Kevin Smith, director, writer and actor-extraordinaire was sitting on a Southwest Airlines flight about 3 hours ago. From what we know in his TwitterStream: He was removed from the flight for obesity and being a ‘safety risk.’ Kevin tweeted that Southwest Air offered him a “$100 voucher,” for his inconvenience. Then Kevin started tweeting more, (mainly with the use of one four lettered word that starts with , ‘f’.) That’s exactly when Kevin started to lose the ballgame.
Southwest Air needed to think swiftly. It was late evening on the night before Valentine’s Day. Their brand needed an intelligent and caring retort that wouldn’t stir the pot. In their TwitterStream, they replied very few times, first acknowledging the incident, (within minutes,) then notifying the public that they knew about the tweets, then handling it with class and humanity as they re-tweeted:
I saw the tweets from Kevin about a minute after they posted and immediately watched both ‘brands’ to see how this would play out. Hollywood Super Star versus Company. They, in all reality are on the same playing field. Both have over a million followers, and both use Social Media heavily to market and communicate with their public.
Kevin usually has a knack for funny, but somehow tonight: either with the emotional toll of trying to fly home before a holiday, sheer exhaustion or perhaps typing before he really thought it through; just managed to look like a whining, crying, child. People who were on his side in the beginning, have slowly backed away as his tweets amped over-the-top with profanity and criticism. Kevin doesn’t understand that once something happen, you gain the public then go to Southwest together instead of alienating yourself by your own typing.
My money’s on Southwest Air. They’ll issue a public statement and determine they will look into their policies, (as it doesn’t seem like company policy was effectively carried out in this case.) As someone who has sat next to an extremely overweight individual on a plane I can both understand the emotional embarrassment of the individual and the frustration over wanting the space I paid for. Perhaps it’s time for Southwest and all airlines to look at the metrics of the world and remedy the seats instead of backlash. (The last thing overweight people want to be told is payment for a service isn’t enough if they are too large to comfortably use the service.) I can’t imagine the stress, anger and true embarrassment of being overweight on an airplane and the repercussions that come during and after.
The real winner tonight is the woman behind Southwest Air’s profile. She deserves a raise and commendation over handling a situation with grace, the perfect touch of humor and insight. She humanized her company- and because of how it was handled? I’ll be flying Southwest this upcoming spring.