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
  • Big Dave

    I know how she feels. I used to be a 6ft 2in normal proportioned person until I had a large tumor removed near my Pituitary Gland. My height, weight, width & arm length went thru the roof. I went from size 11 shoes up to size 16. I’m now a 6ft 6in / 425 lb gorilla that can’t fly. My nephews have used me for playground equipment and no one has picked on me in years.
    I got used to the stares and odd looks years ago but some times it makes me sad. People that don’t know what has happened are prejudiced against me.
    Being big isn’t fun and how big you are sometimes is out of your control.
    Come on folks ! Cut the Lady and her mom some slack.
    Thankfully most big folks are mild mannered otherwise they would palm you by the top of the head and give you the Samsonite Gorilla treatment.

  • Brian

    If you can’t fit into the seat, then don’t complain. Better yet, why not fit these two right next to each other and see how much “extra space” there is. All anyone has to do is experience it once and see how you paid for a seat, however 25% of your seat is being used by someone else. Great job with the weight loss, however if you can’t fit in one seat, stop complaining.

  • lanid

    Demand a change of seat at the beginning of the flight. Don’t suffer. Complain at the beginning. You might even get a seat in first class.

  • NottaFattie

    Hey Fattie! You shouldn’t be traveling. You should be home losing weight. Leave us human beings along to travel in peace

  • lizadfuel

    If your the size of two people, yes you should pay for two seats. America needs to wake up to the fact they have become obese as a culture. Next, why is this even an issue? Southwest is a business, and has its rules. We all know if your fat, you will have to pay for two seats, so why is this lady making such a fuss about this? Peace

  • Parker

    I’d rather be squeezed in next to a fat person than have to fly next to some snot-nosed brat with the flu coughing all over everyone in an enclosed space.

    Ban sick people from planes! There is no escape from their disease.

  • Conan The Republican


  • Lucy

    I’m fat. I’m also smarter than 98% of the population. Should I complain about having to deal with you stupid people?

    • swift

      By all means yes. I do it all the time!

  • John West

    Sometimes you just can’t see the person for the enormous body they are in. Fat people often don’t smell very good … the can’t reach everywhere to wash … I hate siting beside fat people.. I don’t even like looking at them … they are usually gluttons but pretend they have some sort of eating disorder that is rampant in America but almost non existent in other parts of the world where is scarce and expensive .. did I mention fat people are weak people and are gluttons. They should buy two tickets …. the the price if you want to see pigs fly.

    • Lucy

      And I can see you are a stupid person. Stupid people can’t really help it. I’m fat, and I can’t really help it either. I actually do have a disorder, but not an eating disorder. I am not a glutton. I have no functioning thyroid gland. If you were not a stupid person, you would know what that means. I gained sixteen pounds in one month alone while my doctor experimented with my thyroid replacement hormone. Also, I can and do wash all over. I can and do sit in the lotus position while reading. Can you do that?

      • StraightUp

        Sorry about your illness — but buy two seats

  • Lucy

    You people are effing hateful.

  • DieFattie

    Go be fat somewhere else


    I totally support Southwest….as a frequent flyer I cannot tell you how many times a fat person has spilled over into my seat and made my next 3 hours a living hell. Airlines sell SEATS and if you require 2 you should have to buy 2. Thank you for standing up for all of us who have been sat on and sweated on. If you don’t want to pay for 2 tickets either don’t fly or lose it!

  • Bill Rid

    Lonestar the person is the body you moron. With these fat lard arses, how will they ever get out of a plane during an emergency? They not only jeopardize their safety but the safety of other passengers (likewise for the disabled that fly). It will take a major accident and unnecessary passenger deaths to put a stop to PC disabled flying. These are the same people that would suit the airlines over doors that emergency doors are too small for their lard arses.

  • Charlie Mcarty

    Don’t fly anymore because so many skinny people have BO and bad breath. Afterearning my fortune working and hitting it big on gold investments, I could own my own aircraft if I wanted to fly. But just because I weigh 310 pounds and am 6 foot 5 doesn’t make me obese. I can hammer pretty hard if anyone challenges me and dont GAS what other people think about my physical appearance. I’ll keep my money and the idiots who want to play grab heiny with the TSA can go fly.

  • TexasMarine

    Holy Fat ass Batman! These tubby’s should be placed on opposite sides to balance the plane. I would have raised hell if any airline put this fat ass in a seat next to me. She probably smelled too, like fried chicken on BO. Disgusting, fat and ugly.

  • imaginarydaughter

    Ribs and beer, baby

  • Charlie Mcarty

    Too fat eh, well then they need to make skinny people share a single seat.

  • Raymond

    Let’s see about “You” getting an Apology when “You get offended at the Airport!” Your Comment was so Stupid & Uncalled For!, Kevin! Also, If YOu come back with a Comment to counter me, Be Sure that It’s Intelligent! I Personally have No Time For “Stupid People!” As far as Kenlie Tiggeman is concerned, She has every Right to Fly if she pays for the Ticket! I personally don’t know if she’s a Liberal or not! Personally, I don’t care Neither should You! Remember, Once You start rescricting One Person’s Freedom; It’s not too far from where Yours gets Restricted! Think About It!

    • Delphinus13

      Which is why the government should NOT be in the business of providing health care. Once the government pays for your health care, it can then start dictating lifestyle choices.

    • StraightUp

      Raymond, One is never free to impose on another. If your weigh inconveniences others on a plane, buy two seats. No judgement, just don’t restrict other’s freedom of movement.

  • Barbara Evans

    Make the seats in the last four rows larger. Then, shut up.

  • The Hitter

    Fat chix make GREAT pillows on long flights. Just snuggle up and take a nap!


    I was assigned a center seat “B” on a flight from Hartford to Ft Lauderdale several years ago, and had boarded early. After the aircraft had filled up, two of the fattest people I had ever seen came up and indicated they had seats A and C, and the only way the one could get to the window seat “A” was for me to get up and move out of the way, which I did. After getting situated in seat A, this fat person s left side overhung his seat into my sitting area, I then sat in my assigned seat B, whereby the remaining fattie sat in the isle seat C, and proceeded to squeeze me severly between the other fattie in seat A. I could not move as I was squeezed in a vice of disgusting fat people, an unsafe condition at best. I called for a flight attendant and demanded to be moved, or for the fatties to be moved, wherupon I was told the flight was full and there was nothing that could be done for me. I asked for the Captain , demanding that this seating assignment was unsafe and that I be moved to another seat. The Captains response was to either get off the plane, or he would call an air-marshall and have me arrested If I did not stop my demands for better seating.
    I am a 6 foot tall, 150 lbs man squeeded between two 400 lb stinking, sweating, and farting humans that clearly should not have been assigned single seats each to begin with. I was squeezed so tight i could not move my arms as I was enveloped in huge folds of sweaty fat from these disgusting passengers. Eventually, I demanded to be let off the aircraft so that I could take another flight home, which I did, arriving home 7 hours later than expected. I wrote to the Airline and to the FAA complaining about the unsafe seating conditions I was subject too, but there was never any action taken by either party. I refused to fly that airline after that incident, and have not had another occurrance of this type again. These disgusting obese people should be forced to buy as many adjacent seats as needed to accomodate their sickly and disgusting fat. I read that Doctors are refusing to see or treat these fatties as they are breaking their dental chairs and examining beds. Perhaps the airlines carry these fatties as freight only, and packed in shipping crates in the cargo hold.

  • Melvin

    Who knows who could be next. Teenagers with acne, are refused a seat because it might spread to other passengers.

    • Fat, Smelly Acne-faced Slob

      Then the thing to do is to permit everything so that we don’t offend anyone. Don’t fit into your seat, don’t bathe, don’t do anything, because my right to do whatever I want trumps all of your rights. If I’m fat and need part of your seat, I’m entitled to it. If I smell like manure, well, that’s my right so suck it in.

  • pisico

    Overweight people are the same all over the world. I lived in USA, Brazil, Spain and Thailand, and I see the same attitude: overweight people truly and deeply believe they have special rights. They demand empathy and tolerance from the rest of humans while neglecting their personal responsibility to others and themselves. The lame excuses range from glandular conditions to genetic and magic spells, etc. I was fat once and when I realized that it was not as easy to get out of a car as when I was younger, I took responsibility for my health and began eating properly and exercising. It only took little will power to do it. It is easier to demand of others that which we do not demand of ourselves. Fat people tend to do that.

  • kara

    This lady is lying, Southwest would not tell her that she is “too fat to fly”. Also they would not ask her her clothing size or how much she weighs. This is totally blown out of proportion. This lady is looking for a free ticket or a lawsuit! Hope she flies on another airline, she is trouble with a capital “T”!!!

  • AirportGuy

    they should just sell tickets by the pound, since more pounds use more aviation fuel. the less you weigh (you and all your luggage) the less you pay. fair is fair.

  • Steven Santos

    I hate it when obese people sit next to me on public transportation. Their ‘body’ spills over the seat or armrests and if they can’t fit they try to make it fit and look to me as if I should get up for them.

  • maryjames

    This girl is lying, Southwest would not tell someone that they are “too fat to fly”. Sounds like to me that she is looking for a lawsuit or free tickets! Totally crazy!!

  • Six Five, One Ninety

    I note with no small degree of amusement the skillful use of the wide-angle lens for the passenger’s picture, but that’s the only thing funny about this – I’m so tired of hearing this complaint from the overweight. Buy two tickets, use two seats and get two meals. The rest of us would like full access to the one seat we pay for, particularly those of us who struggle with leg room issues on planes but don’t have CBS rushing to report on our plight.

  • John

    I have no sympathy for the fatties.

  • Beez

    I support the airlines as private businesses charging whatever they like for whoever they like – but they really should do this in a consistent, predictable manner. To let them fly out with one seat on the departure leg and suddenly require two seats on the return leg is unprofessional and inexcusable.

  • S


  • JAG

    Lose some weight. Go to the gym, and stop being a waste of life.

  • Skvoznyak

    No sympathy here. I’ve seen people who supposedly “fit” into a seat blubber over into mine after putting up the armrest that I wanted kept down. I’m not willing to give up part of my seat to keep the overweight person next to me from having to pay for a second ticket.

  • myspaceismine

    There is only one fair way to do this: charge by the pound. If you way less,
    the airline uses less gasoline in flying you. When a slop hangs over on
    your seat, you need to demand a proportionate refund based on what percentage your seat is used by you and what percentage the slob next to you,
    uses your seat. Also, there should be a refund for the disgust of not
    being able to enjoy your flight because of the slob sitting next to you…and in your seat.

    Seriously, someone has to stand up and call a spade, a spade…or should
    I say, call a slob, a slob and charge accordingly. Why should so few
    suffer from so much…fat..

    • listeningear

      Think your on to someething, lets hear more.

  • FigFii

    Sorry, but its all about WEIGHT AND BALANCE when it comes to airplanes. Put too many obese people on the plane, you lose lift. From a pilots standpoint, I understand and agre with what they are doing. Its not about singling out fat folks, its about keepin the plane safe to fly.

  • david

    Radical idea… During check in, have each passenger (and all of their luggage (carry on and checked)) plopped on a scale and charged accordingly. The cost of moving you and your stuff from point A to point B is primarily a function of the weight.

  • Moose

    It’s about time. Why should others suffer because of their lack of self-control. Nothing worse than sitting next to / amongst a fat person in need of a seatbelt extender and deodorant. And woe is the person who actually asks them to remain in their space. You’re either labelled a bigot or intolerant. No, I paid for my seat and want what I paid for, not 80% of it. Either pay for the room you take up or buy a big cushy van to haul your carcass around. I applaud Southwest Airlines for standing up for the 98% of their customers and not kowtowing to a tiny (in numbers only) minority without self-control. Pass the eclair please.

  • chudly

    That’s a bad comparison. Bystanders might be affected by the smoke of a tobacco cigarette if they have asthma or something, but overeating only affects the health of the person doing it.

    • StraightUp

      Well thats no longer true considering we are now paying for everyone’s health care….
      I’m with Duck — now that we’re payin’ .. we should all start telling those oinkers to stop stuffing their faces.

  • Jack Spratt

    Put the Too-Fat-To-Fly next to each other.

  • JaJaJa

    All you skinny people complaining about sitting next to an overweight person.
    Maybe you have habits that are annoying or downright gross.

    I sat in front of a skinny guy once who coughed up a lung during the whole flight and NEVER covered his mouth.
    I sat next to a skinny woman who flicked dandruff out of her hair and shook it all over me.
    I sat next to a skinny guy who’s nose was running and he wiped it with his sleeve.

    Oh I am not overweight, but I would have paid to sit next to an obese person rather than sit next to those creeps who have no courtesy for other people.

    Size doesn’t matter. Manners do!

    • Normal Sized and Polite

      So those of us who DO know how to behave on a plane should tolerate a fat person blubbering over into our seats just because others are rude? Ridiculous.

      • JaJaJa

        Ever consider that the seats on airlines just keep getting smaller and smaller, but instead of actually voicing objections to the the airlines to furnish something better, pick on other people because of their size.
        What’s next with the airlines?? Subway benches and straps for standing room only?
        I think there is a LOT of misplace anger here.
        Airlines used to have more comfortable seating. I am old enough to remember those days.
        Flying now is just painful….and that has NOTHING to do with obese people.

    • JAG

      THEN KEEP YOUR FAT IN YOUR SEAT!!!. Oh wait your can’t hahahaha.

  • MamaMac

    There are weight restrictions for a reason. If a person is obese, they should pay for 2 seats. It’s not only common courtesy to fellow travelers, it’s in keeping with the weight restrictions on the plane itself. I have an underactive thyroid, which most obese people blame their weight gain on the thyroid. I am maybe 25 pounds overweight. It’s hard for me to lose weight – I have to work extra hard at it. So I don’t eat junk food, go to McDonald’s or polish off a bag of Doritos in 30 minutes. It takes self control to stop being a glutton. And that’s what obesity is – gluttony. I have sat next to obese people on planes, and had to wait till the plane landed to go to the bathroom because there was no way I could get around that obese person. If they are asked to pay double, and they are embarrassed – too bad. Most people are obese because they are gluttons, not because of medical conditions. It is their choice – no one forced donuts in their faces or took them to Burger King and made them order Whoppers. It’s a choice, and you have to live with your choices.

  • Mike

    The airline should have handled the situation discreetly. It did not have to grill the women in public like it did. However, I would really like to know more about how well the women fit in their single seats. You can fit comfortably, or you can just barely fit. I have been in too many situations where the person next to me just barely fit and I would have to be in an awkward and/or uncomfortable position because the person next to me just fit in the seat but still “spilled over” into my space. To make a blanket statement and say “I fit in my seat” may not be entirely true. Perhaps we all need to hear “the rest of the story”.

  • Slim Phil

    Fat people are disgusting. I’ve had the misfortune of having to be plastered up against the window on several occasions due to a fat lady sitting in the middle seat and it is a horrible experience. Those people should be strapped to a pallet and flown as air freight on cargo planes charging them by the pound!

    • bobs big boy

      my wife doesnt mind my lard. actually i share half her seat since she is sooo tiny. hahaha. anyways, put a sofa and loveseat in that cargo section and a fridge and a flatscreen. that would work.


    As an ex AF pilot, I once carried a rather “portly” gentleman on a two engine C-131 ( Civilian type: Convair 340). After he struggled down the aisle and was seated as close to the rear as I could safely place him, I told him that in the event of an emergency, he was to remain in his seat until all others were deplaned.since his bulk was such that not only could he not walk comfortably down the aisle, it would also have been impossible for anyone to get by him. There was absolutely insufficient sspace for hm to manuever. I know the gentleman was not happy with me but, my responsibility was to all the passengers not just one. I’d do the same thing today..

    • Quilter77

      Good for you! Throw the political correctness out the window and do what is right!

  • Anthony Summers

    It’s time for a “Fat Cargo” section. Throw a few mattresses and bags of potato chips down there.

  • John G

    I wouldn’t want that lardass sitting next to me. I rather enjoy sitting in my entire seat, not sharing it with someone who, even though losing weight, is still too fat to sit within the boundaries of a single seat.

  • bobs big boy

    im bigger than she is and i wouldnt mind purchasing a second seat for myself. woundnt bother me at all. i would like the extra room anyways. she should get used to the idea of purchasing two seats for herself.
    as for you fattyphobes out there, STUFF IT. haha. we are fat due to metabolism. i dont eat any more food that you do. my body just does a real good job of getting all the nutrients out of it. yours doesnt.

    since i am and have been a major league porker for over 30 years, such things as 2 airplane sets doesnt bother me at all. i use 2 chair in restaurants.

    • swift

      I also have a super-efficient metabolism. Would you believe I get by on 600 calories a day and vitamin pills to stay 178? The hunger pains are unpleasant, but I look half my age do to caloric restriction :)

      And having a $90 a month food bill + $25 for vitamins isn’t too bad….

  • Former Fat Chick

    I’ve also been on both sides of the equation – at my heaviest I did buy 2 seats or fly 1st class, but I could also afford to do so, not everyone can and the seats are not comfortable even for those who are average weight. If nothing else, the two of them should have been allowed to buy 3 seats between them for 1.5 seats each – no one else would have to sit with them in their row. Now, I am basically average weight and I will tell you I fly a lot and I prefer being next to a heavier person who is aware of their weight and makes efforts to not invade my space (and most are hyper aware, I was then too) than by some a&^hole who is thin but thinks he owns my leg room and the armrest and my lap. Seriously, I flew recently and this thin guy was in my space the whole flight. He TRIED to keep a bag of his on the floor between us. He was eating pizza before the flight took off and had half the pizza box on my leg. His legs were sprawled over into my space and when leaving his laptop was 1/3 on me as he was packing his stuff up. He was thin and would never be asked to pay for two spaces but he took up more space than anyone I was ever next to.

    • Cam

      So true. Fat is not the only thing that spills over. Bad breath, bad manners are even worse. I also agree that most fat people are very aware of the space they take and will do everything they can not to disturb their seatmates. I remember a flight I took before this buying two seats was ever an issue and the obese woman in front of me asked to be seated beside a child or thin person so she would not put anyone out. I don’t see a lot of other people being that considerate.

  • Dubs

    Thank goodness I have a private plane.

  • Marty Allen

    Come on, there are plenty of peanuts for everyone.

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