Southwest apologizes after telling woman she's too fat to fly

Kenlie Tiggeman is a political strategist and a weight-loss blogger.

She also weighs more than 250 pounds – and was told by Southwest Airlines that she was too fat to fly unless she bought another seat, according to CBS 2 in New York.

Tiggeman’s mother was told the same thing – meaning the two of them would have to buy a total of four seats to get back to New York from Dallas over Easter weekend.

The flight was a return flight, and Tiggeman said neither had been stopped before.

“I was asked what size clothes, and how much I weigh. I gave answers in front of a gate full of people, some of whom were snickering,” said Tiggeman, 30.

“It was rude. It was in front of lots of people,” she said.

Tiggeman, who once weighed 393 pounds, now weighs 268 pounds.

“If a passenger cannot fit in a seat with the armrests down, a second seat must be purchased. If the flight is not full, that added charge will be refunded,” a Southwest spokeswoman told CBS 2.

Tiggeman argued that she was able to sit in the seat just fine.

Tiggeman told CBS 2 that she has purchased two tickets to fly in the past, but since she’s lost so much weight, several airline employees have told her it was no longer necessary.

Southwest later apologized. The airline allowed the woman and her mother on a later flight, refunded their tickets and gave them free vouchers.

Last year, movie director Kevin Smith, known for his cult hit “Clerks,” was ejected from a Southwest flight, told that he didn’t fit. The airline later apologized.

The policy on wide-body passengers varies from airline to airline. All the Federal Aviation Administration requires is that each passenger be in a belt, which sometimes requires a seat-belt extender.

Southwest has bought AirTran Airways -- giving the Dallas-based airline a strong presence at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.