Giving students questions/scenarios that open debate – ‘Too Fat To Fly’

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Situation: Oversized man, Kevin Smith, thrown off a flight for infringing on another seat.

Question: How would you have handled this situation if you were the Southwest Airline director?

Firstly let’s look at the facts that Mr. Smith originally purchased two tickets for two seats next to each other so he was aware of the policy with regard to oversized people. He was known to purchase two seats as he had done before with the same airline. He decided to fly standby on an earlier flight. The earlier flight had only one seat. He was seated on the earlier flight before ground staff asked him to leave. He flew back on his later flight.

If I were him, my initial thoughts would be to look at both sides of the story. It is not a very nice experience to be taken off any flight but the passenger should be aware of all the evidence in this case. There seems to be a bit of confusion as to whether the passenger mentioned to ground staff on the earlier flight that he usually bought two seats and that he had changed to standby thereby moving his flight to an earlier time. He also boarded the plane aware that he had just one ticket. There are also factors involving the ground staff who should have been aware that his size may have created problems. They should have highlighted that the airline will refuse to transport or remove at any point any passenger where the safety and comfort of other passengers is compromised and who is also unable to sit in the seat with the seat belt fastened and the armrest down. Also, the ticket issuer should have noticed his size and made him aware of the airline policy before issuing his earlier flight.

I refer back again to the passenger’s previous flight where he bought two seats. This complies with Southwest airline policy. He must have known that when changing his flight that there was a very high potential that being a standby flight there would only be a few seats spare. He must have known that there was a fair chance that he would not be able to purchase two seats next to each other on a flight that was fully booked. As with any waiting standby passenger the airline does not really know how many spare seats there will be until the last call for passengers is made at the boarding dock. Mr. Smith must have been aware of this as he waited for his standby flight. Southwest also airlines wonders why he never mentioned in the whole time until he sat in his seat on the flight that he needed two seats and this was how he usually flew on Southwest.

As an airline, we also should share a little of the responsibility as staff should be aware of the company’s clear policy on overweight people. Any passenger who is overweight should be highlighted to the fact that if he or she goes onto the plane and due to their size this person encroaches on the adjacent seat they will be removed from the aircraft. This is the airline’s policy is clear and every individual no matter who they are must follow these rules.

In this situation, the company was right to remove this man and due to the fact he was already booked on a later flight with two seats his travel plans were not harmed.  It is a shame this man has used his notoriety to criticize our company but Southwest airline’s seating policy is clear. Southwest airlines need to think of all the passengers being safe and comfortable. Hopefully, this situation has highlighted the company’s policy and made all members of staff aware of the policy and problems that can arise from having to remove people from any aircraft.

(641 Words)


Do students acknowledge the depth of a photo/picture? A reaction to Henri Cartier Bresson Photos

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images2   henri_cartier_bresson_bicycle

Behind Saint-Lazare                   ‘The Var Department

Henri Cartier Bresson’s photos are masterpieces of snapshot photography. On viewing his portfolio, two examples of his work attracted my attention and imagination. The first photo, I viewed, ‘The Var Department, Hyères’ was taken in 1932 and the second in Paris of ‘Behind Saint-Lazare’ also taken in 1932.  These two classic photos show Bresson’s perfect timing to capture life in action that on the surface seems plain in their black and white imagery but what underlies them, I can see, is a master photographer in action.

To begin with, ‘Behind Saint-Lazare’ is a stand out photo for me that is multi dimensional. I only had to observe the symmetry of the reflections of the gentleman, the railings and the building in the water to observe an angelic feature to the obvious bleakness of the photo. The wrought fencing, the station building, the workmen and the debris portray a world of industry. Bresson, as a photographer, I feel, captures life’s on- going journey. ‘Behind Saint-Lazare’ has what looks like a gentleman off to work as he is captured jumping over the vast expanse of water supposedly left from a downpour. Moreover, in my opinion, Bresson’s immaculate timing manages to blur the image of the gentleman enough so the viewer does not get lost in the expression of him jumping through the picture. Bresson’s angle of the gentleman captures this moment in unique fashion as the man hovers in the air as the ripples of the wooden makeshift bridge gently spread. You see he will not make it without getting wet. The picture offers a working class perspective as building work appears to be in the background. The photo shows Paris not in its exquisite architecture but in my opinion an industrious city where people struggle to earn a living. The bleak outlook breathes naturalness into the photo and portrays life as it is on a daily basis.

What’s more, ‘The Var Department’ photo offers a trajectory of forms that convolute over the snapshot. The contours and direction of the flight of stairs leads in different paths almost confusingly that add context to the geometric composition of the photo. The travel of the stairs inspires a surrealist outlook comparable with MC Esher’s ‘Relativity’ picture of the infinite staircase. Even the wall with its square stone block gives a contradictory shape to the photo which is contrasted again with the curve of the bending road. The road gives the appearance also of sloping away, as with further viewing I believe the cyclist is travelling downhill. In the stillness of the photo, the cyclist is seemingly racing through the image.  With this cyclist, I believe Bresson always means to have people in his photos to show life’s continuous flow and ‘The Var department’ captures this beautifully with the cyclist off to a new experience. Echoes of the Tour De France permeates this idea as these quiet and quaint little towns are thrown open to the world as the array of cyclists who come whizzing by each year.

Furthermore, with both these photos, I was taken in by the range of color although strictly they are black and white. The assortment of shades of black and white permeate these photos and add tremendous boldness to the overall feel that leaves the photo feeling eternal. Additionally Bresson creates the blurred image to the main characters while not letting them pause in action. They are essential parts of the photo but not to the extent of taking over the picture. In my opinion, Bresson captures these two images at that decisive moment that if taken any moment later the whole image would lose that masterful imagery. Moreover, human interest is decisive to the photos, be it in the gentleman’s big leap across the pond or the cyclists race to his destination remind me of humanity’s effort. I also believe these photos show life in different aspects. The bleakness of ‘The Var Department’ with the blackened white stones shows a town that almost seemed stagnant compared with the industrious city in ‘Behind Saint-Lazare’. The men are workers in the photo but in the other photo, the cyclist could be anyone off to an appointment.

To conclude, the exact moment in time exposures highlight a photographer with a unique ability to capture life and movement while also encapsulating the color, shades and symmetry of the world. The more I look at these photos more ideas come to mind which salutes the importance of these photos. Not only do they capture life that creates thought, but also they become timeless to me that stir emotion and admiration.

(767 Words)