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…flying while fat…and gay…

September 27, 2011

At first, I was not going to say anything about the latest brouhaha over some brain dead move by someone who works for Southwest airlines.  However, being that I am both fat and a part of the LGBT community, as well as a frequent traveler who often uses Southwest, I figured perhaps I might maybe should.

I’m sure we all remember the much publicized upset regarding the incident with Kevin Smith and a young woman aboard a Southwest flight out of SFO.  That particular incident had to do with fat people.

Then there was the case of the pilot who ranted over the intercom so that the whole plane could hear him, all about gay people.

Now comes an incident where an actress/musician was asked to leave a Southwest flight after kissing her partner.

And once again the whole world is up in arms and there is talk of boycotting, and I’m sitting here wondering what in the hell is going on.

I mean, if I thought it was an institutionalized practice to discriminate against LGBT people or fat people, I’d probably be right there with those yelling for boycott.  Honestly, I would.

However, as I have pointed out, I am fat and I am bi.  And I fly Southwest.  Frequently.  I have never once been asked to buy a second seat.  I have never once been embarrassed or called out by Southwest staff.  I have never once seen anyone mistreated.

Now, I tend to ask to pre-board, due to my panic disorder situation, which means I can get on, get a spot in the front row and be out of the way to watch the rest of the plane board.  I’ve seen gay men and lesbians holding hands.  I’ve seen young hetero couples making out during take off.

To be fair, I have not seen a lot about this recent incident.  One very brief blog that mostly replayed the tweets of the actress involved and Southwest’s even briefer response.

My reaction to the response is basically that customers complaining about two other customers sharing a brief kiss should not have even resulted in the flight attendant saying anything to the couple.  Perhaps the flight attendant requires more training in how to handle that kind of situation, in which the complaining customer should have been informed that it is not the airline’s responsibility to regulate any behavior that is not a threat to the plane, it’s crew or it’s passengers.

And really, unless the two of them were all over each other, moaning and groaning and whatnot, it really isn’t the business of anyone that isn’t them.  And that goes no matter whether you are hetero, gay, lesbian or whatever you are.

What I would like to see is for Southwest to step up and say that this was handled poorly and better instructions will be given to all of their crew people in how to deal with customers complaining about things that the crew can not control, and that it is unequivocally NOT the policy of Southwest to discriminate against LGBT folks.

But, I would also like the community to take a deep breath and realize that this was the actions of one flight attendant, not a company, and that calling for a boycott over it might be a little premature.  Sure, they’re going to protect her in the short term.  They’re going to exaggerate the incident in order to make her actions look justified.

However, if Southwest can be honest with themselves and this situation and takes the opportunity to rise up, they just might prove themselves to be a responsible, accepting corporate citizen, worthy of our travel dollars.

Hear me Southwest?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 27, 2011 4:18 pm

    Having read a couple of sites covering this (and taking a certain amount of pleasure in reporting all the homophobic comments on them), my own issue with the whole situation is the use of the phrase “family airline”. Not having been there when it happened, I can’t comment on whether they were going too far in public or not, or whether they were making too much of a scene, but that phrase sticks in my mind a little. I think it’s because it makes me think of the 1950s, when this sort of thing would have been actually criminalised. I do think it sounds like the flight attendant let her own views affect her response and it all grew from there.

    But since I’m in the UK where this really wouldn’t have happened (unless they were drunk and throwing punches, which is what people are usually thrown off planes for over here), my opinion is likely coloured somewhat as well 🙂

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