Monday, February 15, 2010


While waiting for my connecting flight out of Atlanta last Tuesday (a rant of its own), I briefly spoke to a lovely young woman as we all tried to scout out the ever-elusive working outlet for our phones, laptops, etc. I say lovely because I thought she was pretty, and I really liked the shade of green she was wearing. Anyway, that's not important. What's important is she was heavy set. Once we boarded the plane I witnessed the following exchange:

Douchehat: Excuse me, flight attendant?

Flight Attendant: Yes?

Douchehat: Can I switch seats? The girl next to me is big. Really big.

Flight Attendant: Sorry, sir, you'll have to wait until the flight has boarded completely, and then you can switch seats if there is one available.

I must also note the flight attendant said this with her voice dripping with irritation. She sounded just as shocked and offended and I probably looked. Oh, and he was referring to that same woman I'd spoken to at the gate. Also, he said all of this loud enough that the back half of the plane heard him.

Nice, Douchehat.

The flight boarded, and there were a lot of empty seats (it was a late flight), and he ended up having the entire row right behind me to himself.

I almost wish I'd farted in his face.

So by now, you've probably all heard about Kevin Smith getting thrown off a Southwest Air flight on Saturday. (Link goes to the round up and discussion on Shapely Prose.)

I managed to catch the beginnings of this in almost-real time that night, thanks to Twitter. I was absolutely AGOG at what was happening. It was kind of a thing of beauty.

Here's a few other links you may want to check out, if you're interested in the unfolding of this beautiful PR nightmare:

So yeah.

There's a lot of discussion to be had over a lot of the stuff being said by both parties. Kevin Smith doesn't apologize for being fat, but he'll often use misogynist or fat-shaming language in his ranting. But then he'll also go on to tell the story of the heavy woman on the flight he was allowed to stay on, who was sitting in his row. The flight attendant came by and tried to take the woman off the flight. Hearing Kevin Smith's ire over that situation was amazing. He also acknowledged his privilege as a man, and a rich one at that. He acknowledged that the average fat woman experiences harassment and discrimination that a fat man never would.

I can't wait to see how Southwest weathers this. It sounds like a LOT of people are taking their business elsewhere.


Unapologetically Mundane said...

Too bad Southwest doesn't fly out of LGA! No boycotting for us.

Greg said...

I flew Southwest once and only once. While I didn't have this problem, this is just one more reason why I will never give that airline another cent.

Anonymous said...

I just happened upon this blog, so I don't know if you are a fat person....but I was just curious to know if you've ever been on a long flight, next to a person who is so obese that their flesh is pressed against yours for the duration. Pressing something as intimate as FLESH against a complete stranger?

It's humiliating to be a normal-sized person, not even a skinny person, trapped in a seat for multiple hours by the flesh of another human being you don't even know.

If your flesh cannot be contained within the confines of an airline seat, you should purchase enough space that your flesh can rest comfortably for the duration of the flight without touching the person next to you. That's just human, common decency.

Red Stapler said...

Hey Anonymous, I hope you check back...

I'm actually not fat, merely an ally and a member of the FA movement.

To answer your question, the only flight I've ever felt encroached upon by a person in the seat next to me, I easily outweighed the woman by twenty pounds.

We had barely been on the plane for ten minutes when she fell asleep. We weren't even in the air yet. Normally, I wouldn't care, except her head was lolling to the right. And she kept slumping further. And further, until her head was practically in my lap. It was all so quick and sudden, I was actually concerned she'd swooned or something. She had the grace to look embarrassed when I woke her up.

When she was awake, it seemed like every movement she made involved some part of her coming in contact with me. I am not a large person, and neither was she. I know flying coach gets a little cramped, but it takes special talent and skill to keep elbowing me when I am pressed against the window.

She moved seats, but came back to our row for landing, for reasons I don't understand.

I was asleep, and all of a sudden, I got jostled by her coming back, and the husband and wife on my aisle and in the row in front of me swapping seats. (They were cool, btw, this all just happened at the same time.)

Once again, I was pressed against the window, and once again she kept bumping me. This was even more annoying, because now I was half asleep and cranky. I have jumpy reflexes when I'm half asleep, so she's lucky she didn't get slapped.

I was just so, so appalled by the utter ignorance of the concept of personal space demonstrated by this woman. Never once did I get an, "Excuse me," or an "I'm sorry" for any of the times she bumped, elbowed, touched, or somehow came in contact with me.

I would be much happier, and certainly more sympathetic to a person of size seated next to me.

It's not *their* fault the space we have to be in is barely large enough for me, let alone them.

Anonymous said...


The size of airline seats is not a government secret, however. And while a person who is rude in general, like the person who kept bumping you, is exceedingly irritating and annoying, a 400 lb person knows that their body is simply not going to fit into a single airline seat without spreading into the flesh of their neighbors. They should book two seats when they reserve their flight.

I am not at all interested in piling onto the shame and misery that the average obese person already experiences on non-flying days.

In fact....if I won Powerball, you know what I would do? I would start up an airline that caters exclusively to obese people. I would have few, large seats and the entire crew would be large people, but healthy of course. I would enthusiastically change air travel from the horror that it is to a delight for fat people everywhere. Swear to God. I'd turn a profit in the first year, I have no doubt.

Normal sized people SHOULD be kinder, but fat people should do everything they can to stay within the confines of the space they've paid for, and no further.

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