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The "Love" clearly doesn't extend to handles, fatso.
January 24, 2007 1:44 PM   Subscribe

Southwest's obesity ticket policy nearly strands man with medical condition that causes obesity. SWA's extra fee for fat travelers has been covered before. But what if your obesity is caused by a medical condition? An indigent man dying of late-stage Hepatitis C and suffering from related abdominal bloating is told by an SWA gate agent he can't board a connecting flight to a hospital willing to take his case unless he coughs up money for another ticket -- despite the family getting reassurances before he departed that he wouldn't have to pay due to his medical state. He only boards after an SWA in Dallas for the ticket herself.
posted by dw (55 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I didn't like the "OMG he's going to die!" of the account, so I avoided saying "let him die" in the post.

Still, don't common carrier rules say that once he's boarded the first flight with them they have to take him all the way to San Fran -- or else accommodate him or refund his money?
posted by dw at 1:46 PM on January 24, 2007




You can't buy better PR than this.
posted by fluffycreature at 1:54 PM on January 24, 2007


That last sentence should be "He only boards after an SWA agent in Dallas pays for the ticket herself."
posted by dw at 1:59 PM on January 24, 2007


Wow. If this story gets widely circulated they're going to have to pay all his medical bills, fire that gate agent and set her uniform on fire.
posted by danb at 2:00 PM on January 24, 2007


And SWA should reward that agent in Dallas who paid for the ticket.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:02 PM on January 24, 2007


As someone who flies on a LOT of different airlines, I have to agree that US carriers are near-worst in terms of quality of service and customer respect, and Southwest is among the worst of that worst...

But one nit in the FPP: whatever logic they apply to charging extra for the obese should hold no matter how that obesity was "caused", don't you think?

What are you suggesting, value judgments?
posted by rokusan at 2:03 PM on January 24, 2007


If Southwest lives up to its image, the Dallas agent who paid for the ticket will be fired for breaking with policy.

Then a better airline can hire her. PR score!
posted by rokusan at 2:04 PM on January 24, 2007


I noticed on the consumerist board that most people are saying that fat people who "choose" to be fat should be treated this way, but this man was an exception because he was ill.

Figures. You often can't tell by looking at someone whether they're large because of a medical condition or not. Why assume everyone who's large is that way because they suck as a person? Apparently people can have all sorts of bad habits and dangerous hobbies (smoking, drug abuse, beating their spouses, kicking puppies, jumping out of airplanes) but unless you can see visual evidence of those habits they don't matter.
posted by smashingstars at 2:08 PM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


SW Airlines is almost as bad as these clothing manufacturers you see these days. Why, just the other day I noticed that my 3 year old son's pants cost less than half of what mine cost. The nerve these people have, as if the simple fact of my taking up more space means that I should be charged more. Who cares if it costs the clothing manufactuer more to make my pants? Equality means everyone should pay the same, regardless of size!
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:11 PM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


smashingstars: smoking, drug abuse, beating their spouses, kicking puppies... but unless you can see visual evidence of those habits they don't matter.

The certainly don't matter in the context of commerical airlines.

jumping out of airplanes

Okay, that one could matter.
posted by spaltavian at 2:11 PM on January 24, 2007


despite the family getting reassurances before he departed that he wouldn't have to pay due to his medical state.

Always make them put it in writing.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:12 PM on January 24, 2007


"An indigent man dying of late-stage Hepatitis C and suffering from related abdominal bloating..."

So why are we as a society against voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill? We wouldn't have to fly people dying from contagious diseases halfway across the country in tiny planes with recirculated air to do that either.
posted by davy at 2:21 PM on January 24, 2007


So why are we as a society against voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill? We wouldn't have to fly people dying from contagious diseases halfway across the country in tiny planes with recirculated air to do that either.

Uh, Hep C is bloodborne. So, he'd either have to be walking around smearing his blood in other passengers' open wounds or having a heck of a orgy.
posted by dw at 2:26 PM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why assume everyone who's large is that way because they suck as a person?

Because most of them are fat because of choice.
You are telling me the nation is being overrun with fatties full of hep-c?
posted by evilelvis at 2:34 PM on January 24, 2007


I think there are two separate issues here. Is Soutwest making this policy widely enough known so that potential passengers can deal with it? Maybe not, but neither of the linked articles really indicates this one way or the other.

The other issue is whether or not this is a fair and reasonable policy. I think it is clearly a reasonable policy, as eustacescrubb points out this is an issue of space, you are paying for a certain amount of real estate on the plane. If another passenger can’t fit in his allocated space, guess what? He is in someone else’s space. And as anyone who has flown knows you greatly value every inch of space you have paid for.

I do think this represents Soutwest’s failure to have a system in place to handle such medical emergencies and that should clearly be fixed. However, I think the tone of the post and some of the comments along the lines of “OMG SWA would rather let people suffer and die in the terminal than loose a couple bucks” are patently ridiculous.
posted by The Radish at 2:34 PM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


According to the article, the flight wasn't full anyway, so it wasn't as if the poor guy would've been taking up someone else's space. This appears to me to be typical petty bureaucracy where someone was a spiteful ass to another human being because she could be.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:45 PM on January 24, 2007


Wow, not sure how I feel about this one. Except that Southwest sucks.
posted by agregoli at 2:47 PM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


(I knew that before this story, however).
posted by agregoli at 2:47 PM on January 24, 2007


The person who really lost out was whomever had to sit next to an smelly indigent overflowing his seat.

I'm sure he's very sick, but you know he smells.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:53 PM on January 24, 2007


despite the family getting reassurances before he departed that he wouldn't have to pay due to his medical state.

This is the only problem that occured - the airline said one thing and did another

The problem isn't their buy-an-extra-seat-if-you-need-it policy, or assumptions that the man should be held to a lower standard because he's sick. The problem is that the airline failed to pass its computer note to the changes he made to his flight. It does sound like it was exacebated by the person working the gate having a poor work ethic too (do the minimum necessary to get the pay check), but chances are good that they have thus weeded themself out.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:55 PM on January 24, 2007


This case stinks of awful journalism and misrepresentation of the medical realities. First of all, it's exceedingly unlikely that this was remotely an emergent or even urgent situation. If he's got bad ascites and Hep C, he's probably been dealing with it chronically. Moreover, it sounds like he isn't even listed for a transplant, and the average wait time for a liver these days is months to even years. A "liver transplant appointment" is just that -- a clinic appointment for evaluation, not scheduled transplant surgery. Finally, I hope I'm not the only one who noticed that the guy was originally from Sacremento, decided to fly to Arizon (for unclear reasons), and then was referred back to UC San Fransisco for what was likely an n-th opinion. I mean he's got what is probably the top quaternary medical center west of the Mississippi within a few miles of where he lives and he's flying to Arizona. It's hard to make any sense out of most of all this, and the alarmist spin of the story was clearly disingenuous.
posted by drpynchon at 2:56 PM on January 24, 2007


I think it is clearly a reasonable policy, as eustacescrubb points out this is an issue of space, you are paying for a certain amount of real estate on the plane

And yet I doubt that really thin people could ask if they could "lease" less space. Thus, there's a minimum space you must buy, yes? And that was determined how?
posted by vacapinta at 3:06 PM on January 24, 2007


Got curious, here it is:

"Customers who are unable to lower the armrests (the definitive boundary between seats) and/or who compromise any portion of adjacent seating ..."

and from the Customer of Size Q&A:

"Isn't this policy just another way to increase your revenue?

No, we are not "making money" from this policy. In addition to giving the Customer a refund for the second seat, we are absorbing the administrative costs (staffing and processing) of issuing the refund. 98 percent of extra seat purchases qualify for a refund, as a refund request is declined only in the event of an oversale that causes us to deny transportation to a confirmed Customer (to whom we must issue denied boarding compensation)."

How do I qualify for and request a refund of the additional seat purchase?

As long as the flight does not oversell (having more confirmed Customers waiting to board an aircraft than seats on the aircraft), we will refund the additional seat purchase after travel. A Refund Advice Slip, a guide for conveniently requesting refunds (via telephone or letter), is provided to the Customer of size at checkin. And, if it appears a flight will oversell, the option to purchase a second seat and travel on a less full flight is available.

posted by The Radish at 3:18 PM on January 24, 2007


So today's lesson is that Airtran rules, Southwest sucks.
posted by inturnaround at 3:19 PM on January 24, 2007


Figures. You often can't tell by looking at someone whether they're large because of a medical condition or not.

"But seeing an opportunity to make an extra fare, Southwest's agent, having been informed of Richard's failing medical condition and shown supporting medical documentation, refused to allow Richard to board, stating "each airport has their own rules and these are ours, no extra seat, no boarding." (from consumerist.com)
posted by concreteforest at 3:39 PM on January 24, 2007


drpynchon:

I'm glad to know that your life has been so blessed that you have no conception that this man's situation very well may have been life or death, exactly as stated in the article.

A couple of years ago, I had to rush to the bedside of a friend in San Fran who indeed, had very SUDDENLY acquired a whole host of physical ills, including jaundice, ascites (and a concomitant infection), pneumonia, severe diarrhea and dehydration. It took the medical people several days to determine that the underlying cause was end-stage liver disease due to Hep C. While hospitalized, he ballooned almost overnight from around 200 to around 300 pounds. Most of this excess weight was water stored in his abdomen (ascites) and legs. The rest of his body became malnourished, so that he was huge, but very weak.

I spent the next few months caring for him, along with several other friends. I am excrutiatingly familiar with the process for getting on liver transplant waiting lists. You try everything you possibly can to save your loved one, including attempting to get them on as many lists as possible. The more lists you are on, the more likely an appropriate liver will come available for you.

People who are "indigent" as the article described this man have a disadvantage because they have a hard time making appointments in other areas of the country. But obviously this man wants to live, and his family members are doing their utmost to help him, even with scarce funds.

There are numerous reasons why he may have been turned away in AZ, including that he was actually TOO sick for them to chance operating on him. Just because he was rejected once does not mean that UCSF will reject him. He may have slightly different lab values on the particular day they evaluate him, or they may view his risk slightly differently.

AVERAGE waiting times for liver transplant realy have nothing to do with how long a given individual can wait before his liver gives out.

It infuriates me to see you describe his appt. with UCSF as "an n-th opinion". What would you have him and his family do, just give up after he was rejected once?? It also angers me that you imply they should have gone to UCSF first. When you are a friend or family member of someone who is poor and gravely ill like this, you must deal with numerous stressful tasks, such as dealing with medical personnel, trying to get financial assistance, trying to research the disease since many of the medical people you will deal with are quite ignorant and haven't kept up on the currecnt research. You are also obviously dealing with daily care for this person, including feeding, bathing, giving meds, and comforting. Perhaps his caretakers were not aware of UCSF's reputation (medical personnel often do NOT bother telling potential transplant candidates, especially those who are indigent, about their options). Perhaps they simply couldn't schedule an appointment soon enough. Perhaps they couldn't even get in touch with a live person.

It makes me very angry to hear you speaking so dismissively of what I know to be an immensely scary, painful process. On one hand, I could never wish for someone to go through what my friend, I and his other caretakers did. But on the other hand, maybe experiencing such a thing would make you a tad more compassionate and less flippant.

My friend is still alive today, because he had caring people there to fight for him every step of the way and insist that the medical community actually do their jobs. He had an extremely poor prognosis, and many people less sick than he was are long since gone. People without advocates accompanying them every step of the way get to sit freezing in airport terminals and have jaded mefites like yourself dismiss their suffering.
posted by parrot_person at 3:39 PM on January 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


If you need to be insulted during the flight, please press the white button to summon the MeFi fatty haters.
posted by peeedro at 3:51 PM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


parrot_person, I experience these things on a daily basis, and while I know good and well that end-stage liver disease is a nightmarish process, the fact remains that were he critically ill, he wouldn't be wandering an airport trying to catch a flight, and even considering doing so would be putting his life in greater jeopardy. The story you tell is unfortunate, but I assure you it isn't remotely typical and nowhere in there did you mention a critically ill person entertaining air travel. Patient's with Hepatitis C who develop sudden decompensated liver failure don't have any business getting on airplanes or going to clinics, and the best thing for an advocate to do in such a situation is to tell them to head to the nearest emergency department by ambulance.

I deal with death daily and have seen countless people I'm close to pass away, so don't be too presumptuous. I don't know the guy, I don't know the real story, and I reserve my compassion for the daily tragedies I see with my own eyes. I have nowhere near the reliable details in this case. If you think that makes me jaded, you're entitled to your hysterical opinion, but the story and the writing here are still bunk.
posted by drpynchon at 3:55 PM on January 24, 2007


This case stinks of awful journalism and misrepresentation of the medical realities. First of all, it's exceedingly unlikely that this was remotely an emergent or even urgent situation.

Oh, I agree, which is why I tried to leave it out of the post. If he truly was dying, he should have been boarding an ambulance, not a plane.
posted by dw at 4:07 PM on January 24, 2007


So why are we as a society against voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill? We wouldn't have to fly people dying from contagious diseases halfway across the country in tiny planes with recirculated air to do that either.

Uh, Hep C is bloodborne. So, he'd either have to be walking around smearing his blood in other passengers' open wounds or having a heck of a orgy.


U, I was flying recently and had a granola bar confiscated becuase someone on the plane was allergic to peanuts. I told them I was the only person eating my granola bar. They argued that something could happen and the bar could fly all over the place and kill the allergic person.
posted by Big_B at 4:10 PM on January 24, 2007


that should be uh, huh?
posted by Big_B at 4:15 PM on January 24, 2007


So why are we as a society against voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill?

We're not. When it's actually put to the vote, euthanasia laws generally pass. Just like how when it's actually put to the vote, we as a society don't want prisons filled with people whose only offense is pot. The problem is more Federal inertia. Actually, "inertia" isn't quite the right word, since all they have to do is respect state law. Federal "momentum" is perhaps more accurate.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:25 PM on January 24, 2007


Big_B writes "U, I was flying recently and had a granola bar confiscated becuase someone on the plane was allergic to peanuts. I told them I was the only person eating my granola bar. They argued that something could happen and the bar could fly all over the place and kill the allergic person."

That's fucking insane.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:27 PM on January 24, 2007


If the granola bar is flying around 'all over the place' , you'd think they would have bigger problems than a peanut allergy.
posted by IronLizard at 4:59 PM on January 24, 2007


If you take up two seats, you pay for two seats. Doesn't matter how or why. Seems like a simple policy to me.

Are we going to get all enraged that the airlines don't fly poor children from Central America to our cities to get away from the abject poverty? It's not their business to be nice guys. They sell seats. He needed two. End of story.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:14 PM on January 24, 2007


I am a good husband, father, son, taxpayer, citizen, etc. I try to be good and meet my obligations in life. I also weight > 300 pounds. Does that mean that I am somehow deserving of the hateful comments aimed at the obese that I have read lately not only in this thread but in other threads in *.metafilter?

Are you perfect? Don't you have at least one shameful secret? Not something bad from your past but something that you are doing wrong now? How would you feel if that thing that you are so ashamed of was brightly displayed to everyone you met? Please stop hating, folks.

I don't care about Southwest's seating policy. They make it obvious that they don't want me as a customer and I vote with my pocketbook by flying with other carriers. When you are big like me, first class is the only way to go. Cramming my portly frame into a tiny coach seat for x hours is excruciating.
posted by SteveTheRed at 7:01 PM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't get all the Southwest bashing. The fattie policy seems unfortunate, but beyond that I think Southwest is a great airline. If you live in one of the many, many US cities that has experienced the "Southwest effect" -- the steep drop in airfares that happens when Southwest comes to that market -- then you'll probably agree. Denver, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Burlington, just to give a few examples, have seen this happen in the recent past, and it's great.

Southwest has done awesome damage to the traditional airlines, and I love hearing that they're flying to a new city to do it again. Anybody remember when US Airways had a virtual monopoly on many Northeast routes? $400 for Pittsburgh to Phily? No thanks. Philly to Tampa for $39? That's more like it. You can't expect first-class treatment for that price (although, yes, an assigned seat would be nice). I think Southwest does an excellent job of flying for very, very reasonable rates.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 7:13 PM on January 24, 2007


A few years ago I was staying at a hotel in San Francisco while I was looking for an apartment in the area.

SWA pilots and stewardesses stayed in this hotel on layovers, and they would get toasted at the bar every night.

On several occasions, a stewardess or two would climb up on the bar and do a quasi-striptease, while the pilots would constantly joke about the "bottle-to-throttle" rule, and how they were breaking it.

I swore to never fly that airline.
posted by pruner at 7:24 PM on January 24, 2007


Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese writes "Philly to Tampa for $39? That's more like it"

Yes, but do you think those prices are honestly sustainable?

Southwest is the WalMart of the air.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:25 PM on January 24, 2007


Yes, but do you think those prices are honestly sustainable?

They've been doing it for 30 years, so, yes, it would appear so. And unless you think of the giant airlines like American, United and US Air as quaint little mom and pop operations being bullied by an outsized foe, then the Wal-Mart comparison is silly. Southwest provides a cheap service, yes, but they do it reasonably well. I just wish they'd assign seats.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 7:36 PM on January 24, 2007


If you take up two seats, you pay for two seats. Doesn't matter how or why. Seems like a simple policy to me.

When you are big like me, first class is the only way to go.

Exactly. It's comes down to the economics. If you need two-seats in econmy -- or, on in business/first-class -- that's what you pay for. No value judgment(s) need apply.
posted by ericb at 7:40 PM on January 24, 2007


*It*

*economy*

*or, one in business/first-class*

[hiccup]
posted by ericb at 7:43 PM on January 24, 2007


If you take up two seats, you pay for two seats. Doesn't matter how or why. Seems like a simple policy to me.

The problem here was threefold -- his family had already talked to the airline, but apparently the message wasn't on the computer (or was ignored); he wasn't at the start of his flight, but making a connection at a hub when the SWA employee decided to charge him; and the flight was not full to the point he would have spilled over into someone else in another seat.

Part 2 is probably the biggest problem -- they were effectively changing the travel contract midflight. Which is why I was asking about common carrier rules.
posted by dw at 7:47 PM on January 24, 2007


drpynchon, this: "you're entitled to your hysterical opinion" is disgustingly dismissive and arrogant. It would do you well to be less reserved in your displays of compassion.

StevetheRed: I have a feeling there are lots of fat-loving non-asshats here on Metafilter who don't bother piping up. I know that for me commenting in these threads—hell, reading these threads—is an exercise in frustration and anger management and provides diminishing returns. Just repeat to yourself: Fatphobia is the projection onto others of anxiety over A#1) the failure of control (over the personal, the social, the political) and B#2) the excesses of late-capitalist society. [OK that doesn't roll off the tongue. And I just made it up. BUT JEBUS PPLZ BODIES IS BODIES IS BODIES AND YOU GOT NO CAUSE TO START HURLIN' SH*T ON ACCOUNT OF OTHER PEOPLES']
posted by wemayfreeze at 7:51 PM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not exactly sure why people are attacking me personally for questioning the veracity of an article that makes little sense as if I'm being coldhearted directly to a dying person. I didn't even comment on the whole fat thing for crying out loud. That rant _was_ hysterical, and a personal attack I take quite seriously as someone who has devoted his life to taking care of critically ill people, people with end-stage liver disease, people pre- and post- solid organ transplant, and people in hospice care. wemayfreeze, when an HIV and Hep C positive patient throws up blood into your eye while you're trying help him breath by draining liter after liter of ascites fluid out of his belly with a needle, I'll consider entertaining your opinions about my degree of compassion.
posted by drpynchon at 8:39 PM on January 24, 2007


drpynchon, Re: "I have nowhere near the reliable details in this case".

EXACTLY. And yet you were making pronouncements about how this couldn't have happened.

dw, Re: "If he truly was dying, he should have been boarding an ambulance, not a plane."

Why? So that he could die without being seen by anyone?

"Dying" is a process of variable length. Maybe it is better to say that without a liver transplant, this man will die soon. And the treatment by the airline may well have hastened that death.
posted by parrot_person at 8:45 PM on January 24, 2007


Yes, I can make those pronouncements because even though I don't know the person this is about, I know that the story doesn't makes sense -- just like I know that trying to get multiple listed (as you mentioned), doesn't exactly make sense when Arizona and California are in the same UNOS region (region 5 of 11), and when trying to get listed at a far off transplant center will typically require the money to make numerous flights back and forth for regular evaluation. So I call BS. The story is either terribly written or grossly inaccurate, and I stand by that. That's all I said. Why that offends you so much, I have no idea.
posted by drpynchon at 9:07 PM on January 24, 2007


drpynchon: Arizona and California are in the same UNOS region, yes. But the 11 UNOS regions are divided into 69 "OPOs" (Organ Procurement Organizations). A liver transplant candidate can list with more than one center in a UNOS region, as long as it is in a different OPO. I am surprised you do not know this, since you imply you are a doctor who frequently works with patients with end-stage liver disease.

Available organs are offered first to the immediate geographical area, governed by an OPO. Only after the organ is rejected by that entire area is it offered to people in other areas. So, it behooves a candidate to list in multiple OPO regions.

We had my friend listed at UC Davis (Golden State OPO) as well as Cal-Pac (CADN OPO), and were considering going to LA if need be. UC Davis has (or at least had, as of nearly three years ago) a significantly shorter average wait time than either Cal-Pac or UCSF.

You seem to miss the point that when a loved one is this gravely ill, you do anything you can to help save the person you care about. One does not refrain from doing something that might help just because it is inconvenient or impractical.

Liver transplant candidates are much more likely to receive their transplant if they are multiple-listed (see http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/466698_4). Should this man and his family have said, "oops! Don't have enough money to buy multiple plane tickets, so I guess we'll just accept a greater chance of dying"?

It is understandable to reserve compassion for those you know. But you go a lot further than that and dismiss this man's story as not possibly being true. Many of the reasons you don't think it is true show a lack of understanding of what a person with end-stage liver disease actually experiences, and what her/his caretakers experience.

You ask, for example, why he wasn't taken to UCSF first.

Someone from the medical community would have had to TELL HIM and his family that UCSF was even an option. Most likely, no one bothered, either because he was indigent, they were too busy, they didn't give a shit, or all of the above. Non-medical people do not just magically know of the existence of transplant programs. Any information he and his family had would have had to be gained from their own desperate attempts at research in-between all their other responsibilities and under extreme stress. Yes, it probably would have been better to start with a local center. But caring for someone who is about to die unless you figure out how to help them does not exactly lend itself to actions that are all perfectly ideal, logical, and backed up with meticulous thinking.

I had a gastroenterologist (Dr. Silpa from Alta Bates) look me in the eye and tell me that liver transplants were never done on Hep C patients, since the new organ would just start to degenerate again from the Hep C. This man was many years out of date in this pronouncement, hadn't bothered keeping up in his field, and yet presented himself as the ultimate authority. In fact, cirrhosis due to Hep C is the most common reason for liver transplantation today! Had we listened to this guy's pronouncement, my friend would almost certainly be dead.

That's one of the main problems I have encountered with people in the medical community: they represent things as "facts" that are far from factual, and refuse input from anyone else since they alread "know" they are right. You refer to your own speculation as "fact" ("the fact remains" should be "my opinion remains") and confidently post your incomplete understanding about multiple-listing.

What "offends" me is the dismissiveness of your post. No, you did not directly dismiss the man the article was written about. But that same dismissiveness is likely evident when you interact with your patients.
posted by parrot_person at 10:16 PM on January 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


drpynchon: I reserve my compassion for the daily tragedies I see with my own eyes.

I'm sorry you feel your compassion is so terribly precious that you can only afford to give it to what's in front of your face.
posted by Goofyy at 10:44 PM on January 24, 2007


The justice in this is that it allows those of us who think this is a bad thing to punish Southwest for it by not flying on their airline. On the other hand, those who think this is either right or no big deal are free to feel that way and patronize Southwest as they will.

Stuff like this is why I love the Internet.
posted by moonbiter at 2:11 AM on January 25, 2007


drpynchon: This case stinks of awful journalism
The story is either terribly written or grossly inaccurate


If you take another look at the link, I think you'll see this isn't journalism at all-- it's largely a quoted email from the daughter to the editor of consumerist.com (part of Gawker Media).
posted by F Mackenzie at 4:52 AM on January 25, 2007


This is why we all need to make as much money as possible-- because the indigent often suffer from great indignities. Had he been a portly CEO of say...Home Depot, he could have whipped out his AmEx Black and booked himself a private jet with a gigantic waterbed and a bevy of hookers to slip peeled grapes into his mouth.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:18 AM on January 25, 2007


I am a "customer of size" and prefer to fly Southwest specifically because of their clearly stated policy. People who are bashing Southwest because of this incident don't get it. Bash the gate attendant, fine, but Southwest's clearly stated policy on customers of size is quite reasonable.

I'm a large person...not obese, just large (think NFL offensive lineman though while I am quite healthy I make no claims to being a professional athlete in any way). When I got a new job and knew I was going to be logging a lot of air miles, I took a couple of minutes and reviewed the different airline policies regarding customers who don't meet the "one size fits most" criteria.

Contrary to other airlines I considered, Southwest was the only airline that agreed to refund the cost of the second seat if the flight was undersold. I thought this was quite reasonable and even to my advantage. Southwest would have to pay to fly a customer bigger than the average person (me) while charging me the same rate. Thus, my cost per mile per pound would actually be less than the average-sized customer, assuming I got a refund for the second seat. Who wouldn't like more for less than the next guy? As far as I know, they call that a bargain.

When I book tickets on Southwest, I simply say "I'm a customer of size and will be buying two tickets in my name." I've never once encountered any difficulty, derision, or other customer service problem saying that. I get my two tickets, and I fly. I take note if there are vacant seats on the flight. If there were, even if its just one or two, when I land I call Southwest customer service and get a refund for the second seat without hassle. If the flight was full, I just continue on my way.

In addition, Southwest gate attendants will often approach me when I'm standing in line waiting to board and ask me if I'd like to board first to make sure I get two seats next to each other.

As an early comment stated, Southwest seems to be doing a pretty good job selling seats at bargain rates...so far, the only issue I've encountered that I haven't expected from a bargain airline is an occasional difficulty getting a seatbelt extension before takeoff. Other than that, Southwest is my preferred airline, and as a customer of size, I would recommend it to other large folks.
posted by johnzilla at 9:31 AM on January 25, 2007


So today's lesson is that Airtran rules, Southwest sucks.

Unless you're on the flight with the oxygen containers.
posted by phearlez at 12:36 PM on January 25, 2007


They argued that something could happen and the bar could fly all over the place and kill the allergic person.

Actually, the issue is not the granola bar itself. Apparently there have been people who have had allergic reactions on airplanes because somebody three rows back opened a packet of peanuts. They didn't feed them to the passenger or rub them on the passenger...they just opened their own packet of peanuts and ate it themselves. But it seems there is something about peanuts that makes them hyper-dangerous...apparently peanut molecules can travel great distances and survive for extended periods of time.

A Canadian teenager died from kissing her boyfriend - she had a peanut allergy, and he had eaten a peanut butter sandwich a couple of hours prior. More info on in-flight peanuts here and here.
posted by etoile at 11:37 AM on February 2, 2007


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