Assigned Seats? Airlines Face Heat For Discriminatory Seating Policies

qantasA recent example from Qantas airlines illustrates a rare form of what some are calling “reverse discrimination” after a man was told to move seats because he was sitting next to an unaccompanied minor.

Qantas and Virgin both have safety policies that require unaccompanied minors to be seated alone or next to women.

Virgin Australia is reviewing its policy after a recent case involving a firefighter who was asked to switch seats after being seated next to two unaccompanied young boys, the country’s Sunday Morning Herald reported.

Qantas is now taking heat as well after a weekend incident where a male nurse was asked to move in a similar situation. The passenger in question, a male nurse, told the Sunday Morning Herald that he found his treatment “insulting and discriminatory.”

British Airways recently overturned their similar policy after a man sued for sex discrimination.

What do you think? Is it discriminatory to prevent unaccompanied minors from sitting next to adult males during flights?

[Flickr via planegeezer]

Australia floods leave tourist industry in peril

Brisbane, brisbane, Australia, australia
The terrible floods in Queensland, Australia, have destroyed thousands of homes, done billions of dollars of damage, and have left at least a dozen people dead. Queensland is a major coal exporter, and with the rising waters hampering shipments and flooding mines, world coal prices have risen. A major consumer of Queensland coal are Asian steel mills, which are already feeling the pinch. This has led to a rise in steel prices. That’s a double dose of bad news for the economic recovery.

Another Queensland industry has also been hard hit–tourism. The tourists have fled along with the residents, but it’s the long-term effects that are more harmful. If rising coal and steel prices hurt the economic recovery, that’s bound to hurt the tourism industry pretty much everywhere. Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city, is the center for Australia’s Gold Coast, a major draw for Australia’s $32 billion tourist industry. Floods are damaging popular beaches and will require costly repairs. Coastal and riverside hotels and shops are being destroyed. The Brisbane Times reports that toxic materials washed into the sea could have an effect on delicate coral reefs and fish populations. With snorkeling and scuba diving such popular activities on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, this could do long-term damage to tourism.

Meanwhile, airlines are worried about how this will affect them. Virgin Blue has already seen its shares drop by 3.4 percent today because investors fear there will be a drop in bookings. Qantas shares also dipped slightly. Airlines are issuing fee waivers for passengers who want to change their flights to, from, or through Brisbane.

It looks like Queensland residents will suffer from the flood long after the waters recede.

[Photo of Brisbane sunset courtesy user t i m m a y via Gadling’s flickr pool]

Flight attendant trainee suing Qantas for failure to provide shrink

Qantas flight attendantSo, you’re new on the job. In fact, your title still has “trainee” in it. And then something goes wrong. That’s enough to make you go home, pop the cork on a bottle of wine and lament the fact that you work for a third world company. Now, imagine the whole thing happening 30,000 feet from the ground. Yeah, it sucks. You need more than a bottle of wine to take the edge off at that point. In fact, there’s probably a good chance you’d want some counseling.

Well, that’s exactly what Jessie Holgersson wanted, and she doesn’t feel she got it fast enough.

According to AM, an ABC morning show in Australia, Holgersson, a flight attendant on the Qantas 747 that had an engine fire, didn’t get counseling until a day after the incident. Her attorney “says that was too late and claims that Miss Holgersson was discriminated against for raising safety concerns about the airline’s lack of care.” Yeah … lawyer. Discrimination. Do the math: Holgerrson is suing.

Says Holgersson:

I was on my second training flight, we’d just flown from Sydney to Singapore, and everything went great on that flight and we had a nice day in Singapore and then we were heading back home and everything seemed normal and fine and about sort of six minutes after take-off we had an incident with our engine nut blew out.

She adds that “afterwards we were told that it was a fairly normal occurrence and these things can happen and, you know, not to worry about it too much.”

To make matters worse, according to AM, “The trainee was not given a permanent job.”

Qantas says through a spokeswoman that “Miss Holgersson was being assessed for possible employment by a UK cabin crew subsidiary at the time of the flight, with any position to be based out of London.” The company cites her behavior in training as the reason it didn’t offer her a position – and that she didn’t want to work out of the UK.

As to the claim that the flight attendants weren’t provided with counseling, Qantas says that it provided immediate and appropriate support.

[photo by Skazama via Flickr]

Qantas luggage “all tied up” in Melbourne

Qantas airlinesIt must be those adventure travelers … they’re always so high maintenance.

A rock-climbing rope jammed up some of the Qantas baggage equipment at the Melbourne, Australia airport last night, and as many as 400 pieces of luggage are lying around, waiting to be reunited with their passengers. Of course, the Sydney Morning Herald reports, passengers are welcome to “search through the piles” if they are eager to get their bags sooner.

Meanwhile, Qantas has copped to “bag issues” but nothing more so far. The Sydney Morning herald writes that the airline “could not confirm the number of bags that still needed to be returned to passengers.”

Unsurprisingly, Qantas has offered an apology, something to which the airline has become accustomed recently. The article continues:

“Due to an item from a customer bag jamming the baggage system in Melbourne yesterday, the system was down for a period of time,” he said.

“As we did everything to move backlog bags, the system experienced another problem and we are in the process of clearing the backlog as soon as possible.”

[photo by Skazama via Flickr]

Qantas mile-high club: what happens when you get caught

A woman got nailed in the early stages of seeking mile-high club membership. The Qantas passenger was flying form Melbourne to Los Angeles at the beginning of last month. The lights went low, and she and the man next to her let their hands go wild under the blanket. The cabin crew caught on and split up the passengers, who apparently never bothered to try the lav.

The best part: the woman works for Qantas. And, she still does. A spokesman said, “The employee has returned to work.”

Now, be honest: don’t you want the cubicle next to hers?

[photo via Simon_sees via Flickr]