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

    I agree with SW they should have to pay for 4 seat. Even more, there should be a total weight a person can take with them on flight. Us skinny ppl should be able to take more

  • Ed Hartwell

    I thnik a simple solution would be to reserve the center of the plane for our extra heavy passengers. That way the pilot could ensure proper weight and balance of the aircraft before take off. Frankly, if a large person is only allowed to sit next to another oversized person, it will make it more comfortable for the normal size individuals, who, also would sit together. In the famous wods of Rodney King,, “Can’t we all just get along.” This is just my opinion. I could be wrong. — Ed Hartwell, Veteran, Voter, Citizen, and an American for America!

  • Gork

    Nobody is forcing anyone to take Southwest Airlines. That’s why there are many airline companies.

    Frankly, I don’t know why anyone with significant girth would consider imposing themselves upon a stranger for so many hours. And let’s acknowledge that sometimes mother nature is unkind. Not everyone can be an FAA sized standard adult of 170 pounds.

    But on the other hand, I have paid full price for each of my children, even when they were infants, so that each could have a seat of their own on an airliner. We didn’t have to do that, but we felt it would be wise in case the flight was full. We have flown when wife was quite pregnant and she wasn’t all that mobile. She spilled in to our daughter’s seat between us with baby bottles, toys, blankets, and all that paraphernalia that go with babies these days.

    If we did that for our infant daughter, to save others from having to deal with an uncomfortable situation, then dammit an obese person can buy another seat.

  • pope 1944

    Perhaps all those acutely fit people complaining about us corpulent corpses should demand that SOuthwest only charge them 1/2 price

  • St. Louie

    As Ron White said, not only should they show you the chart of open seats they should also show you a picture of the people or person that will be sitting next to you.

  • Willy Wong

    Why not set up a fatty section: pack them in together. It would have to be in the center or the plane might tip.


    Oh PLEEEZZZZ! Like these people don’t already know they are fat. As if SWA was informing them of …”Surprise! You are fat!” Duh. Quoting from the article:
    “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,….
    “It was rude. It was in front of lots of people,” said Tiggeman.” SHE’S A BLOGGER ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS for goodness sake!! If that isn’t putting it out there “in front of lots of people,” I don’t know what is.

    They are living proof, the squeaky fat wheel gets the grease. They just wanted free stuff from SWA, and guess what….they got it!

    Hurray for the gate agent who at least attempted to make them pay for their extra weight and spillage. You pay for heavier bags on most airlines. I’m 120 lbs. and Ms. Tiggeman is like an extra 148 lb. bag. She and her mother need to pay. She alone is worth about 4 extra average bags….. and with most airlines charging for the extra weight, it only makes sense, embarrassing or not. But as mentioned, they already know they are fat, so what is so embarrassing?

  • Brian

    Fat people are gross.

    • Lonestar

      And you’re an insipid juvenile. Grow up and see the person, not the body.

  • LJ84

    It is not fair for normal or slender people like me to only get about 1/2 of a seat when a very large overweight person spills over into the neighboring seat. So I believe it is totally fair to make them buy 2 seats.

    Since this woman states she has lost a significant amount of weight than I would say her size is within her control otherwise she would not have lost so much weight. I applaud her effort and wish her success in reaching her weight-loss goals.

    My youngest son is 6’4″ and 140 lbs. He is skinny as a rail but he is very tall and has difficulty with leg room on flights. I would argue there is a difference between tall passengers and large overweight passengers. A person does have a choice to be overweight but a tall person has no choice but to be tall.

  • Pay By the Pound for all

    I have no problem paying by the pound as a fair measure, and I weigh 200 so I would not be cheap. Charge by the pound – passenger and all luggage. Weight is fuel, weight is space, weight is the the true measure of cost.

    • Cam

      I would go for this – as long as the person and their luggage were weighed together.

  • aaron

    Lose weight or pay more. consider it a FAT tax..

  • Gai_Sum_ Yung

    I’m a 5’11” male weighing 165 pounds. If I have 70 pounds of luggage they will charge me extra. But a fat ass weighing 300 pounds has no extra charge? Something’s wrong/

  • Bob Brown

    more fuel required for excess weight, driving up ticket prices for normal people.

    I hate when their smelly blubber spreads onto both adjoining seats.
    It’s suffocating.

  • joej

    oh man i hear you on that! there should be a “Smell Alarm” during boarding. Or have multiple ways to sort passengers; fat people in this row, stinky people in that row, kids under 5 in the back, talkers in that row, …

  • bruce

    Rude?…No…Rude is getting on the plane and taking your sear and half of my seat with your fat ass

    • Pay by the pound

      Exactly! I have no problem paying by the pound as a fair measure, and I weigh 200 so I would not be cheap. Charge by the pound – passenger and all luggage. Weight is fuel, weight is space, weight is the the true measure of cost.

  • Willy Wong

    Yes, Scott is definitely a porker

  • joej

    amen to that!

  • Darrell

    Zero sympathy. Why does the airline have to pick up the tab for people who refuse to stop eating?

  • Peter

    The cow weighs as much as two humans, so shouldn’t she pay for 2 fares just based on the fuel the jet uses to transport her as well as the fact that she takes two seats?
    Being a tall guy, I can almost relate to the cramped conditions of passenger air travel these days, except that I’m not a lard ass. I have no problem with elbo-ing in and claiming my territory when on a flight. I only hope their suffering will offer more motivation to get back down to human scale.

  • jake kson

    There is limited cubic feet inside any plane.
    It takes X gallons of fuel to lift Y pounds of cargo.
    It takes Z dollars to operate a plane.
    Adjust your attitude and size to these FAcTs!

    Suggestion, to receive food stamps: Show up at HHS each month. Run 1 mile on treadmill and pass urine test.

    It is NOT about prejudice, intolerance nor being judgmental.

  • Frequent Skinny Flyer

    That tub of a woman should definitely have to buy two seats. I’m sorry she looks like a elephant and can’t stop eating but really – until she and her jumbo-sized mother slim down (right – like that will happen) she has a lot of nerve coming off like some runway model. Face it – you’re a fat, pork-laden blob of yellow adipose tissue and you’re totally annoying everyone you sit near. Besides, when you say “I can fit in the seat” you’re delusional. And it’s not healthy for you. It’s like me saying – hey, I can fit into a size 7 shoe (I wear an 11 and 1/2). Granted, I could jam my foot into one but after two hours my toes would curl into a hoof. That’s not healthy. Why doesn’t she consider a train? She could plop her massive rolls onto the cattle car floor and relax. Basically, she’s a “two-seater” and that’s all there is to it. A two-ton human rump roast pretending she’s a chicken wing. She’s not. So don’t tell me that whale can slide into a coach seat and not basically crush the guy next to her. What is she – a magician? Sitting in row 23 and squashed in the middle – really, it’s only a matter of time before she throws a blood clot or has a stroke. You wonder what will pop off first – the arm rests or her head. So stay off my plane. Oink, oink, oink.

    • Leslie

      It’s mean people like you who should buy the extra ticket. Who in their right mind would want to sit next to someone as cruel as you? Too bad mean people can’t always be see for who they really are.

  • Drake M.

    “Why should I have to pay twice?”… Two words: Physics and Economics

  • ccaze

    I am guessing Scott is a fatty.

  • Karl

    Fatties should buy two seats, Their arms and elbows hang over into next passengers area making the trip very uncomfortable and often they smell bad.

  • John

    It’s not fair that large people have to squeeze into seat made for tiny people!! Why can’t they make seats bigger for the bigger person. Then the problem would be solved. The tiny people would have more room, and the bigger people would have enough, too. It’s wrong to make a person buy two ticket because they are tall and big, like me. I am 6’7 and weigh 305, and my legs hit the front, my feet end up sideways and Lord help me if the guy in front of me wants to recline. Hello? There ARE bigger people in this world. We are not all 5 foot 2, eyes of blue. Why should I have to pay twice?

    • FatBoy

      Why should I have to pay the same amount for less space then you. Why should I pay for some welfare queen to sit home on the couch watching tv while I work 60 hours a week? Pay for your space big fella, like I pay for mine. You want extra space – YOU pay for it. The cost to fly is divided by the number of seats – if fat people get bigger seats, then there are less seats, and each one costs more.

  • Drake M.

    Airlines should offer free jelly doughnuts to passengers who purchase multiple seats for themselves. Problem solved!!

  • tom

    MAybe this tub of lard doesn’t realize that she is putting other passengers at risk. Aircraft have maximum takeoff weights. No one is weighed so the FAA allows only 170 per passenger and the aircraft weight is calculated on these assumed weights. Add a few hundred pounds here and there and that plane doesn’t leave the ground

  • BiteMe

    Or next to a PC liberal who want me to give up MY rights and MY space for incompetants, lazy, obese, or any other category of “victim” you decide deserves what is rightfully mine.

  • yuck

    “And [they] said that we were, in fact, too fat to fly, without an additional ticket,”


    Look in the mirror… you are too fat to fly. Lose some weight. Stop complaining and stop shoving your fat a$$ in my face when you put your luggage in the overhead compartment. Disgusting.

    Why is it that I have to pay for an extra bag and yet you expect the airline to fly your extra 300 lbs for free. Yuck.

    • Willy Wong

      Wait a minute! Dumbo could fly.

  • Tom L.

    Considering the average American is overweight, perhaps a sample airline seat when buying a ticket should be used, like on a ride at the amusement parks. If you can’t fit, you don’t ride… unless you buy two tickets.

  • frequent_flyer

    I recently had to fly with a jumbo human… their giant body spilled over into my seat. I didn’t say anything and tried to be polite as their fat and sweat stunk up the entire row. We no longer let smokers pollute the air on our planes. Perhaps the time has come to stop letting “the fat ones” steal our airspace and abuse their fellow passengers.

  • Lisa

    Allan, ok, then never complain when it happens to you. I am sure most of the prisoners were in shape and fit in their seat. And you had a gun. Who are you to judge? I think you should OFFER to always sit next to the Tubbies since you don’t mind. Do it for your country.

  • Ed Barbar

    Possession is 9/10ths of the law.

    • Jimmy Danger

      your an idiot too.

    • Early Ardmore

      “There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”
      – George Bernard Shaw —

    • mikey

      @Jimmy You really remove all credibility of calling someone an idiot when you use the incorrect version of your/you’re. You meant to say “You’re an idiot too.” :D

    • Mambo Jambo

      Jimmy Danger, you’re the last person on earth to call anyone else an idiot. If you don’t know why, ask an above average Second Grader what was wrong with your writing.

  • Skinnier_than_you

    The airlines should make all of the seats about 25% smaller to accommodate the average asian passenger and then have all of the chunky Americans pay for 2 seats.
    The American who thinks of himself as average is really a fatty.
    There are many normal sized people who fit quite easily into an airline seat who essentially have to pay more because the average American fatty requires so much space limiting the number of seats on the plane.
    And these average ‘fatties’ post their whiny stories about how someone invades their space and should pay double when they themselves make others pay more with their own girth.

    The real solution is for the airlines to make seats to accommodate a wider range of body types and sizes. Smaller people can have the option to pay less for a smaller seat and larger preople may have to may proportionally more for a larger seat.

    Making the ‘obese’ pay double for a seat is not right. They typically do not need double the space, they only need about 10-15% more most of the time.
    The smaller folks don’t need all of the space that is provided on airlines today and could be paying less for a smaller seat.

    • Rico

      Yeah, that’s a great idea. Have AMERICAN airlines install seats to accomodate people from other countries, instead of AMERICANS.

      You are one of those blame America first types, hence someone to be reviled. WHy don’t you move to CHhina so you won’t be bothered by us average whiny Americans.

      • Skinnier_than_you

        You just don’t want to admit that you are a fatty too.
        I am an American. I’m just an American of decent size who has to pay more for seats because of hypocrits like you who think they are skinny and so quickly and arrogantly wish the obese to pay double as if you yourself are ‘normal’ size.
        The real trouble is the airlines trying to pack people in like sardines in a can knowing that there are many will barely squeeze into their seat.
        I am not the blame America first crowd.
        I am the blame the idiots like you first crowd.
        I suppose your vile nature serves as compensation for your intellectual insecurities.
        If you had the ability to think more critically than a gnat then you would have realized that the use of asians was to draw distinctions of normality in terms of body size, not nationality. I did not say Chinese, I said asians.

    • Weigh Me

      I have no problem paying by the pound as a fair measure, and I weigh 200 so I would not be cheap. Charge by the pound – passenger and all luggage. Weight is fuel, weight is space, weight is the the true measure of cost.

  • eagle

    Lots of comments here about fat people. But fair’s fair. I had to sit on a Southwest flight between two college athletes whose shoulders practically touched. I was hunched forward for the entire flight and could barely stand up straight when I could finally get off the plane. If body size is the yardstick, then apply it fairly and evenly. I don’t care if it’s fat or muscle. If it keeps me from being in my own seat, then it’s a problem.

  • bob

    What a cow.

  • Tim

    Southwest has ALWAYS done this. This is NOT news!

  • arnold

    I guess they have to find two equally fat people to sit on the other side of the
    aisle so the plane will fly level.

  • Steve Andrews

    Funny thread. Thanks for the laughs.

  • Greg

    I fly at least 10 times a year on Southwest. Since you don’t get seat assignments you can sit anywhere based on how you book your seat. Imagine if you had to sit between those two fat ladies. It has happened to my wife on a few occasions. you see your fat tends to fall into the middle seat along with all your arm fat and leg fat and the poor soul in the middle gets squashed. Not very fair to the guy or girl in the middle. I agree with buying two seats. Lose some weight you Fat slob. I guess its the air she breathes that makes her fat.

  • ron

    Have plus size seats for the bigger people!

    • Pay More for it

      For extra cost.

  • runningman

    The most miserable flight that I have ever had was when I sat nest to an obese woman who overflowed onto my seat. it was terrible! If you want to do this to your body that is fine but don’t complain when you are asked to buy two seats. No sympathy here for fat flyers.

  • slobo

    But the plane is called a “JUMBO JET”! One would think fat people would have as much room as anyone else.

  • REB

    Airlines should charge by the pound for passengers just like they do for freight….fat people would pay for what they are and skinny people for what they are,it takes so much per pound for fuel,just have some bigger seats for the heavy ones who pay so they are comfy…..

  • Randy

    Southwest is a friggin cattle car anyway. Overweight people are the most discriminated group of our citizens to date. You know, all people are not fat because they eat too much. Stop looking at the outside and start seeing what type of heart and personality someone has… bunch of weiners.

    • slap

      Overweight people are a group that can actually do something about why they are being discriminated against. And 99% of the obese people are that way by their eating. And if they had a good heart, they wouldn’t be oozing into the neighboring seat – they would have bought a second seat.

      • swift

        It 97%. Of the rest, 2% have undiagnosed thyroid problems (and need synthoid), and 1% have gout.

    • lard is repulsive and unhealthy

      Spare me! You shove donuts in your mouth and refuse to take responsibility for your own obesity! Easy solution to the “discrimination” you feel: LOSE WEIGHT you big fat slob!

  • slobo

    Wait! This plane is called a “JUMBO JET”!

    • RufusVonDufus

      Right, but it is not called a “Dumbo” jet!

  • bb

    Hey Kenlie Tiggeman how about this, YOUR TOO FAT TO FLY IN A NORMAL SEAT! There I said it to you and for thousands of people to read, it that too humiliating for you? If so LOSE WEIGHT so you can fit in the seat. Where the hell does it say you can sue someone for YOUR PROBLEM? I bet you didn’t miss Starbucks on your way to the gate either? I fly every week and I CAN’T STAND YOU FAT PEOPLE TAKING ANY OF MY SPACE, YOUR FAT PROBLEM INTRUDES ON MY TICKET PRICE! THEY SHOULD MAKE YOU BUY THE ENTIRE ROW!

  • Starr

    so according to many of you, tall people should have to purchase two rows to accomodate their length, little people must sit in a booster seat, and handicapped people should not be able to fly. And what about people with body odor and bad breath, people with sleep apnea who fall asleep and snore, oh, and drunks. GIVE ME A BREAK! You intolerant wretches. Mild overweight is a result of diet and lack of exercise. obesity of this nature is genetic, metabolic, and NEVER a choice. It is painful enough to be disabled by it. To humiliate them is no better than treating epileptics as demon posessed.

    • Rico

      You are just making up stuff. There is no factual basis to anything you have typed, and most of the things you have accused people of posting, has not been said by anyone.

      Enablers like you are part of the problem. All but the smallest minority ARE in fact responsible for their morbid obesity. If you are going to appoint yourself resident scold, you should at least get your facts straight – lard butt..

    • slap

      Obesity is a choice – just look at how many obese people there were in the past – and many of them were that way by choice, too. It’s a cop out to claim elsewise.

  • KT

    How about, buy 3 tickets for 2 people. This way you have room to roll-over, but are paying 1.5 for a ticket, not double. No one wants a strange body rolling over onto theirs!

  • disgusted

    I am 5’8″ female 135lbs size 4 and you grown adults are probably all perfect right? Who gets one here and cuts on people like that. You all should be ashamed of yourselves. Sure we don’t like it but to cut on heavy people with all the name calling is disgusting. I have seen very slim people pig out their whole lives and never be heavy….some have to diet daily but, as soon as a fat person eats its gross….stop all the hating its worse then a fat person spilling over a seat reading what you people have to say.

    • Rico

      Make me.

    • bb

      Hey disgusted get a grip on yourself! I don’t care what a ‘fat’ person eats, when or how much! That’s a life choice, period. And please stop with the genetic, metabolic or WHATEVER OTHER EXCUSE you want to call it, I DON’T CARE!

      What I do care about is MY SPACE, I want all of it! Not a part or a piece or a portion, I WANT IT ALL. If that means you can’t fit in you seat and infringe on mine then you can pay for two seats. You act like FAT PEOPLE don’t know they’re fat. They just sneak up to the counter to buy the ticket and they assume that no one sees them as being fat? I don’t think so, and they have the nerve to get upset when someone says something! Will they sue me when I stand up on the plane and tell them to get their fat ass back into their space and quit crowding me? Well do you think THAT would be HUMILIATING? Or do you think I should have to suffer because they’re FAT?

      So Ms I am 5’8″ size 4 female let the aircrew know the next time YOU FLY, yes let them know that you what FATTY next to you because YOU understand!

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