BURBANK -- Southwest Airlines is under fire after Hollywood director Kevin Smith was kicked off a recent flight for being overweight.
The "Clerks," "Mallrats" and "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" director was ordered off a flight from Oakland to Burbank Saturday.
The pilot reportedly said Smith was a "safety risk" because he was unable to put down the armrest.
Smith, 39, responded with a barrage of profanity-laced Twitter posts, saying he was treated worse than a terrorist.
"I know I'm fat, but was (the pilot) really justified in throwing me off a flight for which I was already seated?" he tweeted.
"I broke no regulation, offered no 'safety risk' (what, was I gonna roll on a fellow passenger?). I saw someone bigger than me on THAT flight! But I wasn't about to throw a fellow Fatty under the plane as I'm being profiled. But he & I made eye contact, & he was like 'Please don't tell...'"
Smith called the incident embarrassing and vowed to continue tweeting about the airline for telling him he's "too wide for the sky."
Southwest officials said in a statement that as soon as they became aware of the Twitter posts, they called Smith to offer their "heartfelt apologies," but also said his removal was for the "safety and comfort of all customers."
"If a customer cannot comfortably lower the armrest and infringes on a portion of another seat, a customer seated adjacent would be very uncomfortable and a timely exit from the aircraft in the event of an emergency might be compromised if we allow a cramped, restricted seating arrangement," Southwest said.
Southwest said its "customers of size" policy has been in effect for 25 years and that most airlines have similar rules, but few carriers enforce them.
The airline said it offered Smith a $100 flight voucher, which he said he refused. Smith eventually got on another Southwest flight.
He then tweeted a photo of himself on the plane with his cheeks puffed out, saying,"Look how fat I am on your plane! Quick! Throw me off!"
After landing in Burbank, Smith tweeted, "Don't worry: wall of the plane was opened & I was airlifted out while Richard Simmons supervised."
Southwest apologized to Smith on Twitter and issued a statement on its blog, under the title, "Not So Silent Bob."
The airline said Smith had purchased two tickets, as he often does, but when Smith decided to fly earlier on standby, only one seat was available, and he was told to get off the plane after he was already seated.
The incident has prompted the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance to call for a boycott of Southwest.
The group issued a statement urging "people of size to seek out and travel airlines that do not have such discriminatory policies."
"You (messed) with the wrong sedentary processed-foods eater!" tweeted Smith, whose next film, "Cop Out," opens Feb. 26.
Southwest Airline's response: http://www.blogsouthwest.com/not-so-silent-bob.html?q=blog/not-so-silent-bob
Kevin Smith's response: http://www.viewaskew.com/
Kevin Smith Takes on Southwest in 'Too Fat to Fly' Flap
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
Los Angeles Times welcomes civil dialogue about our stories; you must register with the site to participate. We filter comments for language and adherence to our Terms of Service, but not for factual accuracy. By commenting, you agree to these legal terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.
Having technical problems? Check here for guidance.