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Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Smith’

Too fat for airplanes?

15.02.2010 18:58

Over the recent year, I’ve had more than a fair share of airplane travel. My trip to the US last summer encompassed 10 flights alone (to and from), and my trip to Oslo last weekend counts as two additional flights (including the return flight).

Some of you might’ve caught film director Kevin Smith‘s recent trouble with Southwest Airlines, where he was, in essence, kicked off the flight because he was too fat – after being seated. He had paid for two seats (which is already a bullshit premise), but arrived so early at the airport, so he decided to jump on standby for an earlier flight. That earlier flight only had a single seat available, which mr. Smith didn’t mind – in his words; “I didn’t buy an extra seat because I’m fat (which I am), but because I’m anti-social and didn’t want to sit next to someone & possibly have to make convo (in person, I’m very shy)”. According to his story on Twitter, he was seated between to ladies, and he fit the seat perfectly without an extender, yet, the captain didn’t want him on the flight because he was a security risk.

When I returned from the singles party in Oslo last Sunday, I had a similar problem. I had checked in to my flight with SAS the night before using their mobile website, just to make sure I actually would be on the flight, considering it was the last flight of the evening (SK 1334 from Oslo to Ålesund at 9:45 PM on Feb 7, to be exact).

Knowing that seat rows with the emergency exits have slightly more leg room, and considering that I had no problem sitting next to an emergency exit on of the US flights last year, I checked in to seat 11A, which on this flight is the window seat smack dab next to the emergency exit. This was even indicated clearly on the seat chart during check-in (which is why I selected that seat).

As I said, sitting next to an emergency exit is not a problem for me, even if there should be problems during the flight. I have enough arm strength to rip the door handle right off if/when needed, I can remain calm in an emergency, and I can be more than helpful guiding my fellow passengers out the emergency exit if the plane should be damaged enough to make for a hasty exit. I sat next to an emergency exit at one of the flights in the US (I don’t remember which flight at the moment), and I even sat next to an emergency exit on my flight down to Oslo earlier that same weekend. As on all flights in recent years, I was wearing a seat belt extender, and on both previous occasions, I was only asked if I was able to handle the emergency exit if an emergency should arise, in addition to being asked about language barriers and my understanding of the additional instructions when seated next to an emergency exit.

However, on this last flight, I was told that since I was wearing a seat belt extender, I had to move to a different seat, due to being considered a security risk. I was even compared to a woman with child (pregnant or with a new born), and was told that anyone requiring a seat belt extender could not be seated next to an emergency exit. Not one to cause a scene, I reluctantly moved to the seat row behind my original seat, as that flight had about 20, maybe 30 passengers in total (and both seat rows in front and behind my original seat were empty). I was kinda grumpy the rest of the flight, to say the least.

In recent times, I always ask for a seat belt extender the second I board the flight. Sometimes they give it to me there and then, and sometimes they bring it to my seat after the boarding queue has died down. When I flew to Oslo that weekend (SK 1331 the Friday before), the attendant brought it to my seat – knowing full well that I was sitting in a seat next to the emergency exit. I was only asked the usual questions regarding emergency instructions etc.

For some reason, the flight attendant on that particular Sunday flight had a beef with me.

I mean, if there’s such a security problem regarding seating next to emergency exits, why even allow passengers to check in without problems to these seats? Also, it’s the first time I’ve even heard of such a regulation.

I fit snugly into airplane seats with the arm rests down, no problem, it’s just that the seat belt itself doesn’t reach all the way around. If I stand on my knees on the seat, people can pass by me without any problems, so frankly, I don’t see why I couldn’t sit there.

I originally was going to let this one slide by silently, but with the issues Kevin Smith had today,  I just couldn’t shut my mouth much longer.

Between Ålesund and Oslo, there are only two airlines available; SAS and Norwegian. Norwegian (Air Shuttle) is the cheapest choice of the two, but you do get to bare minimum. A friend of mine used Norwegian Air Shuttle on a trip to London a few months ago, and had trouble with flight delays due to weather (where SAS re-routed the flights to the neighboring city (Molde), Norwegian instead let the airplanes return to Oslo), in addition to not getting any service or information during these delays (something which she noticed the passengers with SAS got – SAS, to their credit, even set up bus trips to Molde so people would get to their destinations). This little story made me select SAS for my flights out of Ålesund. Yes, they are a little bit more expensive (anywhere from 100 to 300 NOK extra), but you (usually) get a whole lot more customer service out of those extra money.

Then again, that single flight attendant did kinda ruin my flight that day. I know how Kevin Smith must feel.