One of the top questions I get emails about doesn't have to do with diet or exercise, it has to do with what to expect when being fuller figured and flying on an airplane.
I completely understand the anxiety of the situation. We've heard horror stories, and even famous people like Kevin Smith aren't immune (as I previously wrote about). Last night, I was checking out some of my favorite blogs when I saw the headline that made my heart drop: The Day Southwest Turned My Old Fears into a New Nightmare. The beautiful Kenz at All the Weigh, who has lost over 100 pounds, wrote about a horrifically humiliating experience she and her mom had to endure with Southwest Airlines. Check out her post to read all about it.
The story, unfortunately, is all too familiar with me, and is the reason why I don't give Southwest Airlines my business. Their “customer of size” policy is the most blatant and complained about in the airline industry. (Although Token Fat Girl Lorrie had a cruel joke played on her by United Airlines.)
Here are posts I've written before about flying when overweight:
- November 2009: Leaving on a Jet Plane
- November 2009: Update on a Jet Plane
- February 2010: Too Fat to Fly?
- September 2010: Fat Travel Woe's (or Woah's!) – This has my tips for flying when overweight
I'm thankful that I've never been in any confrontational environments because of my weight and flying. I constantly get emails asking about my weight and height (5'10) and size (currently a 24) and if I fit on the airplane. Even after losing 110 pounds, I still require a seatbelt extender. I can, however, fit my armrests down just fine. I can't put the tray table down on most regional jets, so I hold my drink. I haven't tried tackling the bathrooms at this smaller size, so I'm not sure how those would go right now. 99% of the time I fly Delta, and I've never had an issue with being asked to buy 2 tickets, although I'm sure it could happen at anytime.
So, here's the thing that struck me about Kenz's story: She had the courage and conviction and balls (not literally… you know what I mean!) to stand up for herself. She questioned the employees. She took great documentation. She blogged about it and asked for answers. Many people put in that same situation would shrink and hide in humiliation, accepting the situation at face value. Kenz didn't do that, and I'm incredibly proud of her strength. She has accomplished so much.
If you're ever in this situation, I just ask you to have the strength Kenz did to stand up for herself and her rights… and human dignity. You shouldn't stop yourself from traveling or flying because of the fears these companies put in us. I'm sure no one WANTS to be uncomfortable in an airplane seat. None of us WANT to have to stress about these issues when trying to get from Point A to Point B.
I know Kenz is going to post an update here shortly, so I'll post that here when it goes up.
UPDATE: Here is the latest update from Kenz, including a summary of her over 2 hour conversation with someone from Southwest.