Another Too-Fat-To-Fly Controversy Hits Southwest Airlines

NYC Political Strategist: Me, Mom Told We Must Buy 4 Seats

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.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

More from John Slattery
  • John

    Southwest Airlines slogan: Bags fly free. Southwest lived up to their slogan and let the big bags of slob fly free.

  • Djoser

    I got stuck sitting next to a fat arse flying from DIA to PHL non-stop that was freaking out during turbulence and wouldn’t move so I could pee. In addition, his fat rolled over the arm rests and he smelled really bad.

    To all you overweight mofos out there, buck up and buy the extra ticket and layoff the terminals Big Macs.

  • I'm certain...

    …the foreigners love sharing a plane with an intellect like yours, Kevin.

    • Bill Brennan

      I’m Certain, is it a lie that some cultures value bathing more than others?

  • Bernard

    What a pig. She should travel by rail freight.

  • Bill Brennan

    Even though there are a few die hard hubba bubbas posting on line tonight, it is nice to see the majority of posters do have a clue… too obese to sit in one seat without imposing yourself on another stranger whom fairly paid for their own personal space and comfort? No Soup For You!!

  • Dawg

    Jessica – You are nasty!

  • Juliana Druery

    I have been thru it, some too big was in a seat next to me and refused to put the armrest down. I was pushed to the other armrest and had a pain in my side for weeks. I would not fly Delta again for putting me thru that torture. If you are big, you are big, no two ways about it, buy another ticket instead of expecting someone to give up half their seat.

  • gulchin

    Easy solution. Expand the carry on baggage sizer at the gate and call it “the people sizer”. If a passenger can’t fit in the people sizer, he/she must buy 2 tickets or ride in the checked luggage compartment of the aircraft.

  • The_Dude

    Perhaps I’m just a jerk, but when I get stuck next to a “large” person, I hold my ground and take all my space. I force them to lean the other way.

    And yes, I’ve had them ask, “Do you mind?”
    And I replied, “My space. It’s not just a web site.”

  • chris

    an easy way to solve this is to have a dummy seat before check in, just like the carry on thing they have, and if you don’t fit, you buy two. Then there’s no arguing.

  • Kevin R

    Boy how you think Santa feels when she sits on his lap.. I bet When She Get’s weigh at amusement park the bell rings they give her stuff animal .

  • Pebble

    I weigh 150# and carry a 30 # carry on. Slobo, @ 350#, has the same carry on and the minimum hold baggage with out a surchrge and we pay the same fare. Why not have a combined weight – passanger and luggage – of 250# and, anything over that, charge by the pound.

  • JB

    I’ll bet you Dollars to Donuts (Or in this case maybe something less appealing) that she’s a DEMOCRATIC Political Strategist, in search of more “compassion.” Typical liberal, loser.

    • swift

      I’ll bet you she works for Rush Limbaugh or that other porker Glenn Beck. Can you imagine having to sit next to those REPUBLICAN eat-monsters? Yuck!

  • Flour Girl

    How do you make love to a woman that big? You roll them in flour and look for the wet spot.

  • John

    Maybe that will be another bit of motivation to lose weight?? Just think if you still weighted 393 pounds, Kenlie, I hope they’d make you buy three seats then.

  • Alyssa

    First of all Jessica right. Kim is a idiot. If she fit the damn seat let her sit your to skinny and your butt will just slide down the seat. I agree if your really fat like 320- above get another seat.

  • bean pole

    its funny that you guys are all over the obese folks in our society but no one has criticisized the airline for being greedy enough to pack you onto a plane like sardines just so they can make more cash. no one ever considered the fact that the seats are no bigger then those in a kindergarten class. personally i will never fly unless absolutly nessassary.

  • Bill

    I agree with the airlines. Fat people should not even be allowed to fly unless they pay more. I have to pay for luggage so ….they are in effect over the limit on weight and it is dangerous for the airline to have more weight than they set for each passenger.
    Fat people loose weight or stay off the planes.

  • Cathy

    Let’s be honest, no one wants to get on a plane and sit next to someone who is overflowing in their seat into your seat. It makes everyone very uncomfortable. Buy the second seat.

  • Pretty in Pink

    I am 5’2″, weigh 320 and I fit in my seat. I also wear a size 2 dress.

    • Bill Brennan


    • Hell Raiser

      @ Pretty: BS! You’re wider than you are tall. If you are 320 porker lbs, you don’t fit.

      • Pretty in Pink

        You go fat you never go back.

  • Jacquelyne

    It’s because they were in Dallas…that should explain most of it.

  • Kc Truby

    Kim is not an idiot. People who want to impose themselves on others are inconsiderate and boring. Having mannors means not making others uncomfortable. If your spilling over your seat – your not behaving well.

  • Kevin R

    Yikes she has more Chins the a Chinese phone book.. I bet if you dressed her in Red the people would yell KOOL-AID

  • Anthony Harkin

    Here’s an idea- how about your ticket is your weight times “X”?

  • Steven

    Kim is right. I pay as much as you do to have a comfortable, safe flight from A to B. I fly quite often and nothing makes my travel more uncomfortable than when I am sitting in the exact center of my seat, but your thighs are still touching me. I pay to have my own space on the plane and not to share it with you. If your girth prevents you from fitting properly into a single seat, you should buy a second one. That the airline offers to reimburse you if the flight is not full is more than reasonable.

  • IrishEyesAreSmiling


  • Scott

    There was a day when it was shameful to be labeled “fat” but somebody started this politically correct garbage, which basically is code language for “Anything Goes as Long as You Feel Good!” So now we have fat people walking feeling good about themselves because they are surrounded by a bunch of… well,, OTHER FAT PEOPLE! It’s called safety in numbers. If you find yourself living a lifestyle that makes you uncomfortable because it’s morally wrong or demented, the key is to just find a whole bunch of other people like you and hang around them.
    THEn you can hold your head up proud!

    • swift

      Safety in numbers? More like ‘herd instinct’.

  • peterwoohoo

    By the way, did she spend extra time with the TSA for the pat-down??? OMG!
    Could’t pay me enough for that job.

  • Solomon

    Seat the overweight people next to each other. Let them decide whether to buy an extra seat.

  • David Lopez 951

    Bravo Jeff!!!
    Obese people have no shame and will gladly “spill-over” into another passengers seat.

  • In shape

    Fat people are disgusting. You know it, and I know it. I couldn’t care less how bad that sounds or who it hurts. The fact is, hardly ANY fattie is like that for a medical reason. They are fat because they are lazy and have no discipline. Even looking at a fat person is torture, let alone having to sit in the same aisle as one,l or next to one.

    Aww I guess some are angry and probably will call me names now. Whatever. I work hard on my body and I’ll be disgusted by fatties all I want.

    • Scott

      Don’t you love watching a tubber licking an ice cream cone with eyes locked on like radar? Makes me want to barf.

  • Tim K

    Must be quite a navel ring to thread that belly chain through, LOL

  • JH in SD

    Oh so insightful…at what community college did that razor sharp intellect get honed ?

  • Rich Pope

    I don’t know what to say here. Part of me wants to scream, “Lose some weight!” and the other part of me wants to say, “Have some compassion”.

    Then I read in the news about the guy who lives his life as an adult baby yet is receiving disability pay. And his fat-ass roommate is feeding him from a bottle while he sleeps in an over-sized crib!

    I honestly think Canada could just walk into our country and take it over right now we are so f-cked up.

    • Bill Brennan

      I’d welcome Canada, sadly I think it will be Mexico (pronounced Meh He Co)

  • swift

    This is why SW is my preferred airline. That, and the sense of humor the pilots used to have: “In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, please stop screaming and put on the oxygen mask….”

    • Rich Pope

      I love Southwest!

  • IrishEyesAreSmiling

    SHAME on you!!! Apparently YOU have never had to ‘SHARE” your seat with someone else’s flesh hanging over on you! I WILL NEVER AGAIN!!!!!

  • Tim K

    Kudos Kim!! I am in total agreement. A passenger purchases a fixed amount of space on the plane. If you spill over into the space I purchased, dammit, YOU OWE ME!! I have no obligation, moral, ethical, or legal, to cede that space to you free of charge.

    Frankly, I am disappointed in Southwest Airlines for caving to these two whining, snivlelling crybabies.

    • gfdsdg

      STFU – you don’t purchase a given amount of space you idiot – you purchase a seat – is your arse sitting down? yes then again I say STFU you’re the one whining and sniveling. I have broad shoulders – I fit int eh seat fine but I have to tuck my arms in front of me the whole way because the people on either side decide they want to use the arm rest – maybe I should get on here and whine – FU and your laptop – it’s transportation not an entertainment center. Don’t like it don’t fly (same thing the lefty wankers tell those not wishing to be groped and yes it is the same thing as no groping has found anything since its inception so it is nothing but an unwarranted invasion just like you’re clucking about)

    • momma

      To “gfdsdg”:
      I bet you’re a real porker, too.

    • slap

      To gfdsdg:

      If I purchase a seat, I expect that the passenger next to me is not intruding into my space. If you don’t fit, STFU and buy another seat and get the hell out of mine. If YOU don’t like it, don’t fly!

  • Bill Brennan

    Hey USN036, sticks and stones, but if you’re spilling over to the next persons seat on a flight you need to excuse yourself from the flight and perhaps the buffet line as well… but please do keep up the great comments… ; )

  • Razor Back

    Woooooooooo, Pig ! Sooie!
    Woooooooooo, Pig ! Sooie!
    Woooooooooo, Pig ! Sooie!

  • Other John

    Right on, Kim. How do you define “fit”? Can they somehow squeeze in? Sure, but layers of blubber are spilling over into your space. It’s hugely uncomfortable, both physically and socially, sitting next to someone in this situation. No way should the airline have apologized; they have to be sensitive yet firm in these situations.

  • reddog

    Jessica, you are not only rude, you must be fat too. Keep to your own space, or purchase additional space. You have no right to intrude on others.

  • Bilbo

    All you need is some sort of folding solid right angle that results in a flat wall on YOUR side of the armrest…then there’s no way someone can ooze over into your seat and they got nothing to complain about because you’re entirely within your own space.

    • racefanaz


  • Dee

    The agents is correct if they are fat they should purchase two seats. I have to travel every week for work and at least twice a month I end up sitting beside someone who are overweight. The fact of the matter is that they can fit in the seat but all the upper body fat hangs over the armrest into the my space and sometimes into my chest. I usually felt so uncomfortable as if I am packed into a can. They should purchase two seat so that they be comfortable and that they dont inconvenient someone else.

  • oh well

    I agree with southwest, if you can’t reasonably fit in the seat then you have to buy the one next to you, I don’t think situation is about weight, but volume, what if it was a man who was 6’7″ and 300 lb of muscle, he wouldn’t fit in the seat either, so why is she so outraged?

  • Three Seats

    Heffers – got it. Would it be rude to say is she ever wants to haul azz, she will have to make two trips? I am not bald, I am forehead enhanced.

  • peterwoohoo

    The Fat Section is called 1st Class, or create an Handicap Special needs section & charge more. I sat next to a Blubber Babe & it took an hour before she realized I was not giving up MY elbow space. I put them in the same category as the guy who tries to stuff an oversize carry-on above their seat & can’t….so they make everyone wait ! (cheap b@#t@rds)

  • Caroline

    Kim is right. If your body is spilling over onto mine, it’s a problem. I understand people have a genetic pre-dispostion to being rounder than others, but I don’t want to be imposed upon either.

    • Jonathan

      Genetically, most Americans are indistinguishable from western Europeans. Take a walk around Paris or Rome and tell me how many fat people you see (American tourists excepted.)

      A small percentage of people are genetically predisposed to be fat; the rest just need to eat less.

  • m

    Totally in agreement with the Airline. There is NOTHING worse than having someone spill over into your seat while on a flight. Come on, look at her picture. It is clear that would have been a very uncomfortable ride for the folks on her row

  • Henry Thoreau

    Wouldn’t it be nice if they made seats for fat people. They could charge more, have guaranteed occupancy, and not humiliate their customers. Some people are born fat, and there’s jack all they can do about it. Considering the statistics, you have to wonder why they haven’t done this yet.

    • ccaze

      WHAT??? some people are born fat? Of course they are, it is called baby fat. And most people lose that and become responsible healthy adults. They don’t eat their way into obesity. Jack all they can do about it??? how about dropping the fork and hitting the gym.

      And, they do make seats for fat people – first class. Pay for a seat Henry, clearly you are a fatty.

  • SnotPuppy

    I fly 10,000 miles a month for business and there is a big difference between ‘fitting’ between the armrests and fitting in your seat. Before anyone rags on Southwest airlines, sit for 4 hours next to an el tubbo that is pressed against your side because they weigh in at 300 pounds plus.

    If your FAT, either loose the weight or buy a whole row. Oh, by the way, check your ‘carryon’ that weighs 50 pounds too.

    • ccaze

      but they need their 50 pounds of snacks during the flight….

1 2 3 4 5 18
blog comments powered by Disqus
Giving Tuesday
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live