Virgin Australia was today widely criticised after a Sydney fireman was asked to swap seats because he was sat beside two unaccompanied boys.
After having to defend its policy, the airline this afternoon announced via Twitter that it was reviewing its stance. “In light of recent feedback, we’re now reviewing this policy. Our intention is certainly not to discriminate in any way”, a Virgin spokesperson said today. The spokesperson also stated that the policy was shared by QANTAS, Jetstar and Air New Zealand.
A Virgin spokeswoman said the policy was shared by Qantas, Jetstar and Air New Zealand.
This polcy shift occurred after Johnny McGirr, 33, took his allocated seat. He found that he was seated next to two boys who he estimated to be aged between 8 and 10. Mr McGirr was assigned the window seat, but sat in the aisle seat to allow the two boys to look out the window.
However, just before takeoff, a flight attendant approached him, asking him to move. When Mr McGirr asked why, he was told, “Well you can’t sit next to two unaccompanied minors.” The flight attendant said it was airline policy. Mr McGirr replied “That’s pretty sexist and discriminatory. You can’t just say because I’m a man I can’t sit there,” the flight attendant apologised and said that was the policy.
Mr McGirr stated the attendant then asked a fellow female passenger, “Can you please sit in this seat because he is not allowed to sit next to minors?”
“After that I got really embarrassed because she didn’t even explain why. I just got up and shook my head a little, trying to get some dignity out of the situation,” Mr McGirr said.
“It strips away all the good that any male does regardless of his standing in society, his profession or his moral attitudes”
Mr McGirr pointed out that he works as a fireman in Newtown in Sydney and was trusted in his job to look out for the welfare of children.
It fails to amaze this author why this “policy” was not applied a little more covertly. Virgin knows through its booking system when unaccompanied minors are flying with them. When seat allocation is done, surely the system can identify those minors, and allocate seating accordingly. Virgin Australia, however noble the intent cannot publically vilify a member of the public that they appear to have done on this occasion. One also has to question whether Twitter is the ideal or appropriate method to release such a policy statement.
You are invited to participate in the poll below:
British Airways reversed its policy after being successfully sued for sex discrimination after a male passenger was reseated away from an unaccompanied child.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald