Kevin Smith made the news last month, not for his creative talents as a writer, actor, or director but for his size. Yes, I'm talking about his body size. Kevin Smith is a big guy. He would even go so far as to say a fat guy. A fat guy who happens to travel a lot.
Southwest Airlines has a fat flying policy that basically states if you spill over into the next seat or can't put down the armrest you may need to buy two seats. Many airlines are putting out such a policy that has received both accolades and boos depending on whether you are fat or not or have been impinged on by a fat flier.
Kevin, who regularly flies "Southwest from Burbank to Oakland, SF, and Vegas" has never had a problem with seating and being able to put the armrests down, even when he was flying a bit bigger. But it seems Southwest is trying to make a point.
Shortly after being seated on February 13 and having been recognized, "Hey, Silent Bob!", an attendant told Kevin he was a safety risk and had him escorted off the plane. It's also important to note that Kevin made eye contact with a bigger man further back who was not escorted off the plane. But unlike many big people Southwest may have vacated off their planes Kevin has a voice and many followers. The disgruntled flier showed his distaste at his treatment immediately via the social networking tool Twitter and made national news. Something the average Joe would have no success with.
Generally Kevin tends to buy two seats because he can afford to do it, it's so cheap, and he likes the added space (who doesn't), not because he needs too. On the day of the incident in question he was flying standby so only had one seat.
According to Kevin's blog he: fit in the seat on an Oakland to Burbank Southwest Airlines flight; didn't spill over onto fellow passengers; and could buckle the belt. But still he was asked to leave and no real explanation could be given to him, even after the fact.
He doesn't deny he's fat. But he does deny that he's too fat to fit in the seat, "which is their entire justification for kicking me off the plane." Kevin doesn't want much. He doesn't care about the cost of the fare. What he wants is an apology from Southwest, and frankly he deserves it. And so does the girl they made an example of when Kevin did eventually switch planes (listen to Kevin's rant below for details).
Because I'm on Twitter I was able to follow some of the action as it unfolded and honestly it was complete craziness all around. There is a sanction that is up in arms over what Kevin calls the "Shame-the-Slobs policy" and others who are all for throwing fatties off the plane. What's next? Throw those with long legs off the plane? Those who are too tall and block the view of those behind them? How about those with crying babies? Those who smell of nicotine?
If I was the dude from Virgin, I would start an economical airline for fatties. You have to be a certain weight to get on the plane -- if you aren't a size 16 you can't fly. You get an extra large seat and friendly staff who are on the curvy side. Since the population of fatties out there is supposedly so great I'm sure the airline would be hugely successful.
Personally, I have a fear of flying as it is and will only do it in the direst opportunities. This fear is now compounded by the possibility that I may be escorted off a plane for being too fat; regardless of what degree it is. Had I been in Kevin's situation I would have been balling my eyes out out. I commend Kevin for being so vocal in what was an incredibly embarrassing situation. He could have scurried away and sulked but instead he gave it national interest.
* Hear directly from Kevin what happened.
* Visit Kevin Smith on Twitter.