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Southwest Under Fire For Offering Free Seats To Overweight Passengers



Clear Facts

  • Southwest Airlines has implemented a ‘Customer of Size’ policy, allowing overweight passengers to acquire extra seats for free if their body encroaches on neighboring seats.
  • The policy has received mixed reactions, with some praising it for accommodating obese passengers, while others criticize it for giving unfair advantages and potentially complicating the boarding process.
  • Despite the controversy, the airline maintains that the policy is not based on weight but on whether a passenger’s body extends past the seat’s armrest.

Southwest Airlines is facing backlash for its ‘Customer of Size’ policy, which grants overweight passengers free additional seats if they encroach upon neighboring seats. Critics have labeled the policy as ‘ridiculous’, arguing that it panders to obesity and gives an unfair advantage to certain passengers.

The policy allows customers who ‘encroach upon any part of the neighboring seat(s)’ to purchase extra seats, which are then refunded at check-in. While some have praised the policy for making travel more accessible for obese individuals, others have pointed out that similar accommodations are not provided for tall customers, those traveling with medical equipment, or wheelchair users, who often have to pay hundreds of dollars for additional space.

The new rule has also raised concerns about exacerbating the airline’s already chaotic boarding process. Unlike other airlines, Southwest does not allow passengers to book seats ahead of time, often resulting in a scramble for window and aisle seats upon boarding.

According to the policy, customers qualify for the free ticket if any part of their body extends past the seat’s armrest.

The airline clarifies, “The armrest is considered to be the definitive boundary between seats. If you’re unable to lower both armrests and/or encroach upon any portion of a seat next to you, you need a second seat.” The airline does not ask for customers’ weight or body mass index (BMI).

Customers can purchase the extra seat while booking online, which is then refunded, or they can inquire about the free seat at the departures gate.

The airline’s policy states, “The purchase of additional seats serves as a notification of a special seating need and allows us to adequately plan for the number of occupied seats onboard. It also helps us ensure we can accommodate all customers on the flight for which they purchased a ticket and avoid asking customers to relinquish their seats for unplanned accommodation.”

The policy has been publicly tested by Kimmy Garris, a TikToker from Nashville who identifies as a ‘fat solo traveler.’ She posted a video of herself inquiring about the airline’s policy for obese passengers and was given an extra ticket for the seat next to her. In the video, which has garnered over 900,000 views, Garris argues that such policies should become industry standard.

However, not everyone agrees. Critics on social media have expressed their discontent, arguing that the policy unfairly favors obese passengers over those who require extra space for other reasons.


One user named Tuck wrote, “They’ve never offered me the seat in front of me because I’m 6’6” and my legs don’t fit? Sorry but this is b*******. You need the extra space you pay.”

Another user, Curtis Westmoreland, commented, “This is ridiculous. We keep rewarding the problem at the cost of our own comfort.”

Others have expressed concerns about the potential for ‘persons of size’ to claim seats that other passengers have already purchased.

Despite the controversy, the policy has found support among some, including Jae’lynn Chaney, a size 6XL travel influencer with about 135,000 followers on TikTok. She has frequently advocated for free or larger seats on planes, arguing that smaller-bodied individuals pay one fare for the same experience, while larger-bodied individuals often have to pay for two fares.

However, personal trainer Josh Nabbie criticized the policy in a response video, arguing that it offers an advantage to overweight customers that those requiring other accommodations have to pay extra for.

He stated, “The reality is, everybody has the ability to fly on a plane. Some people just have it worse.”

The implementation of this policy comes at a time when obesity rates are on the rise in the US. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 40 percent of adults in West Virginia, Louisiana, and Oklahoma are considered obese, with a BMI of at least 30. In 19 other states, 35 percent meet this criteria, and no state has an obesity rate below 25 percent.

Clear Thoughts (op-ed)

Southwest Airlines’ ‘Customer of Size’ policy has sparked debate, and rightly so.


While some may herald it as a victory for inclusivity, it’s hard to overlook the stark double standard.

Tall passengers, those with medical equipment, or wheelchair users often shell out extra for additional space. Yet, for obese passengers, the same space is freely granted.

In our bid to be politically correct, are we inadvertently glorifying obesity, a serious health issue?

It’s crucial to ensure comfort for all passengers, but should it be at the cost of others?

There’s a fine line between accommodation and enabling, and it’s high time we discern it.

Let’s strive for fair policies that don’t compromise health or fairness.

Let us know what you think, please share your thoughts in the comments below.




  1. Paul

    December 21, 2023 at 10:41 am

    If any part of you is over the armrest, you get the seat? How about if I just put my arm on the “armrest” with my elbow sticking out over the side? Don’t need to be fat to do that.

  2. Daniel Gray

    December 21, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I am 6 ft 3 in tall and with all my medical equipment on I weigh 265 pounds. I wear two knee braces, two ankle braces and one back brace. There is no way in the world I can keep my arms off the arm rest unless I tuck them in and hold my arms next to my body which cuts off the circulation thus making it even more difficult for me to get off the plane as I also walk with a cane. And how can you use a cane to walk when your arms are numb? If the fat slob cant stop eating three pizzas for a snack, then she should be doing 60 laps on a treadmill each day and push herself away from the dinner table.

  3. Go Woke Go Broke losers

    December 21, 2023 at 12:48 pm

    Fair should be fair but in today’s world it’s not you want Wokeness on your side but your not willing to be fair to all people my sister was denied a ticket on your airline because she used oxygen to breathe you said we can’t accommodate that, or even let her bring her walker on the plane she could store with the luggage the one BIG problem with that she couldn’t walk on her own and carry her oxygen tank without it and forget about the wheelchair that was a BIG no also, but now you woke airlines are pandering to people who have a weight problem well here’s the solution we did it for bud lite we the people can do it for Southwest Airlines BOYCOTT! BOYCOTT! BOYCOTT! Go Woke Go Broke Southwest you don’t want the rest of us normal size or very tall people you go Woke Go Broke BOYCOTTS work! Did I forget to mention folks ALL US NORMAL SIZE PEOPLES TICKET PRICES WENT UP to ACCOMMODATE OBESE PEOPLE GO Woke Go Broke Southwest you done us wrong!

  4. CharlieSeattle

    December 21, 2023 at 6:23 pm

    The Porkers should buy TWO seats.

  5. Go Woke Go Broke southwest

    December 21, 2023 at 10:17 pm

    Go woke Go Broke leftist Southwest here’s an FYI if you fly southwest this holiday season and their are over weight people on the plane who require an extra seat guess who being charged extra for that if you don’t know the answer is YOU normal weight people are footing the bill! BOYCOTT! BOYCOTT! BOYCOTT, southwest airlines for unfair practices! Go Woke GO Broke! southwest is done BOYCOTT them their worse than even bud lite and we the people Won that!

  6. Satans now officially home

    December 22, 2023 at 11:08 am

    I’ve been saying for nearly 3 hrs now Commie Traitor joe is the fking Son of Satan now allowing Satanic Symbols to be place on the Capitol Building in Santana’s stomping grounds DC they wouldn’t allow Christmas themed symbols in the capitol and that freak show mrs son of Satan is putting on now we the people know why DC is now officially SATANS Playground we’re all the sick disgusting perversion is! Don’t watch mrs satans show of disgust BOYCOTT it for your own sake tried to watch that disgrace but could get thru the video it was so bad @nd tasteless just like her!

  7. Jeff Washington

    December 24, 2023 at 3:33 pm

    Seat sizes have been shrunk to narrower than a meaningful percentage of the general population. This oversize passenger policy is necessary to accommodate the percentage of passengers disenfranchised/eliminated from the customer pool because Southwest took this gamble on squeezing in more seats. Same has happened with baggage capacities though there is no accomodation for heavier loads; we just have to pay to carry more. .

  8. Lynne Hartshorn

    March 2, 2024 at 11:15 pm

    Wow! This is a mixed bag. Doesn’t look like there will be winners here. Even, should SWA have a limit on the number of passengers who can secure a second (+third?) seat per flight, or how often an oversize passenger can travel with this “bonus” seat(s), those others with special (even tall) needs will have issues that should probably be addressed. Time for more discussion, remediation, problem solving that does not forget that we are all in this together, and anyone being judgmental must also be addressed!

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