those cases, I just hope for an aisle seat and make the best of it.

    I will be trying Midwest this coming week — they seemed to have a sale for the route I’m flying lately (I fly every week for business). They are usually too expensive. If I am able to do so, I will let folks here know what my experience was.

    –Andy Jo–

  85. By the way… I have refused to fly Southwest for 27 years. I HATED the service and the airline in 1983, and I have found no reason to change my mind since. This latest unpleasantness just confirms the wisdom of my choice.

    –Andy Jo–

  86. Thanks for catching that comment, Sweet Machine and Volcanista.

    @EVERYBODY part two (yes, this is another one we’ve been over multiple times): These seats? Are designed so that they fit smaller human beings best, larger human beings poorly if at all, and average-sized adult human beings not very fucking comfortably. If you think about it for a nanosecond, you will remember that there are plenty of smaller human beings in the world, many of whom are marginalized already.

    So if you are tempted to suggest that no human being could be comfortable in these seats, or that they were not designed to fit humans, think about what you’re saying — that people who are very thin, of short stature, or still too young to have reached their full height and weight don’t count as human. And then tell me how that’s better than saying a fat person should count as two “real” people in airline math. By which I mean, seriously, just don’t.

  87. if you’re ever on those little commuter planes, there’s a small square button under that armrest. Find and push it and you can get that armrest up. :-)

    Definitely going to try this next time I have a tiny plane. Unfortunately, that’s not too often, but every little bit helps!

    I hate flying, can you tell? And, unfortunately, I live about 3000 miles away from my family, so I have to fly at least once a year. I dread it each time because of these kinds of policies and the physical discomfort.

  88. I wonder how many of his outraged fans realize that the ONLY REASON this airline is apologetic is because it is Kevin Smith. If this was just an ordinary fat person few would give a damn despite how embarrassing and discriminatory this practice is. In order to cram as many bodies as possible onto a flight they make the seats too small and this means they are discriminating for the sake of profit.

  89. As Mr Smith stated, the flight wasn’t even full. I’m sure he would have gladly paid for an extra seat to spare him the humiliation, if notified early enough.

    Of course, if there’s someone on the plane who the airline feels might be too large to comfortably sit in a seat, the airline should be the responsible party for finding the PAYING CUSTOMER a more comfortable seat. If there’s an empty seat on the plane already, requiring the person who already paid for a seat to pay again for the empty one is ridiculous. This entire incident could’ve been handled quite easily by offering the person sitting next to Kevin Smith another seat, giving both that passenger and him extra room without causing a public disturbance.

    But the airlines are out to make money any way they can (including this whole “you have to pay $15 extra to check a bag” scam that netted them billions of dollars in the last year or so since it was implemented) they’re not going to give up a way to charge people extra.

    Grrr. High speed rail, baby. I’m with Joe Biden on that one. (Until we get our damned transporters!!!)

    DRST

  90. Airplane seats and me, three things:

    1) I am a small person. Slim, even. Slender. Not waiflike, quite, but definitely too small to buy clothes in most high-street shops. When I sit down on an airplane seat, my thighs and hips spread out so that the armrests dig into them. These seats are designed for a very particular body-shape, not just size. Oh, also, the seats are too deep, so I have to slouch to get my knees to bend at the edge of the seat, and I can’t touch the floor or the footrest under the seat in front of me.

    2) When traveling with a lap-baby, it’s really horrible to have someone put their seat-back down on top of us when the baby’s lunch is still on the open tray. No idea why seats recline at all, because I can’t imagine it’s ever brilliant for the person seated behind. I say pack us all in like sardines and just leave us there, if there’s no room to move we can’t fly around in a crash.

    3) One time on this one flight, right – we were two parents, a baby and a toddler, and we were stuck on the runway with the seatbelt sign on for over an hour. It might even have been two hours all told, what with takeoff and all. Some slim white guys with nice suits and mobile phones *delayed takeoff* for their very important phonecalls and were snotty with the staff when asked not to; other passengers remonstrated with the men, and when we all got off the plane, hours and hours late, pretty much everyone traveling with children had people walk up and *pointedly* compliment them on the children’s behaviour. I enjoyed that.

  91. Oh, and high speed rail is a GREAT way to travel. You can get up and go for a walk, no matter what the vehicle is doing! You can’t fall out of the sky! Crying children can be taken to somewhere else, sometimes, which might distract them enough to shut them up but anyway gives other people a brief respite from the noise!

    I love rail travel. I have this ambition to take the Barcelona Train-Hotel.

  92. Confidential to “dude” who might be looking for his comment to appear here and will not find it: About half of what you said made a good point. The other half was a ludicrous violation of the 12th rule of the comments policy.

    Confidential to everyone trying to comment about how much it sucks that fat people are allowed to fly when they should really stay home until they lose weight FOR THEIR HEALTH: You are in the wrong fucking place.

  93. Loved dcmazzie’s post. Flying is a pain in the ass in many ways. Sure, having a person sit next to you and be over in your space may make it uncomfortable, but so do the loud talkers — if not more so. Safety issue? Give me a break.

  94. Volcanista and Sweet Machine:

    Re: my comment that airplane seats are designed for leprechauns.

    I didn’t intend to reference small/thin people. I intended to make the point that airplane seating isn’t comfortable for any adult humans. Most of the small people I know would prefer more room on airplanes too.

    I apologize for giving offense.

  95. Something that my Mom has done for years when she flies (and she travels a *lot*) is to accept that flying is miserable for everyone and to try to do one really nice thing for someone (anyone) while she’s in transit. It really helps you avoid focusing on how grim the experience is if you’re trying to figure out how you can help someone else. Since I always leave much too much time for the security lines, I usually offer to trade places with someone in those snake lines who is running late and is worried about missing their flight. It’s pretty funny to see other people who want to get angry about it, but slowly figuring out that we traded, so it nets out to the same situation…

  96. It’s pretty funny to see other people who want to get angry about it, but slowly figuring out that we traded, so it nets out to the same situation…

    Well, and the impulse to be pissed there totally goes along with the anger at fat people. It’s not that people are really concerned about what’s fair, per se (or else you’d see the same outrage about tall people, etc., and no one would be upset about two people switching place in line). It’s that people think some people need to be taught a lesson. Why should your poor time management be rewarded with a better spot in line? And why should your fatness be rewarded with, uh, the pleasure of squishing up against a stranger who’s disgusted by you?

  97. I am obviously in the minority here but I fly Southwest specifically because of their Customer of Size policy. After being subjected to many humiliating experiences on other airlines (specifically Delta and Air Tran) with other people ringing the call button and asking to be seated next to someone smaller and people who somehow think that people of my size are deaf and can therefore not hear the ugly comments they make I was extremely grateful to find an airline that allowed me to be proactive in avoiding these situations.

    I enjoy not having to approach my day of travel with dread about what I will encounter. I have always found Southwest employees to be incredibly friendly and easy to deal with in regards to this policy and it may just be luck or the routes that I travel but I have recieved a refund of my second seat every single time.

    Do I like having the extra money tied up from the time I book until the time I travel? No. But to me it’s a small price to pay to be able to travel with ease.

  98. Becca: I apply a similar principle on public transport of all kinds; I don’t know whether it makes other people’s lives better, but it really helps me hate the world a bit less.

  99. @Mindy: The flight I was on was AirTran.

    FWIW, the flight attendant (of that flight, obviously may not be true for all) was having none of his sizeist bullshit. She basically told him to sit down in his assigned seat until the flight was fully boarded and *then* he could check for alternate seating.

  100. I wish I were hopeful about the consequences of the Smith incident, but I’m not very, having recently witnessed the clusterf*ck that followed the Canadian court ruling that domestic flights must give two seats to fat people and people with disabilities, if they require them. (For those who don’t know, the major Canadian airlines responded to this ruling by requiring fat people needing two seats to have a f’ing *medical certificate* from an allopath in order to get those seats. They ‘helpfully’ distributed a form that doctors can fill out, which included a diagram of a person’s naked, seated rear end which they are supposed to *measure* and thus certify their fatness. I don’t bloody care how badly I ever need to fly, the notion that I would visit an allopath and/or allow any doctor to see/touch/measure my body? It. Is. Never. Happening. How did a great court ruling end up supporting medicalized sexual assault?)

    I’ve taken to traveling my bus, which is difficult because of a medical disability, but it’s really my only option at this point (the train is very expensive in Canada). But the newer coach buses bought by the bus companies now have small, airline-style seating that I can’t fit into . . . so, what would they propose I do? Abandon my far-flung family? Or give up my travel-requiring career? Or just disappear completely? (Probably that last one.)

  101. @Livia_Augusta I fly Delta pretty regularly and have never had a size-related issue. I mostly fly between Birmingham, AL and various NYC/NJ airports and there is almost never a direct flight, which means I take a lot of those tiny shuttle-sized flights. I almost never fit in the seats and lately after some weight-gain invariably need a seatbelt extender.

    Most commonly, when I ask for a seatbelt extender the attendants are cheerful and accomodating. Occasionally they seem to feel as if I might be embarrassed by my need for an extender, so they sort of very intuitively get what I’m asking for and don’t make me ask twice or shout it out or anything. It’s hard to explain exactly what makes me feel like they think I might be embarrassed, but the thought has crossed my mind. I think that might be considered a good thing for anyone who really IS embarrassed by having to ask for one.

    Also, the last time I flew home the attendant noticed some empty seats and moved me, for free and with nothing more than kindness and comfort as her intent, to a larger space.

  102. I hope Kevin Smith complains about this for a good, long time. I think that most fans reaction will be “omg, poor Kevin!” but with enough reinforcement maybe that will change.

    Want to know what else would be nice? If Kevin Smith made a movie about a fatchick and/or fatdude. I’ve enjoyed his films (though I have not seen Jersey Girl, haha) and I’ve enjoyed the actors in them. But it would just be NICE if a fat writer/director would make a film about a fat person, especially if their weight isn’t the focus of the film. There was an excellent tedtalks video circulating around featuring a Nigerian woman author who spoke about how, when she started writing in her early childhood, she wrote books about white British people because she read books about write British people, and none about Africans. I’m sad to say that, as a fiction writer, I sometimes fall into the same cycle when is comes to weight diversity – most of my characters end up being thin. And that’s just too bad. So what do you say Kevin Smith and other far writers? Let’s start writing about fat people. Maybe we can start with a revenge story about Fatties and Airplanes.

  103. Reason #6489 I’m taking the train to DC in March. It’s a twelve-hour trip, which I figure is only marginally longer than it would be to take the plane, what with all the hurry up & wait security bullshit, waiting for and successfully finding your luggage on the carousel crapola, and then standing in line to get a cab. Plus, Club car yay!

  104. Okay, my bf just came up with this idea.

    What if, say, an organized group of fat people all booked seats on the same Southwest flight? (Is that even possible? What do I know, I have never flown as an adult). What would happen? Would they kick everyone off the flight? Pretend they didn’t notice this time and let it fly? Kick half the people off the flight and make the rest pay double? It makes me wonder if this could be a viable protest/demonstration of sorts. I don’t know about the feasibility/logistics/effectiveness of such a demonstration (and an expensive one it would be, methinks…and isn’t giving Southwest MOAR fat people’s money, well, a stupid idea?). However, I just get so damn giddy imagining a line of people, waiting to board a plane, and the Southwest employees freaking out because Every! Single! Person! is fat, and now OMG TWELVETY HUNDRED FATS AT ONCE WHO DO I KICK OFF THE PLANEEEEEEEEE

  105. Because of living on a different continent than my family, and generally not liking the country I reside it, I GTFO as much as I can, and must generally do it via plane. Well, always do it via plane. It is a pain, but the most offensive passengers I’ve found are the ones who stick their elbows out and take up both arm rests. If someone is larger and hir body takes up space, that’s one thing, but people who deliberately encroach on the space *I* paid for is ridiculous. I’ve finally had enough and tell myself that I have just as much right to space as anyone else, and will say so. This also falls in line with if I see someone walking down the street directly towards me, I have to remind myself that I have just as much right to the space as someone else. If it’s someone, again, who needs more space, be it because of body size, disability, stroller with small child, I’m more than willing to move out of the way, but I find it’s generally people who simply expect others to get out of the way because they’re just there, even if on the wrong side of the sidewalk. Oy.

    I do wish they would stop cramming people in like cattle off to slaughter on planes. I’ve found a few favorite airlines now, generally because they don’t charge for bags and have larger seats, and will pay the extra to fly with them.

  106. even if on the wrong side of the sidewalk.

    Heh, I totally hear you, but there is no “wrong” side of a sidewalk. I’ve been in conversations (maybe here!) where I learned that people were actually even taught different things about which side of a sidewalk to walk on! But as for the rest, yeah. I totally play chicken on the sidewalk, no matter which side I’m on.

  107. A tweet from a few minutes ago:

    Via @AlexLeeAlvarez “access 2 every option for weight loss yet u don’t take advantage. why?” My weight doesn’t bug ME; it bugs @SouthwestAir

    Yeah. Go get ‘em.

  108. @Volcanista:

    I figure the wrong side of the sidewalk is when you’re fighting foot traffic going in the direction opposite of what you’re going (general “you,” not Volcanista you).

    I do love the indigence of the overly fake tanned, self important Norwegian teenagers when the crazy haired lady won’t get out of their oh so important ways.

  109. What if, say, an organized group of fat people all booked seats on the same Southwest flight?

    Shark Fu is actually working on cooking up just such a protest. There’s a lot to figure out, and it might not work, but I’ll keep everyone here posted on details as they become available.

  110. I was taught to walk away from the traffic, on one side, and the dogshit and broken glass, on the other.

    Now I teach my children to try to walk where the illegal bicycles aren’t, but that’s trickier, because they weave…

  111. What if, say, an organized group of fat people all booked seats on the same Southwest flight?

    Shark Fu is actually working on cooking up just such a protest.

    My worry about this is that it gives Southwest a planeload of money.

  112. My worry about this is that it gives Southwest a planeload of money.

    Which is worth it if the project gets a planeload of media attention. That’s crucial to bothering with the whole plan.

  113. Has anyone else been able to get the Southwest blog site to load? Their “response” has been up for about an hour, but it’s been timing out for about the same period.

    I finally got it to load, after trying for an hour and a half, and well, after “heartfelt apologies”, it starts in with the justification:
    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. Most, if not all, carriers have similar policies, but unique to Southwest is the refunding of the second seat purchased (if the flight does not oversell) which is greater than any revenue made (full policy can be found here). The spirit of this policy is based solely on Customer comfort and Safety. As a Company committed to serving our Customers in Safety and comfort, we feel the definitive boundary between seats is the armrest. If a Customer cannot comfortably lower the armrest and infringes on a portion of another seat, a Customer seated adjacent would be very uncomfortable and a timely exit from the aircraft in the event of an emergency might be compromised if we allow a cramped, restricted seating arrangement.
    Source.

  114. If there is a fat in on southwest, can we got to Vegas? That’s my vote.

    I just want to make an observation, that even in this photo of Kevin Smith, his shoulders, not like the fat on his shoulders, but his actual shoulder bones, are wider than the seats.

    The seats are just ludicrously small at this point. Anti fat bias is just an easy way to cover how much they are trying to cheat people by shoving them into the smallest seats possible.

  115. If a Customer cannot comfortably lower the armrest and infringes on a portion of another seat, a Customer seated adjacent would be very uncomfortable

    But meanwhile, the fat person with an armrest digging into hir body is totes comfy? Like, could you make it clearer WHOSE comfort you care about?

  116. But meanwhile, the fat person with an armrest digging into hir body is totes comfy?

    Chuh, not to mention that – if their intention is to avoid a “cramped, restricted seating arrangement,” then it seems like changing up tiny seats that do not approach comfort for the MOST OF THEIR CUSTOMERS (not just the fat ones) might be the first place to look for a solution. You know, if that *is* the intention…

  117. If a Customer cannot comfortably lower the armrest and infringes on a portion of another seat, a Customer seated adjacent would be very uncomfortable

    “If a fat customer can’t be comfortable, then a real customer might be uncomfortable.”

  118. Ya know – I’m a fat girl. I don’t excuse it. I don’t live my life on a diet and I don’t really care what others think about me…

    …but in tandem with my fatassery – I am also 6’3. That’s ‘hella tall’ for anyone who might be wondering.

    On a recent United flight there was a man who was sitting in front of me that reclined his seat and when he couldn’t get it to go back any further (ya know, because I do have knees…) he slammed it back, sending his arm rest right into my knee…

    I complained to the attendant and was told that as a general rule, people over a certain height should be sitting in business or first class and she’d be happy to upgrade my ticket if I liked.

    This wasn’t a “my ass is to wide for the guy next to me” problem…as they continue to pack passengers in like sardines, the space available in coach shrinks and shrinks.

    I did send a letter to United about my experience – mostly because my already damaged knee started giving me additional problems so I went to my orthopedist who discovered my knee cap was cracked – ya know, right below the huge black bruise from the arm rest.

    They never responded.

    I should have contacted an attorney. People find it easy to ‘shame the fat people’ for their airline misadventures – but no amount of dieting is going to make my legs shorter – and I’m sorry, I’m just not going to entertain the process of amputation simply so some jackass in front of me can recline his seat.

    So, it’s not just the fat people – it’s the tall people too. They need to ‘upgrade’ coach so that it accommodates the typical American…but where’s the money in that?

  119. “Because with no fat people onboard, planes are so fucking ROOMY.”

    But as long as there is someone fatter than you on the plane to blame you can blame the fat people for your discomfort instead of the tiniest seats imaginable.

  120. I don’t get it. Why doesn’t anyone give my husband (BMI 20) a rough time when he has to stretch his legs into the aisle or suffer horrible cramps?

    HAHAHAHA! Just kidding.

  121. [U]nique to Southwest is the refunding of the second seat purchased (if the flight does not oversell) which is greater than any revenue made (full policy can be found here).
    I’m confused. So basically, fat customers, if they turn out to fit in the seats, will get their money back on a second seat UNLESS the flight oversells, in which case …what? They get money from the fat person AND the thin person for the same seat? The fat person gets kicked off the plane? What if the flight only oversells by one person? Here’s a novel idea: if a company has oversold a flight, it’s THEIR error. First come, first served.

    But as long as there is someone fatter than you on the plane to blame you can blame the fat people for your discomfort instead of the tiniest seats imaginable.
    I think this has become the Godwin’s law of air travel.

  122. if we allow a cramped, restricted seating arrangement.

    IF? IF?! Isn’t this the VERY DEFINITION of all airplane seating arrangements?

    I think the last time I flew without someone else poking into my seat space and v.v. was when I was a kid, when both I was smaller and the seats were bigger. And I am on the lower end of adult human sizes.

    What a pile of crap, Southwest.

  123. Yeah, they misspelled “if we design a cramped, restricted seating arrangement and then fail to blame already-marginalized passengers for it.”

  124. I am old, so I remember the days when air travel was comfortable. The legends are true! One could sit comfortably in coach, and they would serve you a meal on a ceramic tray. One airline used to give you a little picnic lunch, complete with a little bottle of wine (Blue Nun, but still.) The flight attendants used to hand out magazines and blankets to everyone, for free!

    In other news, get off my lawn! Why is television so awful these days? What happened to nice, wholesome shows like Murphy Brown?

  125. So, inquiring minds want to know…

    Will we see this on CNN/The News or not?

    I’m guessing no – because it doesn’t involve some half dressed stripper/Hooters employee wearing a partially see through tube top and chocha exposing micro-mini skirt who got thrown off the plane for inappropriate dress.

    Fat people aren’t as fun to look at…from a media stand point – ya know, unless we’re making them laugh :)

  126. I’m a largish tall person and look heavier than I am. I’m only 6′ and could stand to lose 10-15 pounds but I fit in the seat even if it’s just an inch to spare. What I have a problem with is leg room. It’s like the seats fit people that are 5’7 and 140 pounds and anyone else is too big. All in the name of getting one or 2 more passengers on in what is likely an under sold flight (the last 4 times i flew there were plenty of empty seats). If the airline is so concerned about weight why are they hauling all these extra seats around? Also on some flights there is no first class with larger seats.

  127. Brandy, according to Smith’s Twitter feed, he’s turning down media requests because he said everything he wanted to say in his podcast going up tonight. But the media requests are coming, so there might be some coverage anyway. This issue isn’t “sexy,” but people get so fired up about it, it’s always a talker. On the other hand, this is the first time the hook is “Fat famous person got thrown off a plane and and is PISSED” instead of “Real Americans are fed up with those stupid fat people.” And who knows if the media really wants to examine the other side.

    Can I just say, btw, how amazing it is that this happened at all? Not that a fatty got thrown off a plane, but that a famous one did. When you think of all the reasons why that’s unlikely to happen — only a handful of famous fat people to begin with, most wouldn’t be flying coach/Southwest, airline probably wouldn’t do it to someone they recognized as famous, most celebs would probably be too humiliated to draw attention to it if it happened to them — it is pretty surprising and kind of awesome that they actually did manage to fuck with the wrong fatty. As much as I agree that this would be playing out very differently if he weren’t a white guy, Kevin Smith is the PERFECT person to raise a fuss about this, on a lot of levels, and I’m so grateful he’s chosen to.

  128. We could stage a fat-in on Southwest where we all get on the plane, find ourselves uncomfortable, and kick ourselves off and then demand refunds. Just a thought.

    This made me LOL so hard. “What the… you’re encroaching on my space!” “No, YOU’RE encroaching on MY space!” “I’m kicking you off!” “You can’t kick me off, I kick myself off!”

    Actually, you know what I’d love to see? A bunch of thin and average-size allies getting on a flight and complaining about each other — her hip is in my seat, his legs are too long, she put her seat back, his elbows are sharp, her hair is on my side, I’m cramped, there’s not enough room on this armrest for two arms, etc. etc. etc. And then demanding that everyone else be thrown off for making them uncomfortable (or potentially uncomfortable! “He looks tall, I don’t want to sit by him because his knee might come into my space”).

  129. I totally agree Kate.

    I am glad to hear he’s at least getting request – because to me, that means people care.

    As sad as it is that Kevin had to live through this (thankfully, I never have and I fly Southwest a lot (and I think I’m bigger than Kevin)) I do think it’s an event that has the potential to open eyes.

    It makes me happy and sad at the same time…ya know?

  130. Now I’m worried about the plane flight I’ll probably be taking this summer. I’m a large inbetweenie/small fatty (size 18-22 depending bottom, HUGE boobage). I haven’t flown in a few years, but I do have one advantage. I’m short.

    I’m not even planning the trip (my father is. He moved recently, and he’s going to pay for me to visit him), so I can’t pick the airline. I could end up on Southwest, however much I don’t want to give them my business. I’ll try to convince my dad to use someone else, but I don’t know how well that’ll work.

    Hopefully a celebrity having issues with the policy will help, but I don’t have much faith in that.

  131. I’m sorry, Mods, but could you look at Mindy’s comment? It smacks of PR shilling to me. It is too properly phrased to sound like a real person’ s comment.

    Mindy, I offer you my sincere apologies if you are a regular here, but your comment just set off all sorts of bells. I don’t buy it.

  132. Filly Jonk: Am I going to have to pull this plane over until you all can sit together nicely? Because I will!

    But seriously, that would be a lovely demonstration in how flying just sucks.

  133. And I how hate how people try to defend this shit by going on about how horrible it is to sit next to a fat person on a plane/public transportation because they spill into your seat. The problem isn’t fat people, i mean step back and think about the business model of commercial airlines, what is it? To transport as many passengers as possible for a specific price with the goal of making profit. So the way airlines are built is to fit as many people as possible thus always feeling like you’re a sardine onboard.

    These seats weren’t really designed for comfort or with the passenger in mind. People who are lucky to fit in these seats are just lucky, so stop trying to make it about the awful fat person taking up space. Fat people are just scapegoats. Lots of people find flying uncomfortable not just fat people- tall people, wide hips, etc. I’m glad someone is finally calling airlines on their bullshit.

  134. Coyote, Mindy’s not a regular, but I approved her comment because I’ve heard similar things from other fat people. If you can afford to buy two seats and are comfortable doing so, Southwest does have one of the clearest policies to make that process simple. (Living 400lbs and other commenters have written about hassles they’ve faced with various airlines when they tried to buy two seats in advance.) I can understand taking the path of least resistance when that option is available to you. But obviously, the fact that they make it simpler for fat people to pay double (and maybe get a refund) doesn’t make me any fonder of Southwest.

  135. Delurking to say I was disgusted by entrepreneur Jason Calacanis’ comment.

    http://twitter.com/Jason/status/9114313893

    ‘Regarding being “too fat to fly” — if you can’t fit in the seat & you’re flowing over into my seat, well, buy two seats or treadmill!’

    OH HA HA, Jason. Never heard that gem before. “JUST GET ON A TREADMILL, FATTIES!”

    He backpedaled when called on it, saying that those people who are “too fat to fly” should be given free seats. But it doesn’t negate his fat-shaming treadmill comment. UGH. The amount of fat hatred this story has exposed in comments is like termites pouring out of rotten wood.

  136. I recently was on a flight where I was three across in coach with two other fatties. We were all pretty big, they used seatbelt extenders and I almost needed one (used up every inch of that seatbelt!), so none of us is an inbetweenie. It was almost a relief, actually. They were fat too, so I didn’t have to worry about “offending” anyone by existing.

    And guess what? It was NOT A BIG DEAL. We all crossed our arms and tucked ourselves in the best we could, put in our headphones and settled in for the flight, which was 2 hours. We all survived, I hardly even noticed after a while, just read my book. So if three people between 250 and 350 (I’m guessing) can sit next to each other in teensy coach seats and have it not be a big deal, why can’t the average or below-average sized people just deal with it? I guess to answer my own question, it’s because it’s not about their comfort or anything else, just their disgust for fatsos. UGH.

  137. Blast, one other thing: some of Kevin Smith’s tweets are bugging me. They seem to be focusing more on the fact that he’s “not that fat”. Almost as if it would be ok if he actually were “that fat.”

    But I guess no one would ever be the perfect spokesperson for this, and most of his comments are so dead on, I am loving it.

  138. I think there are two levels of crap here – on the one hand, poor implementation of the existing policy; on the other hand, the policy itself is discriminatory. For me, Southwest’s policy is clear enough that I know enough to avoid them and take a pass on their discrimination….but I can understand why folks would choose to fly with them because of that very clear policy (versus a crapshoot everywhere else).

  139. Don’t get too excited – it appears that the tide has turned in recent tweets and Smith IS now drawing the line in the fat sand, and freely and openly making fun of those larger than him. Why doesn’t he get it’s the same thing? Witness:

    Via @cenzopenza “no offense, sitting next to someone bulginh into my seat for 6 hours is agonizing” And if I did that, fine. But I don’t.

    Via @HelenMarieF “unfortunately each ticket is allocated a weight.” I assure you: I fall within whatever limit that it, sir. Arm rests down.

    Retweet of TwtFail @ThatKevinSmith I really really suck at photoshop and all but I figured this may be of help to @southwestair http://imgur.com/VOJvw.png

    Via @Spellvira “Airtran. as long as you weigh under 400 lbs. you should be okay.” That’s true on so many levels, ma’am…

    How long before he pulls a Kirstie Alley or a Tyra and loses weight, goes on a talk show and talks about how deluded he was?

  140. My biggest issue with this policy – outside of the policy itself of course – is the fact that enforcing it is often left up to many different people who have different views.

    I mean, take the same fat person and march him or her in front of a ten different people and I guarantee you that you will get many different opinions on his ‘fatness’.

    That, in my opinion, makes the rule itself unfair and impossible to enforce equally across the board.

    I once heard of a woman who flew two different SWA flights during the same day – she boarded one plane, no problem – depart, fly, land, deplane and go to the next plane – where she was told she had to purchase another seat.

    This. Isn’t Fair.

    Since the world would totally fly into a fit of rage if they had some sort of standardized systematic way of checking every passenger (like weight check at the gate, or some sort of measuring device) -then there is no way they can enforce this policy with any across the board standardization.

  141. This is where you want governments to step in/ Measure the population, mandate that airline seats have to be at least X wide and provide Y legroom. This issue isn’t going to go away, for anyone unusually-shaped, until airlines are forced to provide their seating for humans, not profit.

  142. Lovely! I am so glad that the idiots at Southwest decided to enact their vengence on someone who would not shrink from the attack. With any luck, they’ll get exactly what they deserve: the outrage of Kevin Smith – and all of us with rights which shall NOT be trampled on in this country – the bad press they deserve and everything that comes with that. It seems to me that this could EASILY be looked at as a violation of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). If they consider him”too fat” to fly, they may want to consider what his technical designation may be, medically speaking. If he could be considered morbidly obese..which is definitely possible given the ridiculous charts used by the medical profession in that realm, then denying him a seat due to his size could be discrimination based on a medical condition. Hmmm..what’s next? No blind people?? No deaf people?? No one with cancer? Hey -why stop there? Maybe they’ll move on to exclude women, homosexuals, blondes, people of color, different nationalities, different religions, etc. Most businesses are required by law to ensure certain clearances and space provisions, in order to be in compliance with the ADA. Perhaps it is time the airline industry be made to comply with the same regulations. One might think that companies which seemingly constantly complaining about their losses and their financial woes would bother keeping an eye toward actually making money from customers, and not insulting them and running them away. I certainly hope that Southwest – or any other airline – never decides to ruin my travel plans in such a ridiculous and demeaning manner. But, I can say that if they do, there will be Hell to pay. I hope EVERYONE who is discriminated against in such a manner finds the voice to fight this behavior and force these offending companies to learn the meaning of “Customer Service” and to learn that, especially in this economy, they can be replaced.

  143. I’m new here, so apologies if this article has been posted before:

    The Shrinking Airline Seat by Ed Hewitt

    http://www.independenttraveler.com/resources/article.cfm?AID=161&category=13

    The author is 6’1 and 180 lbs (not overweight by any BMI standards), and although his hips fit airplane seats, he calculated that his shoulders clearly encroach on the space next to him. (Typical airplane seat width is 17.2 inches.)

    His stats:
    - General: 6’1″, approx. 180 lbs.
    – Width, A: Distance across hips: approx. 15″
    – Leg pitch: Distance from small of back to end of knee while sitting: 25″
    – Height: Eye level sitting in my office chair: 48″
    - Width, B: Distance from elbow to elbow while standing: 23 inches +

    “It’s that last one that looms largest when it comes to confronting the Middle Seat Factor. It’s no wonder that I don’t want anyone next to me – there’s five or six inches of me that I need to gather in and put somewhere else when I’m sitting in a middle seat next to two strangers so not to elbow them the entire flight.”

    As a side note, I haven’t heard anyone really addressing how this issue seems to target women disproportionately because of the focus on “hip width” as the standard. Shoulder width encroachment also causes discomfort and is far more common in my experience, but it’s never been deemed an issue. Maybe because airlines might have to start booting a lot of “healthy weight men,” like Ed Hewitt?

  144. f he could be considered morbidly obese..which is definitely possible given the ridiculous charts used by the medical profession in that realm, then denying him a seat due to his size could be discrimination based on a medical condition. Hmmm..what’s next? No blind people?? No deaf people?? No one with cancer? Hey -why stop there? Maybe they’ll move on to exclude women, homosexuals, blondes, people of color, different nationalities, different religions, etc.

    Okay, a couple of things. I understand where this outrage is coming from. But:
    1) Discrimination with regard to airplane travel is already happening for PWD and POC, and frequently. I get that you’re saying “what’s next” because it seems outrageous to you — and it is outrageous — but it’s also real and already happening.
    2) “Homosexuals?”

  145. @breadandcirce – Thanks for the links, those were the very tweets that were bugging me too.

    And unfortunately, on his podcast telling the story of what happened (which is long and rambling), it gets even worse.

    The number of times he goes on about being “fat, but not THAT fat!” on the podcast is pretty staggering. His problem doesn’t seem to be the way Soutwest treats fat customers, but the fact that he was being lumped in with THOSE fatties. It’s kind of a fail, for me.

  146. I am listening to the podcast now – disappointed…I think it will put the policy in the spotlight – but his argument isn’t the policy itself (which is disappointing) but rather, the fact that he doesn’t meet the requirements for deplaning due to the policy.

    So, he’s made no issue with the policy itself – only the fact that he isn’t fat enough to be forced off the plane/have to pay for 2 tickets.

  147. The hip width standard kills me. <:(

    Even at my lowest weight EVER my hips were still wider than most other girls my size. They're really quite large, the bone underneath is simply wide! Add some booty fat like I have now and MAN, I'm asstastic. :D I don't like plane seats. ;_;

    My boyfriends' shoulders are pretty much the same. Airplanes need to wise up and fix this…..

  148. If Kevin Smith made a movie about a fatchick and/or fatdude.

    Katie – given that Kevin Smith IS a fatdude, do his own appearances in his own films somehow not count?

    I’m totally in for a fattie protest flight to Vegas. Then we can all meet up somewhere and get drunk. ;)

    DRST

  149. “Homosexuals?”

    Oh sweet, I missed that Kate wrote about that! I was baffled by people’s bafflement — that’s not a surprising result, that’s a result that shows that unsurprisingly, language matters — but of course Kate was on top of it. Hooray!

  150. @breadandcirce -I know, disgusting.

    I now wish I’d waited to throw my support behind him until I’d heard more from him.

    Sometimes, you learn the hard way.

  151. Dear Airline Industry,

    Make seats wider and you’d avoid these situations. I’m a thin guy and i’m often annoyed at the room I have today, let alone being a plus sized person and then having to deal with this situation. I travel almost weekly on a plane both domestic and international, not one airline factors this concept into place and usually holds the luxury seat hostage to prices which I just simply laugh at – as the markup is anywhere between 50%-120%.

    You reap what you sew.

  152. I’m going to Rome to study abroad for three months in about six weeks. I bought my own seatbelt extender. I’m flying on donated miles, first class, 110K of those miles, so the transatlantic flight won’t be as uncomfortable as coach would be – which is necessary because I have a bad back and I’m trying to keep it as happy as possible.

    I’m now totally terrified that at each of these layovers I am going to have this problem, that I will be asked to pay for a second ticket or kicked off for being “non-revenue” and I won’t make it to my program. That I worked hard for, that I had to compete with others to get into.

    I’m absolutely terrified.

  153. Well, Kevin Smith has clearly learned our culture’s lesson about self-loathing and fat hatred, which is disappointing but hardly surprising given the events we’re talking about. I hope he rethinks that.

  154. I’ve gotten to the end of the podcast, and the part about the girl who was chastised for not buying another seat, and it sounds like he really does hate how terribly fat people get treated. I think that he’s kind of waking up to the reality of this and he might come around and realize that comments about not wanting to leave the house aren’t productive. I mean, if I think about it, it sounds like in a way he is like so many others who realize that they aren’t alone in their experience. Maybe he’s spent so many years shit-talking himself that it’s the first language he can access. In some ways, it really is about him.

    I think his heart is somehow in the right place, but in the meantime, I kind of want to be, like, “Don’t do us any favors.”

  155. Not only did they tell the woman sharing his row she should think about buying two seats in the future, they told her she had to go ask him if it was ok for her to sit there and, you know, touch his empty seat with her thigh.

  156. “Dude, I know I am not that fat, and if I WAS, I wouldn’t go out in public.”

    Snap. Instantly I became too fat to pay to see a Kevin Smith movie. Weird how that happens.

  157. @breadandcirce
    I fly internationally and in the US a fair amount and I am a size 28 with super wide hips, etc…I get super scared too, but I’ve never had a problem. That said, the more I hear the more I think I should be buying two seats ALL the time..it’s just so expensive..What I will say is this–international flights almost always have wider seats. You can check out the specifics at seatguru. Also, I fly around Europe, which is a really cheap way to get to see great places on discount airlines and, again, though I’m always scared to death, I’ve never had a problem. Stupid easyjet’s extenders are bright orange, but I’m not on a plane because I’ve chosen to hide myself away in the cellar because of my fat shame. I guess, I don’t have an answer exactly, but I’m thinking of all the amazing experiences I never would have had if I had not gotten on all those planes.
    Good luck!

  158. The fat haters have started posting their support of the policy on ABC News’s website. Not sure what the policy here is on posting links, so I won’t post it – but it shouldn’t be hard to find :(

    Sad, really.

  159. @breadandcirce, I was in the middle of typing the same thing Jackie just said, so instead, I’ll just second her comment. It’s also been my experience that those staffing international flights from the US tend to be more aware of the fact that flying (eight hours in a plane) is pretty miserable for everybody, and in my experience at least have been super accommodating. I stopped flying EasyJet and RyanAir in Europe, but only because of their ridiculous baggage limitations. (You want to carry on a book? £15! Come on. And I always drag SO MUCH CRAP with me.) Have such a good time in Rome!

  160. @breadandcirce: “I’ve gotten to the end of the podcast, and the part about the girl who was chastised for not buying another seat, and it sounds like he really does hate how terribly fat people get treated. I think that he’s kind of waking up to the reality of this and he might come around and realize that comments about not wanting to leave the house aren’t productive. I mean, if I think about it, it sounds like in a way he is like so many others who realize that they aren’t alone in their experience. Maybe he’s spent so many years shit-talking himself that it’s the first language he can access. In some ways, it really is about him.”

    (disclaimer: I’m a fan of Kevin’s, so people can take me with as many grains of salt as they like) I think he sounds like a whole lot of fat people before the realization that something like FA exists. I know that I spent many years in that “I”m fat but at least I’m not THAT fat” mindset before I started exploring fat acceptance, and I’m not going to dismiss him entirely because he’s most likely unaware that fat acceptance really exists – or doesn’t think it’s for him (the old “it’s okay for other people but not for me” thing). I can’t demand that he lead the charge for fat acceptance and use FA concepts/language when he hasn’t reached that place in his own head.

  161. Gawker has a post about this: http://defamer.gawker.com/5471463/update-the-kevin-smith-southwest-airlines-fat+flight-tweakout-of-epic-proportion

    At the bottom they note that Southwest has now published the information that he usually purchased two seats. I’m super duper new to Shapely Prose and being able to deconstruct this kind of stuff, but to start: 1) Is it private information about you that you normally purchase two seats when buying airline tickets? 2) Is the reason that they (Gawker) thinks it IS private is because they would find it embarrassing to be someone who regularly does that?

  162. I think part of why I’m matter-of-fact about getting two seats is that I first did it for a cross-country trip, Seattle to Orlando (changing planes in Denver) in 1996. The airline in question was United, and they didn’t have a “person of size” policy at the time, so we weren’t pushed to do it. It was me and a similarly-sized friend realizing that flights into Orlando tend to be crowded, and gee, sitting still for 8 hours is hard, and our stock options were doing well, so why not buy some extra room to move around?

    (Oh: and 2 coach on United was much, much less than first class. Ahem.)

    So yeah — for me it was a choice. Making it possible to buy an extra seat is useful, whether the extra seat is for one’s hip or one’s cello or one’s portable office. Requiring people to purchase an extra seat for inconsistent and capricious reasons is a problem.

  163. In his podcast he owns how his privilege insulates him from the fat hatred and recounts how it affected him more before he became famous.

    He also speaks about the ill treatment of the fat woman who was seated next to him and the level of cruelty involved in the way she was dealt with. He mentioned in the podcast that his resolve transformed when he found out that this woman was taken aside to be lectured about why she should buy a second ticket when the flight was not at capacity and there was a seat empty between the two of them.

    While it is unfortunate that the woman was attacked in this manner, the fact that it happened with Smith witnessing it, does help to illustrate how the hatred is a cultural thing.

  164. @ Vidya – How did I not know about this in regards to Canadian airlines? I cannot even express my shock and horror – WHO complies with those medical/allopath handouts with the bootyshot requirements? Are we really such sheep? Ugh, remind me to only travel to Canada by water.

    @ Katie – Oh! Oh! I’m a desperate, self-promoting writer and I write (novels, plays, etc.) almost exclusively about three-dimensional, intelligent, fascinating fat people! And PoC! And queer people! Find someone to publish meeee….

    @ Brandy – Your story is awful! I hope you’re doing better, and United is evil and bad.

    In regards to Kevin Smith’s latest tweets: Yes, some of those remarks have turned me off, big time, especially the one about not going out in public. NOT COOL. But is that just supposed to be his sense of humor…? I am at a loss. I feel as if his superego is getting it, but that id is just not and it’s a disappointment. And yet, I don’t want to retract my support from him until I see what happens tomorrow – I’ll give him a day to decide how he wants to continue his attack. Because this needs to happen, and I’d like it to happen in the best possible way, but, well, the best possible way is all too elusive.

  165. Oh: and 2 coach on United was much, much less than first class. Ahem.

    Oh yeah, I meant to mention that upthread. Al and I have occasionally taken first class upgrades when they’re offered at check-in for like $100, since our baggage now costs half that anyway (and the fees are waived for first class) and we’re lucky enough that we can afford that. But after doing that once, I looked into the cost of booking a first class flight up front, and it was like FIVE times the cost of coach. We could each buy a second coach seat and still come out spending a lot less than first class — which seems like a major flaw in the system. I mean, seriously, free booze and warm nuts are worth HUNDREDS of dollars? I would be all over first class seats with coach service, if that were available. But since it’s not, anyone with the means and willingness to pay somewhat more than coach but not full first class prices ends up paying LESS THAN WHAT THEY WOULD BE WILLING TO PAY because there’s nothing in between. (See below.) Capitalism fail, asswipes.

    Obviously, they can’t sell all those seats at that price, or we’d never get the opportunity for the check-in upgrade — and if they were routinely selling bigger seats at $100 extra, I bet a LOT of fat people would take them up on it and do exactly what glib assholes I’ve been deleting from the mod queue all day suggest — let the market solve some of the problem. (Though also obviously, there would still be people who couldn’t afford the premium and would still DESERVE A FUCKING SEAT. And also, ETA: Those bigger seats would probably get snapped up right away by people of all sizes, because WE’D ALL LOVE BIGGER SEATS.) Instead, a bunch of them have relatively affordable upgrades to seats with more legroom — great for people like my husband, of absolutely no interest to me — but if you want more ass room, you have to be willing to pay over $1000 for a domestic flight (or go through the hassle of buying two coach seats and defending your right to keep both). Makes no sense.

  166. I wonder how SWA is going to explain the treatment of the woman sitting next to Smith. If their policy is to ask ‘people of size’ to purchase an extra seat, the price of which will be refunded if the flight has empty seats then how can they justify asking her to buy an extra seat when there’s an empty seat right next to her? According to their rules they would have to turn right around and give her a refund anyway.

    I also love the way their PR person uses capitalization. Safety is capitalized but comfort is not. I guess I would prioritize safety over comfort, but that’s not actually how capitalization works.

    If the airlines were really doing this for comfort wouldn’t they make tall people pay extra for obstructing peoples’ seatbacks from reclining? I am one of those tall people and no one has ever suggested I purchase the seat in front of me to ensure a safe and comfortable flight for all concerned. Oh that’s right, it’s because I can’t help being tall, but my fat is ALL MY FAULT!!!

  167. From earlier today:
    Via @markdtaylor ” @SouthWestAir should have realized who the hell you were” You ain’t shitting, sir: because who I am is a paying customer.
    15 February 2010 7:49
    using web

    I have faith in him still. Hopefully he’ll realise the shaming comments for what they are.

  168. At the bottom they note that Southwest has now published the information that he usually purchased two seats.

    From not quite an hour ago, two tweets run together:

    But contrary to their claim that I regularly purchase two seats, I wasn’t a regular 2-seat buyer until just this week. They SEIZED on that. In their “apology” blog, they implied (or flat-out wrote) that I regularly purchase 2 seats. Writing that buttresses their lie: 2 Fat 2 Fly.

  169. Hey, OT sorta, but thanks for the link re: the word “homosexual”–I had no idea it carries such negative baggage, and I am really glad to be informed.

  170. Okay, lots of problems in the Kevin Smith podcast, but when his heart broke for the woman in the later plane and it was clear she’d gone through “Fat Nam”–oh did I lol. That is humor born of pain.

  171. Ugh. I was all about ThatKevinSmith’s twitter on the subject, until this tweet:

    “Via @ZenX1 “What are you weighing in at these days?” When I look at the scale, it reads “Please get off the plane, you rotund retard.””

    and this one:

    “Articles say I was given $100 @SouthwestAir voucher. It was OFFERED: the way a john tosses a hooker a c-note after a hate-fucking. Said no.”

  172. Quite off-topic, but someone above made a comment on having a “lap baby” and how people reclining their seat in front cause lots of hassles. That’s actually the least of your worries.

    I work in the aviation industry. For the love of god, get a proper child restraint with a multi-point harness (like a car seat) and book an entire seat for the baby. Having a baby on your lap is a gamble that the plane won’t crash… or even experience severe turbulence.

    I believe the FAA has banned the seatbelt extenders they used to provide for use with babies, because they are killing devices. They are not banned around the world, and in fact plenty of airlines mandate their use. It’s disgusting.

    On the other hand, the FAA doesn’t mandate any baby restraints at all, although they recommend they be used. If you believe that you will be able to stop your baby flying around the cabin when you experience more than a certain amount of g-force, physics might have something to say to you.

    Sorry to be so blunt, but I really deplore the wilful ignorance that airlines essentially promote when it comes to child safety. If you wouldn’t drive around without your baby in a car seat, think about the fact that a plane is not that much different in terms of the effects of inertia and gravity. Sure, planes don’t crash as much as cars do, per passenger mile, but you can see stuff in the media all the time about planes that experience severe turbulence, enough to cause injury to adult passengers. Babies are not immune.

  173. Perhaps I’m the only one here espousing this position, but it seems to me that one of the main problems here is that airlines aren’t willing to get specific about their terms. If they care about passengers’ weight, then they should state that explicitly in their terms. I think it should be an airline’s right to deny service to somebody whose weight exceeds a certain amount. The libertarian in me thinks it should be a company’s right to deny service to anyone on any grounds, but I understand that certain forms of discrimination became illegal after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Of course, I don’t support bigotry; I think it is abhorrent, but I think that other people, including business owners, should have a right to be bigots if they want to. But such companies should own up to it and state specifically their terms of service so there is no gray area.

  174. On the Kevin Smith note: If he waited for perfect spokes-people to advocate for ANYTHING, we’d get no where. Although I agree that some of his comments have been less than FA & feminist etc etc perfect, I believe that he really is taking the issue to heart and is beginning to realize that fatties of all fattiude deserve to be treated with respect and deserve to be able to fly. It seems that he is trying to make the most of his humiliation and is really trying to a) learn about the issue by talking to other fatties and b) trying to influence attitudes and policy.

    *disclaimer 1: I am a fan of most of his work, despite the non-PC aspects of a lot of it.

    *disclaimer 2: I am also trying to decide about “fattie” “fat” “fat people” and “people of size” in my own vocabulary. I’m an in-betweenie with really rotund and tall relatives & friends. I’m not particularly fond of “POS,” because I think we ought to make an effort to get people to reflect on the baggage “fat” carries.

  175. @Trix: Now if people would realize that unrestrained, careening babies were a bigger risk than people blowing up their underpants, I could get behind some of the security measures. Thanks for pointing this out, and making me realize, again, why the travel industry makes me want to *headdesk*

  176. This amusing chart: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_height#Average_height_around_the_world
    informs me that I am about average height, if I were a Vietnamese man, but that I am a good five inches shorter than an average American man. There seems to be no place but China where I am taller than the average for men. But I’m about the same height as the average for American women. I am, according to the stupid calculator things, at the ‘ideal’ weight for my height.

    Airline seats are too small for me. Cramped, painful, aarrrrgh. I can sit comfortably through a lecture or film for hours longer and not be miserable; an hour-long flight is more than enough. I take frickin’ sleeping pills for it.

    So, yeah. I’m not a leprechaun, but it’s clear that those seats aren’t arranged to fit the population they’re supposed to serve — that average-heights chart would indicate that at least 3/4ths of people from North American and Northern European countries are bigger than me, yet I am not small enough to be comfortable in those seats.

  177. Grafton, I’m 4’11” tall, 122 pounds, and I’m not comfortable in those seats. They are designed to be uncomfortable. Every year they take out more padding to save weight, and make the seats narrower, and closer together, and then they try to lay the blame on their larger passengers.

    They’re forcing people to PAY MORE for this lousy experience for fear of being shamed or not allowed to fly at all. And it’s working…because now they have a ready reason to kick anyone they want off the airplane since practically NO ONE fits the seats. “It’s the size of your ass, not the size of the seat!” Bullshit. BULLSHIT. It’s the size of the seats. Our asses are fine.

  178. Thanks, Liz. I would suggest that you and I move to Peru, where we can enjoy the new experience of being average height, but there isn’t an airplane seat big enough for either of us to travel in enough comfort that we can walk once we get there. Perhaps I’ll renovate an elderly schoolbus.

  179. Hey Shapelings and mods. I just dropped a link to the blog (to Don’t You Realise Fat Is Unhealthy?) in over at Comment Is Free in response to a deeply irritating discussion of the Kevin Smith/Southwest affair. So you might find some clueless types turning up with their revolutionary calories-in/calories-out advice. Sorry.

  180. Kate Harding: ” Confidential to everyone trying to comment about how much it sucks that fat people are allowed to fly when they should really stay home until they lose weight FOR THEIR HEALTH: You are in the wrong fucking place.”

    There are actually people saying that? Er … wow.

    I suddenly love your moderation policy much more than I used to.

    TRiG.

  181. Sorry Jenniferal if I have almost stolen your name, I will change mine next time I comment.

    As I mentioned in another thread I have only recently started to read Shapely Prose and I can’t believe how much I have come to rely on having a safe place to come when other sites have ground me down.

    This weekend has been particularly horrific, with both this topic and the anti-obesity crusade by Michelle Obama resulting in many thread comments sections being full of both fat hating and calories in = calories out comments.

    I literally couldn’t sleep last night for thinking about some of the attitudes displayed, not least on sites that I would expect to be full of allies (Pandagon I am looking at you here, great work by Ellie on that thread though).

    I think I have decided that it is so stressful for me to engage in that kind of debate that I will just not read the threads in question, I am fairly robust mentally but at some point you just have to draw a line.

    So thankyou for providing a place that I can visit without having to put on mental armour.

  182. I don’t know if a woman would not have been able to get traction with both the same level of fame and same words/actions that Kevin Smith has employed, but I am certain that a woman who attempted to do so would be receiving a lot more scorn and a lot less support from the webosphere at large, and I also suspect that it would have been harder for a woman built like Kevin Smith to get herself into the position that he’s in.

    Tangent: Kevin Smith strikes me as a great example to use whenever somebody uses the “self-made man/worked for everything I got” argument as a kneejerk rejection of their own privilege. Kevin Smith might have built the ladder he used to climb to the top himself, but the materials were laying around where he could reach them.

  183. This story – Kevin Smith v. Southwest, on Twitter, made it on to NPR’s morning edition this morning. Unfortunately I just caught the tail end so I don’t know if they did a good job or not. Anyone hear the full story?

  184. thegirlfrommarz – thanks for wading in there; I sometimes comment on CiF, but in this case I’m afraid I just lost the heart to do it. For now, anyway. Just sick of the hyperbole. For some people, the mythical Fatty in their heads has so totally replaced the real fat people outside it that they seem to be incapable of believing a word we come out with.

    However far (or not) Smith is along the FA journey, I hope this causes enough of a ruckus that the airlines start to take note. Never flown SWA – most of my flights have been with BA; as an in-betweenie with big hips, I’ve not had issues with their seat width, but legroom is another matter, and I only have squitty little legs. It’s a cram-them-in-to-make-more-money issue, obviously, and a lot of people aren’t comfortable on planes for a lot of reasons, but these rules are really about who the airlines feel it’s OK to enforce other passengers’ complaints about. They need to know that it’s not OK.

  185. Lauredhel, I saw those tweets, too, and I didn’t listen to the whole podcast because I was already turned off 10 minutes in — all of which only reminds me why I’m not a Kevin Smith fan, and I probably should have said that in the post. He’s kind of the king of Hipster “Ironic” Bigotry. (And, not for nothing, about the last person I’d choose as any kind of FA spokesperson under normal circumstances.) So the only reason I’m not freaking out about some of his comments is that they don’t remotely surprise me.

    I’m still grateful to him for bringing so much attention to this subject, but that doesn’t mean I like him.

  186. I know people don’t mean offense by speaking this way but I’m a little bothered by some of the comments from people who always buy an extra seat and say that the expense is worth not being stressed about the flight. But what about those of us who struggle to buy just one ticket? If airlines are going to insist on having policies like this, the cost of a second seat should be wildly reduced. To like, free. But since most of the also insist on charging you extra for your baggage, I doubt anything like that will ever happen.

    It’s discouraging. I’m glad that the fatosphere has blown up with this and that Kevin Smith persists, but like someone else said waaay upthread, the hatred and ignorance can get really, really tiring and old. And some days it’s just not worth my sanity to fight.

  187. CNN is talking about it this morning – although, they seem to be taking the “humorous” stance on the issue rather than the “This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed” stance.

    I did comment on their blog…

  188. I know people don’t mean offense by speaking this way but I’m a little bothered by some of the comments from people who always buy an extra seat and say that the expense is worth not being stressed about the flight. But what about those of us who struggle to buy just one ticket?

    I hear that. I think everyone here is fully against the policy for just that reason, and I don’t think anyone thinks buying two seats is a good solution. But sometimes, when you’re in a position to capitulate instead of fighting, you do — precisely because fighting can be so exhausting. And I think the fact that a lot of fat people DO already buy two seats — and many more probably would if they could afford it — often gets left out of these discussions, because the fat-hating wisdom is that fatties are thoughtless and selfish, so of course we all WANT to cram ourselves into coach seats even if it means infringing on someone else’s space. In fact, we look forward to making other people uncomfortable, while of course there is nothing at all uncomfortable about the whole experience for us.

    So I like to hear from the people who are already buying two seats in threads like these — but I agree, it’s really important to reinforce that that is simply not an option for some people, which is one of many reasons why policies like these are incredibly unfair.

  189. Lap babies are legal because there was a study (or studies) that demonstrated that if people were compelled to buy tickets for their under 2s, so many of them would choose to drive, that more babies would die in car accidents than in planes as a result. For people who are breast feeding their little ones, paying for an extra seat is hard to justify. As the parent of a squirmy, freedom-loving young tot who wants out of her car seat after 30 minutes, strapping her into a car seat for 2-4 hours isn’t going to mean she’ll actually be in it, which means now I’ve got this big piece of equipment to deal with plus a kid sitting in my lap. And I got to pay $250-$500 to have an empty car seat parked next to me. There’s the ideal, and then there’s reality. At least in the car, I can pull over and give the kid a break from restraints.

    I guess my point is: air travel is uncomfortable.

  190. What to fly… Virgin America, Jet Blue. They’re fairly limited in destinations, so a great standby is Alaska Airlines, which also has the benefit of having some of the lowest fares out there. I don’t have an inkling why anyone flies Delta, United, Continental, Southwest, etc. These airlines are constantly in the news for bad customer service, ridiculous fee increases/additions, etc. Want to really stick it to them? STOP FLYING THEM. I’ve almost always had good experiences with Alaska, and great service with Jet Blue and Virgin America.

  191. I would buy two seats if I could afford it for the same reason that I buy a roomette on the train when I can afford it: eliminating a neighbor takes away one x-factor in whether or not one has a pleasant trip.

    And you know, this is a point that could be brought up more often: why is the onus to buy an extra seat not on the people who care about who might otherwise end up sitting next to them?

  192. @AE – “why is the onus to buy an extra seat not on the people who care about who might otherwise end up sitting next to them?”

    Because then the airlines (or Amtrak or whoever) would have to posit that as, “you’re paying to get from point a to point b; if you want to have your own space or remotely enjoy the trip, you are going to have to pay at least twice what we are already charging you.” And that’s not good for business. So they place the blame on other passengers.

  193. I bought a seat for my baby’s carseat. The carseat didn’t fit in the seat (not all models do). The carseat was put in the hold, which meant I couldn’t use it afterwards (have you seen what happens to baggage in the hold?) and my baby had to go on my lap. There Is No Way To Win.

    What drives me nuts is that not-around-the-abdomen restraints like slings are not allowed instead of infant seatbelts (which are mandatory throughout Europe, not for the baby’s sake in case of a crash, but for everyone else, as I understand it). For a start, my first could undo her airplane seatbelt at 6 months.

    But for now, we just don’t fly. Trains, ferries, and not going places. That’s what we do.

  194. The Sit-n-Stroll carseat is FAA approved, which means that the airlines MUST let you use it on the plane if you’ve bought a seat for your child. And because it’s a stroller, it can carry your carryons or your child through the airport when you’re racing from gate to gate.
    One caveat, my son grew out of it by age 4.

  195. I’ve just been looking on the UK Guardian newspaper website about the Kevin Smith story, and the reader’s comments on that virtually all come down on the side of “Lose weight Fatty.” This is usually a pretty highbrow paper (or so it seemed) so I’m a bit surprised that its so united in negative opinion.
    What amazes most is that no-one seems to give two shits about the fact that ignoring all the other issues involved, someone’s feelings would be hurt if they were removed or made a spectacle of because of their weight. I imagine it would be a pretty nasty experience to be highlighted in such a way.

  196. @Emerald, @paintmonkey – I am trying to fight the good fight there. I don’t know why I’m bothering – the comments are so vile. At least they’re not commenter names I recognise (I am a semi-regular at CiF), so I think they must the a swarm of fat-hating trolls who have found the article. CiF is not v. fat-friendly, however. *sigh*

    My latest comment:
    A number of people are making [the point that you should be charged for total baggage/person weight], but it doesn’t hold up at all:
    1. If we were all charged for seats/baggage by total weight, you could take more baggage on a plane but still be sitting next to a fat person (whose smaller case will be in the cargo hold next to your much larger one). How does that do anything to make you more comfortable on the plane journey itself?
    2. Airlines are in a financial bind and need to make more money from their passengers. On low-cost airlines in particular, they are trying to avoid putting up fares, so you’ll find you get charged for lots of “extras” that used to be included in the price of the ticket. That includes lowering baggage allowances so that more people have to pay “excess” baggage charges; charging for drinks and food; and possibly even charging for using the loo, as Ryanair suggested. They are not going to stop charging you for excess baggage as long as they can get away with it. They’ll find some other way to strip you of your cash.

    Wider seats for EVERYONE, folks! You’ll all have a more comfortable flying experience! Never again will you be elbowed in the face by someone just trying to get up and go to the loo! Never again will you accidentally take the wrong arm rest and cause your seatmate to hate you for the rest of the flight! You might actually get some sleep on a long-haul flight! But no, once again, it seems that this is about punishing people for being fat, not making everyone on the plane more comfortable.

  197. I’m done over at the CiF article now, by the way. I don’t think anyone’s taking it seriously any more and it feels daft trying to have a serious argument with people whose idea of scoring a point is typing some variant of “Fatties are fat LOLOLOLOL”.

  198. @ Paintmonkey

    A so called high class newspaper does not a high class comments section make.

    I read the online section of the Guardian for laughs and to induce anger ( they seem to attract every right wing commentator in the world) and they are especially nasty about fat people.

    It all seems to be about having to spend your taxes on something that doesn’t affect yourself.

    I think that if as a fat, working class, benefit claiming person with a substance abuse problem, I am basically setting myself up for hatred every time I read it, but there are diamonds amongst the crap.

    The Guardian sets itself up as a liberal, caring paper but basically it is all about very rich, priviledged people feeling sorry for the rest of us (without in any way giving up any of their perks) , they once ran an advertisement for moisturising cream that cost £1000.00.

    Power to the people (but only if they are the right people).

  199. @Sarea of course, one of the issues when picking which airline to fly is whether they serve your departure & arrival cities. I don’t have the opportunity to simply reject the yucky airlines. I guess I need to take on a letter writing campaign to get some of the nicer airlines to my home airport. *le sigh*

  200. @ Girlfrommarz

    I have seen your comments on CIF and I applaud you for fighting the good fight, both about FA and feminism.

    I fear until we get more enlightened ATL articles the BTL comments will remain the same.

    Does it worry you, as much as it does me, that so many woman contribute to “What about the menz” comment threads?

    Ok no more off topic comments, sorry.

  201. paintmonkey, I think hurting fat people’s feelings is now seen as a sort of public health service. Because, you know, it’s really effective at getting them to lose weight. Even though it isn’t. It’s kind of like dieting, I suppose; still being fat is simply proof that you’re just not trying hard enough to be hurt. If Smith had Twittered how the experience made him have a little cry in the airport bathroom and then sign up for WW as soon as he got home, I’m sure plenty of people would be applauding SWA for having ‘helped’ him.

  202. I’m fat. Gotten fatter since I turned 50 last year. I fly Southwest a lot. I fly out of BWI and SWA has a huge presence there. I have to admit, so far I’ve not had any problems with Southwest thus far. But, here’s the caveat, I always make sure to check in online exactly at the 24 mark so I can get an A boarding spot. Then, upon boarding, I ALWAYS take an aisle seat. This way I can sort shift my body into the aisle rather than take up space in the middle seat. Also, by doing this, if it’s not a completely full flight, people are reluctant to sit in my row since I’m already seated and in the aisle seat.

  203. Any parent who dares fly with a child who has to breathe, cry, stand up and move around, go to the bathroom, eat, talk, or otherwise exist in the same space as other human beings is obviously a bad parent, right? Right? NOT SO MUCH, NO.

    One of the reasons I love Shapely Prose, and will actually read the comments (though I lurk 99% of the time), is that I know you will moderate and not allow kid-bashing and mommy-shaming (and other problematic behaviors and -isms) through without commenting on them.

    Thanks. :)

  204. I’m not large enough to have experienced this particular problem, but I agree with everyone who suggested roomier seats in general. Even when I was thin, plane seats were too small to be comfortable for me. Making them bigger would make nearly everyone more comfortable, and I can’t imagine how it would be bad for those people who comfortably fit in the current seats. It seems like bigger seats would hurt the airlines in terms of profit, but I think they’d actually make more money because they’d get more business.

  205. I wonder how SWA is going to explain the treatment of the woman sitting next to Smith. If their policy is to ask ‘people of size’ to purchase an extra seat, the price of which will be refunded if the flight has empty seats then how can they justify asking her to buy an extra seat when there’s an empty seat right next to her?

    Excellent question. This is where I would call BULLSHIT on their claim that this is not a revenue making opportunity.

    Because what they have done, by speaking to this customer about what she should do in the future, is help to ensure that they (and other airlines this woman may fly) will make twice as much money in the future.

    When they come up with these policies, or have employees speak to customers about the policy (even in situations like this where it seems to be moot) they know full and well that people are going to be embarrassed and worried about being humiliated in front of a plane load of people. Also, knowing that they could be kicked off a flight and also puts them in fear that their travel plans will be disrupted. So, to avoid these things, the customer will buy two seats. Even if they refund the money to most people, I have to imagine that there is some red tape involved in getting the money back, which inevitably means that not all people who pay for a second seat without the flight being full will get their money back. That is profit for the company that they otherwise would not have had.

    I’m sure some would say that I’m over-thinking the situation, but with businesses spending millions of dollars to figure out what stimulates people to spend more money, I have no doubt that the benefits of even threatening embarrass and trouble customers doesn’t have a dollar sign figure attached.

  206. I’m 5’4 1/2″ which is apparently average height for an American woman, and 100 lbs on a good day. I have pretty narrow hips, too – 00 or 0 in women’s jeans, or 14/16 in kids – and I’m still not comfortable in plane seats!

    I don’t know what the right solution to this problem is*, but I know that humiliating and degrading people isn’t it.

    * Every solution has its issues: 1) Do you give anyone who needs two seats a free second seat? If so, how do you determine who needs a second seat? This would have to be done before arrival at the airport to ensure the availability of open seats on the flight, but also done in a way to prevent abuse of the policy. 2) Do you make all the seats larger? Fewer people per plane means higher airfares, fewer people able to afford to fly, and possible financial disaster for the airlines. Like it or not, they are a business too, and won’t likely do something to jeopardize their own interests. 3) Do you make only some seats larger, and if so, do they cost more? If the seats do not cost more, are they issued on a need-for-more space basis, and if so, how is that determined? If they do cost more, does that mean it’s okay to charge people with larger bodies more for the same trip?

  207. Thanks, JenniferA – it’s nice to know that someone has appreciated me trying to bang some sense into the heads of the recalcitrant Ciffers!

    The whole CiF approach to feminism worries me. Female Cif commenters get a lot of approval from saying that they’re being ‘moderate’ and shoring up male egos on what about teh menz threads. Any woman suggesting that maybe women don’t have it all that great, actually, gets shouted down by the anti-feminists

    I find it bizarre that people think I am a radical feminist on CiF – I’m very middle of the road.

  208. The last time I flew on a plane I had a whole row to myself because it was not a full flight. I almost always ask for an aisle seat because I hate feeling trapped in the window and middle seat. On this occasion, I thought I would take advantage of the window seat so I could spread out and take a nap. Here was the problem with that; The seat belt in the aisle seat fit me fine.. still had a bit of leeway with the strap. However, the seat belt in the window seat did not fit at at all. I quickly moved back to the aisle seat so I could be secure. This was on Alaska Airlines and I have never had a problem with the belts fitting on that airline. I am not sure what this means, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the airlines start putting in smaller seat belts in order to make an example of us heavier passengers.

  209. @JenniferA no worries on the name – mine is a little play on words because I like to think of myself as at least partially feral :)

    @sso, thank you for chiming in – I think it’s really helpful for larger people to hear from smaller peoople that plane seats are awful for them too. It helps combat that mindset that larger peoples’ discomfort is ALL OUR FAULT.

  210. Alexandra Erin,

    “I don’t know if a woman would not have been able to get traction with both the same level of fame and same words/actions that Kevin Smith has employed, but I am certain that a woman who attempted to do so would be receiving a lot more scorn and a lot less support from the webosphere at large, and I also suspect that it would have been harder for a woman built like Kevin Smith to get herself into the position that he’s in.”

    Oh, absolutely. Not a doubt in my mind. Had it been a famous woman, we’d be seeing out-of-control use of the “b” word to describe her, I’m pretty certain.

  211. The thing about this is that this is as pure an example of anti-fat prejudice as could be imagined. Kevin Smith was already safely buckled in his seat, without needing an extender or impeding the arm rests, and he still got kicked off the flight.

    There was and is no pertinent justification for this at all. None. Yet a shocking number of people are siding with the pilot over the fatty, well, because fatties deserve it.

  212. Anyone else seen the latest (rather disappointing) tweets from Kevin Smith?

    ” @joshmparks “Is there ANYTHING @southwestair could do to make you reconsider?” They could start by blogging the stuff Linda told me. I told her I’d sign any document promising I’ll never sue @SouthwestAir – all they have to do is tell the truth. I’ll go back to using SouthwestAir if they just nut-up and admit a) they did, indeed, fuck up and it got out of control, b) I (& y’all) were misled by the blog posting on @SouthwestAir: I was not, in fact, ejected because I couldn’t fit in my seat/was Too Fat To Fly. Just be honest.”

    Although he did say that, if SWA told the truth, that policy changes would be in the works, it doesn’t make his treatment of being called “Too Fat To Fly” any less discriminatory and disrespectful.

  213. @ Grafton – I think somebody hacked that Wikipedia chart – there’s some numbers there that do NOT make sense. (I am pretty sure that the average height of Chinese men is not 3′ 10″.)

    @ Emerald – Unfortunately, I think you’re right, it would be a great triumph for the anti-obesity people. They would be acting as if Kevin Smith had been SAVED! in the quasi-religious way they talk about weight, imbuing it with inappropriate morality. Humbug.

    @ sso – It’s good to have the perspective of a smaller person in regards to airline seating, but sometimes posting your height and weight can be triggering to other readers who may be coping with body image issues and eating disorders. Your ideas are, however, perfect examples of things that airlines should be considering, but I doubt are even being mentioned.

  214. … and Twitter goes down. It’s tempting to think it might be the weight of rectal haberdashery, but somehow I doubt it.

  215. Rich fat people can afford to fly first class or buy two seats, and I assure you they do so. The rest of all of us have to deal with the indignities of flying coach. One of those is sometimes you sit next to fat guy, or a loud talker, or perfume woman, or gigantic shoulders guy, or screaming children. If you want guaranteed comfort, fly first class and don’t fly SWA which has no first class.

  216. Krishji:
    @ Grafton – I think somebody hacked that Wikipedia chart – there’s some numbers there that do NOT make sense. (I am pretty sure that the average height of Chinese men is not 3′ 10″.)

    You are correct. A quick sampling of the chart and I find that it’s accurate for the nations I checked against other sources, except for China — there it is correct for women, but the average height of Chinese men is 5′ 6″.

    So, hey, I am of average height only in countries where the men are the shortest men of earth, and I am not comfortable in airplane seats. Nor is Liz, who would be average for a women in the shortest nations. sso is average height for an American woman, but unusually thin and she’s not comfortable. We are among the smallest of the people likely to use US-based airlines. If we’re miserably cramped, it must be absolutely horrible for North American/Northern European people who are of average size, and near impossible for people who are larger than average to the same degree that we are smaller.

    Conclusion: It is totally not your ass.

  217. Jezebel’s covering it, with links to the similar previous incidents (like the man who missed his relative’s funeral).

    (Scroll down to the end of the post for links)

  218. @ Grafton – You have made my day. (Other than China, I’m a bit suspicious of Greece and India as well. Are Greek people really that tall?!? And if the average height of Indian women is over six feet, then what the heck happened to me?

  219. Well, if it really helps: I’m 5’4″ and 125lb, which is below average height and below average weight in Australia, where I am. And I’m uncomfortable in Australian airline seats.

    Last time I flew, the guy next to me had bought a huge box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts at the airport (they’re only sold at one airport in the country, so it’s kind of a cult thing to go buy them if you’re there and bring them home) and had to extend his arms out wide to hold it on his lap. Funny how no-one made him buy an extra seat, although it was clearly encroaching on my space, was a totally voluntary choice on his part, and was VERY ANNOYING.

  220. Krishji — oops. Clearly my random sampling not so informative, as I didn’t look at Greece and India. One Indian measurement is consistent with other sources, the other too tall. Greek people don’t have such a tall average either; other sources say about 5’10”. Clearly somebody’s being funny — the sources wikipedia itself cites say different than the article.

  221. Every element of airports and flying is such a miserable experience, and I’m a 5’6 white U.S. citizen. For foreigners, larger people, and people whose looks make TSA or other passengers think of Osama bin Laden it must be pure hell.

  222. A poll on CNN’s homepage has 55% of people siding with the airline. I sort of can’t believe it. Maybe I haven’t been in the adult world long enough or maybe I’m just naive, but I just don’t understand how people can make such hateful comments about a certain physical characteristic of a group of people and not feel that it is bigotry. They have to know, right? My mom said that even when she was a child and she heard people saying horrible things about African Americans, she *knew* inside it was wrong. How can this be different? This makes me so sad.

  223. Since this thread is probably on the way to done by now, hopefully it won’t be too much of a derail if I ask the following:

    If someone agrees that Kevin Smith (or any fat person) was treated unfairly by this policy, but is also very clear how annoyed they personally would be to be stuck next to a very fat person on a flight, what do you say?

  224. Btw, y’all, I just deleted a comment with one of my favorite takes on this ever: “fat people should have to buy multiple tickets instead of potentially blocking me from a safe exit in the unlikely event of emergency.” Yes, if your plane is crashing, the fat person in the exit row is your real problem, and yes, your life is obviously more valuable than that of a fat person. I mean, just look at you, being less fat!

  225. @Carl Youngblood:

    I’m uncomfortable, to say the least, with the idea that there is such a thing as a “right” to be a bigot – particularly for a business. It’s an inevitable truth that people are bigoted. I understand that. But I don’t think that means being a bigot is a “right.” More importantly, though, businesses are not the same as people.

    Even if we’re going to say that PEOPLE have a right to be bigots, that just means that the business OWNER has the right to hold bigoted ideas. (Ugh. I feel yucky even saying that much.) But that doesn’t mean that the business itself should reflect those bigoted ideas. The two things just aren’t the same.

    And it isn’t enough to say (as a lot of my super-bigoted family members have claimed) that if people are REALLY bothered by bigotry that the free market will take care of it and drive a company with discriminatory policies out of business. The people with the most money – those who really drive the market – are (often) the people with the most power and privilege. The group being discriminated against may not have the monetary or social power to change anything via the market – precisely because they are NOT a group of privilege.

    So in this situation, for example, the majority of thin, able-bodied people are not likely to notice the discrimination – and are therefore not likely to stop flying just because of it. The airlines will still make money despite their bigoted policies, and nothing changes.

    @AlexandraErin: I’m with you 100%. It’s telling that the airlines will always choose to blame a fat person for taking up room rather than telling a complainer that they are free to purchase another seat for themselves or pay the extra for first class if they’re so inconvenienced.

  226. Name Here: As a newly pregnant lady who will probably be doing some traveling by plane at some point, what happened?

  227. @ Kate – I can’t believe the poll results are split that way! How is that even possible? Do these people just really hate Kevin Smith’s movies, and think it’s fitting revenge or something? But, sadly, I can believe that many people have been brainwashed; in Matt Taibbi’s Great Derangement, he explains what it’s like to be brainwashed in a religious context, how espousing certain ideas becomes muscular, reflexive, and require no thought. Once thought is out of the equation, it’s easy to hate anyone for any reason. Your mom as a child was thinking. A lot of us just don’t think when it comes to issues involving fat. I would like to believe that if we all just THOUGHT, we’d be much more compassionate people.

    @ randomquorum – Ugh, I hope that this scenario hasn’t actually happened to you, and is merely hypothetical! I would probably ask the person what he or she would do (or how he or she would feel) if the adjacent fat person on the plane was called out by the flight attendent and told to leave the plane. I would want to know where this person’s sentiments really lie. Would he or she just be relieved? Or would he or she say that the treatment was unfair? I would be interested in finding out.

    @ Queen George – You rock my world. I have been thinking of a way to say what you’ve just said for HOURS. You = awesome.

  228. Kate, re: 55% siding with the airline:

    No doubt this is “the scapegoat mechanism” in action. And is probably the whole point of the airline’s bigoted policy. The airline makes seating arrangements that are unreasonably meager space and are uncomfortable for even usually small people. Everybody is uncomfortable. Every so often they kick somebody off the plane and claim that the person they’ve sacrificed is taking up an unreasonable amount of spaces and makes other passengers uncomfortable. The uncomfortable people then believe that the airline is looking after them and wants them to be comfortable. Once their fatty-free flight has landed they still feel like they’ve been stabbed in the ass and lower back with a thousand knives, but they’re less likely to rebel.

    Movie theatres, who actually want you to be comfortable so you will buy snacks and not wait for the DVD release, they have reasonably comfortable seats and, as far as I have heard, do not make scapefatties out of people.

  229. @Krishji:

    Thanks! I’m a brand newbie (only my second comment!), so the warmth is appreciated. I have had to work on that argument for YEARS because several of my relatives have always gone by the “private is private and businesses can do whatever they want” policy. I knew it made me feel queasy, but it took me ages (and reading lots of work by awesome feminist ladeez on blogs!) to explain exactly why.

    @fillyjonk: I am totally up for participating in that all-ally flight you mentioned. I’m a short lady on the “normal” end of the BMI scale (for whatever that’s worth) and I love the idea of sitting next to a bunch of other peeps my size and complaining about everyone’s elbows and knees being in the way. I also think maybe we should get an entire flight of people to point to the person or persons next to them and whine “You need to kick her off this flight! She’s looking at me!” a la every family car ride ever. (“You touched me!” “No I didn’t!” “MOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!”)

  230. @Sweet Machine: I wonder what that individual thinks about those who are disabled, with children or who are just slow due to age potentially blocking his safe exit from a plane.

  231. @Kate: with respect to the CNN poll showing 55% agreement with the airlines. People are thinking of themselves. Everybody is uncomfortable on airplanes. I’m a “leprechaun”: the spot they put the non-removable headrests in causes my head to be forced down if I sit back and I have to slouch to get my knees to reach the edge of the seat. People know they’re getting into several hours of discomfort as they sit down, as a best-case scenario.

    The more the person next to you impinges on your space, the more uncomfortable most people get. But MOST people*, when sat next to a larger person, will say nothing, will be just as polite (or impolite) to that person as anyone else, and resign themselves to being a little more uncomfortable than they were hoping for. That’s what they’re thinking of when they answer they poll, and the poll is anonymous and impersonal, so they’re not thinking of the feelings of some hypothetical overweight person but rather their own experience (lazy, but true). If given the option of booting the large person sat next to them off the plane in real life, I think the number would be a lot lower.

    At least, I hope so.

    I remember when plane seats were larger than now, and even though I technically “fit” into the current seats by the airlines’ standards, they were more comfortable then, too. I wish they would go back for everyone’s comfort.

    *kindly don’t let the loudmouth jerks represent all of us wee people.

  232. @Paula – no doubt that “they can’t help it.” The comment that keeps coming up again and again is, “Well if you CHOOSE to be fat, you have to deal with the consequences.” ***rage***

  233. @Paula, hsofia – in my experience on airplanes, there’s precious little slack cut someone with significant physical impairments. So long as I don’t get in the way, keep my head down and say nothing, all’s cool – but as soon as I’ve happened to impinge on someone’s sacred space, or had to lurch to the toilet and perhaps touched one or another of them in passing, all sympathy has gone by the wayside. I was once even upbraided by another – first-class – passenger merely for insisting on pre-boarding, of all things; I assume, because he saw it as an ‘entitlement’ provided to an undeserving cripple, and an erosion of his right, as a first-class ticket holder, to be first.

    Some days, I really loathe some of my fellow human beings.

  234. Some days, I really loathe some of my fellow human beings.

    As do we all. Let us join hands and sway back and forth and sing:

    “He’s an ass, that guy, oh my god.
    What an ass, my god, holy fuck.
    Ohhhh, gawwd, what an ass…
    (Seriously, total prick)

    She’s so ig-nor-ant, and a churl
    I can’t help but hate, hate that girl
    Oh, Loooorrd, what the fuck.
    (Honestly, boss, I did try that love mankind thing and it’s just not working out for me right now sorry.)

    etc.

  235. Sweet Machine wrote: “…your life is obviously more valuable than that of a fat person. I mean, just look at you, being less fat!”

    This.

    That quote is the crux of it all that bothers me the most. I am viewed as less than. My money is viewed as less valuable. My worth as a human being is nullified because my body houses more fat cells than anothers’. And it doesn’t even matter that EVERYBODY knows 95% of diets FAIL. With SO! MANY! PEOPLE! as evidence who have dieted to lose weight over the course of their lifetime, those who HATE me ( a super fatty) and wish OUT LOUD that I would DIE! believe it is not the diet’s fault, but a lack of moral character and willpower!!!!! I am not a person. I am a MONSTER deserved of being trounced into the Town Square and stoned to death!

    Instead of the airline industry responding to the needs of its customers by offering wider seats and more comfort, they let the rampant fat hatred so popular these days enforce their arbitrary rule. The auto industry responded to consumers wanting larger vehicles by building SUVs. Restaurants and discount retail chains respond to consumers who want to pay less for products by lowering prices or creating less expensive meal options. Even the bus my husband takes to work has seats with a lever that allows it to WIDEN into the aisle. Hell, even China responded to consumer outrage about lead in toys, toothpaste and dog food by removing the lead! It’s standard operating procedure when running a business that depends on it’s consumers to stay in business!!!! WHY IS THE AIRLINE EXEMPT FROM RESPONDING TO THE DEMANDS OF ITS CONSUMER????????????????

    Kevin Smith said it best in his smodcast when he said that fat people have to plan their life looking forward ten steps. NO fatty plans a trip on a plane without running through every possible scenario they might encounter. From an oversold flight, to the trek from the check in counter to the gate, to the amount of extra time they think they will need to get there. Add to that the fear of humiliation from airline personnel when checking in or being seated on a plane, the long drawn out stares of fellow passengers as you get settled in your seat, the last trip to the bathroom before boarding so you don’t have to get up during the flight, the horror of asking for a seatbelt extension, or the apologetic fake smile and concilliatory nature I must possess when interacting in close quarters with total strangers (else I be deemed Bad ANGRY Fatty Who Deserves Even LESS).

    We plan for it all, and consider it a success when we don’t get ousted from the plane! I only travel with family. People who aren’t afraid to touch me! When I am seated next to a stranger on one side of me, the first words out of my mouth are Hello. I’m Regina. Please let me know if I am making you uncomfortable in any way. That breaks the ice and lets them know that you are aware that you are fat AND are concerned about their comfort. I have yet to have anyone respond negatively, but I am sure it will happen one day. Most people breathe a sigh of relief and smile reassuringly……and are reminded once again that I AM A HUMAN BEING!

  236. I am a very fat person. I haven’t been home to see my 80 year old parents in over 5 years because of this kind of discrimination. I was even given a large amount of crap once while I was traveling with my 4 year old where the only seat I encroached on was my child’s (we were in one of the planes that had two seats then an aisle). I miss my hometown and I miss my parents and I am afraid that I won’t see them again before Alzheimer’s takes away the chance for a pleasant visit.

    I also have a hard time willing myself to leave the house…shame is a horrible thing and I can attest, and does not actually help with weight loss.

  237. I’ve heard some people point out that heavier individuals can throw of a plane’s all important weight distribution. In a sense this is true. In a larger sense, this is absolute bunk because lighter-than-average people (and luggage) do just as much to confuse the algorithm as heavier-than-avg. It’s just as bad to have the plane be front-light as it is front-heavy. I haven’t worked at the airport in 4 years, praise be, and I don’t remember the weight allowance the FAA has designated for each adult human, but passengers who fall below it are just as disruptive to the mathematical purity that enables flight as those who fall above.

  238. about two years ago i bought tickets and flew to denver from houston on southwest airlines. on my trip to denver we all lines up like cattle then boarded the plane, i went to the very back and sat in the last row at a window seat. you see i know i am a large person and i try to accommodate other passengers when i fly. after spending the week in denver i contacted southwest and asked them to check the return flight. i was told there were going to be “quite a few seats available” and make sure i got to the airport early for security reasons. i arrived at the airport and checked my bag that is too big to carry on at the counter and was told to go to the gate and wait. i/we waited for about an hour then the aircraft pulled in and discharged the passengers. we were told to line up to wait for boarding and if anyone needed special boarding to go to a smaller roped off area. there was a woman there who had a broken leg and was in a wheelchair. after standing in line a gate agent came to me and asked me to step into the roped off area with my carry on. this drew a lot of stares from the other customers. after a short while the agent came and got me and asked me to board. there was angry murmers from the other passengers that i won’t repeat. when we boarded the aircraft i walked to the last row and sat in the window seat. she sat on the isle seat. she told me that if i wanted to fly on this flight i would have to buy another ticket because there was “a lot of seats sold on this flight” and that i had to have another one to guarantee a place to sit. so i had to hand over my visa card and purchase another ticket. she informed me that i might get my money back if i applied for a refund when i atrrived back in houston. the aircraft boarded and there were numerous empty seats my whole row was empty except for me. i did get a refund but i certainly did not enjoy the attention prior to takeoff or being extorted for money so that i could fly. i didn’t say anything however i applaud kevin smith for expressing his anger at the situation.

  239. “fat people should have to buy multiple tickets instead of potentially blocking me from a safe exit in the unlikely event of emergency.”

    HolyShite…. Imagine the horror – a fat life being lost when a thin life could have been saved. The Inhumanity!

    I wonder if they would have run that as a story in the papers in the event of a crash. “Today 30 fat lives were lost, but thankfully their bodies were used to assist the thin people to safety.” Mmmnn, why does that not seem totally impossible.

  240. I’m guessing no – because it doesn’t involve some half dressed stripper/Hooters employee wearing a partially see through tube top and chocha exposing micro-mini skirt who got thrown off the plane for inappropriate dress.

    Gratuitously mean.

  241. Late stage capitalism is to blame, that’s my conclusion, Regina T. People are so brainwashed into thinking of themselves as individuals only, not part of a collective group, that they have willingly ceded power to corporations. If the corporation (in its role as pseudo-parent) gives us horribly uncomfortable planes, instead of thinking “Wow, this sucks – if we all got together and put some pressure on the airlines we could have a much more comfortable flight”, they look around for another individual to blame, and the capitalist system encourages this. Everyone thinks they can’t make a difference acting alone, but doesn’t think to join up with others because they have been trained to blame them rather than the corporation. (I’m pretty much a socialist!)

    That’s why I love the idea of an all-fatties-and-allies flight. I’d love to join you, but I’m in the UK and it would be quite a long way to come. But if there’s a fund-raiser I’ll contribute!

  242. @thegirlfrommaarz — “late stage capitalism is to blame…”

    Thank you.

    The longer I live, and the more cruelty I witness–globally–the more I conclude that dehumanization will surely escalate. Movies and novels about vampires, robots, aliens, zombies, etc., function as metaphors for a world that has already been transformed by amoral structures and forces, while powerless individuals sense a terrible threat yet see not its origins or shape.

  243. I haven’t worked at the airport in 4 years, praise be, and I don’t remember the weight allowance the FAA has designated for each adult human, but passengers who fall below it are just as disruptive to the mathematical purity that enables flight as those who fall above.

    @aleks – It’s clear that there can be only one answer. Everyone must be a single, standard size. Now I’ve come up with the vision, I’m sure everyone else can work out how we go about doing that.

    This is the business plan for airlines from now on:
    1. Everyone needs to be a single standard size to fit in the aeroplane seats.
    2. ?????
    3. PROFIT!!!!!!

  244. The “You choose to be fat so you deserve whatever awful stuff happens to you” meme… I’m convinced this is IT. This is the underlying problem of so much fat prejudice.

    Anyone can be thin, right? Eat less and move calories in calories out lifestyle change it totally works, right?

    So if you’re fat, you’ve chosen not to get thin.

    Society is relentlessly cruel to fat people.

    You’ve chosen to be fat anyway.

    So you’ve chosen to be mistreated.

    Therefore you’re not only fat, you are dumb. You are masochistic. You have some internal, emotional, intellectual flaws. Otherwise you would choose to be thin!

    Therefore it’s ok to treat you even worse. Because you deliberately signed up for this.

    From the bigots’ perspective this is a completely logical train of thought. Not that I think they even go through it on a concious level. But I think it underlies all of these bullshit debates that we have to go through again and again.

    They really think that our fat is an outward manifestation of deep intellectual and emotional flaws for which they are obligated to torment us. Y’know, for our health.

  245. The pillars of culture traditionally assigned with the task of upholding morality remain silent on the subject of injustice against fat folks, keeping quiet about fat discrimination and fat hatred. Instead, speaking out on behalf of fatties, we have a handful of nearly invisible people (posting on internet blogs) and a few authors/researchers trying to cut through the wall of bullshit and shaming.

    Working in the so-called health care field has disheartened me to the prospects for improvement, in my lifetime, in this arena of prejudice. When I listened in behind the scenes for one month at a top diabetes center, for instance, the professionals (docs/nurses) discussed “non-compliant patients” as if they were subhuman…the self-righteous indignation, disgust, and even anger was palpable. And these are people who have strict codes of ethics directing their work!

    I have to laugh at myself, then, for getting angry at someone like Kevin Smith for taking a perfectly good learning moment and burying it under a mass of privilege. His saga has simply told the world (loudly) that you sure as hell better buy two tickets (or fly 1st class) if you don’t want to be humiliated and delayed.

    The demand, SHOW ME YOUR PAPERS! (show me your hip size!), is not even required…people have learned to comply quietly and avoid punishment.

  246. For cars, the “standard person” is 5’6″ – 5’8″

    For women’s clothes, the “standard person” is 5’6″. Petites are 5’4″ and under. Except for LL Bean, God bless them. I’m 4’11”, and theirs are the only pants I can buy off the rack and not have to hem. Plus, their jeans come in flannel-lined. Which I’m wearing.(/derail)

    For airplanes, I don’t know WHO or WHAT they consider standard, but I’ve never met ANYONE who is comfortable in one of those seats even when they’ve got a whole row to themselves.

  247. Society is relentlessly cruel to fat people.

    You’ve chosen to be fat anyway.

    So you’ve chosen to be mistreated.

    I’m fairly convinced by some excellent writing I’ve read from Robin Abrahams on the subject of the “just-world phenomenon” (it must have been in her book because I can’t find it on the site), which would posit a slightly different thought process. Just-world phenomenon is a cognitive bias where people assume that when terrible things happen, they must somehow be deserved — that allows them to believe that if they don’t earn terrible things, terrible things will never happen to them. In that case, the thought process would be “society is relentlessly cruel to fat people, therefore fat people must deserve cruelty.” It just basically cuts out the middleman in your version — the “logic” still ends up with fat people deserving everything they get, but because supposedly otherwise they wouldn’t get it, rather than because they would otherwise escape it. It’s pretty insidious.

    The rhetoric of choice does get used a LOT and I think you’ve nicely broken down how that plays out. But underlying it I think there’s a sense of “people wouldn’t hate you if you weren’t hateworthy,” which is what allows any number of hatreds and prejudices to cling for so long.

  248. … when terrible things happen, they must somehow be deserved — that allows them to believe that if they don’t earn terrible things, terrible things will never happen to them.

    It also allows the belief that when good things happen, they must also be somehow deserved – such as the very persistent beliefs that prosperity and good health are attributable to personal righteousness.

  249. FJ and Eucritta, I think you’re both absolutely right, especially in this time of “The Secret” and all of that creative visualization business.

  250. @RNigade: “…dehumanization…Movies and novels about vampires, robots, aliens, zombies, etc., function as metaphors…”

    OT, but holy moly! Did you just come up with that or is the idea previously documented somewhere? It is really ringing true for me just now.

  251. RNigade, re: “Working in the so-called health care field has disheartened me to the prospects for improvement, in my lifetime, in this arena of prejudice. When I listened in behind the scenes for one month at a top diabetes center, for instance, the professionals (docs/nurses) discussed “non-compliant patients” as if they were subhuman…the self-righteous indignation, disgust, and even anger was palpable. And these are people who have strict codes of ethics directing their work!”

    When I am done with grad school, I am going to write a book about teenage girls and diabetes. I am interested in the subject for many reasons, but this- the morality of food-related illness- is the primary reason.

    Grrr.

  252. @O.C.: You worded that so perfectly that I’m saving it for future reference. I’ll quote you as O.C. unless you have some other preference there. If so, just let me know.

  253. I am disabled and overweight. Sitting in one position for very long, as I am forced to by airline seats, is painful. I therefore try to buy 2 seats. This is usually not a problem, EXCEPT for Southwest airline, which refuses to sell me 2 seats. I have gone up the line through several levels and their reply is “You simply have a comfort issue, and we will not sell you 2 seats just for your comfort.” Wow! I guess they are right. My PAIN is just a comfort issue related to my disability. Wish I could make it go away that easily. I am not asking them to GIVE me the extra seat. I am trying to pay for it. Why do they care?

  254. I’ve never met ANYONE who is comfortable in one of those seats even when they’ve got a whole row to themselves.

    I’m comfortable in them, but I am, as they say, the exception that proves the rule. I really like small enclosed restrictive spaces. They make me feel safe. However, dude, if I’m feeling nervous on the plane and want comfort of that particular variety, I’ll wear a tight sweater. I will be happy to join you on that allies flight; I am a veteran of many, many car trips with three siblings stuffed in the back seat a car, and can whine with the best of them. ;-)

  255. RNigade and Peepers,

    “…dehumanization…Movies and novels about vampires, robots, aliens, zombies, etc., function as metaphors…”

    Hmm. Continuing along that train of thought, assuming that monsters of various sorts have been metaphors for those actual human beings that society have deemed monstrous through the ages … perhaps there’s a small bit of hope, in that a number of recent media depictions (“True Blood,” “I Am Legend,” etc.) have humanized these monsters or even flipped the scenario and shown them as the true victims.

    But that could just be my closeted optimist speaking.

  256. @Betsy – WTF? That makes no sense!! Why won’t they sell one person two seats (and then on their website say they encourage people to buy two seats?) What the eff eff effity EFF?!

  257. Re: the rethoric of choice, one argument against wider seats on airplanes I’ve heard is that it will just “encourage obesity” and take away the incentive for fatties to “make the right choice” (aka choose not to be fat).

    *headdesk*

  258. hsofia, if you can figure it out, that is more than I can do. Have been trying to get them to sell me 2 seats for over a year.

  259. @Betsy,

    That is INSANE. Hell, Officially[tm] since my butt fits in a single seat with the armrests down (I end up with bruises, but I can do it) they could argue I shouldn’t be allowed to buy a second seat.

    And yes, if anyone doesn’t know, I do in fact weight 400 fucking pounds. My hips measure 68″ inches around. If I’m not Officially Fat Enough to be allowed to purchase a second seat then who is?

    Oh – I purchased a second seat for a United flight in 96, which IIRC was before they HAD a “persons of size must buy a second seat” policy. I did use the persons of size policy when I bought a second seat on Alaska last year, mainly because it provides the possibility of a refund.

  260. @Angie

    “But, as always, it also makes me sad that so many of Smith’s fans will respond/the public reaction in general to this will respond with things like, “But he’s not even that fat! I have seen way more fat fatties fly!””

    That is exactly what is happening over at the Consumerist. It’s fat shaming bingo in the comments.

  261. my question is, did anyone here get upset when southwest didn’t allow female passengers to fly because they were dressed “inappropriately” or do we only get pissed when the prejudice marble falls in our roulette slot? isn’t discrimination, discrimination regardless of the issue?

  262. my question is, did anyone here get upset when southwest didn’t allow female passengers to fly because they were dressed “inappropriately” or do we only get pissed when the prejudice marble falls in our roulette slot? isn’t discrimination, discrimination regardless of the issue?

    Wait, are you saying this blog has to write about every single instance of discrimination before it can write about any of them? Our five bloggers are prolific writers, but I’m not sure they’re that prolific.

    If you mean did any of us individual readers of this blog personally get upset? Absolutely – I thought it was egregious.

  263. i predict soon “obese” people will be the ones that can’t get health insurance, we won’t be able to have a job as a teacher, “they just enable kids to be fat, we need thin teachers to set a good example”. we will be seated in special section in restaurants because “those people and the way they eat are a bad example for my kids and it disturbs me to have to watch them eat.”. anyone want to make a bet?

  264. @ Eucritta i have been but i think the issue with southwest might be a little bigger than just MY weight issue. have you ever had a problem on southwest?

  265. did anyone here get upset when southwest didn’t allow female passengers to fly because they were dressed “inappropriately”

    Nah, we love slut-shaming. It’s so obvious, as long as you don’t pay a micron of attention to anything we say here ever.

    If you keep up the “I know I have only looked at one of the 1,232 posts here, but did you notice that there is are other things you could write about?” schtick I will happily prevent you from commenting on the rest of them.

  266. Re: Clint Comment #1:

    Comment writing suggestion:

    “My question is, with the dress code and fatness policy, what the hell is wrong with SWA? Those are both appalling decisions and not remotely fair. I can’t begin to work out a response to the clothing issues, other than to say “gaaaaaah!”

    will be more likely to get you a productive conversation.

  267. Hey Clint, this blog deals with fat. Fat fat fat.

    I would have been upset with Southwest for their discrimination issue with the women’s clothing for what that’s worth, but the issues are NOT RELATED.

    I have spent the last 36 hours dealing with the huge fucking enormous trigger that this entire incident set off. We are getting on planes this summer. Three of those flights were going to be Southwest. When my SO finally saw me eating one piece of chicken and three strips of grilled pepper for dinner, I finally just said that I wasn’t going to eat anything between now and our trip and maybe I would be small enough to not be humiliated by an airline. He pointed out that we just flew and had no problems. I explained that Southwest has been doing this for a while now, that it was inconsistent, and unevenly enforced, and the last thing I wanted was someone to walk up to me in front of everyone and tell me I was too fat, buy another ticket.

    I always thought I was safe when I flew with him but the SW policy stating that “family member are also our customers and we have to watch out for THEIR space” aka NO YOU’RE NOT GETTING AWAY WITH THIS, FATTY, I just snapped.

    I am writing a long letter to SW cancelling my FF account with them (and its credits), and unsubscribing to all of their emails. And explaining to them that I will never fly with them again, because I cannot do business with a company who mandates humiliation and degradation as business policies.

  268. no my point is that i hope everyone on this blog gets upset because, we the people in this country tend to turn a blind eye towards discrimination until it smacks us full in the face. southwest has been doing this crap about weight for a long time. it isn’t a safety issue. if it was i couldn’t fly on any airline without buying an extra seat or actually fly on an airline at all. an extra seat doesn’t make me any smaller in case of a situation where i need to leave the aircraft on an over wing exit “the smallest exit in the passenger portion of the aircraft”. i already know when i enter the aircraft that i need to be the last person out in case of an emergency. i don’t need the airline making an example of me to other sneering passengers. and if i were to see someone get put off an airplane because they had a t shirt on that the airline didn’t like then i would be upset at that also.

  269. clint,

    “i predict soon ‘obese’ people will be the ones that can’t get health insurance,”

    Kinda like a lot of trans people can’t get transition-related health care covered? But you didn’t mention trans people, so CLEARLY you hate trans people.

    “we won’t be able to have a job as a teacher, ‘they just enable kids to be fat, we need thin teachers to set a good example’.”

    Kinda like a lot of LGBT folks can’t get jobs as teachers because we’re considered perverts and deviants who are out to “recruit” kids? Which has been going since, oh, before I was even born? (For anyone unfamiliar with the long history, Google “Anita Bryant” and you should come up with some good info). CLEARLY you hate LGBT people.

    Irony. Your comment has it.

  270. As a newb, just have to say the “please have read the entire archive of over a thousand posts, with all the accompanying comments” thing seems to pop up here a bit. I’ve fallen afoul of it already, despite reading the FAQ, About, and 10 posts including all comments before posting my own.

    I’m not saying that reaction isn’t the prerogative of the blog mods or frequent posters, but it can feel a bit harsh as a new person. (There isn’t a specific tag that links all posts about airlines, for example, so a new poster would have to search all the key terms in their idea before posting anything.) Again, not my call, but it does seem like it’s the same amount of typing to tell someone, “That’s a point for another time, but since you’re interested, maybe search the blog on x search term.”

  271. I just read the comments to Kate’s piece on Salon. I knew I shouldn’t; I even paused, hand trembling a little, before I hit the link. But I was curious.

    I’m not surprised by the bile, or the depth of the hate. It’s not that, no. What I wonder is, how do these people live with themselves? I don’t understand it. I also haven’t any patience left for it. As Kate said, fuck them.

    I am not the one here who is broken.

  272. I think that is a fascinating question, Just Some Trans Guy. If I didn’t already have a dissertation to hassle with, I would get right on it :)

  273. I’m not saying that reaction isn’t the prerogative of the blog mods or frequent posters, but it can feel a bit harsh as a new person.

    Well, people are less likely to get a harsh reaction if they don’t come in going “Did you ever talk about THIS, I WONDER?!?!?!?!?!?!?” without even doing a cursory read of what the blog is about.

  274. Well, okay, SomewhereAnywhereHere, that’s fine, but his first comment was HEY! PAY ATTENTION TO THIS THING TOO! without asking, “Hey! Was there a post on this?”

    And then his second and third comments were huffy that we were telling him we’d already talked about it.

    And there’s a search box right up there! —^

  275. somewhereanywhere: I actually still haven’t finished reading my way through the archives, and I started back in October. That hasn’t stopped me from commenting, but it has stopped me from commenting, “Hey, you guys should consider talking about X.” Or, worse, “Why haven’t you talked about X?” Because somebody probably has, and I just haven’t read it yet. (Also because it’s pretty poor manners to go on someone’s blog and tell them what to talk about.) “What do you guys think about X?” is a better approach, unless it’s actually come up within the last month or two, which is pretty easy to find out.

  276. @tinfoil hattie

    I wanted to apologize – my comment wasn’t intended to be mean it was meant to point out how ‘fat issues’ rarely make the news, unless they are issues that make fat people look bad (up to and including random headless fatty shots).

    I should have been more specific in my comment. My main issue here is that, in terms of media exposure, the ladies who lost their seats in 2007 were ‘easier to look at’ and thus, more media friendly – whereas, when the issue is specific to fat folks, the issue rarely makes the news.

    Again, I just wanted to apologize.

  277. I just read your thing on Salon, and can’t leave a comment unless I register or something which I just can’t be bothered, honestly, so found my way here instead–and then made the connection of course that I’ve read your blog before, this very article in fact. Anyway, I’m really sorry your sister had to go through that, it’s horrible. I’m a slightly smaller than average woman (though I’ll never be a model or anything for sure) and hate flying, and EVERYBODY is uncomfortable on an airplane. I don’t understand the entitlement and selfishness that makes someone think an inch or two of space in a plane seat is more important than another person’s right to go about their business, use a seat they’ve paid for, and get to where they’re trying to go. People are stupid (and I get stuck flying a lot, though I hate it, because I live in a different country from my family, so I hereby promise you–if I am ever seated near someone who complains about overweight people, I will conscienciously kick their seat all the way across the Atlantic. Hell, I can’t fall asleep on those stupid seats anyway, even with nobody next to me at all).

  278. That hasn’t stopped me from commenting, but it has stopped me from commenting, “Hey, you guys should consider talking about X.” Or, worse, “Why haven’t you talked about X?”

    Gold star, Other Becky! Thank you. (And I daresay even a cursory glance at the rest of the blog would prevent someone from being all, “Say, do you folks have any interest in discrimination against women if they’re thin?”)

  279. Peepers,

    G’luck with the dissertation! I will do my best not to provide tempting distractions. :) (If I ever go get my PhD in Women’s Studies, maybe it will be MY dissertation … heh.)

  280. “Kate, that Broadsheet post was fucking amazing. I cried.”

    I’m a long-time reader of Shapely Prose and Broadsheet, delurking here for the first time. Kate, what a fantastic post on Broadsheet. Thank you.

  281. tinfoil hattie – Brandy’s comment was a reference to the 2 women who were thrown off SW flights for being “dressed inappropriately” even though that judgment was totally and palpably subjective on the part of the SW employees who acted and it got a lot of coverage precisely because it fit the slut-shaming mold. The comment was a sarcastic reprisal of that event.

    Again, not my call, but it does seem like it’s the same amount of typing to tell someone, “That’s a point for another time, but since you’re interested, maybe search the blog on x search term.”

    Or, you know the newbie commenters could stop and think “Maybe I should search the blog before I ask about this” rather than typing something like that in the first place. In other words, instead of assuming the entire world must revolve around your thought processes, expend some energy considering the positions of other people first. Because I’ve seen this “You’re not being tolerant enough to welcome new people like me” shtick on every. single. blog. I’ve ever read regularly, and it’s very tiresome to anyone who has been on the Internet for more than a week and knows what LMGTFY stands for.

    DRST

  282. Again, not my call, but it does seem like it’s the same amount of typing to tell someone, “That’s a point for another time, but since you’re interested, maybe search the blog on x search term.”

    If WordPress could do it, what this comment box needs is a paragraph above it:
    This is the Comments Policy (with a link.)
    Read the other comments before contributing.
    Use the search box at the top right before suggesting we address an issue.
    Be aware that this space is strictly moderated, and the moderators do not suffer fools gladly.

    Then we wouldn’t have to have this discussion/reminder session every time new readers join us. I sympathize with the newbies, but reiterating this stuff does break up the actual substantive conversation.

  283. I suppose spending several comments to tell intelligent people just exactly. how. fucking. stupid. they. are. is less disruptive than simply ignoring or deleting an off-target comment? And yes, ignoring is what most blogs do. Also, I’ve run a popular message board and a not-so-popular blog, and I assumed that for every newb question answered, there were dozens (or hundreds) more lurking who appreciated the info. Just the nature of the beast.

    That gleeful charge you get from bitching someone out for crossing the line in the sands of cool with you? Yeah, that’s the same Othering schadenfreude fat haters feast on when they post their bile. Enjoy it.

    I realize this post won’t stay up, but it was mostly for the mod(s) anyway. And yes, I’ve read your FAQ: you don’t care. It’s a shame the good insights here come with so much irrational hate.

  284. Holy crap Craig Ferguson just did his monologue about Kevin Smith and how Southwest is crappy, and judgemental people are crappy, and airtravel isn’t comfortable for anyone greater than 4’10” and 90 lbs anyway.

    Can we make him the official Late Night Show For Fat Accepters?

  285. Oh Kate, I just read the Broadsheet post too, and cried like a baby. That post was beyond excellent. But then I read three comments and stopped…

    I was talking to my roommate tonight about this whole situation, and calling him out on some sizeist issues he’s having, namely complaining about people at work not doing their jobs properly, and including their size in the list of things that annoy him. And when you get right down to it, he does think that fatties have both the ability and the responsibility to be/get thin. Even though he knows i’m technically obese (but “not that fat”), and that no diet has helped, and has just made me horrible to live with . Even given all that, he still thinks that we can magically be thin if we work hard enough. And that hurts worse than the three comments I read about how I should just stay inside.

    Maybe O/T, but if I can’t get the person I live with to recognize the reality of diets and FA and HAES, what hope do i have?

  286. Starling, that still assumes they would bother reading it at all. IME, this is sadly not the case when someone really, really wants to finger-wag.

    Somewhereanywhere, goodness. Footstomp much? I don’t understand why you don’t seem to understand that there’s a difference between a newbie asking ‘Hey, have you covered X/what are your thoughts on X?’ and doing so with the implication that we’re probably thoughtless hypocrites and haven’t considered it at all. Which, you know, Other Becky and Kate already covered. Then again, now you’re finger-wagging too, so…

    I have to fly overseas this spring to get to my sister’s high school graduation. I already wasn’t looking forward to wedging my wide hips into an airplane seat; now I’m nervous. The airline I’ll probably take (IcelandicAir) doesn’t have any size policies, and from the pictures on their website it looks like the armrests in Talking Luggage class don’t fold up or have space under to allow oozage, so hopefully I won’t have problems, like some huffy twit deciding to get pissy because my (actually absurdly narrow) shoulders also don’t quite fit into the allowed space, and that is somehow my fault due to Flying While Fat.

  287. Renatus – I don’t think non-US-based airlines have size policies in general, so you should be all right with Iceland Air (btw, they have good prices, and if nothing goes wrong you’re golden, but if anything goes slightly awry it becomes a huge problem and you find yourself stuck in Reykjavik–not saying don’t fly ‘em, just be aware!). I usually fly Air Canada (I know a lot of people hate them, but I’ve never had a problem, they’re British Airways-lite really)–the Canadian supreme court ruled that discriminating against fat people was illegal, so you won’t run into such a policy there. Whether you have enough room will depend on how you luck out with the plane’s seating plan and how much carry-on luggage the person next to you tries to cram on, really, rather than how big you or anyone else is. :p

  288. I realize this post won’t stay up, but it was mostly for the mod(s) anyway. And yes, I’ve read your FAQ: you don’t care. It’s a shame the good insights here come with so much irrational hate.

    Oh for fuck’s sake. Enjoy your ban.

    ETA: the weird thing is, you did this very move totally respectfully on another thread this week by saying “I didn’t notice anyone talking about X,” and I pointed you to a previous conversation about X. What irrational hatred we deploy here!

  289. Ash, thank you for the reassurances. :) If the restriction on carryons for people flying to the US is still in place (boo, hiss!) by the time I go, I won’t have to worry about lack of space because of that, heh. It sounds like leg room is going to be more of an issue – and it’s always an issue, I’m 5’9″ and mostly leg.

    I have lots and lots of time for the trip, so if I get stuck in Reykjavik, well, I can think of worse places to be stuck! The prices I looked at were very good, so I think it’s worth that little risk.

  290. R-no problem, glad to help! Good point about the carry-on rules. I’m flying back to the US in a couple of weeks (I’m from Seattle but go to grad school in the UK, and there’s a conference that fit nicely with visiting my sister) and just dreading it. Leg room is always an issue, isn’t it? I’m only 5’4″ but mostly leg too, and there’s just no way to make it comfortable. Because flying just kind of sucks, no matter how you do it. :p (This is why all the stupid commenters on SW’s blog or Kate’s article going on about how ‘I paid for a ticket! I should not be uncomfortable!’ just make me confused. Nobody’s ever comfortable on a damn plane. Everybody paid for a ticket, and it means you get from point A to point B hopefully without lasting physical damage, it doesn’t mean you get to stretch your legs out, eat good food, see a great film, or get a good night’s sleep. It just means you get stuffed into a flying tin can with a hundred other people, endure it, and get somewhere. Argh!)

    Anyway, I hope Iceland Air works for you! If we’re both still around when you go, let me know how it goes for you; my parents are still trying to decide if they want to do that next time they come visit or spring for a nonstop on BA.

  291. So, I’ve been thinking about this and reading every comment on this post as it comes up. What we all seem to have in common, despite whether or not we’ve actually ever had terrible experiences during air travel, is the fear of having terrible experiences during air travel. I fly home from school anywhere from 3-5 times a year and each time I mentally prepare myself to stir up a shit storm if I get kicked off a flight. In my head I think of all the people I would call for support, the free lawyers afforded to me by the law school at my university, the friends who will calm me down when I call in hysterics, etc. Right now, I’m thinking about the people who might not have someone they can call, no free lawyers, no bff ever-ready by the phone.

    This is a very vague and abstract thought in my head, but wouldn’t it be awesome if you could go to your flight knowing that if anything goes down, if you get kicked off your flight or if you get humiliated, you could have a group of people to call? Imagine a fat person gets kicked off a flight for Existing While Being Fat, and within an hour or so ten angry fatties show up and… give them a hug, call a newspaper, hassle the airline reps, etc. I have no idea how to make this happen, but I know that if I KNEW a mass of people had my back, I wouldn’t be afraid to fly. And I know that if one of you, strangers or not, ever sent out a mass email or something and said you were at the airport, humiliated and alone, I would get in my car and head out to see what help I could be. (Hope I’m not being too mushy here, I just HATE that there are people who would rather just not fly, and I think there’s so many of us around the world that feel this way, that if we could just find a way to network we might not have to deal with this one day.)

  292. Renatus – I don’t think non-US-based airlines have size policies in general

    Sorry to burst that bubble :( A couple of weeks ago, KLM-Air France announced their brand-spankin’ new size policy, effective April 1, which states that if you can’t lower the armrests on your seat, you need to buy a second seat at 75% of the price of the original seat (and qualify for a refund for the second seat if the plane isn’t full). I felt incredibly bummed when I heard this, because I’d always thought of KLM as an airline offering excellent service (even though I’d never flown them because I couldn’t afford them). I just looked up this policy on both websites and they say “In the interest of safety, if the flight is full and you have not reserved an additional seat, you may not be allowed to board if your build does not permit you to sit comfortably in a single seat”. Also, you can’t book two adjacent seats online; you need make reservations by phone. Both websites list the seat width between the armrests, and Air France supplements this with corresponding maximum waist measurements.

    Anyway, I think this will lead to problems similar to those created by Southwest’s policy, because it sounds like flight agents will need to determine before boarding who is and isn’t “too wide for the sky”. Barf.

  293. Stacey – You know, I wondered about KLM even as I was typing that, because I haven’t flown with them in at least 10 years so hadn’t checked up on it. (I am willing to pay extra for shorter trips these days, because that is what student loans are for and I hate flying. I feel bad for anybody who has to sit next to me, frankly–I may not “spill into the seat”, but I have pointy elbows and I get airsick. I can’t see that almost being vomited on would be less objectionable than sitting next to someone with a few extra pounds.)

    Found a rundown of some of the various airlines’ policies here, that should help people figure out what to fly:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30314210/ns/travel-tips//

    This is just infuriating on so many levels. :( (I can’t even imagine getting to the airport and then suddenly finding out you weren’t going to be able to on your flight. Well, obviously I can NOW. We’ll hope the others don’t follow in KLM/Air France’s footsteps, or Air Canada is going to have to buy a lot more planes.

  294. Ash, yeah, there really isn’t enough room for anybody. Once I was seated next to a smallish tween boy, and he really didn’t look anymore comfortable than I was despite technically fitting into the provided space better (and I didn’t impinge on his space any, either). Airline seats hem in passengers to a ridiculous extent no matter how you look at it.

    Stacey Stardust, I heard about that. I’d had good experiences with KLM in the past, and even though I’d be flying KLM/Northwest for any trips Stateside, with that little policy in force they can bite me.

    A little policy that I can’t find on their website to save my life, either. I see from the article Ash linked that this is not unusual. Like hell is this all about ‘comfort’.

  295. Ash/Renatus – yeah, their policy for “corpulent passengers” (that’s what it says in Dutch) is hard to find on their websites. It was mentioned on the evening news here a couple of weeks ago (quite casually – I nearly dropped my coffee. I’d foolishly hoped this kind of policy would not be instated in my home country, but of course fat hatred is universal), and the interwebs started blowing up over it in no time, of course, but you have to be actively looking for it to find it. I can just imagine someone who hasn’t heard about this booking a ticket online and being then denied boarding by ground personnel who deems them too large. Anyway, for KLM, if you choose the US website, it’s filed under “Prepare for travel” –> “On Board”–> “Your seat on board” –> “Passengers of size”. On the Air France website, once you’ve chosen “English” and selected your country, you select “Preparing your trip” –> “Health and comfort” –> “Passengers with high body mass”. The more I look at it, the more pissed I become. It sounds so unreal, so “future history books will write about this kind of discrimination”.

    I also think that, once an airline has instated this kind of policy, it won’t retract it easily, so the more airlines do this, the more screwed we are. I don’t know what I’ll do in the future. I do not yet *need* to fly anywhere. I was planning on boycotting Ryanair (who offer ridiculously cheap flights within Europe) for their ridiculous suggestion of “punishing” fat passengers by making them pay per kilo over a certain weight (100 kilos for women, 110 kilos for men, if I recall correctly), and KLM was one of the alternatives I had in mind, but this has obviously not made me look upon KLM any fonder, either. Fuck.

  296. Stacey Stardust, I’m not sure whether to be amused or appalled that they use ‘corpulent passengers’ in Dutch. On one hand, yikes. On the other, they aren’t using a silly too-delicate euphemism that only counts if your ‘size’ is your butt and not your shoulders.

    I just realized that it really gets me that Smith was kicked off of the flight for ‘safety reasons’. My butt is big enough I’m kind of wedged into the seats, but it doesn’t make it all that hard for me to get out so long as I’m able to use an arm for leverage. What does make it hard is how I have to twist and contort to keep my legs from tangling up, whether I’m sitting or getting up. Having a hard time standing because there isn’t enough room to unflex my legs strikes me as WAY worse of a safety issue.

    Of course, if it were really about safety I doubt they’d cram us in like they do.

  297. If there were blog awards for best moderation of comments, I think Kate would win one, for this discussion. =) Thanks, Kate.

    I’m short and medium build and I fly often and I’m (a) usually uncomfortable (b) often seated next to someone who’s a normal size but spills into my space because they’re inconsiderate and (c) frequently required to check my undersized carryon because people cram so much into their luggage that there’s no room, even under *my* seat, to put my bag anywhere (that doesn’t encroach on my space?)

    I admit that my first thought, when I heard about this, was “I wonder if he was the last person on the plane and there was a ton of baggage and the other people on the flight were heavy, too, and they didn’t have enough fuel to fly with an extra person’s weight– no matter how big or small”. To me, that’s what the “safety” excuse should have meant, and I know that airlines are now watching their flight weights very carefully and reducing the amount of fuel on board in order to profit maximize– not that that would have made it right, they should’ve added more fuel, but that would at least be a real safety concern. To find out that I was wrong and this was the real culprit makes me so angry.

  298. I have a few family members who work for a certain Large Corporation What Makes Aeroplanes, and you know what? The things are not THAT precarious. They’re pretty well-designed machines. While there is a case to be made that the growing average size of American travellers makes it all cumulative, and so a plane full of people who are 50 lbs heavier than the passengers of 50 years ago will use more fuel, one heavy person more or less is not going to make a big difference either in fuel consumption or ‘balance’ –unless it’s a really small freaking plane, in which case, you’re a professional airline, buy a decent plane. :p I once did fly transatlantic (on KLM/Northwest) on a very miserable flight where I was crushed into the window seat next to an extremely overweight woman who promptly fell asleep, all sprawled out. I spent about 12 hours not being able to drink anything because I knew I wouldn’t be able to climb over her to use the toilet without waking her up. (Incidentally, this would have been true if she had been tall, bony, pregnant, whatever–sprawling sleeping people are hard to climb over.)

    Anyway, you know, it sucked, but flying always sucks. I didn’t die. I was not irrevocably traumatised by the inability to get an extra pathetic inch of space. Mostly I was jealous that she could sleep on a plane, ’cause I can’t. I also learned to always get an aisle seat, so I can get up when I want to. And to see what kind of plane I’m going on and make sure it’s a big one. End of story.

    The idea that she didn’t have just as much right to be there as I did honestly did not ever occur to me, and I don’t get why people are such entitled assholes now that they think their right to be slightly less uncomfortable is more important than someone else’s right to get where they need to go. How messed up IS that? Seriously?

    Okay, I DID actually get a bit pissed off and rant a bit at the time about that flight. But not about the other passenger–just about Northwest/KLM, who OVERSOLD A TRANSATLANTIC FLIGHT IN A DC-10.

    (Sorry I keep venting so much. I’ve been on SWA’s blog getting worked up again. I need to do some actual academic work and be productive. I’ll try to shut up now.)

  299. Re-Ryanair – how in the hell does it make a difference what biological sex a body is when it comes to fitting in the seats, safety issues, whatever-excuse-du-jour the airline is coming up with to justify charging different amounts per “excess” kilos based on sex? I can’t wrap my head around that one at all.

    I mean, I can. I get the larger reasons why, I just can’t understand how someone within the organization doesn’t go, “Um, wait a second, this makes no fucking logical sense whatsoever.” Except someone probably did, and was ignored for whatever reasons. Blah. (I haven’t eaten since midnight. Thanks mid-afternoon-scheduled medical procedure and doctor for refusing to tweak those guidelines a bit so I wouldn’t have to go without food or water for fifteen hours. YOU RULE.)

  300. Ryanair are pretty much unmitigated evil anyway, though I know a lot of people who use them anyway because they are cheap.

    And my pet hate about flying is not being able to have something under my feet – there’s a reason kids kick the seat in front, and it’s that dangly legs are painful after a bit, be they never so slender and svelte.

  301. … dangly legs are painful after a bit, be they never so slender and svelte.

    I hadn’t thought of this – thank you. I’d wondered why some kids were so stubbornly persistent about kicking, but this just didn’t occur to me. No wonder some children cry inconsolably on flights; it hurts their ears, it hurts their legs, it’s loud and cold and so many folks around them are angry.

  302. Yeah, it’s totally miserable for everybody, and really little kids don’t know what to do other than cry. I totally hate it, but you can’t really blame them for it. If it were more socially acceptable, I’d fuss too.

  303. @ash: Except all the people would not be an average of 50 lbs heavier than 50 years ago–on average they’re about 10 lbs heavier.

    Also, people are not entitled to uninterrupted sleep during the entire flight if someone needs to get up and go to the bathroom (or if someone has a crying baby, etc.). Not that, with all our training to always BE NICE, it’s easy to act on that knowledge.

    @lucizoe: If it was really about physics, then it wouldn’t make a difference. But as you know, it’s really about how much blame we can apportion to people, not about their actual physical effect on the plane. Since men are bigger on average, they can weigh more before their weight becomes a problem that they are refusing to control and inflicting on bystanders…. Although if they wanted to be really consistent with this line of thought, they would go by BMI.

  304. Closetpuritan – Oh, you’re right, I was just grabbing numbers out of the air, really. I’m a medievalist, maths is not my best subject. ;) The point is still that it’s just something airlines will have to deal with as a standard cost of operating, and that one other person of pretty much any weight is not going to make a real difference to the balance, fuel consumption, or safety of the plane.

    And no, they aren’t, just like they are not ACTUALLY entitled to be comfortable. You’re in a plane. You’re really just entitled to get to your destination in as safe and timely as fashion as possible. But I actually /am/ nice, and as that was my first long distance flight, I didn’t know yet how bad I am at it. Now I get an aisle seat, and problem solved.

  305. Also, @Betsy:

    SW needs to look at their own policy when it comes to purchasing two seats (thanks for posting it, MsFeasance):
    The spirit of this policy is based solely on Customer comfort and Safety…. If a Customer cannot comfortably lower the armrest and infringes on a portion of another seat, a Customer seated adjacent would be very uncomfortable….

    So, if a customer is uncomfortable, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s not caused by another customer (and is instead caused by their stupid policies)? [Oops, I mean, as long as it's not caused by another customer WHO IS FAT.] Even though you’re paying good money for an extra seat? WTF???

  306. Well I am out of the closet now LOL I posted the link to the Kate’s Salon.com article on my facebook and one of my facebook buddies tried to roll out the whole weight distribution OMG what if the fat person puts the plane over the optimum weight thing and I made a reasonable response but I am definitely owning my personal fat chick status. I had so much more I wanted to say but I held back to trying to address one of the three issues I see inherent in this weekends debacle. The three things I see as the issues are 1. The Policy itself, 2. The way in which the policy is handled when being enforced, and 3. The fairness and equity of enforcement (the so and so is fatter than me and they are on the plane issue) Here is what I wrote:
    I have debated answering this because I really don’t want a war in my comments…and I value your online friendship, Person X, but I am reminded of the line from Toby in the pilot episode of The West Wing where they tell him he can’t use his cell phone on a plane and he points out that he is on a top of the line Lockheed Martin aircraft (or whatever) that just rolled off the line 20 months or less ago and he can still flummox the thing with a gizmo he bought at Radio Shack in an incredulous tone.

    The part that frustrates me more is the way in which the policy is implemented in way so as to shame fat people. Much like Kevin Smith, I own being a fat chick…heck many of my high school friends are on my facebook, ask them, I was fat then I am fat now…personally I would like to buy two seats so as not to be embarrassed on the plane but it makes traveling a far bigger expense. Is it fair to ask me to give up the chance to visit my 80 year old mom with Alzheimer’s before she forgets me? Or in Kate Harding’s article, her sister drove 1000 miles desperately trying to get to her mom before she died rather than subject herself to potential humiliation on a plane.

    There has to be a better way….just like you, I don’t know what the solution is but what I can say is I have been shamed publicly about being fat for 35 years at least and it has not in fact made a single pound leap off my body and run for the hills. In fact, it (this is me personally not all fat chicks) made me afraid to go to a gym lest I be ridiculed more – talk about creating a circular situation……

  307. It seems there has been quite a backlash against Kevin Smith already – lots of “crybaby” comments because he wouldn’t just shut up and take the half-hearted apology.

    Also, I recommend Smodcast #107, where he interviews Natalli, the big girl he sat next to on his second flight.

  308. @hsofia, I’m afraid I find your defence of why you choose not to strap your baby in pretty damn weak.

    Lap babies are legal because there was a study (or studies) that demonstrated that if people were compelled to buy tickets for their under 2s, so many of them would choose to drive, that more babies would die in car accidents than in planes as a result.

    Seriously, I’d love to see this study, and whether anyone was able to replicate it. It is absolutely demonstrable that more babies die in car crashes, no question. What isn’t so clear how many people who would choose to fly to a destination would suddenly decide it’s better to drive for hours than fork out 2/3rds the price of another seat for their child.

    I don’t recall saying anywhere that the baby should be stuck in its carrier for hours on end. Unlike a car, you don’t actually have to stop to take the baby out for a break. Generally you get some warning when the pilots want you to strap in.

    But without a baby seat what will you do when the plane hits turbulence? Just a few months ago, a plane from Sydney to Singapore hit turbulence when the plane dropped 300 feet, and injured 9 passengers, including a pregnant woman, one of whom required surgery. None of those passengers were wearing seatbelts at the time.

    Gambling is fine, if people truly understand the risk. I am certain that the vast majority of people flying with children/babies have no frigging clue about the risks, because it’s not in the airlines’ interest to publicise them (they would probably have to supply baby seats – I think they should; they probably wish they didn’t have to sell cheaper seats for kids).

  309. Actually, a classic example of what I’m talking about was United 232. One lap-baby was killed because the mothers had to put them on the floor when the plane was coming in for an emergency landing (3 survived). Plenty of other people were killed when the plane broke up, but the baby’s mother survived in her seat. That should have been a wake-up call to the industry.

  310. Airlines here in Europe usually do not sell cheaper seats for children. And the infant lap-belt is mandatory and one can’t use the (usually safer and more supportive) baby sling instead. Many, many car-seats do not fit on planes, too.

    Luckily, international train-and-ferry travel is doable, or I’d be really stuck, since lugging a carseat around on public transport to and from airports is horrible and we don’t drive.

    One effect of smaller passenger-spaces on planes is that the so-called “brace” position is now possible for fewer and fewer people.

  311. In my head I think of all the people I would call for support, the free lawyers afforded to me by the law school at my university, the friends who will calm me down when I call in hysterics, etc. Right now, I’m thinking about the people who might not have someone they can call, no free lawyers, no bff ever-ready by the phone.

    So picking up on something from a while back, I think this is one aspect of this we haven’t discussed yet on this thread. Are there lawyers working on these issues? (I know Paul Campos is a law professor, but he seems to focus on the policy side of things rather than the litigation side.) Has anyone ever tried to sue a U.S. airline for kicking off a fat person who didn’t have an extra seat? I haven’t done any research into this, but airlines are common carriers – they are supposed to have special, common law obligations to serve the entire public equally. Does insisting on charging some customers twice as much due to their body size violate these obligations? Courts aren’t immune to fat hatred, so it might be a hard case to succeed on, but has it been tried? Is it time to try it?

  312. one of my facebook buddies tried to roll out the whole weight distribution OMG what if the fat person puts the plane over the optimum weight thing

    Well, geez, how ever are we going to get the Green Bay Packers to their next road game, then? It’s a wonder any flight transporting an all-male sports team stays in the sky at all, really. Even in the NBA, most of the players are 250 and up. (Yeah, they charter planes for pro sports teams nowadays, but it wasn’t long ago that that wasn’t the case. And anyway, charter aircraft is not all that different from commercial.) And certainly nobody has ever transported ANIMALS by plane who weigh over TEN TIMES THAT MUCH. Do they think all those zoo elephants walked here or something?

  313. “Has anyone ever tried to sue a U.S. airline for kicking off a fat person who didn’t have an extra seat?…Is it time to try it?”

    About as likely to prevail, I fear, as a lawsuit claiming class discrimination. (Part of the privilege of wealth, as others have noted, includes the ability to pay for extra seats or for seats in 1st class…which Kevin Smith and thousands of others will do from now on, I’ve no doubt.)

    On the other hand, if this fatist policy really was based on safety concerns, rather than on discrimination, would that not strengthen the case for providing EVERYONE with more room to move about the cabin (and exit) more easily and more quickly in an emergency? Hmmmm….

    You know, the legal aspects ARE very interesting!

  314. About as likely to prevail, I fear, as a lawsuit claiming class discrimination. (Part of the privilege of wealth, as others have noted, includes the ability to pay for extra seats or for seats in 1st class…which Kevin Smith and thousands of others will do from now on, I’ve no doubt.)

    I’m not so sure – I agree that it would be an uphill battle to actually get a judgment in one’s favor, but I think you might be able to construct a pretty good legal case. Though, of course, that ‘s expensive as hell to do.

    On the emergency point, I think any reasoning the airlines have supplied about it being harder for people to exit the plane with fat people in the seats is ludicrous on its face. A fat person in two seats still takes up all the legroom in front of them just as ANYONE in an airplane seat takes up all the legroom in front of them. It just doesn’t make any sense.

  315. “…It just doesn’t make any sense.”

    I agree.

    This discussion is reminding me of the time I was leaving the hospital after surgery, and the wheel chair (that the aide brought to take me to the exit) was too fucking small. Mortifying. I insisted on walking from my room to the exit, though I was in pain, because I was too ashamed to request a larger wheelchair. As soon as I got home I started a diet…and (big surprise–hah!) ended up gaining additional weight.

    Discrimination never makes sense.

  316. Airlines almost universally charge full price for children over the age of two.

    My 8 yo son is 45 pounds, if they’re charging by weight, I’m getting WAYYY overcharged.

  317. Which is to say, the fact that they charge full-price for kids PROVES it’s not about weight or safety, it’s about whether they can frighten people into buying two seats every time they fly.

  318. @Liz – most airlines charge full price for an infant if they have their own seat, too. It’s not required, but if you do want an extra seat for your 1 year old (or 6 month old, or whatever), you have to pay full price. I’ve been researching as I’m planning two trips this spring. Delta, United, and others. Southwest is one of the few that offers partial fares for under 2s (you have to call to book it, cannot book online).

  319. @Trix: I’m wondering if this is the best place to have a discussion about what is Acceptable Mom Behavior and which risks are Not Acceptable Risks. I don’t have a dog in this fight, I can see both sides of this argument, I’m not a mod, disclaimer, etc. But I’m personally thinking a feminist space isn’t the best place to attempt to police other women’s behavior.

    I agree that most people don’t fully understand the risks–although that applies to an awful lot of things in life. It sounds like hsofia has in fact done some research on this, though.

  320. ahhh, USAir hates teh pregnant ladiez. Or at least the flight attendants on the last flight with them I will ever take did.

    So, for context, I am tallish for a woman at 5’9″, and I was a generous size 16 before I got pregnant. At the time of this flight I was 8 months pregnant, and I gained a substantial amount of weight while I was pregnant in addition to the human being sloshing and flipping around inside me. I have no quantitative data on the width of my ass at the time. I was traveling with my hubs who is 6’4″ and who has proportionally long legs for a man…

    So we were on a late flight, only half-full, and everyone starts moving around to get more comfortable, then settles down to sleep. We moved to the bulkhead seats so that my husband could have more leg room. About halfway through the flight, I realized that the immovable arm rests are digging into my gravid body in an intolerable way. I can see 1st class in front of me only about 1/3rd full. I asked an attendant if I could move into a 1st class seat, and was told ‘no, they don’t allow that.’ But I could, if I wanted to, wake up a coach customer who was lying across an entire row and ask them to sit up so that I could sit separated from my husband in a non-bulkhead seat. I am no shrinking violet, but this was not a workable option to my pregnant brain, so I asked (in tears) again, and was told no. I made my husband ask, and they still said no. I wasn’t sure who would be filling those 1st class seats as we were in the air over Utah.

    In short, I spent the next 2 hours alternating between perching on top of the immovable arm rests and wedged in between the seats and the bulkhead on the floor, openly weeping in pain and discomfort. The flight attendants just averted their eyes as they went by.

    Anyway, a little off-topic for here. And I guess you could say that it is my own damn fault for giving up my non-bulkhead seat in the first place. (I had no idea that it would be such a mistake.) But someone asked for details, and there you are.

    I did write an email to their cust serv., and got the standard “we’re sorry you had that experience” boilerplate with no remedy offered.

    But that is about what I think of USAir… the airline that would rather let a pregnant woman weep in pain than to let her sit in an empty 1st class seat.

  321. Name Here, that’s terrible. I suspect the flight attendants were probably too worried about going against corporate policy to actually use some goddamn common sense, which is probably a sign that it’s more USAir’s fault than the flight attendants’ fault. But none of it is your fault.

  322. Well, I don’t have a million or so twitter followers, so I guess that is the end of it. And I agree that it probably reflects some inflexible corporate policy. But I certainly will never fly them again, and would not recommend them to anyone.

  323. After doing 2 term papers on Southwest, I’m really shocked at the Kevin Smith incident and the mother and child who were booted off this company airline. I wonder how Herb Kelleher feels about these reports. I too like Southwest Airlines. I hope that they can recover from these incidents.

  324. @Queen_George I understand that it makes you uncomfortable, and as I said, I too find bigotry abhorrent, but I personally still don’t think that individuals, including business owners, should be forced to comply with a certain kind of morality, even if they are among the elite and privileged. I’m even okay with government incentives and tax breaks for “non-bigoted” corporations (admittedly a difficult-to-define category) in an attempt to level the playing field more, but I don’t think they should be forced. To this extent I disagree with how the commerce clause has been used in a lot of recent cases. I’m just not comfortable with that level of intrusion by government into the private affairs of citizens. It might support your agenda now but it might backfire on you later if your morality differs from that of the majority.

  325. Well, folks, apparently you CAN pay a little more to get more LEGROOM on Continental, so the idea that airlines can’t accommodate different body shapes is now officially debunked. An email I just got from them:

    “On March 17, 2010, we’ll be introducing a new option allowing you to purchase seat assignments for unreserved, Economy Class seats that feature extra legroom. Depending on the type of aircraft and row, seats with extra legroom offer a minimum of seven additional inches of legroom.

    You will have the ability to purchase seat assignments when checking in at continental.com or at an airport kiosk during the normal check-in period, beginning 24 hours prior to flight departure. The price of these extra legroom seats will vary depending on a number of factors, including the length of the flight and market.

    Consider this choice when you want extra legroom for more comfort on your flight.

    We appreciate your business and thank you for choosing Continental.

    Learn more about Extra Legroom Seats.

    http://email.continental.com/servlet/cc6?JHQWBACQSYVthjLnmptuHjlpgxPHohhQJhuV2VTRVwvGy611Xv3f7G0V25SYWCSS

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