Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Southwest's Customer of Size Policy

Transfer Smart reports on a woman who was allegedly told that she was ‘too fat to fly’. Kenlie Tiggeman, was told by a Southwest Airlines gate agent that she was too fat to fly last year. After receiving an apology Tiggeman continued to fly with the said company. However, the incident happened again this year and Tiggeman has taken matters into her own hands and proceeds to sue the airline company.

Tiggeman is a woman from New Orleans and once weighed over four-hundred pounds. Unhappy with her weight she decided to go on a quest to lose some unwanted pounds. However, her biggest gripe with airlines is their inconsistent ‘Customer of Size’ policy.

Tiggeman commented, “The problem I have with Southwest is not that they may want me to purchase two seats. It’s that sometimes they want that, and other times they don’t.”

Last year, a gate agent humiliated her in front of other passengers by stating that she was too fat to fly and would have to purchase an additional seat. After filing a complaint, the agent apologized to Tiggeman and Tiggeman agreed to fly with Southwest again.  After flying with the airline on two separate occasions without having to purchase a second seat, she was surprised to be told that she was again too fat to fly.

“Paying double because a gate agent may or may not have something against overweight people is not realistic…nor should it be necessary.”

Frustrated Tiggeman decided to take action against Southwest. She stated that the legal action isn’t about money but to have the airline clarify its Customer of Size policy.

Tiggeman commented, “As a consumer, I may not have been born with the innate right to fly, but as a consumer who is willing to pay, I do have a right to understand the rules clearly at the point of purchase. [Right now], it’s left to interpretation. So if they can take the guess work out of it then everyone will be better off moving forward and that’s what I’m trying to accomplish."

When asked to comment, Southwest stated that their policy and rules are clearly stated online. The airline advises consumers that if they encroach upon the neighboring seats they need to purchase an additional seat. Tiggeman understood this policy and stated that she is able to sit in any seat with the armrest down but when she wanted to demonstrate this to the gate agent, they turned her down and firmly stated that she needed to purchase an additional seat.

A blogger commented, “Nobody deserves to be embarrassed at the gates. However, I also understand the airline’s perspective. Making clear-cut guidelines is absolutely not as simple as you think it is. The policy could not be based on weight, because people carry [it] so differently.”

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