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Re: People of Size

mark9255
New Arrival

Hello, I am a big fan of SWA.  I don't think it's reasonable to ask to be "reseated" thus spliting up persons traveling together that are following SWA rules and guidlines.  I'm looking for some direction on what to do when a "person of size" sits next to me and is clearly not fitting in their seat and is encroaching into my seat.  On my last trip I was flying with my girlfriend and we were sitting at a window and center seat.  We were in the "A" boarding group and seated towards the rear of the plane which I often do.  The flight was very full and some of the last few people boarding were two very large people that clearly would not fit into a 17" wide space.  One of the two large people took the aisle seat next to me.  Since these people clearly did not follow SWA guidelines for "people of size", I was forced to lean towards my girlfriend the entire flight which was okay however if I was traveling alone, this would have created a miserable situation.  My question is that I have no idea what to do in the future when this happens?  I do not want to create an "uncomfortable situation" but I am a paying passenger that follows the rules.  The "person of size" is not following the SWA website guidelines.  I am also reluctant to say anything based on "airline behavior" of kicking people off planes for virtually any reason.  This is NOT just a SWA problem but I believe a common problem with US carriers in general.  I do often fly international as well and am very impressed with carriers like Air China and other Asian carriers.  With a large percentage of the US population considered to be "obese", I think SWA needs to clarify protocol on how the paying public, large, medium or small should handle "people of size" situations without creating a very uncomfortable situation on the airplane.  Probably best handled before boarding?  I think it would be very helpful if the SWA website could give some additional direction on this.  I have included the SWA "Customer of Size" policy below.  Thank you

"Customer of Size"

What is Southwest Airlines' policy for Customers of size?

Customers who encroach upon any part of the neighboring seat(s) may proactively purchase the needed number of seats prior to travel in order to ensure the additional seat(s) is available. The armrest is considered to be the definitive boundary between seats; the width of the narrowest and widest passenger seats (in inches) is available on our Flying Southwest page. The purchase of additional seats serves as a notification to Southwest of a special seating need, and allows us to adequately plan for the number of seats that will be occupied on the aircraft.  In turn, this helps to ensure we can accommodate all Customers on the flight/aircraft for which they purchased a ticket and avoid asking Customers to relinquish their seats for an unplanned accommodation. Most importantly, it ensures that all Customers onboard have access to safe and comfortable seating. You may contact us for a refund of the cost of additional seating after travel.  Customers of size who prefer not to purchase an additional seat in advance have the option of purchasing just one seat and then discussing their seating needs with the Customer Service Agent at their departure gate. If it is determined that a second (or third) seat is needed, they will be accommodated with a complimentary additional seat.

Re: People of Size

LindseyD
Retired Community Manager

Hi @mark9255

 

Thank you for posting in the Southwest Community. Since Southwest Airlines has an open-seating policy, we encourage our Customers to take advantage of the opportunity to sit anywhere on the plane that makes you comfortable. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to be re-seated and you aren't sure how to go about it, you can always let one of the Flight Attendants know and they will happy to help you find a different place to sit. 

 

Re: People of Size

Vapor6
New Arrival

I disagree. It's an honest opinion about a very real problem. Look deeper into the context. If Airlines weren't so greedy, they wouldn't be revamping planes with smaller seats/rows. While obese passengers will always be a concern, Airlines are partially to blame for lack of standards.

 

My boss is 6-5 and 400#. He always travels first class, not because he is the boss, but because he knows he would make others uncomfortable... If he can't afford the cost difference, he doesn't fly. 

 

Adding more seats isn't a solution. Enforcement of passenger restrictions is. Don't like it? Don't fly.

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Re: People of Size

chgoflyer
Top Contributor

@Vapor6 wrote:

I disagree. It's an honest opinion about a very real problem. Look deeper into the context. If Airlines weren't so greedy, they wouldn't be revamping planes with smaller seats/rows. While obese passengers will always be a concern, Airlines are partially to blame for lack of standards.

 

My boss is 6-5 and 400#. He always travels first class, not because he is the boss, but because he knows he would make others uncomfortable... If he can't afford the cost difference, he doesn't fly. 

 

Adding more seats isn't a solution. Enforcement of passenger restrictions is. Don't like it? Don't fly.


 

I'm not sure with whom you're disagreeing... but the last bit makes me think that perhaps you've never traveled on Southwest? Southwest offers customers of size a 2nd seat for free. 😉

Re: People of Size

AngelaG123
New Arrival

I would ask that you consider the many other ways people "encroach" on others that have nothing to do with their size. I have sat next to people who have taken off their shoes & socks and stuck their smelly feet up in front of them. I have had people pick their nose next to me. I had a woman that sprayed very heavy perfume and I have asthma and almost had an asthma attack. I have been seated next to people that pick at their zits and wipe it on the seats. Then there are almost always the loud, obnoxious talkers, the drunks & the ones that silently pass horrific gas throughout the flight. It amazes me how many people can be so gross, rude and insensitive. I would sit next to a person of size any day compared to the many other's actual gross displays in public. I can't even imagine how airlines or flight attendants must feel about those situations and how to handle each and every one. If you got rid of everyone who did something someone else didn't like the planes would be pretty empty and if you police one thing, you had better well start policing all the offenses rather than discriminating only against size. I think SWA has a good policy to treat everyone as a person and not to unfairly judge them/humiliate them. Good job SWA! I commend you and your wonderful flight attendants that have to deal with these issues on a daily basis and still manage to put a smile on their face for their passengers.

Re: People of Size

Vegas_Jule
New Arrival

I have been commuting to work by plane for 21 years (the last decade or so exclusively on Southwest). My thoughts after reading the initial post and the numerous responses are that: (1) You can wear ear plugs or listen to headphones to block out crying babies or annoying drunks/loud talkers. (2) You can wear an eye mask to block visions of peoples' unsightly behaviors. (3) Smells are a bit harder to combat; however, you can always try placing a scarf over your nose and mouth to filter foul oders. I carry a thin scarf in my backpack sprayed lightly with perfume and use it occasionally for that purpose. But sitting next to extra-large passengers, no matter how nice or clean or apologetic, is a different issue. It isn't so much of a problem on a flight lasting an hour. It is a horrible problem when another person's flesh flows under and above the armrest and envelops a portion of your body in the space you have paid for. I have literally deplaned with a portion of my clothing dripping with sweat after a 4-hour flight. My sweat? The large passenger's sweat? Both? Who knows. I find this treatment unacceptable and honestly feel violated. Flight attendants should be trained to deal with situations where large customers obviously don't fit in a single seat and either re-seat them or re-accomodate them on another flight. Most importantly, there should be a notice BEFORE COMPLETING RESERVATIONS that people of size need to be aware of special Southwest policies. I don't blame large passengers. I do blame Southwest for not making their policies clear and protecting the rights of all passengers.

Re: People of Size

chgoflyer
Top Contributor

Southwest gives Customers of Size a 2nd seat for free. So they are never going to have any sort of "notice before completing reservations." 😉

 

In practice, only very, very large people are ever identified by agents prior to boarding. If Southwest started giving that free 2nd seat to everyone who encroached onto an adjacent seat, they would go out of business quickly -- or need to raise fares to compensate.

 

I've found that, if you get a FA's attention and discretely state the issue, prior to the plane being fully boarded, they will relocate you to another seat. They may or may not deal directly with the COS, often depending on the flight load.

 

When the COS is one of the last people to board it gets trickier. At that point you risk taking a later flight should the agents refuse to reaccommodate the COS.

 

I do wish Southwest would promote their COS policy more so that those who need it would take better advantage of it, but I think it's unrealistic to think that will ever happen.

Re: People of Size

mark9255
New Arrival

Hello, I recently had the same experience and agree with what you are saying.  What I'm wondering is does anyone know what to do when the "person of size" encroaches on a seat that we have paid for?  Do "people of size" care about our comfort or the money we paid for our seat?  No one wants to create a scene so what are the options?  I'm going to contact SWA to see if I can get an answer.

Re: People of Size

sebomiltos
New Arrival

Hey hey - fat dude here.  Trust me, I am just as mortified as the rest of you with TWF (traveling while fat).  I don't want to encroach on your space and I want your trip to be as uneventful and comfortable as possible.  Prior to learning about Southwest's COS policy, I did everything I could to minimize inconvenience for my follow passengers.  I payed for earlybird boarding, sat next to windows and leaned against the hull, and I even fasted the day prior to the flight so that I wouldn't have to get up and use the bathroom on long flights.  

 

One day prior to a packed flight, a gate attendant approached me and offered me an extra seat.  I'll be honest - that gesture alone likely made me a customer for life.  I've been utilizing their COS policy ever since.  I still pay for early bird boarding and follow my routine flying habits....but I am glad Southwest has made it easy to take the anxiety out of flight for myself and my fellow passengers.