With the controversy still swirling about director Kevin Smith's unceremonious removal from a Southwest Airlines flight Saturday, Smith kept up the pressure after the airline published a blog post Sunday about the incident, defending its 25-year-old Customer of Size policy and hoping to contain the damage.
In the blog post, "Not So Silent Bob," Southwest apologized again for Smith's "travel experience," although it isn't clear what aspects of that experience the airline was issuing the mea culpa for.
In fact, there was so much traffic to Southwest's blog, that it overloaded a blog server. So, Southwest also posted the apology to its media relations website.
Filling in some of the details, Southwest noted that Smith had purchased two seats for an Oakland-Burbank flight, but decided to fly standby on an earlier flight. The airline said only one seat was available for Smith when the standby passengers boarded the earlier flight, and employees "explained why the decision was made, accommodated Mr. Smith on a later flight, and issued him a $100 Southwest travel voucher for his inconvenience."
"Our pilots are responsible for the Safety and comfort of all Customers on the aircraft and therefore, made the determination that Mr. Smith needed more than one seat to complete his flight," Southwest said.
While lots of airlines have similar policies for safety reasons, Southwest said, the airline uniquely refunds the price of the second seat if the flight does not sell out.
"The spirit of this policy is based solely on Customer comfort and Safety," the airline said. "As a Company committed to serving our Customers in Safety and comfort, we feel the definitive boundary between seats is the armrest. 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."
Meanwhile, Smith, who portrays the fictional character Silent Bob, was not soothed by Southwest's apologies and $100 voucher, and has kept tweeting away about the incident, telling travelers that Southwest "might be coming for you next."
Early Monday, Smith, claiming he fit into the seat and should have been allowed to fly, challenged Southwest to bring the same row of seats to the Daily Show.
He tweeted: "Hey @SouthwestAir: you bring that same row of seats to the DailyShow, and I'll sit in 'em for all to see on TV."
Smith said he'll donate $10,000 to charity if he doesn't fit in one seat and can't buckle the belt.
If he fits, Smith said Southwest should change its policy or or at least re-train your staff to be a lot more human & a lot less corporate..."
He's also issued an "emergency smodcast" with the nuanced title, "Go Fuck Yourself Southwest Airlines," in which Smith chastises Southwest's "corporate" focus of trying to get flights out on time to the detriment of customer service.
The Southwest-Kevin Smith viral stand-off will make for an interesting social-media case study.
Southwest has been out-front and deft in tackling the incident head-on and in a timely manner.
But, sometimes such situations can take on a life of their own on social-media airwaves, whether they have merit or not.
So, how does a brand, which feels it is in the right, push back effectively?
The jury is still out.