- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 26, 2004


OAKLAND, Calif. — An Oakland, Calif., man has sued Southwest Airlines, saying the airline humiliated him by asking him to buy a second seat because of his size.

In his lawsuit, Lionel Bea, 40, said a Southwest employee asked him whether he could fit in one seat for a flight from Oakland to Los Angeles in September 2003, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

When Mr. Bea, a Southwest frequent flier, said, “Yes, is there a problem?” the employee said he would have to sell him another seat because of policy “regarding passengers too large to fit in one seat,” the lawsuit said.

Mr. Bea objected to having to buy a second seat and boarded his flight. Later, when Mr. Bea prepared to fly back to Oakland, another Southwest employee said an entry in the computer showed he needed to buy a second seat, the complaint said.

Mr. Bea asked for a supervisor, who “refused to let plaintiff fly without purchasing a second seat. She was insulting and rude,” the lawsuit said. Mr. Bea flew back to Oakland on a United Airlines flight instead.

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