Mom and Daughter "Too Fat to Fly" on Southwest

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

A New York woman is hoping to change the policy on Southwest Airlines that deals with overweight people after she claims she and her mother were told they were "too fat to fly."

According to a report from MSNBC, Kenlie Tiggeman and her mother were on a layover in Dallas on Easter weekend when a Southwest employee singled them out for their weight.

Tiggeman said they had a 45-minute conversation about how much they weighed.

"I asked him what the weight restrictions were and he said that he didn't know, just that we were too heavy to fly. Too fat to fly," said Tiggeman.

Southwest has what it calls a "Customers of Size" policy, which states that passengers are required to buy a second seat if they cannot fit between the armrests, which measure 17 inches across.

The worker then tried to make a deal -- Tiggeman, her mother and a third overweight woman could fly if they would sit together.

"Of course my daughter was okay with that. But I wasn't because the deal I made with Southwest when I left, I bought a ticket and it's open seating, and you can sit wherever you want," said her mother, Joan Charpentier.

A supervisor intervened, and the women were able to fly without buying extra seats. The supervisor also apologized and gave them vouchers for a free flight.

But still, Tiggeman is angry. "I know that I have a lot of weight to lose but I am definitely not too fat to fly. I do it all the time, domestically and internationally, and I have never had anyone approach me and particularly in the way that they did."

Tiggeman's weight loss is ongoing -- she has already lost 120 pounds over the past two years.

Tiggeman took to her blog to tell the world her story. A Southwest executive saws it and contacted her to apologize and offered more flight vouchers. But Tiggeman isn't interested in free flights -- she wants change.

"Their sensitivity level needs to change, period. It needs to be different," said Tiggeman.

Also on her blog, Tiggeman wrote an open letter to fitness guru Richard Simmons, since his videos have played such a large part in her weight loss. She said she wanted to use her free voucher to visit his studio in Beverly Hills. Amazingly, Simmons saw the letter and wrote to her personally and asked her to work out with him.

"It doesn't matter how far I have come. I have a long way to go, but no one sees that. All they see is my exterior — someone who is fat," said Tiggeman.