Woman Says Airline Humiliated Her Because of Her Weight

Former travel agent Kathy Maychak says she felt humiliated by the allegedly indiscreet way airline counter agents told her she had to buy a second seat due to her weight.

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    After booking a flight from Philadelphia to San Diego, Kathy Maychak of West Chester claims she was forced to buy a ticket for a second seat because of her weight. Maychak says she felt humiliated by the insensitive and indiscreet way the airline counter agents dealt with the situation. NBC10's Rosemary Connors spoke to Maychak as well as a spokeswoman from Southwest Airlines. (Published Thursday, March 8, 2012)

    A local woman claims she was humiliated by airline staff all because of her weight.

    Former travel agent Kathy Maychak of West Chester booked a flight with Southwest Airlines back in February from Philadelphia to San Diego.

    While at the counter at the airport, Maychak claims she was forced to buy another ticket for a second seat because of her weight. She also claims the counter agents were neither helpful nor discreet as they discussed her weight in front of the ticket line.

    “It was the worst thing I’ve ever gone through,” said Maychak. “Growing up overweight, I’ve never had that, kids making fun of me, I never felt that way.”

    Maychak didn’t pay the extra $400 for another seat and did not take the trip.

    “There was no compassion,” said Maychak. “There was no ‘can we talk over here in private, can we go somewhere that’s not as crowded.’”

    NBC10 contacted Southwest Airlines. A spokeswoman claimed that Southwest, like many airlines, has a policy that states that a person who can’t fit in a seat with the arm rest down must buy a second ticket.

    “What do you want to say to the people who think that you are singling out overweight people and making them pay extra for a second seat?” asked NBC10’s Rosemary Connors.

    “This policy is in place for the comfort of all passengers on board,” replied the spokeswoman. “We apologize to this customer if we didn’t handle it in the appropriate manner. We would never want to make anybody feel singled out or humiliated, that was not our intention.”

    A similar incident happened to movie director and actor Kevin Smith two years ago. Smith publicly expressed his embarrassment after he claimed he was asked to leave a Southwest flight because he couldn’t fit comfortable in his seat.

    “I really would like to prevent anyone else having to go through this,” said Maychak. “If I can just save one person that humiliation, then I’ll feel good about myself.”

    Southwest also states that if a passenger is forced to purchase a second ticket, they will refund them their money on that ticket, provided that the flight is under-booked and there are some available seats.

    Maychak says however that she has no plans to travel with Southwest anytime soon.