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Should an airline passenger's weight matter?

By Katia Hetter, CNN
updated 1:59 PM EDT, Sun April 28, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Airline passenger claims he was singled out for his weight
  • Southwest Airlines offered its apologies to the passenger
  • Southwest policy suggests purchase of a second ticket, refunded after flight

(CNN) -- Southwest Airlines passenger Matthew Harper says he was singled out because of his weight before a recent Chicago to Denver flight, told by a flight attendant that he could be removed from the aircraft, according to CNN affiliate KDVR.

"We're people too. I get out and I work every day. You know, it's discrimination," said Harper, who weighs 340 pounds.

"We sincerely regret Mr. Harper's unhappiness over his experience," said Southwest in an e-mailed statement. "We have personally called Mr. Harper to offer him our apologies and better understand his concerns. It's important to clarify that he did travel as scheduled -- we did not deny him boarding. Our employee informed him of our policy, and he proceeded to travel as scheduled."

Airline squeeze: It's not you, it's the seat!

Southwest's "customer of size" policy suggests that customers purchase a second seat in advance if they know they'll need it on the flight. The rule of thumb: not encroaching on "any part" of the neighboring seats.

"The armrest is considered to be the definitive boundary between seats; width between the armrests measures 17 inches. The purchase of additional seats serves as a notification to Southwest of a special seating need, and allows us to adequately plan for the number of seats that will be occupied on the aircraft."

The airline will refund the cost of the second seat after the flight.

As airlines pack more passengers into their aircraft and charge for amenities like legroom and first-on-board boarding rights, how do you think people who don't fit into those seats should be treated by the airlines? Please share your comments below.

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