A Thai airline has banned young children and obese passengers from booking business class seats on its new top-of-the-line luxury aircraft.
According to Yahoo News, Thai Airways International said new seatbelts it fitted in December would be too short to fit around the waists of overweight passengers, which could cause it to break US Federal Administration safety standards. The airline claimed the seatbelts couldn’t be extended in length due to the airbags it had put on business class seats.
As a result, anyone with a waist measurement of more than 142 centimetres won’t be able to book a “royal silk” business class seat on one of the carrier’s Boeing Dreamliner 787-9s, missing out a high-end menu, large seats, extensive in-flight entertainment and luxurious amenities.
The change of seatbelt length means that passengers with small children also won’t be able to carry the infants on their laps in business class (again, apparently because the seatbelt won’t be big enough).
The average Australian man and woman is likely to have nothing to worry about when it comes to the size restriction, given that the average adult male has a waist measurement of about 96cm, while the average woman has a waist measurement of 86cm, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
But those that are impacted may have some reason to feel hard done by, given that it’s not the first time an airline has taken aim at overweight passengers. In 2013 the now-defunct Samoa Air began charging passengers by their weight. According to the airline’s website at the time, passengers paid for their weight plus the weight of their baggage.
While the airline faced some initial backlash, many other airlines followed suit. In 2015 Uzbekistan Airlines said it would weigh all passengers to ensure it didn’t exceed its planes’ maximum weight capacity.
And several airlines force extra-large passengers to buy a second seat , including American Airlines, British Airways, Air France, Southwest and Delta. The deciding factor is usually whether the passenger is able to fully lower the armrest while seated.
It’s an issue that seen some airlines involved in lengthy legal battles. Passenger Kenlie Tiggeman sued Southwest in 2015 when she was told she was “too fat to fly” and had to buy a second seat. Tiggerman claimed Southwest’s controversial ‘customers of size’ policy was discriminatory towards the obese. While she didn’t win in court, the case did bring the issue into the public forum.