Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fly the Fatter Skies!!

So anyone who is active in the Twitter community (not me) or knows about and/or is a fan of Kevin Smith (me) has heard about this fiasco that recently went down between he (KS) and Southwest Airlines.

Here's the rundown in case you missed it.

1. Smith was on his way back from MacWorld and flying out of the Oakland airport and decided to go home a bit early, and so was put on standby.

2. He purchased two seats, which he contests, because he prefers to left alone and comfortable.

3. The flight that opened up for him had only one seat which he said he would take and a ticket was given for said flight.

4. He sat in his seat, a middle seat toward the front of the plane between two ladies, and then two minutes later was asked to leave because the captain of the plane believed him to be a "safty risk".

5. After much arguing and beating around the bush about why he was asked to deplane, Smith went on a tirade on Twitter that put Southwest Airlines in hot water.

Ok, now we're all caught up.

Here is my take on this (if you care). First let me start by saying I'm a big fan of Kevin Smith, he makes funny movies and I listen to SModcast every week. So I am a bit biased. I believe that ultimately Southwest Airlines was in the wrong here and for many reasons.

First and foremost ... he fit in the damn seat! Armrests were down!

Second, what is the exact nature of this "safety risk"? Is it that fat people have greater trouble moving around and therefore in an emergency situation will put others at risk with their slow movements? Is it that their physical weight is so great that it throws off the physics of the plane and there is a chance the pilot may not be able to operate the plane properly? Does it just waste gas to have a bunch of fatties on the plane instead of starving babies? "Safety risk" is just a euphamism for wasting the airline's money basically. Unless it's actually the first reason with the moving thing. Actually, I did hear that if a plane is overweight then there is more of a risk of sliding off a runway, so there is that, but you don't see or hear about airlines pulling off Aussie rugby players (muscle > fat, and people think it's not discrimination). The main point here is you need to have properly defined parameters for this kind of thing when you want to make it policy. Otherwise you get a situation like this and you get screwed. Even IF Southwest Airlines was "in the right" in this situation, they couldn't defend themselves. Any way you look at it, it's discrimination. If you don't have it properly defined then it's an arbitrary call.

Now, I just listened to the hour long SModcast that Kevin just put up about this whole adventure and it actually changed my tune a bit. Like I said before I'm a Kevin Smith fan, I like his work and what he does otherwise. Having said that, I think he went a bit too far and I'd just like to say, Kevin, you're kinda acting like a bitch. By that I mean for a while there you were speaking from passion and rage in a way that didn't make sense. You said at one point that you were entertaining the possibility that "they did it because someone didn't like your movies". Now I know, you said it one time at the beginning (of SMod) and it was definitely a joke then, but later on it sounded as if you really believed it for a second. Come on man, get real. I know there are haters out there and the higher up you are the more extreme they get, but seriously? I'm just going to pass that off as, you were really really pissed and you let it get to you. You weren't thinking clearly. Toward the end you calmed down and things got back to normal.

Do I think SWAir was in the wrong? Yes, definitely. Did Kevin Smith go to far? Maybe, but I can discount the truly ridiculous things he said like "they did this because of my movies". I know you're really mad, but UFOs aren't coming to abduct you. I think this is a good thing because if it works like it should then SWAir will provide better training to their employees or actually make a legit policy that makes sense.

Here is what I would like to see. If weight is an issue then weigh everyone and everything. If you take an average adult human weight + 1 average weight check in bag + 1 average weight carry on and X by the number of people on the plane and then subtract that from whatever the number is for unsafe weight on a given plane, then you will know how much wiggle room you got per passenger. That could be your cutoff point. Then if someone complains you just show them an equation! It's math and physics, you can't argue with that! Also, KS had just some carry on stuff, but what if someone weighing 200lbs checked two 50lbs bags? "Safety risk"?

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