Southwest Airlines can charge large passenger for two seats, court finds

LOS ANGELES - If an airline determines that a passenger is big enough to fill more than one seat, it can charge for more than one ticket, a judge ruled Wednesday, dismissing a lawsuit against Southwest Airlines.

Cynthia Luther, who weighs more than 300 pounds, alleged that Southwest harassed and discriminated against her in May before she boarded a flight from Reno, Nev., to Burbank.

Luther was asked if she needed a seat belt extension, then was told to buy a second ticket ''so as not to inconvenience other passengers seated next to her,'' her lawsuit stated.

A friend bought the extra ticket, but Luther sat in one seat with the armrest down, ''with another person seated next to her in a comfortable position,'' according to the lawsuit.

Superior Court Judge Marilyn Hoffman said the airline's policy wasn't discriminatory.

''The procedure and policy is directed in any situation where it appears for whatever reason a passenger might significantly encroach on another passenger,'' Willner said.


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