ai image of an overweight woman on an airplane in the middle of the aisle

How To Use Southwest’s ‘Customer Of Size’ Policy

An online user recently shared how she uses Southwest Airlines’ ‘Customer of Size’ policy.

Unfortunately, many passengers who could benefit from the policy are unaware. The post went viral and will hopefully inform individuals who could benefit from it.

Today, we’re diving into how to use Southwest’s ‘Customer of Size’ policy for your next flight.

Let’s take off!

What Is Southwest’s ‘Customer of Size’ Policy?

One of the biggest complaints from airline passengers often revolves around the size and space available in seats. Because people come in all shapes and sizes, it can be challenging for some to fit into a single seat.

However, Southwest’s ‘Customer of Size’ policy makes it more accessible.

Under this policy, customers who may not fit in a single seat can proactively purchase an additional seat.

This helps ensure that an accessible seat is available when they board the flight.

The passenger can then reach out to Southwest for them to refund the cost of the additional seating after the flight.

However, purchasing an additional ticket ahead of time can be financially challenging for many customers. Luckily, Southwest provides an additional option.

All you have to do is talk to the Customer Service Agent at the departure gate.

If you qualify and it’s possible, the agent will accommodate the request for a complimentary second or third seat.

@kimmystyled How to use @southwestair customer of size policy. Southwest is the only airline that allows you a second seat at no extra cost even if the flight is FULLY booked. You HAVE to use it at the departing gate when you start your journey. If you don’t use it going out you cant use it flying back. Go to the departing gate agent and kindly ask them to use the customer of size policy. I’ve done this a dozen times and never had an issue or been denied. They will print you a new ticket + a second ticket to put down on your free seat. You will also be allowed to pre board! Enter the aircraft, get your seatbelt extender, and grab your seat! I place the ticket in the seat next to me. I always take the window seat. If anyone tries to sit it in I kindly let them know I have two seats booked. To be honest I almost never get approached because no one wants to sit in the middle seat next to a fat person on a plane 🙃. I’ve heard from others sometimes southwest will just put customer of size in your account so anytime you approach the main ticket gate you’ll get both your tickets at once but this hasn’t happened to me yet. I think this has to do with how “visibly fat” you are. Public airplanes are public transportation and should be accessible and comfortable for us all. I applaud @southwestair for being the only airline with a fair and humane way of flying fat passengers with dignity. We shouldn’t have to pay for two seats. Seats should be larger for all people including tall and pregnant passengers. Since airlines got deregulated it’s been an ADA nightmare. Airlines should also allow wheelchairs in the cabin esp power wheelchairs. This is an access issue at the end of the day and discriminatory to fat and disabled customers. #southwest #southwestairlines #customerofsize #customerofsizepolicy #plussize #plussizetravel #traveltips #plussizetraveltok #traveltok ♬ original sound – Kimmy

Why Is Southwest Adding This New Option?

Despite the recent viral policy on TikTok and other social media, it’s not new.

Southwest states they’ve had the policy for more than 30 years.

They created it in hopes of meeting the seating needs of their customers.

They want everyone on board their planes to be as safe and comfortable as possible.

How Do Other Airlines Handle These Situations?

Unfortunately, Southwest Airlines is one of only a few US-based airlines with a customer-of-size policy. Alaska Airlines was the only airline we could find with an official policy.

Under the Alaska Airlines customer of size seating guidelines, customers must purchase an additional seat ahead of time. However, passengers will only receive a refund after they finish their travels.

In addition, it requires an open seat on all segments of the flights.

Most other airlines require passengers who cannot fit in a single seat to purchase an additional seat.

The policies regarding these additional seats vary significantly based on the airline.

Some will offer discounted rates, and others charge the full rate.   

How To Use Southwest’s ‘Customer Of Size’ Policy

If you plan to fly Southwest and could benefit from using the ‘Customer of Size’ policy, it’s easy to use.

However, there are some essential things you need to know to ensure you have a smooth experience.

Must Use It During Departure

One crucial policy requirement is that passengers must use it during the departure flight.

They assume if you didn’t require it on your departure flight, the return flight shouldn’t be a problem. As a result, you must make sure to use the policy during your departure.

This will give you the space you need on the departure and return flights. You want to be comfortable during both flights. Right?

So, take the proper steps to ensure you have plenty of space on both legs of your travel.

Request Additional Seat with Gate Agent

You must chat with the gate agent if you still need to purchase an additional seat beforehand.

Inform them that you’d like to use the customer of size policy.

They’ll likely check and ensure that you meet the requirements and provide you with a complimentary second seat.

If they cannot accommodate the request, they’ll typically take the necessary steps to ensure there’s room for you.

However, this may require adjusting your travel plans or finding a different flight.

This is why we strongly encourage you to purchase a second ticket ahead of time.

Southwest’s policy is to refund all of these ticket purchases, even if the flight oversells.

Take Advantage of Preboarding

Those passengers using the customer of size policy can take advantage of preboarding.

This allows them to board the aircraft ahead of others and find a seat combination that works for them.

It’s important to know that taking advantage of preboarding is not a requirement.

If you’d rather board during your original group, you can do that too. The decision is entirely up to you.

However, we suggest booking beforehand if you want the best chance of not encountering an issue.

Place Additional Ticket on Second Seat

Once you’ve found your seats, place the additional ticket on the second seat.

This communicates to other passengers and the flight crew that you’ve secured two seats.

It helps eliminate confusion, especially on oversold, crowded flights.

Enjoy the Flight

All that’s left is for you to enjoy your flight. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a complimentary snack and beverage.

Typically, Southwest offers a selection of soft drinks, alcohol, and some pretzels. If those don’t tickle your fancy, make sure you plan ahead and bring your snacks.

Southwest makes it easy to enjoy the flight. Their crews are typically great at their jobs and make in-flight announcements fun.

WiFi and other entertainment options are often available on their newer aircraft.

Unfortunately, WiFi typically comes with an extra fee. However, it can be worth it on those exceptionally long flights.

Is Southwest’s Policy Worth Using?

Southwest’s policy is worth using if you’re a customer of size. It ensures you and other passengers can be safe and comfortable during your flight.

Fortunately, Southwest makes using this policy easy for you and other customers. Hopefully, Southwest can inspire other airlines to follow in their footsteps.

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