left right politics showbiz tech invest good life gossip fun hot
Mother Jones Hot Air Huffpo Variety Engadget Seeking Alpha Lifehacker TheSuperficial Daily Beast reddit
Daily Kos Michelle Malkin Politico Billboard Boing Boing TheBigPicture Luxist TMZ.com Fark BuzzFeed
ThinkProgress RightWingNews First Read CNN Showbiz Gizmodo FT Alphaville Joystiq Perez Hilton 4chan memorandum
Crooks+Liars Power Line CNN ticker E! Online Techcrunch Josh Brown Kotaku gamer Bastardly Post Secret Techmeme
TalkngPtsMemo Ameri..Thinker Swampland TV Guide Ars Technica 24/7 Wall St. TreeHugger Egotastic hascheezburgr Drudge
The Raw Story NewsBusters The Caucus Ent. News Mashable bloggingstocks Consumerist PinkIsTheNew dooce digg
Wonkette Wizbang fishbowlDC HlywdWiretap Google blog DealBook lifehack.org CelebrityBaby Someth'nAwful trends
Atrios Taki Magazine WashWhisprs DeadlnHllywd Read/Write Jeff Matthews 43folders GoFugYourself Neatorama PSFK
Firedoglake Big Hollywood The Fix MSN Ent. OReilly Radar PhilsStockWorld Autoblog Page Six Cool Hunter BBC
Young Turks IMAO Capital Gains Rot'nTomatoes GigaOM Daily Rec'ng Deadspin BestWeekEver stereogum Timespop
Americablog AceOfSpades Open Secrets Cinematical ProBlogger Zero Hedge DownloadSqd Dlisted CuteOverload media eye
Politicususa Redstate WikiLeaks law Cool Tools Bespoke MediaZone PopSugar Dilbert blog TVNewser
CounterPunch Jawa Report econ law.alltop Scobleizer BtwTheHedges Deviant ArtHollyw'dTuna gapingvoid BuzzMachine
TalkLeft Patterico EconLog Volokh Consp. Apple Blog Minyanville Gothamist x17online DailyGrail MediaGazer
Feministing Townhall.com Freakonomics Legal Insurrec.. Valleywag Fast Money Curbed DailyBlabber Prof. Hex Steve Rubel
PolitAnimal OutsideBeltwy CrookedTimbr Conglomerate mozillaZine RealClearMkts FabSugar Gawker OvrheardinNY MediaBlgNRO
Truthdig Moonbattery MarginalRevo SportsLawBlog Smashing W$J Mktbeat Gridskipper Radar Last.fm Threat Level
Alternet RealClearPoli crime W$J Law BlogTechdirt AbnormalRtrns Material Defamer kottke.org Seth's blog
Media Matters Instapundit CrimeblogsBalkinizationMAKE RandomRoger Sartorialist Jossip PumpkinChuckin mediamatters
The Nation Hugh Hewitt All Crime Credit Slips SrchEngLand Stock Advisors Drink'nMadeEasy Just Jared Maps Mania Newshounds
Maddow Blog PJ Media Smoking Gun FindLaw VentureBeat Slope of Hope Mark Cuban Celebitchy CollegeHumor FAIR

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Southwest Airlines Changes Its Story (Updated)

Kevin Smith and his familyHollywood director Kevin Smith recently had a very public dust-up with Southwest Airlines over whether he is too fat to fly in a single seat. He was escorted off a Southwest Air flight from Oakland to Burbank on Saturday, February 13th, because Southwest said he was a "safety concern." That is Southwest's euphemism for being too fat for one seat.

Smith insists that he can fit in one Southwest seat and lower the armrests. That is Southwest's written and definitive gauge for a Customer of Size and whether they need to purchase a ticket for a second seat.

When Smith was escorted off the plane in Burbank he pleaded with Suzanne, the Southwest employee who removed him to observe that he could in fact lower the armrests and fit between them. However, he was told by Suzanne that it was the pilot, who had decided he was a "safety concern" because of his size. Smith was stunned. There was no way the pilot could see or even know Smith was on the plane from what Smith had observed. Smith insisted that it was someone else, other than the pilot who had arbitrarily decided that he was "too fat to fly." But Suzanne maintained that it was the pilot who made the call despite Smith's protests. Southwest stayed with that story. The story that it was the pilot who personally decided to throw Smith off his Greyhound of the sky was used in their first statement.

The first version of the incident that Southwest Air posted on their blog repeated the story that the pilot booted Smith in the third paragraph (the full original Southwest Air statement is found at Hollywood Grind):

Mr. Smith originally purchased two Southwest seats on a flight from Oakland to Burbank – as he’s been known to do when traveling on Southwest. He decided to change his plans and board an earlier flight to Burbank, which technically means flying standby. As you may know, airlines are not able to clear standby passengers until all Customers are boarded. When the time came to board Mr. Smith, we had only a single seat available for him to occupy. Our pilots are responsible for the Safety and comfort of all Customers on the aircraft and therefore, made the determination that Mr. Smith needed more than one seat to complete his flight. Our Employees explained why the decision was made, accommodated Mr. Smith on a later flight, and issued him a $100 Southwest travel voucher for his inconvenience.
However, after Smith started complaining publicly on his blog and Twitter about his mistreatment and humiliation Southwest had to change their story. Perhaps the pilot or the
Air Line Pilots Association also complained. They didn't want to get their reputation soiled in these fatty disputes or bellygate as one writer called it.

The new official version of the incident that Southwest Air posted on their blog now says this (3rd paragraph):
Mr. Smith originally purchased two Southwest seats on a flight from Oakland to Burbank – as he’s been known to do when traveling on Southwest. He decided to change his plans and board an earlier flight to Burbank, which technically means flying standby. As you may know, airlines are not able to clear standby passengers until all Customers are boarded. When the time came to board Mr. Smith, we had only a single seat available for him to occupy. We are responsible for the Safety and comfort of all Customers on the aircraft and therefore, we made a judgment call that Mr. Smith needed more than one seat to complete his flight. Our Employees explained why the decision was made, accommodated Mr. Smith on a later flight, and issued him a $100 Southwest travel voucher for his inconvenience.
Therefore it seems the Southwest Air employee did lie to Kevin Smith when she said the pilot "had made the determination that Mr. Smith needed more than one seat to complete his flight." It was now the more nebulous and hard to identify "we" who threw Mr. Smith from the plane. The Southwest employee collective was watching Smith and had decided he was too fat to fly. Smith believes it may have been a male employee in the jetway, who called him "revenue" and who made the call to target him. But he's not sure and Southwest certainly won't say.

Southwest also did not have any note that I could see indicating that they had edited their blog post changing the responsibility from the pilot to "we." The post was entitled Not So Silent Bob, dated Sun, 02/14/2010 - 14:57 and it was written by Christi Day.

This, of course, is a small footnote to the incident. But, it just demonstrates that you should never believe the first thing you hear or read from a corporate entity. The truth is often a casualty as companies seek to protect themselves. Smith has demonstrated far more credibility in his version of the incident than Southwest Air.

Bon voyage.
-----
references:

Hollywood Grind:
Kevin Smith Kicked Off Southwest Airlines Flight

Kevin Smith:
Running out of gas on this subject
SMODCAST #106: Go F**k Yourself, Southwest Airlines (audio)
SMODCAST #107: Thinicism -- In which Natali tells her story. (audio)
http://smodcast.com/finalwords/ (video)

Southwest Air:
Customer of Size Q&A
Not So Silent Bob
My Conversation with Kevin Smith

Gawker:
Update: The Kevin Smith Southwest Airlines Fat-Flight Tweakout of Epic Proportion
-----
Update: Director Kevin Smith sure has a good eye, because he spotted the exact same discrepancy between the two different versions of the Southwest Air blog statement that The Johnsville News found above, about 15 hours after this post went up. And he posted his final words about the incident. However, this changing of the wording by Southwest is not a "small footnote" in his book. No way, he says: "“AGAIN WITH THIS SOUTHWEST SHIT, SIR?” YES, SIR: BUT THIS IS JUST ABOUT THEIR LYING, SCUMBAG BUSINESS PRACTICES."

Kevin Smith / My Boring Ass Life:
I love you, Mom. I Hate you, Fake-heart.

Calculated Risk

MishTalk - Mike Shedlock

Paul Krugman - NY Times

The Big Picture - Barry Ritholtz

naked capitalism - Yves Smith

Pragmatic Capitalism

Washington's Blog

Safe Haven

Paper Economy

The Daily Reckoning - Australia