From the ALWAYS fabulous Ragen Chastain has this amazing blog Dances With Fat and she wrote this on Facebook and I wanted to share!
There’s some misinformation flying around about Southwest Airline’s Customer of Size policy (see what I did there?) and I wanted to clear it up. Southwest used to be one of the worst airlines when it came to accommodating fat passengers but now they have the best policy of any US carrier.
Southwest’s Customer of Size policy offers 2 or 3 seats for the price of one. This is because they are in the business of flying people from point A to point B and that requires a seat that accommodates you. Since airplanes are still being built like fat people don’t exist, this is their workaround. (Here is the SWA Link to their Policy in case you want to check it out.)
You have the option of purchasing a 2nd or 3rd seat when you book. if you do that, you just need to contact them after the flight and they will reimburse you EVEN IF YOUR FLIGHT WAS FULL OR OVERBOOKED. You get reimbursed no matter what.
You are NOT REQUIRED to purchase a second seat. You can simply go through the full-service check-in line when you get to the airport, tell them that you are using their Customer of Size policy and they will book you the 2 or 3 seats that you need EVEN IF YOUR FLIGHT IS FULL OR OVERBOOKED.
If everyone shows up and the flight ends up being actually overbooked, they will use their overbook policy, which involves offering customers travel vouchers to take a different flight. You will not be treated differently in this situation because your 2 or 3 seats are treated like a single seat (because they are a single seat.)
You will be allowed to preboard (with one companion) to make sure that you can get 2 seats together. You will be given a document that says “Seat Reserved” to put on your extra seat. When people ask, simply say “I’ve reserved both seats, this seat is not available.)
My partner and I use this policy all the time and have never had any trouble. Of course, we have a lot of privilege, including and especially white privilege, and that cant’ be discounted in our experience. If you do run into difficulty, you can ask to speak to a supervisor and refer them to their own policy: https://www.southwest.com/…/help/faqs/extra_seat_policy_faq…
Note: Southwest has a stated preference for people purchasing the 2 or 3 seats that they need in advance and then getting reimbursed. While I can understand that, I also understand that many people do not have the money to loan Southwest Airlines the cost of their ticket (or twice the cost if they need 3 seats) from the time of purchase to sometime after they fly, which is why the policy doesn’t require you to purchase seats in advance.
Southwest always has the option of creating a booking process for Customers of Size that does not require a loan of hundreds of dollars, which would solve all the problems that people paying for multiple tickets and waiting to get reimbursed solves.
Ragen has another blog here with TIPS for when you fly with other airlines and how to deal with all of the fat phobia.
So grateful to Ragen and other fat liberation acitivists who have paved the way for all of us to fly as if we are g.d. humans! Thank you, Ragen.
Here is another blog I wrote about traveling in a fat body, too. If it weren’t for SWA I am not sure I would have ever started flying again. They treat us like humans – and I am so grateful for them .
Also, there is a wonderful group on Facebook called Flying While Fat – it is striclty moderated and just a wonderful safe space for questions and for venting, too. Use your FB toolbar and search on
Flying While Fat . Stay Bias is the creator.