Overweight passengers on Southwest Airlines will soon pay more

Wednesday, June 19th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The next time you fly, fat fares may force you to pay more because of your size and your weight. It's a policy Southwest Airlines expects to heavily enforce.

News on Six reporter Jenni Monet visited the Tulsa International Airport to get reaction to the policy change. Southwest Airlines say lately, it's thier number one complaint, customers demanding more space when they fly.
Now a policy targeting the overweight is creating a controversial debate.

Oversize use to be a question asked when checking your bags. Now portly passengers are next in line when it comes to size and flying the friendly skies. "It's discriminatory. Why would they do that?"

It's sounded off a weight debate. Should customers considered too big be forced to pay for two seats? It's a re-enforced policy by Southwest Airlines, expected to take immediate effect. "If it's taking up more than one seat, you should buy two." "I think it's a total outrage and it's a discrimination and I think we need to stand up against that." Obesity rights advocate Michelle Leaming says shes taking a stand. "No I would not pay two prices, I would take another airline."

Boycotting any airline she says discriminates against people of size. "Just like the airline, they don't have any idea of what people like us feel like when we walk to thier airlines."

But it will be airline personnel making the judgement call at the ticket counter. With no exact weight limits or restrictions listed, it has Michelle concerned. "I think it's an outrage. Morbid obesity is considered a disease." "I think they need to be more sensitive to that. Not just looking over the counter and stating that they're overweight. They need to have guidelines."

"What if your in between two very large people, it's happened to me, like I said." For one passenger it's a policy that has her torn. Her solution, a change in airlines with a one size fits all philosophy.

"Maybe that's what needs to change." Put in two seats instead of three, that'd be much better." Airline officials say this type of policy is common in the industry. They also add customers of size may get refunds on thier seats on flights that are not completely full.