Writer/director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma) is still asking that question after he was booted from a Southwest Airlines flight last week for being too big. Smith, who has no problem admitting his size—"I'm fat, but I ain't that fat," he says—took to Twitter and his online podcast to go public with his story.
The misadventures of the portly Mr. Smith began on his original flight from Burbank to Oakland, for which he had purchased three tickets and ended up checking in for two. Smith admits that when flying low-cost carriers he often purchases three seats when traveling with his wife, and two when traveling solo. He claims the he does this for privacy and comfort, not because he can't fit into one seat.
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That booking meant Smith had two return tickets to fly from Oakland to Burbank. However, he decided to get on an earlier flight, which meant he was flying standby. All other passengers had to be boarded first, and by the time Smith was allowed to board, only one seat was available.
At the gate, the agent alerted him of potential "safety issues" on the plane. Southwest's official stance is that "customers of size" must purchase two tickets for travel. If the flight does not oversell, the additional seat purchase will be refunded; if the customer has purchased a discounted, advance-purchase ticket, the second seat will be sold at the same fare; if a customer has purchased an unrestricted full fare, the second seat is sold at a child's fare.
Smith explained to the agent he originally bought two tickets by choice, not because he can't fit into one seat, and was allowed to board. He sat down in the middle seat and, according to him, was reaching for his seat belt when the same gate agent approached him about being too large for the seat.