Thai Airways, the flagship airline for the country of Thailand, made a controversial announcement that “oversize” passengers and new parents will be banned from business class seats on flights.
Passengers considered to be too large for the business class seats, as well as new parents traveling with their children, will be bumped back to economy class seats on Thai Airways flights. The company claims the decision was made due to safety regulations.
Thai Airlines, which is owned by the Thai government’s Ministry of Finance, recently acquired Boeing 787-9 planes to use for commercial flights. The new aircraft, known as “Dreamliner” planes, have seats that allegedly can only safely support people of a certain size.
According to the Bangkok Post, Thai Airways claims the seats can’t fit anyone with a waist larger than 56 inches. Any larger and the seat belts that strap in the passenger would interfere with the placement of airbag deployment and could pose a safety threat during emergencies.
The government-owned airline claims that the new restrictions are required in order for the planes to comply with the safety standards of the United States Federal Aviation Administration, the Star reported.
Passengers who don’t meet the parameters of Thai Airways’ new rules will still be able to catch a flight through the airline, but they will be required to sit in Economy class seats. The Dreamliner aircrafts are currently only operating on routes that travel between Bangkok, Auckland and Taipei.
The news of the restrictions has been met with outrage from passengers and the general public. Khaosod reported Thai activist Srisuwan Janya has threatened to take the airline to court over the new policies, calling them “discriminatory” and “unconstitutional.”
While the restrictions put in place by Thai Airways are controversial, they aren’t unique. Australian airline Jetstar announced last year that it would start charging parents and additional $30 to $50 for children who sit in their lap during a flight. Hawaiian Airlines in October 2016 changed its seating policy, due to increased passenger weight.
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