Sunday, February 14, 2010

Kevin Smith ejected from southwest flight...really

Film director and actor Kevin Smith reported on Twitter today that he had flown into Oakland California on a Southwest flight and had just boarded another Southwest flight heading from Oakland to Burbank. Prior to takeoff, a flight attendant approached Smith and told him that Captain Leysath had deemed him to be a safety risk and he was asked to disembark before takeoff.
According to Smith's tweets, Southwestern apologized after taking him off the flight, offered him a $100 voucher for a future Southwestern flight and put him on a later flight to Burbank. The captain of that flight apparently did not feel that Smith was a safety risk.

Kevin Smith is best known for his portrayal of Silent Bob in six of his movies: Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Clerks II. He has written and directed a total of eight movies including the six above. Smith was also heavily involved in producing Good Will Hunting.

While Kevin Smith's exact weight is not publicly known, Smith lamented to the Los Angeles Times in October of 2008 that his weight had gotten out of control. He spoke of breaking a toilet because of his size and his need to take some time off to get his weight under control before he had major health issues.

But how heavy do you have to be before you are considered to be a safety risk on an airplane? Most airlines impose a physical restriction stating that if the seatbelt is not able to go around the girth of the passenger and buckle securely then the passenger must purchase a second seat and use a seatbelt extender.

Southwest's own policy is unclear. Their website shows no specific weight or girth requirements for flight. As the captain did not specify what the "safety risk" consisted of, it is not known what could have occurred if Kevin Smith had been allowed to fly. According to Smith's tweets, he was able to comfortably secure his seatbelt so that was not an issue. Smith also made the point that the flight was not fully booked so any issues could have been accommodated by the flight crew.

There has not yet been an official statement by Southwest Airlines released regarding the incident.

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