Kevin Smith is too fat for the sky, Pharyngula
THE WHOLE SKY!!! <--- Kevin Smith's 1.5 hour long rant, hilarious, his site
Basically, Kevin Smith, writer/director/actor of such movies as Dogma and Clerks, got booted off a Southwest Airlines flight this weekend for being too overweight to "safely" fit into his seat. Despite the fact that he was able to lower the armrests of the seat, and could fasten his seat belt without an extender. The next flight he got on, the one he had originally booked with an extra seat just for comfort's sake, he sat next to another overweight woman and witnessed nearly the exact same exchange between flight attendant and this woman. They seriously picked the wrong person to mess with (NBC New York), which is a shame, since they probably mess with people all the time, it's just that they happened to pick a well connected Hollywood writer and director this time.
Since I work and do research in the aerospace industry, there is only one reason I could see for Kevin Smith's ejection from the first plane - weight limits. He was the absolute last person on that plane, there apparently wasn't another seat open on the whole flight. When those planes are designed, they're given a weight limit for each passenger, including the carryon luggage. 737s, which Southwest's fleet is comprised entirely of, are not newly designed planes. An airline like Southwest also packs in as many passengers as possible because there aren't any class differentiation - everyone is in coach, so to speak. Therefore, I'm sure they've got a policy for people who look overweight to buy an extra seat if possible - it means that the person's weight allowance has doubled. And let's face it here, Southwest probably maxes out those weight limits as much as possible to be able to keep their prices fairly low.
On a flight that isn't quite as crowded, they don't boot you off the plane, like in the case of Kevin's second flight with the woman sitting in his row. But in the first flight, when it was literally full to capacity, I think there's less wiggle room.
Does it make what they did/said to him any better? No! What makes this more crazy is this is Southwest, who literally has the best satisfaction ratings in the industry (WSJ ratings as of Jan 6th). I personally have flown Southwest a few times and have loved it each time! No classes, no assigned seats, and the flight attendants always try to be friendly and make jokes... at least if I'm going to be treated like livestock during the flying process (all parts of it) I guess appreciate knowing that everyone around me has had approximately the same experience.