A woman says she and her daughters were moved from business class on Thai Airways because they were 'too big'

Reuters / Chaiwat Subprasom and Edgar SuThe New Zealand Herald reports a woman named Huhana Iripa and her daughters were not allowed to sit in business class from Bangkok to Auckland.
  • Three women said they were not allowed to sit in the business class seats they paid for on a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok to Auckland because airline staff said they were “too big.”
  • Huhana Iripa told the New Zealand Herald she and her two daughters were forced to sit in economy after one daughter was measured in front of other passengers and staff.
  • Thai Airways banned passengers with waists larger than 56 inches from flying in business class in 2018 because the seatbelts don’t extend to accommodate passengers of all sizes.
  • The airline’s International New Zealand spokesperson Wayne Cochrane told the publication: “As this issue involves passenger safety, I am sure you will understand that we cannot compromise on this.”
  • Insider has reached out to Thai Airways for comment.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A woman says she and her two daughters were moved from their business class seats on a Thai Airways flight because they were “too big.”

The New Zealand Herald reports Huhana Iripa, 59, and daughters Tere, 37, and Renell, 28, were told they would not be able to sit in the business class seats they had purchased for a flight from Bangkok, Thailand to Auckland because they were “too big.” Iripa told the newspaper they had to sit in economy instead.

The flight was sometime this month, but an exact date was not given. It takes more than 11 hours to fly from Bangkok to Auckland, according to Thai Airways’ website, which lists one nonstop flight per day between the two cities.

Dreamliner business classReuters / Edgar SuBusiness class seats on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, like the one Huhana Iripa and her daughters flew on.

According to Iripa, the trio paid NZ$2,650 ($US1,730) each for the business class seats, which they purchased to be more comfortable on their return to New Zealand.

Iripa told the Herald: “We went up to business class check-in and the member of staff on the desk looked at us and said ‘sorry you can’t.’

“The next thing, there were about five members of staff all around talking in their native language, shaking their heads and looking at us as if we’d committed a crime.

“A staff member then came forward and started saying ‘no, you’re too big, you’re too big.’

“She then pulled out a measuring tape and wrapped it around my daughter Renell, moving her arms outstretched, before trying to do the same to me and Tere.”

Iripa added: “Everyone was just standing staring at us. The whole thing was disgusting.”

Thai Airways takeoffReuters / Chaiwat SubprasomA Thai Airways nonstop flight from Bangkok to Auckland takes more than 11 hours.

Iripa said the family asked for a refund, but were only offered the difference between economy and business class, which was NZ$1,250 ($US815) each. She also said the airline had apologised and offered a further NZ$450 ($US293) in compensation, but she did not believe it was enough based on how she and her daughters were treated.

The Herald reports that Flight Centre, the travel agency the family booked their travels through, had offered a full refund.

Thai Airways International New Zealand spokesperson Wayne Cochrane told the publication that Iripa and her daughters were not allowed to sit in business class because the type of plane they were flying on, a Boeing 7877-900 Dreamliner, had airbag seatbelts in business class, which could not be extended to fit all passengers.

“The extension seatbelt normally used to accommodate oversize passengers cannot be fitted to the airbag seatbelts; therefore passengers not able to fit the standard airbag seatbelt cannot be carried in business class.

“As this issue involves passenger safety, I am sure you will understand that we cannot compromise on this.”

Thai Airways economy classHoang Dinh Nam / AFP via Getty ImagesHuhana Iripa said she and her two daughters had to fly from Bangkok to Auckland in economy, even though they had paid for business class seats.

Thai Airways banned passengers with waists larger than 56 inches from flying in business class in 2018 because the seatbelts in business class could not extend beyond that.

Thai Airways did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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