February 15, 2010

Kevin Smith 'Too Fat' to Fly Southwest

Posted: 04:58 PM ET

By Bob Meadows


Kevin Smith's most famous role is a guy who rarely speaks. But he's got a lot to say – much of it profane – after being kicked off a Southwest Air flight because he didn't fit comfortably into the seat.

"You [messed] with the wrong sedentary processed-foods eater!" Smith, whose next film, Cop Out, comes out Feb. 26, posted on Twitter.

It was one of many Tweets recounting the actor/director's humiliating expulsion Saturday from the Oakland-to-Burbank, Calif. flight. Southwest said in a statement airline officials had called Smith to offer their "heartfelt apologies," but also stated his removal was for the "safety and comfort of all customers."

Smith, 39, originally purchased two tickets "as he's been known to do when traveling Southwest," the airline noted, but when he decided to fly standby on an earlier flight, only one seat remained. Although he had been seated, he was asked to leave.

"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," Southwest said.

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Filed under: Airline Industry • Entertainment

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Meta   February 15th, 2010 6:03 pm ET

Instead of getting angry, Kevin Smith should take this as a wake-up call. Whether he was singled out or not, his health is at stake and overweight people are terrible examples for children. While I have some friends who are overweight - who I love dearly - they all do have a real lack of self esteem that prevents them from getting the help they need to take care of themselves. I hear others frequently making comments behind their backs about how they should "get help" - it is a hand to mouth disorder. Hugely overweight people don't want to hear it, but they really don't look "good" regardless of grooming and most people don't like watching them eat.. How we take care of ourselves IS a reflection on our self control and pride. Smith should take the high road by taking advantage of this situation to be a spokesperson for others battling weight issues and show that anyone can loose weight; if he can't do it alone get professional help. He should thank the airlines and apologiize for his initial reaction. I don't want to sit on an airplane where there is no elbow room and its very selfish of him to think he is entitled to more space than he purchases while others aren't.

meg   February 15th, 2010 6:14 pm ET

For a man who usually is quiet-someone unnecessarily turned the volume on.

A. Smith, Oregon   February 15th, 2010 7:44 pm ET

If a double chair or double seater is forced into a single seat with a unfortunate passenger sitting in the seat directly next to that person, they are DEFINITELY squeezed into 3/4 of their own seat at best.

I suspect most of the folks reading this article and blog have very little if any experience with a double chair or double seater individual. They cannot sit in a single chair, so TWO chairs are pushed together to support both 'butt-cheeks'!

Shoehorning a double seater into a single passenger airline seat that is in the cheap seats is definitely going to greatly inconvenience the passengers that are sitting next to the grossly obese individual. The grossly obese individual should have gotten a business or first class seat where they would have had more room to expand upon.

For a family member, having part of your child laying across your legs or body is one thing, but to have the leg, arm or butt-cheek of a grossly obese stranger laying across your legs or body for 3 or more hours is expecting too much from a vast majority of airline passengers.

GeriGreene   February 15th, 2010 7:56 pm ET

I don't think their requirements list you an as exception. Get over it!

GeriGreene   February 15th, 2010 7:57 pm ET

I don't think their requirements list you an as exception. Get over it!

GeriGreene   February 15th, 2010 9:41 pm ET

The last comment is the most constructive – I do hope it lands on receptive ears. From a news cast I just saw, he had purchased a double seat on a later flight but this one opened up. However it had only ONE seat and for a full plane, that is unfair to whoever sat next to him.

A demo of an obese passenger who was able to lower his armrest did not resolve the huge overhang of the person sitting there who would be taking over a large portion of the seatmate's seat, for which he paid his fare expecting to travel in comfort. I agree I hope some people consider they are not healthy and do not get special consideration – it is not discrimination Rosie (from her blog today) and fairness and respect demand that 'space' is to be respected.

Tim in upstate NY   February 15th, 2010 10:06 pm ET

You folks aren't getting the entire story. The quote from Southwest is intended to make you think Kevin needed two seats, but it's misleading. He claims that not only was he able to fit in his seat as per Southwest's guidelines - armrests down and all - he was quite comfortable and was even able to buckle up without needing a belt extender.

The airline's quote about Smith's ticket buying habits are also misleading, not to mention chilling. Kevin claims he occasionally buys two tickets when flying Southwest not because he has to, but because he likes having a buffer between himself and other passengers and Southwest's fares are cheap enough that he can afford it. (The airline's quote is their own misinterpretation of his statements on the matter.) But consider, do you really want Southwest - or anyone else - divulging your buying habits if you get into a dispute with them?

Basically, this article is a piece of junk. Mr. Meadows barely bothered to get Smith's side of the story, preferring instead to pass along the corporate smoke and mirrors Southwest fed to him. Shoddy journalism to say the least. But what do you expect from People Magazine?

John H   February 15th, 2010 11:52 pm ET

@Tim in upstate NY...if there is anything shoddy in the logic of this article it is your shoddy logic. While everyone has a right to allow themselves to deteriorate physically and become grossly overweight, they do not have the right to impose their conscious lifestyle decision to inconvenience anyone else. It is wrong to make another passenger or passengers uncomfortable in order to accomodate a passenger whose lifestyle decisions make him/her incompatible with the seating on any public conveyance. I'm sorry that he was embarrased in front of other passengers but byeond that, he get's no sympathy from me.

ckelly   February 16th, 2010 3:03 am ET

What about the excessively tall; the athlete, the mom and baby ; the disabled and the criminal that everyone is forced to accomodate?

Be careful. Or by some standard you will be next.

Tim in upstate NY   February 16th, 2010 11:10 am ET

@John H: Do you have any proof that Smith did any of that? Or are you taking Southwest at their word? Because it seems like a major part of this story is that SWA isn't quite telling the truth here.

Cindy   February 16th, 2010 11:23 am ET

I support and believe Southwest Airlines. They are a very respectable airline and the favorite of many. This story reminds me of Joan Rivers complaining about the incident with her passport. Apparently people like the two of them think they should be handled differently than others.

Cajazz76:24:8   February 16th, 2010 3:33 pm ET

nylarginylserine......Protein...reduce the carbs, Kevin

LoneStarMike   February 16th, 2010 8:10 pm ET

@Tim in upstate NY – you say "Kevin claims he occasionally buys two tickets when flying Southwest not because he has to, but because he likes having a buffer between himself and other passengers and Southwest's fares are cheap enough that he can afford it."

If you have to buy a second seat because you can't fit in one, then so be it. But if you can fit in the seat with the armrests down, you shouldn't be buying a second seat simply because you want more room and don't want anyone sitting next to you regardless of whether or not you get a refund on the second seat.

From the last sentence of the last paragraph of section 15G of the Contract of Carriage which is on Southwest's website to download.

"G. Additional Seat Purchase. The purchase of more than one seat for use by a single passenger is required in the following circumstances:

(1) To accommodate a Customer of size who encroaches on an adjacent seat area and/or is unable to sit in a single seat with the armrests lowered;

(2) To transport a Customer who, because of his or her particular disability, would be unable to travel without the purchase of additional space on the aircraft; or

(3) When necessary to transport large musical instruments or electronic audio/video, medical, or other sensitive equipment unsuitable for carriage as checked baggage, as specified in Article 46.F.

It is the passenge's responsibility to notify Carrier of a unique seating need. In accordance with Article 10.F., Carrier may refuse to transport individuals who are unable or unwilling to comply with Carrier's seating requirements.

***Except as specified above, purchase of more than one seat for use by a single passenger is otherwise prohibited.***"

So when it's convenient for him to be a Customer of Size, he says he is, so he can buy two seats (Poor man's First Class.) When it's not convenient – like wanting to standby for an earlier flight, all of a sudden he's not a Customer of Size any more.

I'm sorry, but Mr. Smith can't have it both ways.

James   February 16th, 2010 10:09 pm ET

Thanks for the clarification. I only fly Southwest and think they are a great airline. Take good care of them :-).

Rob   February 16th, 2010 10:33 pm ET

Kevin,the fact that your movie is coming out next week has nothing to do with this "controversy" right? right?

James31   February 17th, 2010 2:07 pm ET

Bottom line, Smith is grossly overweight.

mrt   February 17th, 2010 2:17 pm ET

Me thinks this is a man who likes to blow his own horn!!!!!

Tim in upstate NY   February 18th, 2010 4:03 pm ET

@James: Maybe so, but the real issue is, was he or was he not in violation of the airline's Customers of Size policy as quoted above? Southwest says he was, he says he wasn't and is willing to prove it on national TV. Depends on who you're willing to believe...

(Seems another comment I submitted either yesterday or the day before didn't make it through. No matter, this one pretty much sums up the crux of the argument.)

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