Plus-Sized Woman Who Purchased 2 Seats Shamed By ‘Rude’ Airline Staff
May 24, 2023 by apost team
Despite her best efforts, one woman was left mortified by a harrowing experience debating luggage allowances and seating arrangements with airline staff as she boarded a flight from Sydney to Avalon, Australia.
Business owner and body positivity activist Holly Richards, who described herself in an Instagram post as being an Australian size 28-30, purchased two seats on her Jetstar flight in early May 2023 in a bid to “avoid any uncomfortable looks or comments from the person sitting next to me about encroaching on their space.” When Richards, who had booked the tickets over the phone, arrived at the airport, things went fairly smoothly, and counter staff directed her to head straight to the gate as “everything was sorted.”
However, when Richards was at the gate waiting to board, things took a turn for the worst.
“Shortly after, two Jetstar employees rolled some scales over to weigh my carry on bags. I was expecting this as a frequent Jetstar traveller. I had purchased an extra 7kg of carry on to avoid extra charges as I know this is part of their business model as a low cost airline,” she explained. She added she was also carrying a CPAP device to assist with her sleep apnea. According to Jetstar regulations, medical devices can be brought on a flight and are not included in the carry-on baggage allowance.
Richards continued: “The two women were incredibly rude from the offset, as if they were expecting a fight to ensue. … They weigh my bags and proceed to tell me that my bags are 3kg over and I also have 3 items when I could only have 2.”
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As tensions rose between Richards and the “rude and unreasonable” staff, she asked to speak with the manager. When they left to find him, Richards broke down in tears in front of the other passengers.
When the manager arrived, he told Richards while she could bring her CPAP device on board, her luggage was still over the limit. Richards, who had not wanted the other passengers to know that she had purchased two tickets, reluctantly told the manager that she had an extra seat, after which he apologized and allowed her to board.
Richards said she was left humiliated by the ordeal and wanted to share her experience in the hopes others might be able to avoid similar situations.
“It’s unbelievably terrifying being a larger person in this world at the absolute best of times,” Richards wrote. She decried the fact that “the world is mostly not built for diverse bodies and is excluding many, many people with differing bodies, brains and abilities,” and that while many may be tempted to tell her “just lose weight,” she didn’t “owe anyone an explanation or apology for my body.”
She said she was “forced to embarrass myself further and further again while enduring air travel which is already incredibly stressful for me” and that despite “taking extra steps to avoid being a burden to the current system… I was not treated like a human being.”
As Richards’ story made the rounds online, Jetstar issued an apology and reimbursed her for her tickets.
“We’re really sorry to hear about Ms Richard’s recent experience and appreciate it would have been an upsetting situation,” a spokesperson for the airlines said. “We pride ourselves on providing great customer service and treating everyone with respect and we're looking into what happened and how we can do better.”
What are your thoughts on Richards’ ordeal? How do you think the airlines could have handled the situation better? Let us know, and pass this on to friends and family to see what they think of the matter too.