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Is Greed Behind the Airlines?

Marty McLaughlin, left, and Andrea Kysar, second from left, were told they were too big to board a Southwest Airlines flight. They took a long bus ride home with Kysar's husband and daughter. (ABCNEWS.com)

N E W   Y O R K, July 12 - A New Mexico family was left behind in Indianapolis when Southwest Airlines' employees decided some members were too big to board the plane.

Airline's Size Policy Sparks Debate
Marty McLaughlin and his sister Andrea Kysar said they knew about Southwest's policy requiring some large customers to buy two tickets, but they say they were told it wouldn't be a problem for them.

Vital Stats
Kysar said she called a customer service representative at Southwest weeks before the flight. She gave the woman she spoke with information about her height, weight and those she would be traveling with, Kysar said.
"She said, 'well, as long as you're not inconveniencing or putting out anyone other than your own family, I don't see a problem,'" said Kysar on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.

Kysar took a Southwest flight, with her husband, brother and daughter, from their home in New Mexico to Indianapolis for a family memorial last week. On the way back, however, they were told they would have to purchase additional tickets because of their size. McLaughlin and Kysar, who took a 30-hour bus ride back to Albuquerque, have indicated they plan a lawsuit against the airline for alleged discrimination.

Customer of Size Policy
Southwest Airlines issued a statement Thursday, saying the airline regrets any inconsistency in the application of its Customer of Size policy. The policy requires the purchase of two tickets if the customer tends to spill over into their neighbor's seat. Southwest spokesperson Beth Harbin said the family should have been required to buy extra tickets before they left New Mexico.

"We should have required the purchase of the extra seats on the original flight as well," Harbin said. "I think the agent was trying to work from her heart and work with them noting the circumstances but really, it's the consistency of the policy that's the key here." The siblings, who traveled to Indianapolis for their recently deceased mother's memorial, say airline employees informed them they couldn't get on the plane just as they were about to board.

"I would never dream in all my life of bringing anybody anywhere, even right across New York in a cab, if I didn't intend to bring them back home," McLaughlin said.

The airline gave the siblings a refund for the tickets they didn't use for the return flight.

Southwest Airlines came under fire last month for charging overweight passengers for two tickets if they spill over into their neighbor's seat. Other airlines have similar policies and Southwest's Customer of Size policy has been in place since 1980.

Story and photo courtesy abcnews.com


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