I was saddened to learn of the plight of Hollywood polymath Kevin Smith. It is unfortunate that as the world grows in size, airplane seating remains mired in an age of smaller, trimmer bee-hinds. Having been a Southwest fanatic since being old enough to purchase airfare, I would like to suggest amending the customers-of-size policy before a tsunami of lawsuits overflows my favorite airline much like customersí cheeseburgers overflow your armrests.
I have always been perplexed by the arbitrary rules chiseled into air-travel. 50lb bags are ok but 50+a pair of shoes = $25. The armrest rule makes sense but the width of the armrests seems narrow for the times and the overhead compartments have been whittled into wedges that discourage no one from stuffing in their bulging closets. We need change. The country wants it. And being who you are, it should be you to trailblaze.
Unlike politics where the goal is to grow bigger and spend more, business change can happen economically. At your core, your business is little different from that of any parcel service. You shuttle parcels from point A to point B for profit. Yours only happen to have heartbeats. And whiney demands. And peanut allergies. But at the very very core, the business is the same. The heavier the load and the larger its dimensions, the higher the cost of freight. It simply costs more to ship Mr. Smith and his colleagues in circumference than a group of people gymnast-sized.
So how best to handle arbitrary body-sizes? Formulaically.
At the curb-side checkin, Southwest should install scales where the passenger, with all baggage will be weighed. The total weight is the burden of the airline based on which the fuel is purchased. Computers will also size up both the person and the carry-on and decide how best to seat them and how much space will be required to make things comfortable for everyone. Customers-of-width can easily be seated next to customers-of-length without too much negative effect. Since size is arbitrary, so should be the armrest widths, and all passengers can have the option to purchase as much width as they like on top of their required minimum. Analogy would be choosing the right-sized box for your parcel except the parcel is yourself. It must cover your shipment but beyond that, your box can be as big as your budget allows. All collected data will boil down to a price which would be the passengerís fare. Those watching in horror as a Mr. Smith-size person lumbers towards that middle-seat will know that even though the flight will be unpleasant, Mr. Smith paid more for his than they did. He should considering his greater burden. Given that we humans are fairness-minded apes, that knowledge alone would make things better. At least until the TSA requires stasis for air travel at which point youíll just be able to stack us up any which way. Just donít beak our legs like you do our roller-wheels.
Love & Bacon Grease,
SFF - Southwest Fan Forever