Reporting John Slattery
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Southwest Airlines has apologized to a mother and daughter who said they got rough treatment at the airport.
Kenlie Tiggeman, a 30-year-old political strategist and weight loss blogger in New York City, said it was humiliating, being told she was too fat to fly, reports CBS 2’s John Slattery.
“It was rude. It was in front of lots of people,” said Tiggeman, who’s originally from New Orleans.
Tiggeman said the incident happened in Dallas over Easter. She and her mother were told by a gate agent they each had to purchase two seats.
“And said that we were, in fact, too fat to fly, without an additional ticket,” Tiggeman said.
Yet, this was a return flight, and they hadn’t been stopped before. The gate agent said it was policy.
“I was asked what size clothes, and how much I weigh. I gave answers in front of a gate full of people, some of whom were snickering,” Tiggeman said.
Tiggeman, who once weighed 393 pounds, is down to 268 pounds.
A spokeswoman for Southwest 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.”
But Tiggeman said she does fit in a seat.
Southwest, which allowed the woman and her mother on a later flight, apologized, refunded their tickets and gave them free vouchers.
Passengers at LaGuardia said Tiggeman got a raw deal.
“As long as she fit in that seat, she should have been allowed to fly,” passenger Arnette Small said.
“I mean, if she fits, she fits, that’s what I say,” Kala Drust said.
“I think if people are rather large they to take accountability for their size and need to buy two tickets. If in fact she fit in the armrests, it’s a different ball game,” Dan Hehal added.
Last year, movie director Kevin Smith, known for his cult hit “Clerks,” was ejected from a Southwest flight, told that he didn’t fit. The airline later apologized.
The policy on wide-body passengers varies from airline to airline. All the Federal Aviation Administration requires is that each passenger be in a belt, which sometimes requires a seat-belt extender.
Tiggeman said she purchased two tickets to fly in the past, but since she’s lost so much weight, she’s been told by several airline employees it was no longer necessary.
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