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Southwest Airlines Passengers Told They Are “Too Fat To Fly”

BRISTOL, Pa. (CBS) — A Bucks County man is embarrassed and angry. He feels like he was taken for a ride all because of his size.

Cleaning business owner Theodore Moore’s recent Southwest Airlines flight to Ft. Lauderdale for a cruise with his wife got off to a bad start.

“I’m diabetic. It’s very difficult for me to lose weight,” Moore said.

The 56-year-old from Bristol, Bucks County says at the gate, he was approached by a Southwest Airlines employee.

“(They said) ‘Sir I don’t mean to embarrass you, but don’t you think you’re too large for the seat?’ I said ‘ma’am you are embarrassing me,’” Moore explained.

Moore was forced to pay more than $340. He says he had to shell out the extra money because his shoulders extended into the next seat.

And Moore isn’t alone.

Watch the video…

Kenlie Tiggeman, 33, says she was humiliated after she was told she was “too fat to fly” on a recent Southwest flight in Dallas.

“I was asked what size clothes I wear, how much I weigh. I gave the answers to those questions in front of a gate full of people, some of whom were snickering,” Tiggeman said.

In a response to previous concerns, a spokesperson for the airline said “if a passenger cannot fit in a seat with the armrests down, a second seat must be purchased. If the flight is not full, that added charge will be refunded.”

Tiggeman says she did fit in the seat and was eventually refunded her ticket.

Moore wonders why he was singled out his April 1st flight, which he says was overbooked.

“It ruined my entire cruise,” Moore said.

Moore claims we was not the only one on that flight whose shoulders were wider than the seat.

He wants an apology and a refund.

A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines says the policy is not intended to make money, but rather to ensure the comfort of all passengers on board.

Reported by Todd Quinones, CBS 3

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  • Lori

    Here’s my Southwest flight “horror” story…..I made reservations for a vacation trip several months in advance to fly Southwest Airlines. Because I don’t like to “push and shove” ahead of everyone, I’m usually one of the last few to board. On this particular trip, I WAS the last to board and the flight was completely full. The last remaining seat was next to a woman who must have weighed at least 300 pounds(gee…go figure!). I’m a 5’6″ tall, 123 lb. woman. Looking at what remained of MY seat not covered by the woman’s bulk, I kindly told the flight attendant(impatiently waiting for me to sit-down) that there wasn’t enough room. She curtly informed me I could sit immediately OR exit the plane! The fat woman stood-up and I sat down lowering the arm rest between us. The attendant immediately reached down and raised it saying the aisle had to be left clear(implying the woman could not exceed her seat space in THAT direction!) So, for the next several hours, I was forced to sit on my right side facing the third person’s(window seat) left ear. THAT person turned-out to be the fat woman’s teenage(normal sized) daughter who had adamantly refused her mother’s request to sit directly next to her because she would be too cramped! I was LIVID(plus really miserable!), to say the least but did not make a “scene”. After the trip, I wrote a lengthy letter of complaint to Southwest(sent with USPS Delivery Confirmation for proof of receipt). Wish I could say I received a timely response offering an apology, refund or SOMETHING but the company hasn’t even bothered to respond. How’s that for “great” customer service!?! If someone from Southwest Airlines reads this and cares to make amends…..I’m STILL waiting!

  • DadGerry

    Fat People – STOP YOUR CRYING! I’ve flown SouthWest last year to Mexico. Being 6’4″ and weighing 455 pounds, I asked what their policy was BEFORE I purchased a ticket. They clearly explained if you are a person of big size, they strongly recommend you purchase two seats so you have room. They also provide an extender for the seatbelt. They said if the fight does not sell out, they will refund the price of one seat back to me (which they did). However, should the flight sellout, I am assured a comfortable flight and so is a passenger who might be next to me. They recommeded my wife take her seat next to me so we could share the 3 seats. The wife is 5’8″ and weighs 140 lbs. Things went very smoothly and I have recommended SouthWest to many people, including people who are large like me. Hey, no more than I want a 800 pound fat guy falling all over my space, I say respectfully, I don’t want to be falling all over someone next to me who weighs 200 pounds and deserves the right to their space! The weight issue is my problem and I am willing to pay for it! Cheers and happy flying!

  • jjcale

    “I’m diabetic. It’s very difficult for me to lose weight,” Moore said.

    Actually, if you are diabetic, losing weight is the best thing you can do.

  • Stephanie Patterson

    Sorry, Southwest – you’re WRONG! You keep making seats smaller to cram more people onto a flight – pure greed. Gone is the leg-room. Gone are any amenities – not even a glass of water! I’LL TAKE THE TRAIN!!!!

  • CAPS

    I agree with the company. I weigh 170 and got stuck sitting next to a 400lb person who did nothing but almost crush me on MY seat for the entire flight. If you are too large for 1 seat you should have to sit in 2 seats. why should i have to sit on 1/2 my seat because someone is too large for just the 1 they paid for .

  • Bill

    This does not surprise me they have a TV show based on crazy and strange things with Southwest airlines.

  • Jim Wilmer

    For the last 20 yrs. people have gained weight. Sadly, if your weight compounds a medical problem, you will gain even more weight. But these airlines fly athletes, who aren’t small, so how big are some of these passengers?

  • Natalie Julia Aliff

    Sorry, I agree with South West. It is extremely uncomfortable for me to sit next to someone overweight and I feel as if they need an extra seat to make EVERYBODY comfortable.
    And it shouldn’t be embarrassing if someone tells you that you cannot fit into a seat — it should be embarrassing of the fact that you CAN’T sit in the seat in the first place.

  • Justi Case

    Charge for seats by the pound. That way, everyone’s weight would be discussed. There would be no “discrimination”.

  • John

    Southwest Airlines is not in the business of judging people and their body shapes/weights. The reason they charge extra is because it’s unfair to them that they can’t sell the seat beside the large person. It would also be unfair to sell that seat and have someone not be able to sit there comfortably because of the large person next to them extending into their space. It has nothing to do with discrimination. Southwest sells seats on airplanes. If I remember correctly (from the zillion times this story has already made news), Southwest reimburses the overweight person if the plane is not full (and therefore wouldn’t cost SWA to lose revenue on the seat). Very fair if you ask me.

    • Mike

      They are not discriminating against anyone. If you can’t fit into one seat, you must pay for another one. It’s that simple.

      What’s really not fair is when normal sized people have to sit next to some huge, sweating man who can’t fit into his seat.

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