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Southwest loses another customer

January 31, 2012

So yesterday for work I flew for the 8th time this month.  This time we flew southwest for scheduling issues.  Since I’ve flown so many times this month for once I didn’t spend the whole run up to the flight worrying that someone would harass me for being a fat fat fatty.  After cramming myself into a tiny American Eagle seat for an hour and a half I really wasn’t concerned.

Mom’s law states that whatever you’ve forgotten to worry about will therefore come to pass.  Good job being right again Mom.  (Icanhaz anxiety issues, yes.)

My work party of 4 walked up to the gate and had our little cards scanned.  I got mine scanned and then walked down the jetway.  And then there was a pause.  My boss did not follow for a while.  At the time I thought it may just have been them waiting for the jetway to clear.

However, once I had boarded and chosen my seat in a row with an empty middle seat it became apparent that that may have not been the case.  The gate agent, who reminded me of a brand new bschool grad with his first very important job in consulting, was on the plane.  He walked past me and asked if I could lower my armrest, which I did. Granted, there is a bit of a squish for me, but the armrest lowers and I fit and am not encroaching on the seat nearby. Of course I think this is no big deal, since I fit, and the plane has plenty of extra seats.

Well then later the gate agent is back and he speaks to me in what I’m sure he thinks is a “Very nice and helpful tone” but certainly comes off as more of a “I’m so excited to tell you what a fatass you are tone.”  He tells me that this time they have very kindly decide not to charge me for an additional seat on a half empty plane, but that his supervisor says I need to be able to lower the arm rest “comfortably.” He says that next time I should really plan on buying two seats.

I tell him there wont be a next time, thanks.

It now becomes apparent to me that they my boss may have been asked to pay for an additional seat for me.  He hasn’t said anything, but I kindof wish he would so we can get that over with.  So now I’m angry, embarassed, and concerned about my job.

Thanks Southwest Gate Agent Fatty Police.

What really gets me is that this guy clearly wasn’t very familiar with their policies, or he would know that if I DID buy two seats, the extra seat would have been refunded anyway since I didn’t need it. Also, the word “comfortably” does not appear on their persons of size policies.  They only state that the armrest must lower and that you must not encroach on nearby seats.  The fact that he acted like he was doing me some kind of favor by not charging me and publicly humiliating me was pretty infuriating.

So I anticipate that that will be my last ever Southwest flight.  My boss did observe that the service on that flight was not very “Southwesty.”  But perhaps they have changed their policies, and they are now more interested in humiliating fat people than providing good service.

(I know I promised to post more.  I will try harder. )


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  1. Clara permalink

    “Mom’s law states that whatever you’ve forgotten to worry about will therefore come to pass.”

    GOD, is this true or what?! I can freak out about something for years and it won’t happen, and if I forget to worry about it for ONE DAY, guess what? It happens!

    I’m sorry they were so rude to you (I can actually picture the gate agent, can actually hear his voice) but good for you for standing up for yourself!

  2. O.C. permalink

    “Comfort”? HAH! If that’s going to become their standard they’re going to lose a lot more customers than just us fatties. Bah.

  3. greenbean permalink

    If you haven’t already done so, then I would strongly advise you to call Southwest customer service and file a complaint about an employee of theirs telling you something that’s clearly not actually in line with their official policies (i.e. a bunch of made up lies). If you got that guy’s name it would be even more helpful.
    I’ve found that it’s always better make some noise if you’ve been mistreated and let the company know.

    • I was planning to send an e-mail, but I am actually in conversation with one of their reps on twitter. Sadly the conversation started with “…so sorry you were offended by the way our Employees handled your situation.” But at least it is a start.

  4. I thought humiliating fat people WAS part of their policy. Which is why I do not and will not fly Southwest.

  5. Kirsten permalink

    Refuse to fly Southwest. EVER. Simple as a matter of principal. If nothing else is available, I’ll either drive or just not go. They are not getting my business, period. even if the flight is FREE. Piss on Southwest. They have the lousiest service anyway, so why would I want to flywith them?

  6. I wrote and complained about SW policy years ago and got the nastiest reply, a truly rude one. At that time the policy was fairly new. I couldn’t believe that they would be so rude to a potential customer but I don’t think it was a rogue agent. I think it was part of a deliberate policy.

    Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I think they actually have made it an unstated policy to try and strongly discourage as many fat customers as possible so as to supposedly save on fuel and keep costs down that way. I think they think that actively discouraging fat customers is a business advantage in the long run.

    Well, they certainly have lost a lot of business from me over the years. And my family of six. There are a lot of USA fat folk potentially affected by this policy and/or harassment about being “borderline” so you’d think that would really take away from their bottom line to lose those customers, but they obviously feel that they are making it up in other ways.

    I really wonder if they are being actively trained to go out of their way to hassle fat folk so as to discourage us all from even bothering to try to fly them. Color me cynical but that rude “customer service” letter was very very telling to me…..

  7. Tim permalink

    I loathe Southwest. Never been fat-shamed by them, directly, but I hate their cattle-call seating. Several times I would get there early or go online to get an “A” pass, and then get pulled aside at boarding for extra screening. I would stand there helplessly clutching my “A” pass while EVERY other passenger filed by me and got on the plane, leaving nothing but middle seats. Since I am large, I got the looks of dread as I tried to find a seat, with people actually making up ridiculous lies to say the seat was already taken and the flight attendant meanwhile badgering me to hurry up and find a seat so we can leave. I don’t totally blame the other passengers — it can be a squeeze, which is why I like to get a seat where I can minimize my intrusiveness, and do it first so the others can sit by me or not as they wish.

    Also, I am not charmed by the folksy, clever, cute in-flight announcements. It is not fun being crammed on here and your pathetic attempts at humor won’t make it so. It’s really just adding insult to injury as far as I am concerned.

    Recently they announced the city I live in now is getting SW Air because they bought AirTran and everybody is all excited. Not me. I just won’t try them anymore, period.

  8. I got a response from their customer service where they compensated me and apologized for mistakenly identifying me as a “customer of size.” I’m conflicted about it.

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