Overweight man: Spirit Airlines 'embarrassed' me after taking away my seat

DENVER — A Westminster man who recently returned from Las Vegas with his friends said his flight home on Spirit Airlines was more of a nightmare than he could have imagined. 

Jose Cordova said when planning the getaway trip with his two friends, he decided to purchase two seats on each of his flights to and from Las Vegas on Spirit Airlines due to his size.

"I am a big person and I know one seat wouldn't fit for me, and to be comfortable, I wanted to have two seats," Cordova said. "You don't want to overhang on someone else's lap, so you want to make sure you have that extra seat without bothering anybody." 

On the group's flight to Las Vegas, the three passengers occupied four seats without issue. On the way home on Wednesday, they said Spirit Airlines took back one of Cordova's seats without asking due to an overbooked flight.

"They were asking for volunteers ... we did not volunteer because we wanted to get back to Denver," Cordova's friend Scott Tenorio said. "They stole one of his seats, they sold it out from under him." 

Tenorio said he called ahead to ask for a seatbelt extender for his friend, but was appalled when his proactive measures "backfired." 

"I could see it in his face when he got off the flight, he was sweating," Tenorio said. "They ruined his flight, they ruined our experience because we weren't together." 

According to Tenorio, many passengers were placed in seats they weren't assigned, and without explaining what happened, Spirit attendants declined to allow Cordova to keep his two seats. 

"I feel like someone is looking at me, or they're all looking," Cordova explained of his experience. "I had told them I bought two seats, (they said) 'take it up after, talk to them when you get off the plane.'" 

Spirit Airlines said they did refund Cordova for his flight, although they noted the funds may take time to return to his account. 

In a statement, Paul Berry of Spirit Airlines said, "This is not the type of experience we want for our customers. We are looking into the circumstances that led to this situation to ensure it doesn't happen again. We have refunded Mr. Cordova for his flights and will work directly with him on making this right." 

In defending his friend, Tenorio explained, "Those that are thinking of weight, we tried to alleviate him from infringing on anyone's space, and then he's forced (to do so). I could barely sit in these seats they're so tiny." 

Cordova said he has yet to be compensated, but Spirit Airlines promised the refund is on its way. 

Denver7's Molly Hendrickson contributed to the reporting of this story. 

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