"2 FAT 2 FLY"? Filmmaker Kevin Smith is kicked off flight because of his girth
[NOTE: This report was previously updated at 4:45 and 5:18 a.m.]
Southwest Airlines calls itself "The LUV Airline!" Now, Kevin Smith is, in effect, flaming Southwest as The LUV-Handle-Hating Airline.
Girth. Airline "safety" practices. Ranting Tweets. An official airline apology. And the mobilized vitriol of Smith's cult-y fan base. This story might not have wings, but it sure appears that it'll have legs.
At the center of the width-based kerfuffle, pinging its way around the chatosphere, is one question: Is Kevin Smith, occupying a single seat, really "2 fat 2 fly" -- or was Southwest in the wrong and practicing unfair bias?
The plot: Smith -- the filmmaker, comic-book writer (and Jersey comic-store owner) -- was flying Oakland to Burbank on Saturday night. He reportedly was put on standby after changing his reservation at the last minute -- and according to Southwest, only a single seat was available on the new, full flight.
The plot twist: After boarding the plane and situating himself in his seat, Smith -- judged to be a "Customer of Size" by the airline's policy -- was deemed a "flight risk" and was asked to deboard the plane and take another flight.
The upshot: Smith, taking the not-so-Silent-Bob approach to the events, decides to begin tweeting his outrage.
On Saturday night, the filmmaker ("Clerks," "Chasing Amy," "Mallrats" and "Dogma") tweets: "Wanna tell me I'm too wide for the sky? Totally cool. But fair warning, folks: IF YOU LOOK LIKE ME, YOU MAY BE EJECTED FROM @SOUTHWESTAIR."
That night, Smith also tweets "to Southwest": "Landed in Burbank. Don't worry: wall of the plane was opened & I was airlifted out while Richard Simmons supervised" and "Look how fat I am on your plane! Quick! Throw me off!"
Soon, Southwest is barraged on its Twitter page and, by Sunday, issues an apology on its Web site. The airline also says it has issued Smith a $100 voucher. And Southwest tweets in reply to Smith: "Again, I'm very sorry for the experience you had tonight. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do."
Replying to the airline's apology, Smith, 39 (who characterizes himself as "way fat"), tweets: "In their 'apology' blog, they implied (or flat-out wrote) that I regularly purchase 2 seats. Writing that buttresses their lie: 2 Fat 2 Fly." Followed by: "But, by their own guidelines, I was not, in fact, 2 Fat 2 Fly: the arm rests went down & I could buckle my seat belt w/o an extender. So...?"
And on his podcast with Scott Mosier, "SModcast," Smith reportedly says "terrorists" are able to get on planes, yet he's kicked off for being too fat.
In response, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance is urging fliers to boycott Southwest, encouraging "people of size to seek out and travel airlines that do not have such discriminatory policies."
Southwest wrote on its site: "Our pilots are responsible for the Safety and comfort of all Customers on the aircraft and therefore, made the determination that Mr. Smith needed more than one seat to complete his flight."
Smith, who spoke last week at the Macworld Expo conference in the Bay Area, acknowledged that he purchased two tickets for the flight he was originally booked on; Southwest acknowledged the same.
Smith -- whose extensive writing for comics includes "Daredevil" and "Green Arrow" -- also said that the publicity couldn't hurt: His film "Cop Out," starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, is scheduled to open in two weeks. (The comics writer has said he's also working on "Batman" and "Green Hornet" stories.)
The filmmaker, who is scheduled to speak in Washington in April as part of a national tour, tweeted: "You [messed] with the wrong sedentary processed-foods eater!"
Was either Smith or Southwest in the wrong? If you've got an opinion on the matter, feel free to fire away.
'RIFFS NOTES: A similar scenario played out with Southwest Airlines (at LAX) on the reality show "Airline":
| February 15, 2010; 5:45 AM ET
Categories: Geek Buzz | Tags: Kevin Smith
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