Southwest Airlines, a budget-friendly airline, is earning applause from larger passengers, who’ve recently discovered they could ask for additional seats at no extra charge on social media platform TikTok. According to their inclusive practices, Southwest assures that if a customer’s dimensions ‘extend’ beyond the armrest, they qualify for an extra seat.
At present, Southwest Airlines stands possibly unique in providing this complimentary extra seating facility to bigger passengers. A statement of this policy was provided to Fox Business, outlining that larger passengers may buy a single seat and then converse about their seating requirements with the Customer Service Agent at the departure gate.
Once they assess that a second (or third) seat is required, such passengers are offered extra seats at no additional charge. Thereafter, operational efforts are made by the flight crew to arrange the seating, which may require shuffling other passengers around for this ‘unexpected seating arrangement’.
There is an alternative option available for customers as well: they can buy extra seats ahead of time and then apply for a refund of the extra seat cost following their journey with Southwest. According to the policy, ‘Passengers who overlap into any portion of the adjacent seat(s) may proactively secure the required number of seats before the journey to assure the availability of extra seat(s)…’
The purchase of additional seating works as a flag for special seating needs and enables Southwest to properly plan for the number of taken seats onboard. With this approach, Southwest is able to guarantee all passengers are transported as per their ticket booking, avoiding the awkward position of asking passengers to forfeit their seats for unexpected adjustment.
Significantly, an emphasis is placed on assuring all passengers can enjoy safe and comfortable seating on their flights. Following the journey, passengers may request a refund for the cost of the extra seat(s), as the policy further details.
The policy has come into the limelight due to TikTokers who have stumbled upon and shared their experiences with the policy, gaining hundreds of thousands of views. These videos typically show the passengers walking up to Southwest Airlines employees and effectively securing their extra seats on the airline’s flights, at no additional charge.
One user emphasized that Southwest is the only operator providing an extra seat at no additional cost, regardless of whether the flight is complete with bookings. The user shared her personal experience, revealing that she had used the policy multiple times without experiencing any issue or denial.
Furthermore, she highlighted the allowance to ‘board early’ as part of the accommodation. Upon entering the aircraft, she would collect her seatbelt extender and occupy her seat. If another passenger tries to sit beside her, she indicates that she has two seats booked, though she shares that she rarely has to, as most people prefer avoiding the middle seat next to larger passengers.
‘Applauding’ Southwest for its efforts toward making public transportation ‘welcoming and comfortable for all,’ she shared her past experiences. She confessed that until the previous year, she hadn’t been traveling much but when she did, it was often very uncomfortable trying to squeeze into seatbelts and sitting close to neighbouring passengers.
She candidly discussed the importance of comfort during travel, expressing the belief that no one should force themselves to fit into cramped spaces. For her, traveling should be an enjoyable and comfortable process. She revealed herself to be a size 24-26 and weighing 300 pounds, in order to provide some context to other passengers who might be considering utilizing Southwest’s policy.
Weighing in on the policy was another frequent traveler, Caroline (@justmeandmymirror), who has amassed almost 200K followers on the platform as a travel influencer. She referred to the policy as ‘impressive’ and claimed that her flight with Southwest was ‘the most comfortable flight experience’ she has ever had.
Caroline, being a size 20, also benefited from Southwest’s accommodating policy by being given two extra seats. Like other passengers who have utilized this policy, she remarked that she was also allowed to preboard as part of the accommodation.
It’s clear that Southwest Airlines’ policy win in recognizing the needs of larger passengers and aiming to make air travel inclusively comfortable is a milestone in the industry. The airline’s compassionate approach to comfort, dignity, and respect not only garners great respect amongst affected travelers but is also setting a commendable benchmark for other airlines to follow.
Observing these positive social media reactions, it appears that more individuals are realizing they’re entitled to a comfortable travel experience. It’s heartening to see Southwest Airlines’ customers share their positive experiences as they navigate their travel needs in a factual, respectful manner.
This novel approach by Southwest Airlines shows a considerable shift toward ensuring travel comfort for all, regardless of size. As more people discuss their unique travel experiences, expectations of how larger individuals are accommodated during travel could be irreversibly changed for the better.