Kicked Off Flight for Weight: Southwest Airlines Passenger 'Humiliated'

Thursday, 25 Apr 2013 02:23 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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A passenger who was kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight last week because of his weight "felt like a criminal" when officials demanded he get off the plane.

Matthew Harper, of Kyle, Texas, said he was humiliated Sunday when he was booted from a Southwest flight from Chicago to Denver because of his size. Southwest officials initially told Harper, who weighs roughly 340 pounds, the flight was overbooked. Later, they asked him if he was aware of the policy for overweight passengers, which requires "customers of size" to book an additional empty seat prior to traveling.

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"I said 'yes ma'am I do,' and she said 'I just want to explain what I can and can't do. I can yank you off this plane right now,'" Harper told

Harper was eventually let back on the plane but only after being paraded out in front of other passengers waiting to board. The plane was also delayed 30 minutes because of the incident.

"I'm 34 years old, and I've never been humiliated like this in my life. I mean, when I got back on the plane, only thing I could do was put my head down," Harper told

Harper said he filed a complaint with Southwest and was offered $100, but turned it down and plans to hire an attorney, according to

"What made it worse was there was two guys on there that was bigger than me, and they didn’t get pulled off the plane," Harper said.

Southwest issued a statement on the incident but denied any wrongdoing.

"We sincerely regret Mr. Harper's unhappiness over his experience," Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said in a statement. "We have personally called Mr. Harper to offer him our apologies and better understand his concerns. It's important to clarify that he did travel as scheduled — we did not deny him boarding. Our Employee informed him of our policy, and he proceeded to travel as scheduled."

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