Yesterday we chatted a little bit about Kevin Smith being kicked off a Southwest plane because he was what in the medical community is known as a fattyboombalatty and thus a safety risk.
Of course they ignored the fact that he could fit in his seat, fasten the safety belt AND put down the armrests (earlier reports said he couldn’t).
I listened to the SModcast wherein Smith tells his side of the story.
What struck me most was he wasn’t ready to “scorch the earth” as he put it, until after he was seated on the NEXT flight. Apparently he’d bought two seats and a fat woman was seated at the other side of the three-person row.
The crew asked the fat woman to come with them, and then had a conversation with her, and very nearly did the same thing to her as they’d done to Smith earlier that day. Plus they made her ASK him if it was okay that she was seated next to his completely empty seat.
What broke my heart was what Smith said about the look on that woman’s face. “It was like she’d been through Fat ‘Nam.” She’d suffered every humiliation, had every judgmental look, and the one big of her dignity she could still hold onto was that she could put her armrest down.
THAT’S when he decided to go on his rampage. Until then he thought that some guy –NOT the captain or the flight attendant– just didn’t like his movies and decided it would be funny to bounce him from the plane. It was when he saw the humiliation of the face of that unfortunate fat woman that he decided to lay siege.
Let me tell you something about Kevin Smith:
In the Fall of 1998 I got to spend an afternoon with him when he came to my university to discuss…Chasing Amy I think. You might not believe it if you’ve only seen his movies, but he is absolutely a scholar and a gentleman and could give any of the traditionally gracious Sons of the South a run for their confederate money in the manners department. So when in his most recent SModcast he said his motto has always been “death before discourtesy” he’s not lying. He’s better behaved than some Anglican Bishops I know.
What bothers me so much about this whole thing other than it’s just ANOTHER indignity to heap on the pile is this problem just isn’t going to go away.
“The average legroom in coach is getting smaller. The seat width remains unchanged in decades even as Americans get bigger. Airlines are increasingly using small regional planes to serve less-popular destinations. To combat slow demand, they’ve eliminated capacity, resulting in fuller planes and stiffer competition for upgrades. And airlines’ rules requiring obese passengers to pay for an extra seat are being enforced more strictly.
Macsata says airlines’ “fat tax” overlooks the fact that seat size hasn’t kept up with increasing girth. From 1960 to 2002, Americans have become on average of about 25 pounds heavier. The typical seat width — at 17 inches to 18.5 inches — hasn’t changed since 1958, he says.
Tealer says she has never been asked to buy another ticket but says coach seats can be painful. “Your hips are pressing against the armrest. I’ve had bruises, muscle pain.”
The armrest test to determine who should buy a second ticket also is discriminatory against women, says Tealer, who’s a board member of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, which is battling the second-ticket rule. “Women carry weight more in the hip area. People of color tend to be bigger.”
The federal Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in air travel but doesn’t cover size. But obesity can result from debilitating or chronic medical conditions, Macsata says.”
So basically people are fatter and taller than in 1958 but the seat size? Still the same.
I don’t fly often –as I said, I’m a road-trippin’ kinda gal– but when I was flying back and forth to New York a lot with Andre we always took Jet Blue into the JFK Terminal 5 and it was always pleasant. Yes, actually actively pleasant. And Jet Blue isn’t even paying me to say that (although they totally should! Cough it up Jet Blue! Mama needs a vacation!)
Fun fact: Jet Blue was founded by David Neeleman, a former member of Southwest. Neeleman’s idea in creating the Jet Blue identity was to –catch this– “to bring humanity back to air travel.”
What a novel idea.