Southwest Airlines’ Unique Plus-Size Passenger Policy Is Causing Controversy

Southwest Airlines’ Unique Plus-Size Passenger Policy Is Causing Controversy

Call it a free-market fight in flight.

A Southwest Airlines policy that allows obese customers to occupy an extra seat, or even two, free of charge is being “celebrated” by overweight passengers, according to a Wednesday report from Fox Business.

But it’s causing quite a bit of turbulence on social media from others who think the rest of the flying public is carrying the weight.

According to Fox, “passengers of size” are practically giddy over the policy, posting TikTok videos of themselves obtaining the extra tickets for free.

Here’s one that has garnered nearly 1 million views since it was posted in October:

@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

Clearly, it’s struck a nerve.

TikTok personality and “plus-size travel expert” Jae’lynn Chaney said more airlines should follow Southwest’s lead.

“I hope to see more airlines implement customer-of-size policies,” she told Fox.


“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.”

But for other passengers, it’s about fairness.

Many passengers are tall and require more legroom, but there is apparently no policy in place for that.

And, as many critics pointed out on social media, the “free” tickets going to obese flyers are inevitably going to be paid for by someone — and that someone is passengers of normal weight who fit into airline seats.

Others raised logistical questions.

And some simply chalked it up to the country’s general degradation of standards.

The full policy is available on Southwest’s website.

It isn’t clear how long Southwest has had the policy. The Western Journal reached out to the company for comment but hadn’t received a response by early Wednesday afternoon.

Southwest does appear to be alone among major carriers with its permissive attitude toward obesity, according to a summary of airline policies on the travel website

On the plus side (pun definitely not intended), in an increasingly obese country, the policy is obviously understandable.

A population that’s producing more very large people is going to be producing more very large airplane passengers. Expecting other passengers to squeeze themselves in wherever they can fit isn’t reasonable or sustainable.

Just as obviously, the critics have a point.

No matter what the political left might pretend, reality dictates that there really is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone is going to be paying for the “free” tickets distributed to the obese.

The real issue, though, is that Southwest is a private company with the freedom to make its own decisions and rise and fall on the result.

It’s an airline built on the concept of low fares. If the obesity policy gets in the way of Southwest providing those low fares, the invisible, incredibly effective hand of the free market is going to determine its course of action.

Likewise, if the many critics out there — judging by the social media reaction — have such principled problems with Southwest’s policies, they are more than free to find an airline that suits their preferences.

If that airline costs more than Southwest, maybe that’s the price they have to pay for their convictions. Or they can keep flying Southwest and keep their mouths shut about the company’s business decisions.

No one said freedom was free.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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