During an Easter Sunday layover in Dallas, a woman was told by an employee of Southwest Airlines that she was “too fat to fly.” Kenlie Tiggeman, a blogger and political strategist, has already lost 120 pounds, but still didn’t meet the requirements under Southwest’s “Customers of Size” policy. The airline does not allow passengers to board who can’t fit between the 17-inch armrests, unless they buy a second seat.
While the airline says that it’s their policy to speak to overweight passengers in a discrete manner, Tiggeman says she was confronted in front of about 100 people.
“I know that I have a lot of weight to lose but I am definitely not too fat to fly,” says Tiggeman. “I do it all the time, domestically and internationally, and I have never had anyone approach me and particularly in the way that they did. I was embarrassed, humiliated.”
Don’t miss our interview with Kenlie:
A supervisor eventually took charge and gave Tiggeman, and her mother who was traveling with her, vouchers and an apology. No extra seats had to be purchased.
Southwest Airlines had another similar high-profile situation involving movie director Kevin Smith. Last year the airline told him he was too big to board as well.
In an odd twist, the airline also once told a thin passenger she had to get off (the unidentified woman was 110 pounds) in order to accommodate a larger passenger who had to purchase a second seat. She was able to get on the next flight out.