If you haven’t heard by now Clerks and Cop Out director Kevin Smith was asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight last weekend. The reason, he was deemed a “safety risk”, or in Smith’s words, “too fat to fly.” That’s right, Southwest Airlines tossed “Silent Bob” off a flight. What has the world come to?
Smith has come out and said he wasn’t drinking, acting out-of-the-ordinary, or too fat to fit in the seat:
“Dear @SouthwestAir, I flew out in one seat, but right after issuing me a standby ticket, Oakland Southwest attendant Suzanne (wouldn’t give last name) told me Captain Leysath deemed me a “safety risk”. Again: I’m way fat… But I’m not THERE just yet. But if I am, why wait til my bag is up, and I’m seated WITH ARM RESTS DOWN. In front of a packed plane with a bunch of folks who’d already I.d.ed me as ‘Silent Bob.'”
Armrests securely down, he was all prepared to leave (with his bag stowed no less) when the Captain asked that he be removed. Granted, anything could have happened on that flight, but the fact Southwest Airlines tried to issue him a $100 voucher in response (which he refused) doesn’t help their case.
All that said, a number of people have come to Smith’s defense, including Marvel‘s own Stan Lee. Speaking via Twitter, Lee made a few remarks in support of Smith’s case:
@smilinstanlee: The only way Kevin could look really fat would be if he packed his pockets with cards bearing the names of each of his 1,600,000 followers!
@smilinstanlee: Maybe us thin guys who don’t take up the whole seat on a plane should ask for a discount! It ought’a work both ways!
While humorous, Lee’s remarks note one very important thing; Smith has over a million followers on Twitter. Sure, there could be a lot of spam accounts in there but let’s assume even half (I’m sure there are more than that) are real people. 500,000 or so individuals following, listening and generally waiting for Smith to say something.
That “something” was Smith dragging Southwest Airlines over hot coals as he documented his experience for the world. Perhaps an even greater problem is to have that experience echoed over and over and over again by Smith’s followers. One word: retweet.
Since Smith’s story broke SouthWest has come out and issued an apology and said:
“Although I’m not here to debate the decision our Employees made, I can tell you that I for one have learned a lot today. The communication among our Employees was not as sharp as it should have been and, it’s apparent that Southwest could have handled this situation differently.”
Southwest claims to have “learned a lot” but I can’t help but wonder if they really did because their focus seems to be on the seat issue itself:
“Southwest, like most carriers, has a policy to assist passengers who need two seats onboard an aircraft. The policy is an important one for the comfort and safety of all passengers aboard a plane, and we stand by that 25-year-old policy. This has our attention, and we will be reviewing how and when this delicate policy is implemented.”
That’s the take away Southwest got from all this? Seat policy review? How about a review on social media. Southwest can spin this all they want, but if things had gone down as by-the-book as they make it sound Smith wouldn’t have felt the need to retaliate online.
So, let this be a lesson to all the other corporations out there. There’s no more walled garden when it comes to customer service. Rub someone the wrong way, especially a celebrity, and you’ll hear all about it via Twitter and any number of other social networks.
Of course, Stan Lee may have given us the best lesson in all this (again, from Twitter):
“The worst thing anyone can do is fly when there’s a celebrity aboard! …Suppose Kevin is on board and the plane crashes. The headline will read ‘Kevin Smith and 150 others in plane crash! You’ll be an ‘other’ …Forget airplanes. I won’t even ride a bus or cross a street with a celeb. Don’t wanna be an ‘other’.”
Words to live by.