My Kevin Smith experience: Flying Fat on Southwest Airlines

imagesMy partner and I just returned from a trip to Florida on Southwest. I’ve been excited by Southwest Airlines new customer of size policy allowing for a total refund of a second seat purchased for comfort regardless if the flight is full or not. But on the last leg of our journey, there was a ¬†problem in Texas. The following is what I wrote to the airlines today:

My partner and I flew Southwest/Air Tran for our vacation in Florida for one week (8/8/13 to 8/15/13). I purchased an extra seat for comfort as I am a passenger of size. Although the Air Tran employees were not completely familiar with the customer of size policy, they were accommodating but do need education on the details and implementation. At LAX on the first leg of our trip (8/8/13) LAX to Atlanta, I had to inform the Southwest employee at the gate that I do get the trip refunded even if the plane is completely full.

On the last leg of our trip (Austin Tx to Los Angeles) at Gate 12, boarding at 4:40 PM, the agent, Douglas, did not want to allow my partner to pre-board the plane with me. I was informed by all other employees on the previous three legs of the trip that I could pre-board with one person in my party. At the gate, Douglas informed my partner that he could not board the plane with me and that I had to pre-board alone. When we questioned him and told him that every other airport and Southwest employee told us that one member of the party could pre-board with me, he said, “I hear that a lot,” and essentially called us liars and that was not accurate policy.

After these terse words and his smug attitude, Douglas allowed my partner to join me in the pre-board process.

Please clarify Southwest’s policy regarding who may pre-board with a customer of size? I would expect that all employees would be familiar with this policy. I have followed all of the recommended suggestions and adhered to Southwest’s policy to ensure that the airlines knew of my special needs ahead of time and could plan appropriately. Beyond the rudeness of being called liars and made to feel like I was asking for something inappropriate and a “second-class” citizen because of my size, the end of our delightful vacation was tarnished by this experience.

Please provide the details of what your customer of size policy states regarding who may pre-board with a plus-sized customer. Thank you.

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