The airlines can’t seem to catch a break these days. Maybe it’s their own fault, maybe not. But the rest of the world can learn a lot from the way in which the airlines have handled their constant press these past few months. After ejecting director Kevin Smith from a flight recently , Southwest Airlines found itself with a bit of a mess to clean up this week. Smith will be the first one to comment on his size, but he still wasn’t happy when Southwest refused to let him fly.
Smith was quick to share his plight with the world, posting a photo of himself in his airline seat, cheeks puffed. “I’m way fat, but I’m not there just yet,” Smith tweets. “If you look like me, you may be ejected from Southwest Air.”
Yes, the well-known film director and actor known for his Silent Bob roles decided to not be so silent about his frustration with Southwest Airlines. The uproar from Smith’s fans finally led the airline to administer a public apology on Twitter, as well as its own website. A blog entry titled “Not So Silent Bob” was posted on Southwest’s website, looking to make light of the situation.
But can jokes get Southwest out of this one? The issue regarding waist size and the ability to fly on a commercial airline is one with ever-changing implications on the matters of consumer rights, health concerns and safety concerns. Of course, the world doesn’t seem to bothered with such things until someone famous makes a big deal of their personal experiences. It’s just the way the world works.
In this particular case, however, there are two brands involved. They both have their own objectives for being vocal about the situation at hand, and they both have their own kind of power in influencing the public. The use of social media for both of these brands continues to demonstrate their influence over something that may have affected Southwest less seriously a few years ago.
For Southwest, dealing with the fan’s backlash regarding Smith’s seat ejection was performed in a Southwest way–don’t take things too seriously. Laughter tends to distract passengers from their being treated like shipped cattle with little grazing room even in Business Class.
An interesting tactic, considering the gravity of the situations other airlines are dealing with. It’s been only a few weeks since Northwest landed itself in hot water after a terrorist threatened the safety of a flight’s passengers over the Christmas holiday season. Delta’s re-branding efforts for Northwest couldn’t come fast enough after dealing with that debacle. Ever since, security across all airlines and airports have increased, with pretty much everyone being a stickler for the rules these days. That even includes Southwest.
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