A recent male passenger of Virgin Australia has caused the airline to rethink their policy of not allowing male passengers to sit next to kids that are flying alone. The incident, he claimes, made him feel like a pedophile.
The Virgin Australian passenger, 33-year-old firefighter Johnny McGirr, posted in a blog about his experience on the flight. He says’s in his blog “Because I am a man, I am presumed to be a predator.” He adds, “The incident left me angry, embarrassed and acutely aware of how society has become fearful of everyone.”
According to NBCNews.com, the airline has announced that the policy is under review since McGirr’s experience has generated angry comments, comments calling Virgin Australian’s rule sexist.
“We understand the concerns raised around our policy for children travelling alone, a long standing policy initially based on customer feedback,” the carrier said in a statement. “Our intention is certainly not to discriminate in any way.”
The incident happened this spring on a flight from Sydney to Brisbane. McGirr boarded the plane and noticed that he would be sitting in a row of three seats next to two young boys. The boys were around the age of 10 or so. He wrote that he was supposed to have a window seat, but since a kid had already taken it, he took the aisle seat. Before takeoff, an attendant approached him and said he would have to move. When he asked why, the attended said, “Well, because you are male, you can’t be seated next to two unaccompanied minors,” according to McGirr.
Since there was no empty seats left on the plane, the attendant asked a nearby female passenger to trade seats with McGirr.
“As I collected my things from the seat pocket I could see people looking at me and wondering why I was being moved. I was red from embarrassment,” McGirr wrote.
“The irony of the situation is that I am a(n) emergency service worker and if the children were in trouble I would be given the responsibility of protecting them.”
There are many people who have commented on this issue. Some commentors are saying that they support McGirr’s stance on the situation, while others are supporting Virgin Australian’s rule. Shaun Bryson, a supporter of McGirr’s stance, wrote on Facebook:
“Discrimination is discrimination, a pedophile is a pedophile, male or female. To make this policy fair and just, designating an entire section just to children flying un-accompanied would be a more justified one, rather than blatantly insulting me by assuming that because I am male.”
Facebook user, Jessica Parrish, sides with Virgin Australia saying:
“I reckon this guy should get over it. When I have kids, if they must travel alone id [sic] like to know they are safe.” “Safety is more important than hurting someone’s feelings!!”
Should Virgin Australia revise their policy?