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Pics: Airline gives ‘passengers of size’ free accommodations

Masked passengers fill a Southwest Airlines flight. (Christopher Reynolds/TNS)
December 14, 2023

A Southwest Airlines policy for “passengers of size” is currently viral on TikTok, as plus-size individuals are celebrating how the travel company is prioritizing them by providing them with additional seats at no extra charge.

According to Southwest Airlines’ website, the “Customer of Size and Extra Seat Policy” allows plus-size customers to receive a “complimentary” additional seat or multiple seats.

The policy states, “Customers who encroach upon any part of the neighboring seat(s) may proactively purchase the needed number of seats prior to travel to ensure the additional seat(s) is available. The armrest is considered to be the definitive boundary between seats; the width of the narrowest and widest passenger seats (in inches) is available on our Flying Southwest page.”

Southwest Airlines’ policy page explains that by purchasing additional seats in advance, the airline will be notified of a “special seating need” and will be able to “adequately plan” for the number of seats that will be required on each airplane.

Southwest Airlines states that the policy “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 an unplanned accommodation.”

The airline’s website notes that plus-size individuals can contact Southwest Airlines for a full refund of the additional seating. The website states that plus-size individuals are also able to purchase a single ticket and can notify the customer service agent at the departure gate regarding their need for an additional seat. “If it’s determined that a second (or third) seat is needed, you’ll be accommodated with a complimentary additional seat,” the policy states.

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According to Fox Business, Jae’lynn Chaney, a TikTok user and plus-size travel expert, told Fox News Digital that the new policy to include “super fat” individuals was significant.

“Super fat is how we identify,” Chaney said. “There’s a spectrum of fatness. And as a super fat individual, you start needing different accommodations… I just felt really happy that there was something like this for people.” 

Chaney explained that she hopes to see additional airlines implement “customer-of-size policies.” She claimed that the policy not only helps plus-size individuals with “physical accessibility” but also provides an opportunity to reduce travel costs.

Fox Business reported that multiple TikTok users who recently learned about the airline’s policy and posted on social media have quickly gone viral with hundreds of thousands of views.

One TikTok user with the username “kimmystyled,” who describes herself as a “Fat Solo Traveler,” posted a video that showed her using the airline’s “passenger of size” policy. The video has received almost a million views since October. 1,000,000.

In the video, the social media user can be seen approaching Southwest Airlines and saying, “Hello, I’m hoping to use your customer of size policy today.” In response, the Southwest customer service agent provided Kimmy with an additional ticket for her flight at no extra cost.