September 16, 2002
It is our most fervent wish to work directly with our Customers when they have questions or challenges that arise from their experience with Southwest Airlines. We created this policy 22 years ago as a service to all of our Customers. We wanted to ensure that every Customer onboard is comfortable and has access to the entirety of the seat he/she purchased. Our attempts to offer flexibility to our Customers in the past few years have caused inconsistent expectations and uncomfortable situations, much like you are talking about today. We really are truly sorry for any confusion or inconvenience our past inconsistencies caused our Customer.
Nearly all commercial airlines have a policy for Customers who occupy more than one seat. At Southwest Airlines, we offer a discounted fare for the additional seat and a full refund for the additional seat if the flight does not oversell. If the Customer does not alert us to his/her needs when making a reservation, the Customer is informed of the policy at the airport. They are then given a document with instructions on how to get the refund. Not only does this policy offer our Customers of size the opportunity to travel comfortably, it also prevents our other Customers from being deprived a portion of the seat they purchased.
Our Customer Service agents are acutely aware that this is a delicate and private matter that requires sensitivity and discretion. This is not a conversation anyone looks forward to and we will initiate it only when we have no other choice. We are certain that everyone’s preference would be to make all appropriate arrangements before arriving at the airport. That way, no one is put in an uncomfortable situation.
Our suggestion for the greatest advantage to the Customer of Size is to plan ahead and purchase additional seats at any of our discounted, advance-purchase fares. We will refund the additional ticket if the flight does not oversell. Generally, one’s past travel makes the need for additional seats evident, but our rule of thumb is this: if a Customer requires that the arm rests be lifted to the upright position, that person will be more comfortable in two seats. No one should be made to suffer in less than the amount of space they require, nor should the Customers around them be made to go with less than the amount of space they paid for. Our policy addresses the needs of all Southwest Airlines Customers.