View Comments
Virgin accused of sexist policy
Virgin accused of sexist policy

Domestic airline Virgin has been accused of treating men like paedophiles after it made a man swap seats because he was seated next to two minors.

In April this year, 33-year-old Sydney man John McGirr was on board a flight from Brisbane when he was seated next to two males he estimates were between 8 and 10 years old, Fairfax reports.

Just before take-off Mr McGirr was allegedly approached by a flight attendant, who asked him to move seats because the company's policy states that men cannot sit next to unaccompanied minors.

"She said it was the policy and I said, 'Well, that's pretty sexist and discriminatory. You can't just say because I'm a man I can't sit there,' and she just apologised and said that was the policy," he told Fairfax.

"By this stage everyone around me had started looking."

A female passenger was then asked to take Mr McGirr's seat.

"After that I got really embarrassed because she didn't even explain. I just got up and shook my head a little, trying to get some dignity out of the situation," he said.

"And that was it, I pretty much sat through the flight getting angrier."

Virgin defended its policy, saying Mr McGirr's reaction was atypical.

"In our experience, most guests thoroughly understand that the welfare of the child is our priority," she said.

"Virgin Australia takes the safety of all guests very seriously and in the case of unaccompanied minors, we take additional steps to ensure their flight is safe and trouble free in every respect."

Mr McGirr, a fireman in the Sydney suburb of Newtown, wrote a letter of complaint to the company accusing them of sexism.

"(It's) blatant discrimination that just because I'm a male I can't sit there," he said.

"...they apologised that it happened on the flight and said it shouldn't have happened then but my issue is not with the mistakes made there, my issue is with the policy in general.

"The majority of sexual assaults are (also) committed by men, does that mean that we can't sit next to women? Should we just have a seat by ourselves and that way women and children will be protected?"