Southwest Airlines Boots Skinny Woman Off Plane for Fat Passenger

Teenage girl was too heavy to fit into one seat on Southwest Airlines flight.

ByABC News
July 27, 2010, 4:25 PM

July 28, 2010 — -- Southwest Airlines recently kicked a skinny woman off a plane to make room for an oversized 14-year-old girl who needed two seats, a move that has prompted at least one expert to call for airlines to start selling a handful of special big seats on flights for bigger Americans.

Normally, we hear about passengers who are too fat to fly -- people so obese that they can't squeeze into their chair and never thought to purchase a second ticket. Remember when Southwest booted Clerk's director and actor Kevin Smith from a flight in February because of his heft?

But this time it was a 5-foot-4, 110-pound Sacramento, Calif.-area woman who was forced from the plane.

"It didn't seem right that I should have to leave to accommodate someone who had only paid for one seat," the anonymous woman told the Sacramento Bee.

The catch here is that the woman was flying standby and paid full fare for the last available seat on the flight from Las Vegas to Sacramento, and the extra-large passenger here happened to be a 14-year-old girl traveling on her own.

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Southwest spokeswoman Marilee McInnis said via e-mail that sometimes the airline is "faced with extenuating circumstances and we try to make the best decisions possible." The woman was placed on another flight to Sacramento "within the hour."

"The flight was completely full and after boarding an adult passenger who was not originally booked for this flight, we learned a young customer traveling alone once onboard needed more than one seat to get safely to her final destination," McInnis said. "We requested the adult customer take the next flight to accommodate the young, 14-year old traveler who was being met at her destination."

McInnis acknowledged that the airline should have first sought volunteers and said Southwest apologized to the woman and refunded her one-way airfare.