Finally! I tried to read this thing last night, but the site was down from all the traffic. Southwest has published their response to the Kevin Smith brouhaha. Let me cut and paste it lest an army of angry whales attempt a DoS attack of their site as revenge or something:
Many of you reached out to us via Twitter last night and today regarding a situation a Customer Twittered about that occurred on a Southwest flight. It is not our customary method of Customer Relations to be so public in how we work through these situations, but with so many people involved in the occurrence, you also should be involved in the solution. First and foremost, to Mr. Smith; we would like to echo our Tweets and again offer our heartfelt apologies to you. We are sincerely sorry for your travel experience on Southwest Airlines.
As soon as we saw the first Tweet from Mr. Smith, we contacted him personally to apologize for his experience and to address his concerns on both Twitter and with a personal phone call. Since the situation has received a lot of public attention, we’d like to take the opportunity to address a few of the specifics here as well.
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.
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.
And now I’ll cut and paste some of the pro-Southwest comments while completely ignoring the pro-Kevin ones:
I love Southwest for protecting me from having to sit next to fat people squished into one seat.
SWA is by far the best airline in this country to fly. And for you over weight people that don’t want to fly SWA because of this, I say great. There is nothing worse then not even getting my portion of the seat I paid for.
If Kevin Smith spent as much time on the treadmill as he did complaining about a problem that he caused by being fat, this wouldn’t be an issue.
I’LL ALWAYS FLY SOUTHWEST BECAUSE OF THIS POLICY. TOO MANY TIMES I’VE HAD TO TOLERATE ‘OVERFLOW’ FROM MY NEIGHBOR ON LONG FLIGHTS. CORRECT, THAT’S OVERFLOW INTO THE SEAT I PAID FOR. FUNNY HOW KEVIN SMITH HAD NO PROBLEMS PAYING FOR TWO SEATS BEFORE UNDENIABLY VALIDATING SOUTHWEST’S POLICY BUT WHEN ANY MR. HOLLYWOOD CAN GET SOME PUBLICITY…LOOK THE OBESE GET MOST OF THE HANDICAPPED PARKING SPACES, OVERWHELM THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM AND KEEP FURNITURE MAKERS BUSY. IS IT ASKING TOO MUCH NOT TO BE INCONVENIENCED IN THE SEAT THAT YOU PAID FOR DURING A FLIGHT? KEEP UP THE OUTSTANDING CUSTOMER SERVICE SOUTHWEST!
Don’t apologize. If he’s too fat, he’s too fat and you have nothing to apologize for. Just cause he’s famous doesn’t mean everyone has to bow down before him.
And don’t worry, if a few less fat people fly SW because of this, I’m sure more skinny people who cost less fuel will more than make up for it.