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Southwest Passengers Are Divided Over Little-Known Seating Policy

Plus-size travelers can request additional seating for free with the carrier's policy.

As the cost of air travel continues to skyrocket, more and more customers are turning to Southwest Airlines for affordable airfare. Widely known for its unique boarding procedure, the low-cost carrier has implemented several policies to help passengers save money, such as allowing two free checked bags per ticket holder and offering free same-day standby.

Southwest also offers extra seating for plus-size travelers at no additional cost. But after a video demonstrating how these passengers can utilize Southwest's "Customer of Size" policy took social media by storm, some are calling for the airline to make a similar courtesy for taller passengers who may require extra legroom.

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The TikTok video posted by plus-size style content creator Kimberly Garris has racked up nearly 30,000 likes and over 800 comments, many of which applaud the airline for helping customers of all shapes and sizes fly comfortably.

Southwest's "Customer of Size" policy was designed "to meet the seating needs of Customers who require more than one seat and protect the comfort and safety of everyone onboard," per the carrier's website. According to the policy, passengers are eligible for additional seating if they are "unable to lower both armrests and/or encroach upon any portion of a seat next to [them]."

Guests who need extra seat space can take advantage of the policy in one of two ways. First, passengers can purchase "the needed number of seats prior to travel to ensure the additional seat(s) is available." This allows Southwest to plan how many persons on board require "special seating" ahead of time. At the time of booking, travelers will have to pay for the number of seats purchased but can request "a refund of the cost of additional seating" following their completed trip—whether it's a one-way or roundtrip.

However, you also have the option of buying one single seat and speaking with a gate agent before boarding about extra seating. "If it's determined that a second (or third) seat is needed, you'll be accommodated with a complimentary additional seat," the policy explains online.

In her TikTok video, Garris cautioned travelers that they must use the "Customer of Size" policy "at the departing gate when you start your journey. If you don't use it going out you cant use it flying back." She also shared that she asks a flight attendant for a seat belt extender when boarding the aircraft.

Travelers quickly swarmed the video's comment section, thanking Garris for shining a light on Southwest's little-known seating policy.

"Thank you for posting this and walking through the dialogue. It'll be so helpful for people," one person wrote. "I fly southwest and take advantage of this often. It's so comforting!" another said. One user replied, "I did this yesterday thanks to your video."

However, some are claiming that Southwest's "Customer of Size" policy isn't inclusive of taller passengers, who have to pay for extra legroom to comfortably enjoy their flight.

"I think you should get an extra seat for a lower fee but I am 6'7 and I pay for extra leg room," one person pointed out.

"I wonder if this would work for my husband, he's 6'10 and it's extremely uncomfortable to fly unless it's a exit row his legs don't fit anywhere," another shared.

Responding in agreement, Garris wrote, "I think it should be allowed for tall and pregnant or disabled people—we can encourage southwest to expand this policy."

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Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
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