To preface this: I’ve talked about it before (a long while ago) but I’ll say it again: I’m fat.  I’m not even ‘not that fat’ or ‘chunky’.  I’m 5’4″ and 300 pounds, and that makes me big by all standards.  On the BMI I fall somewhere between Morbidly Obese and Dead.  I don’t talk about it too much because it’s a fact of who I am.  I have tried to lose weight a lot of ways, and the fact is that my metabolism can’t keep up with me no matter what.  If I ever get to a place where I have the time to excercise three hours a day, that may change, until then I’ll eat healthy when I can afford it and not worry about it otherwise.

I have a friend in California, and one of the big reasons I do NOT want to fly out (I’d much rather drive) is I’m terrified that I’d be ejected.  I’m not afraid of not fitting in the seat, because I’m fairly confident I will.  Last time I flew I fit just fine, and I haven’t gotten much bigger.  Armrests down and all, no seatbelt extender.  But it’s clear that you can do that and be THROWN OFF THE FLIGHT ANYWAY, as Kevin Smith’s recent experience will attest to.  Not only was he ejected from a flight and moved to a different one, but on the second flight the girl nearby him (who also fit SW’s policy of “armrests down”) was taken aside and informed that she would need to buy a second seat in the future, and that she would have to ask Smith PERMISSION to use the space the empty seat he bought took up.  Even though she didn’t use up the space.

While I object to many policies regarding People of Size (forcing people to buy extra seats and then go through hoops to get any kind of refund, maybe) that’s not what I’m upset about in this case.

What’s upsetting to me is that you can follow the rule they set: armrests down, seatbelt buckled without an extender, clearly fitting in the space allotted, and they will still boot you for being TFTF (Too Fat To Fly).  And during the SModcast Smith did with his wife Jennifer Schwalbach, they both pointed out that there’s not much you can do about it.   If they say something and upset you, they can put you off a plane, and you’re leaving in handcuffs if you don’t go quietly.  So if they come up to you and tell you you’re TFTF even if you’re not, they can still put you off the plane and put you out of convenience.  Several people have talked about how they missed funerals because they were deemed TFTF,  even though they’d never had a problem before.

It means my visit to my friend will have to wait for the summer, when I can drive across country.  I won’t pay money to be treated like a criminal, and I won’t spend an hour at the terminal waiting for another flight and have to pay extra to take up the same amount of space as Elbows McGee and Tall-Dude McLongLegs.  (Nothing against the tall people with long arms who take up space, I’m just saying that they don’t have to pay for that extra space.)

The truth of this matter is: because of existing Person of Size policies, even if you aren’t bigger than the stated rules, you can still be booted if anybody on the plane is having a bad day/doesn’t like you/thinks you’re TFTE (Too Fat To Exist- and I’ve been accused of being a waste of oxygen before) and uses a badly written corporate policy to embarrass and shame someone who already suffers from that kind of kindergarten shit.