A male flier has claimed he was left feeling embarrassed and upset after being told he could not sit in his pre-booked exit row seat due to his size.
Melbourne man Darren Beales was boarding a Qantas flight from Melbourne to Brisbane about midday last Friday when flight attendants informed him they would need to sit him elsewhere.
He was told it was airline policy that people who required seatbelt extensions were not permitted in an exit row, which he said he was not aware of previously.
“l felt like a walk of shame, people were looking at me. It felt very uncomfortable,” Mr Beales told Yahoo News Australia.
He said during the “nerve-racking” experience, he was told he needed not only a seatbelt extension, but would need to buy two seats next time he flew.
Qantas’ policy for people seated in an exit row states fliers must “not require the use of an infant/extension seat belt”.
Mr Beales said he was mainly frustrated because he wanted the luxury of extra leg room, which was stripped away when he was forced to sit in a regular seat.
He was refunded $120 for his return flight exit row seats after changing his flight home on Sunday to a regular seat.
The ordeal left Mr Beales so traumatised he said he would avoid flying again in the foreseeable future.
“I did want to take my other half to Queensland but l’ll have to hold off or bus it all the way,” he said.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s guidelines for exit row seats states:
“Anyone who cannot act without assistance or lacks sufficient mobility, strength, dexterity, vision, hearing, speech, reading or comprehension abilities to perform emergency evacuation functions are prohibited from sitting in certain seats, such as exit row seats.”
Mr Beale said additional training for airline staff on how to speak to people appropriately when dealing with potentially sensitive situations would be beneficial.
“l’m not the only cuddly person out there, and l will not be the first or the last, but it's a matter of how they deal with people.”
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