Here are my questions for the day …
- should director Kevin Smith be getting an apology from Southwest Airlines because he was pulled off a flight for being too large?
- And if he did deserve the apology – why him and not every other fattie who has ever been pulled off or charged extra for taking up too much space?
- And more broadly, what do we all think about airline plans to charge obese people more for air travel?
I mean seriously, at a time when a higher percentage of Americans, Europeans and Asians are overweight than ever before, these are questions that get some seriously emotional responses.
The actor/director – perhaps known best by fans as Silent Bob from his Clerks movies – was tossed off a flight from Oakland to Burbank for failing to fit comfortably in the seat (reportedly, the pilot per airline policy considered his inability to put down the arm as a safety risk) . Smith immediately fired back in the press and on Twitter, quipping:
I saw someone bigger than me on THAT flight! But I wasn’t about to throw a fellow Fatty under the plane as I’m being profiled. But he & I made eye contact, & he was like ‘Please don’t tell…’
According to several reports, Smith routinely purchases two seats on flights and had originally done so for his flight to Burbank – but ended up flying standby on an earlier flight with only one seat available. As soon as Southwest saw his outraged tweets, they called to issue an apology.
The Smith adventure comes at a time when airlines are struggling to form cohesive policies on overweight passengers.
Though my husband might occasionally joke differently, I am not so rotund as to be unable to fasten the standard seat belts or put down the arm rest, but I’m sure I am not only one who has ever been seated next to someone who can’t.
Case in point: Hubby dearest.
On a full flight from London to New York last year my tall and built, but svelte, husband was sandwiched between me and a gentleman who was quite clearly too big for the seat in which he sat. (And by that, I mean this individual was seriously obese.) My husband tucked in his elbows and leaned into me as far as he could without pushing me into the person on my other side – and got progressively more irate as the flight went on.
When the stewardesses delivered our meal service – my husband and the man next to him jostled for position and ended up consuming their meals one-handed. When the gentleman fell asleep, his muscles relaxed sending his arms and legs further into my husband’s shrinking space. At one point my husband woke up to find the guy’s head on his shoulder. (*snort*)
By the time we reached New York my husband was grumbling and cursing out loud. He was none too pleased that I found the situation humorous.
As a member of the overweight club – I know there is no joke when it comes to flab.
Many of those who are fighting the battle of the bulge have a lot of emotional issues tied to the scale – and highlighting those for all the flight to see a la Mr. Smith can be very damaging. It’s also, one might potentially argue, a form of discrimination and a violation of individuals’ rights.
What we should be focused on – fat and skinny alike – is working on the Health At Every Size concept and be doing the best we can for our individual bodies.
As for air travel – I can only hope airlines will soon come up with clear, concise policies that can be universally applied without having to publicly drag obese passengers off a flight. There’s got to be a better way to guarantee passengers safety!