Qantas passenger accuses airline of fat shaming

Helen Coffey

A Qantas passenger accused the airline of “fat shaming” after he was asked to move from his exit row seat.

Darren Beales said he was asked by a flight attendant to move seats during a flight from Melbourne to Brisbane, dubbing her a “bully” who left him feeling “belittled”.

She said that air regulations prevent anyone who is “disabled or, you know – or if you require an extended seatbelt”, to sit in the exit row, a disgruntled Beale told the Today Show.

“She told me I was required to move due to ‘air regulations’ – but then she turned around and said: ‘Next time you can pay for a second seat for half price,’” he said.

“I can fit into the seat fine – I didn’t need a second seat.”

Beales said he had specifically booked the seat for the extra leg room and claimed he would have been fine helping out in an emergency.

Qantas said in a statement: “The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) provides guidance to airlines on the criteria for appropriate passengers to be seated in exit rows.

“Customers seated in an exit row may be called upon to assist crew members in the event of an emergency.

“If passengers are unable to meet this criteria airlines including Qantas will ask passengers to change seats.

“Customers who purchase an exit row seat are told they must satisfy the requirements during the booking process.”

Qantas, Virgin and Air New Zealand all adhere to the same CASA regulations, which state that passengers in the exit row must be: “able-bodied; at least 15 years old; able to understand and speak English; and willing to provide assistance to crew and other passengers in the event of an emergency.”