Ridiculous: Passengers of Size Get Second and Third Seats Free on Southwest Airlines

by Anthony Losanno
Jae Bae

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I’ve written before about some of the demands from self-proclaimed fat advocates like Jae’lynn Chaney who want taxpayers to pay for the extra seats to accommodate their severe obesity (more here). Well, Southwest Airlines is the first US carrier to forfeit revenue and glorify the needs of those who can’t fit into one seat or even two with its policy.

@kimmystyled

How to use @southwestair customer of size policy. Southwest is the only airline that allows you a second seat at no extra cost even if the flight is FULLY booked. You HAVE to use it at the departing gate when you start your journey. If you don’t use it going out you cant use it flying back. Go to the departing gate agent and kindly ask them to use the customer of size policy. I’ve done this a dozen times and never had an issue or been denied. They will print you a new ticket + a second ticket to put down on your free seat. You will also be allowed to pre board! Enter the aircraft, get your seatbelt extender, and grab your seat! I place the ticket in the seat next to me. I always take the window seat. If anyone tries to sit it in I kindly let them know I have two seats booked. To be honest I almost never get approached because no one wants to sit in the middle seat next to a fat person on a plane 🙃. I’ve heard from others sometimes southwest will just put customer of size in your account so anytime you approach the main ticket gate you’ll get both your tickets at once but this hasn’t happened to me yet. I think this has to do with how “visibly fat” you are. Public airplanes are public transportation and should be accessible and comfortable for us all. I applaud @southwestair for being the only airline with a fair and humane way of flying fat passengers with dignity. We shouldn’t have to pay for two seats. Seats should be larger for all people including tall and pregnant passengers. Since airlines got deregulated it’s been an ADA nightmare. Airlines should also allow wheelchairs in the cabin esp power wheelchairs. This is an access issue at the end of the day and discriminatory to fat and disabled customers. #southwest #southwestairlines #customerofsize #customerofsizepolicy #plussize #plussizetravel #traveltips #plussizetraveltok #traveltok

♬ original sound – Kimmy

TikTok user @kimmystyled shows how she takes advantage of preboarding on Southwest flights to secure the space she needs, free of charge. She’s treated as a passenger with a disability and allowed to board ahead of all other passengers to block an extra seat (or in some cases an additional two extra) to accommodate all of her mass.

Southwest advises passengers on how to know if they need additional seats:

The armrest is the definitive gauge for a Customer of size. It serves as the boundary between seats. If you’re unable to lower both armrests and/or encroach upon any portion of a seat next to you, you need a second seat.”

It goes on to say:

Purchasing a second seat in advance allows us to account for the inventory need and greatly helps reduce the likelihood of an oversale situationAlso, you may not want to be approached at the airport or have a conversation with an Agent about your seating needs—you may prefer to know you have the needed number of seats, and booking two gives you these options. We refund all extra seat purchases for a Customer of size, even if the flight oversells.”   

This policy is unfair and a bit ridiculous. It glorifies obesity and could prevent another passenger from getting on a flight if multiple seats are needed for a passenger of size and the flight is sold out. I’m surprised Southwest would want to give up the revenue it could make from the seat unless it just plans to raise fares to balance this out. It’s one thing if it would otherwise go out empty, but this is prime to be abused with a policy that says this is okay even in an oversell situation.

As mentioned above, TikTok content creator, Jae’lynn Chaney, has been collecting signatures to demand the FAA protect plus-size travelers. It’s gotten almost 38,000 signatures. Ms. Chaney was recently on Fox Business commending Southwest. She said:

Super fat is how we identify. There’s a spectrum of fatness. And as a super fat individual, you start needing different accommodations… I just felt really happy that there was something like this for people. I hope to see more airlines implement customer-of-size policies. The Southwest customer size policy helps many travelers offset the disproportionate costs that we incur because of needing extra room. And so, it’s not just about physical accessibility. It’s also about financial accessibility.”

With Southwest’s open seating, it makes the airline unlike every other carrier in the United States. The rest assign seats throughout the aircraft and boarding passes are clearly marked. I don’t see this trend spreading and don’t think it should. While not every person who is overweight is so because they eat too much or exercise too little, the issue of obesity in this country continues to grow each year. Getting something for nothing (an extra seat), being treated as special (preboarding), and feeding a culture where being “super fat” is celebrated is just ludicrous.

Anthony’s Take: Ms. Chaney and others like her need to either pay for the space they take up or not travel. It’s not fair to other travelers that they do not make accommodations for themselves and expect the government and other passengers to pick up the slack. Guess what happens when seats are given away for free? Other seats cost more to offset what is taken gratis. I’m six-feet-five-inches tall and book bulkhead seats so that no one reclines into me. I buy First or Business Class for the legroom and don’t expect the government or the airline to just give this to me.

(Featured Image Credit: Jae’lynn Chaney.)

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8 comments

Joe December 14, 2023 - 6:30 am

Why don’t airlines take a seat group of 3 and turn it into 2 bigger seats that cost 1 1/2 times? Big people fit, revenue realized. Just like the large seats here in the hospital waiting room.

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Stephanie Woods December 14, 2023 - 7:56 am

Being obese (and at this size, that is what she is) for most people is a life style choice. It is NOT a disability. Absolutely she should pay for a second or third seat. The only good thing about this policy is that a normal weighing passenger won’t have to sit next to her.

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Lee Morton December 14, 2023 - 12:36 pm

I am 6”4. Is there going to be an accommodation for me to make sure I am comfortable. Me being tall is something I can’t help, no matter my lifestyle.

I buy first class seats or emergency exit rows to make sure I am comfortable. The super fat should make their own accommodations and oh for extra seats. Nobody else should have to do it for them.

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derek December 14, 2023 - 9:41 am

Maybe have super narrow 12 across seating so the average person needs 2 seats and most obese need only 3 seats?

Why not put 2 obese in the same row of 3?

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ss December 14, 2023 - 10:28 am

Another company bowing to wokeness. Ridiculous

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Stephen Dedalus December 14, 2023 - 11:21 am

Obesity is not a lifestyle choice, and is less related to exercise than it is to poverty, genetics and addiction (similar to alcohol, drugs, smoking, etc.). Admonishing those who are obese for lack of willpower is not the answer and makes matters worse. Really, this is more a failure of government and lack of appropriate regulations and legislation to address the obesity problem. Southwest’s policy seens fairly reasonable.

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Kim December 14, 2023 - 11:37 am

I applaud southwest for recognizing that the problem is not with the people of different shapes, but rather with the industry shrinking seat size to fit more people on the plane and increase profits.

Stop pitting customer against customer, or customer when it is clear the problem is higher up, the problem is all due to churning money and treating customers as cattle verses humans who deserve to be treated with dignity.

As a young, too thin adult traveling on business I often found myself squashed between two huge men on flights and the result was a back that would be in pain not just for the hours of the flight, but for weeks afterward. The armrest guideline needs to extend past the hips and look at shoulders & arms. As is it’s pointing out women as a “problem”. If all airlines would just recognize that we often have minimal control over our dna and health system is only for those who can afford it, then we’d have more relaxing trips and less arguments from those with no empathy.

Having curves is not the problem. Having ridiculously tiny seats is.

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BKAloha December 14, 2023 - 12:01 pm

Instead of bashing the flying fats, it would be more useful to reach out Southwest to find out how many people are actually kicked off flights because of their pro-fat policy. I like that everyone of the internets is a doctor and can diagnose why people are obese or not and what the cause it.

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