Plus-Size Model Refused Travel By Qatar Airways, ‘Too Big For Coach’

São Paulo-based plus-size model Juliana Nehme took to social media to share the ordeal of being denied travel in economy class on Qatar Airways at the end of her holiday in Beirut.

She says she flew Air France on the way over, but at check-in for her Qatar flight to Doha she was told that she “wasn’t welcome to board because [she’s] fat and…they weren’t going to welcome me on the flight” unless she paid for a premium cabin seat.

Since Nehme couldn’t afford to fly business class, the airline refused her transportation, but wouldn’t refund her ticket. However “[a]fter hours of begging” they returned her checked bags.

I paid a thousand dollars. I stayed for almost 2 hours begging to travel. My mother tried everything. I was threatened when trying to record what they were doing. The counter lady pushed me and nothing worked.

…They wanted my mother to leave and leave me alone here in Lebanon But I don’t speak English or Arabic. …I was extremely humiliated in front of all the people at the airport! All because I’m FAT!

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A post shared by Juliana Nehme (@juliananehme)

I might actually have a little bit of sympathy for Qatar here, or rather for other passengers on the flight, except that this woman was traveling as part of a group of four. If she could sit next to her own group on either side, and they’re alright with it, then I don’t see the problem. She’d just need a seat belt extender.

While Beirut – Doha isn’t long haul, it’s too long to be seated in an economy seat next to someone who takes up your room. But there are better ways of dealing with this than refusing transportation or requiring that someone fly business class. Many airlines will let you buy the seat next to you and keep it empty. Southwest will sell that second seat to a larger passenger and then refund the cost if the plane goes out less than full.

Qatar Airways is fantastic in the air, and their lounges in Doha are (for the most part) excellent. However, on the ground and dealing with any irregularity, I find them to be difficult in the extreme. For instance they’ve been known to involuntarily downgrade passengers flying on partner-issued award tickets when they oversell a flight – rather than seeking volunteers. Here no volunteer was even needed!

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