In the past, I’ve made no bones about my disdain for Southwest Airlines – they’re sexist and just plain ramshackle. Now it looks like we can add sizeist to the list of unflattering adjectives.
Director Kevin Smith (Chasing Amy, Clerks, Zack and Miri Make a Porno) launched a full-scale Tweet tweakout this weekend when Southwest kicked him off an Oakland-to-Burbank flight because he was "too wide for the sky." On Twitter, Smith (@ThatKevinSmith) alleged he was removed because the pilot deemed him a safety risk (what, because he might suddenly stamped down the aisle for $7 cheese and crackers?)
What would Silent Bob say?
After being asked to leave, he Tweeted "Dear @SouthwestAir - I know I'm fat, but was Captain Leysath really justified in throwing me off a flight for which I was already seated?...I'm way fat... But I'm not THERE just yet. But if I am, why wait til my bag is up, and I'm seated WITH ARM RESTS DOWN. In front of a packed plane with a bunch of folks who'd already I.d.ed me as 'Silent Bob.'"
For his inconvenience, Southwest issued a $100 voucher and was placed on a different flight. Not that a simple relocation quieted his rage:
"Hey @SouthwestAir! Look how fat I am on your plane! Quick! Throw me off!" (accompanied by this digital self-portrait.
"The @SouthwestAir Diet. How it works: you're publicly shamed into a slimmer figure. Crying the weight right off has never been easier! Hey @SouthwestAir! I've landed in Burbank. Don't worry: wall of the plane was opened & I was airlifted out while Richard Simmons supervised."
For 20 plus years, Southwest has enforced a "customer of size" policy, which requires passengers to purchase a second seat if their body (essentially, their lap) passes the arm rest boundary. If extra seats are available, customers of size are given refunds or relocated free of charge.
I’m irked on his behalf, although to be honest, I sometimes waffle on the whole “two seats for plus-size” issue. On one hand, if someone is taking up more than seat, it encroaches on the next person’s space, which they purchased and technically own for the duration of the flight. But on the other hand, they are small seats in the first place and if a company if going to stagger rate fares according to size, why don’t tall people have to spend more, or skinny people pay less? Can you imagine if True Religion charged $120 for a Size 26 pair of jeans but $150 for a Size 32? So why does the Southwest Airlines policy fly? (heh heh.)
Alas, here’s another wrench: Southwest apologized via blog, but in the process, they revealed some potentially compromising information:
“Mr. Smith originally purchased two Southwest seats on a flight from Oakland to Burbank – as he's been known to do when traveling on Southwest. He decided to change his plans and board an earlier flight to Burbank, which technically means flying standby. As you may know, airlines are not able to clear standby passengers until all Customers are boarded. When the time came to board Mr. Smith, we had only a single seat available for him to occupy. Our pilots are responsible for the Safety and comfort of all Customers on the aircraft and therefore, made the determination that Mr. Smith needed more than one seat to complete his flight. Our Employees explained why the decision was made, accommodated Mr. Smith on a later flight, and issued him a $100 Southwest travel voucher for his inconvenience.”
So it seems Smith has made a habit of double booking and this maybe shouldn’t be such a huge shock to him.
The real question: Why is the director of Chasing Amy and Clerks flying a cattle-call, no first class airlines like Southwest, where the flight attendants wear khaki shorts, toss footballs across the aisle and welcome passengers on the intercom with jokes about horses? (All three of these things have happened to me on Southwest.)
I’m sorry this happened to Smith – it sounds humiliating and shaming. But in a way, I’m glad it happened to him (versus someone else) simply because he has a giant platform on which to air Southwest’s dirty laundry, and he’s doing it in a deservingly snarky, witty, relatable way. Regardless, looks like you won't be seeing Dogma on any upcoming Southwest flights. Not like they have in-flight movies - more like construction paper and glue shoebox dioramas hand-crafted by the flight attendants' kids.