Southwest Airlines Sued Over 'Too Fat To Fly'

Southwest Airlines Sued Over 'Too Fat To Fly'
Image: Southwest Airlines

Consumer Kenlie Tiggeman, who was told last year by a Southwest Airlines gate agent that she was "too fat to fly," is suing the airline because the policy was inconsistently applied to her once again.

Tiggeman, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, once weighed more than 400 pounds and has struggled to lose weight. She says that the biggest issue she has is with inconsistent application of the airline's 'Customer of Size' policy. She says that the airline will apply the policy for one leg of a trip but not the other, a statement that concerns NCCC.

"All companies have policies that lay out specific, predictable guidelines that tell employees what they should do in a given situation," says NCCC President Sandra Bullock. "Inconsistently applying those policies creates the type of problems we see here. There is no way to enforce a policy that is only inconsistently applied."

In early 2011, Tiggeman made headlines when a Southwest agent told her in front of a gate full of other passengers that she could not fly unless she purchased a second seat. Southwest apologized and Tiggeman agreed to fly on the airline again, traveling on at least two other locations in a single seat without any issues. In November 2011, however, she boarded a Southwest flight once more and was again told she was "too fat to fly."

"Consumers should not have to purchase a second ticket midway through a flight based upon an agent's opinion of customer size," continues Bullock. "If Southwest wanted to apply the policy to Tiggeman, it should have applied it at each and every point along her trip in a clear and consistent manner. The treatment she has received by this airline is simply unacceptable to me."

Tiggeman notes that she has never had any similar issues with any other airline and vows never to fly Southwest again. In her suit, Tiggeman is not seeking any damages but merely wants the airline to clarify its policy instead of leaving it to interpretation.