Man Claims Qantas Fat Shamed Him – Did They?

Just yesterday, a passenger accused Qantas of ‘fat shaming’ them. The airline told the customer that they were ‘too large’ for their pre-booked seat, forcing them to sit elsewhere and embarrassing them in front of the other passengers, as reported by 9news.com.au.

Qantas
Qantas aircraft in special Aboriginal first peoples livery. Photo: Wikimedia

Qantas, on the other hand, has claimed that this was because of emergency protocol and had no intention of embarrassing the passenger.

What happened?

Darren Beales, a local man from Melbourne Australia, was on his way to Brisbane aboard Qantas. He pre-booked an extra legroom seat in an emergency exit row, intending to make good use of the extra space availability.

However, when it came to buckling up, he found that his seat belt did not have the required slack to fasten correctly. He proceeded to ask the flight attendant for an extension, a spare belt that has opposite ends to allow the safety belt to double in length. This can be useful for passengers who are heavily pregnant or those who are injured.

He was told that this extension is unavailable for someone like him in the exit row, that he was ‘too large’ and because of this, he would have to relocate once the plane was fully boarded.

“Pretty much she said that I cannot sit in this location, she said ‘take a seat and someone will get back to me’,” he told Channel 9s Today Show. “So pretty much everyone was seated on the plane and she’s came back up to me and she said, ‘well, look, we’ve got another seat for you.’
You can see the full interview from Channel 9 here.

The passenger is believed to have been moved to a more appropriate, but smaller, seat. You can see what the seats are like in our flight review here.

What are the rules?

Qantas has come out and defended their action, saying that according to Qantas and CASA (the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority) passengers seated in an exit row must not be required to use a seat belt extender.

“The Civil Aviation Safety Authority provides guidelines to Qantas about safety in the emergency exit row and recommends passengers seated there are “able-bodied” and capable of helping in an emergency.”CASA to News.com.au

In detail, Qantas does not allow anyone with a seat belt extender or an infant to sit on an emergency row.

Qantas has gone on to reiterate that they have the right to move anyone onboard an aircraft if it should affect the operation of emergency features, such as an exit door.

Qantas
Qantas 737 Economy Seat. Source: Simple Flying

Should this have happened?

Now, we will leave the matter of ‘fat-shaming’ up to debate in the comments (which should be fun) but it does seem Qantas was in the right to move the passenger if it believed it would make the other passengers safer.

The passenger in question, however, disagrees.

“I paid for a window seat but I end up getting a lane (aisle) seat, pretty much I got hit every single time someone went down the laneway (aisle). She says, ‘well, look, again airway regulations, you cannot sit in an exit seat, if you’re disabled or, you know – or if you require an extended seatbelt.’ It made me feel really belittled. I could have helped in the emergency.” continued Mr Beales.

He went on to say that he was not told at time of booking that a seat belt extender was forbidden in that particular seat. It is also up in the air if Qantas was required to move the passenger in front of all the other passengers.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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