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Overweight Passenger Sues Southwest Over Seating Policy

Overweight Passenger Sues Southwest Over Seating Policy

Old Aug 27, 04, 9:00 am
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Overweight Passenger Sues Southwest Over Seating Policy

Overweight Passenger Sues Southwest Over Seating Policy

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) -- A cosmetics company executive filed suit against Southwest Airlines over its policy for seating large-statured passengers.

Warm Spirit Inc. co-founder and president Nadine Thompson alleges she was unfairly required to buy two seats because she is black.

In a lawsuit filed in a Concord, N.H., federal court last week, Thompson claims the Dallas-based airline doesn't uniformly enforce the policy.

Warm Spirit is an Exeter, N.H.-based beauty and wellness company.

The lawsuit claims that had Thompson not been "a large African-American woman, she would not have been subjected" to the two-seat policy.

The lawsuit contends white male passengers of similar size aren't subject to the requirement.

Southwest Airlines spokesman Ed Stewart denied that contention.

Stewart, who is black, said he speaks from experience.

Thompson, a frequent flier on Southwest, said she had never been required to buy two tickets before.
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Old Aug 27, 04, 9:33 am
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In light of the complaint of one, I have retracted the e-mail address which can be easily found using any of the keywords of the original post. Although I disagree with the complaint, I have deleted the e-mail address.

Please note that the e-mail address that I originally posted is available publicly and is listed in advertisements. I do not feel that I have infringed on anyone's privacy.


Tell her what you think of her frivolous law suit.

Last edited by skaman; Sep 1, 04 at 12:33 pm Reason: Accomodating a request
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Old Aug 27, 04, 9:47 am
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Good grief

Can this policy possibly be worth all the negative PR it brings the airline?

I do agree that the policy is very inconsistently applied. But then, it's a pretty subjective call, so consistency will always be an issue. . . unless, of course the criteria is actually based upon race and sex. Then, even the stupidist gate agents can probably follow it.

Why doesn't she spend this time, energy and money addressing the real problem?
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Old Aug 27, 04, 9:57 am
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She's an executive, and she can afford a hotshot lawyer, so I'm guessing that she probably also has the $$$ to pay for a gym membership or a personal trainer.

I don't think that she would like my solution any better: a tape measure to be wrapped around the waist of passengers and a little sign that says: "if you are this big around or bigger, you buy 2 seats."
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Old Aug 27, 04, 9:59 am
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Originally Posted by AZ Travels the World
Can this policy possibly be worth all the negative PR it brings the airline?
Because as soon as I get stuck between two Nadine Thompsons, they will be hearing from my lawyer (if they aren't making funeral arrangements for me first).
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Old Aug 27, 04, 10:00 am
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How about an airline seat, with the arms down, behind a curtain at the ticket counter area landside and at the customer service area airside? If the passenger can't get in the seat, they pay for a second. This would avoid any on-aircraft confrontations.
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Old Aug 27, 04, 10:11 am
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Originally Posted by Strephon

Thompson, a frequent flier on Southwest, said she had never been required to buy two tickets before.

Did she recently turn black?

While I obviously wish that the woman would never have to face discrimination of any sort, it seems unlikely to me that she did in this case.
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Old Aug 27, 04, 10:18 am
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Southwest's policy is that they only charge if giving you two will cause the plane to not have room for all of its passengers. This woman is obviously interested in playing the victim. Southwest has won several lawsuits with regard to this. I think their policy is fair.
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Old Aug 27, 04, 10:40 am
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Originally Posted by alamedaguy
Did she recently turn black?
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Old Aug 27, 04, 11:26 am
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Originally Posted by Tino
Because as soon as I get stuck between two Nadine Thompsons, they will be hearing from my lawyer (if they aren't making funeral arrangements for me first).
^ ^

Hopefully the suit will be tossed, and the lawyer sanctioned.

Everyody likes to play the race card.
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Old Aug 27, 04, 11:49 am
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So I suppose Southwest isn't going to be featuring Warm Spirit soap and beauty products in the on-board lavs anytime soon...

Interesting to note that she holds herself out as "an advocate, authority and noted speaker in the areas of racial equality, entrepreneurship, and empowerment." If that's true, then I hope she realizes the skepticism with which suits of this nature are given by the public at large and - more important - the damage they do to legitimate matters of discrimination if they're ultimately found to be baseless or pressed solely for personal gain.

In other words, if she doesn't prove her case, not only should she be prepared to buy the second seat, but she also better pare down her credentials.
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Old Aug 29, 04, 5:31 pm
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Add one more lawsuit to the mix...

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/...Airline%20Sued
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Old Aug 29, 04, 7:37 pm
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Southwest will win unless they get an overweight judge who wants to get back for years of not being treated as an equal in society...

However, I have watched many episodes of Airline and do feel that the person of size policy needs to be changed and better enforced.

If I were a person of size, I would expect that once at each airport, an airline ticketing or gate employee would stop and question me. Southwest could lose a lawsuit if one of these people required to buy a ticket could prove they flew <x> southwest flights in the prior few days/weeks without buying a 2nd ticket. If a judge saw lax enforcement of a rule, then yes it could be a question of harrassment or racial profiling.

Granted, the airport is not a private place, so people currently DO hear the questions being asked, so they need to continue to make sure that the questions are as unoffensive as possible. Have a support group for persons struggling with obesity write the questions, that way the airline is not making up the verbage. Just like a hotel has to be discreet about giving you a room # without reading it to you, perhaps Southwest should start giving a card to the passenger instead of asking them the question out loud. The person can respond by pointing to the option (not fly, buy a 2nd seat, get measured, etc). SITTING on the plane to see if you take up another seat is a waste of employee and other passengers time, and THAT is more humiliating in my eyes. "Mommy what is that fat person doing walking on the airplane before we board... Mommy why are they back at the ticket counter red in the face". Southwest should have a policy that if you are more than <x> inches around, you buy another seat or get a refund. Fixed weight limit isn't as good of a policy (body builders etc). There is a fixed limit on luggage weight, fixed weight limit on helicopters, and Fixed limit at amusement parks (42" tall to ride this ride). Southwest could give the passenger a garment measuring tape and watch them measure themselves. To further not humiliate them they could give them the option of walking to a more private area with an employee to do so, but I think just by making it a classy looking fabric tape (solid black, etc.. not a yellow measuring tape, and there is no reason to have it list every inch... just a "red" mark that says too big would do fine. Have it in the rules when they book their ticket or get their online reservation confirmation, so that it's not a surprise to anyone.

Also, since this is a big hassle and a part of the job that airline employees don't like to do, and passengers don't like to partake in, they should get some sort of a verification if they don't want to do another field obesity test for the next <x> days. That way should another employee stop and show them the same rule list, they could whip out their card, the employee could thank them and tell them to enjoy their flight, with VERY LITTLE confrontation. I think the worse thing they are doing is loosely or irregularly enforcing the rules and letting the people make a fool of themselves trying to squeeze into the seat to prove themselves to the employees. Everyone that does that on the airline show is like "AHA see I told you so" or "darn I have to buy another seat".
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Old Aug 29, 04, 8:38 pm
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I don't really see what's complicated about this and why losers like this woman continue to file lawsuits. If you take up two seats, you pay for two seats.

And before she can sue for discrimination (in a criminal, not civil, suit) she has to pick one area for standing - being fat or being black. The story doesn't make it clear which one of those factors she's claiming caused her discrimination.
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Old Aug 30, 04, 5:29 am
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Originally Posted by ginandtacos.com
If you take up two seats, you pay for two seats.
.
In general, life is inconsistent. On a train, bus, movie theatre, restaurant, etc does a customer of size have to purchase the extra seat?

I still do not know what the proper way to handle it is.
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