THAI’s new safety measures will affect larger travellers and parents with small children
Thai Airways have introduced airbags for premium passengers, but if your waist is more than 142cm (56in) then you’ll have to sit in the cheap seats because you won’t fit in business class.
Larger passengers will not be able to fasten the new seatbelts, which come equipped with airbags, the airline, which is known as THAI, says.
The devices, fitted on THAI’s new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, will also make it impossible for a small child to sit on a parent’s lap. Parents who wish for their children to sit on their lap will also be unable to fly premium.
It is hoped that the airbags will reduce the risk of a passenger’s head hitting the seat in front in the case of a sudden impact. Sensors are used to deploy the airbag up and away from the passenger to provide protection to the head, neck and torso.
The manufacturer, AmSafe, says over 150,000 seatbelt airbags are currently in use on more than 100 airlines.
Flt Lt Prathana Pattanasiri, vice president of THAI’s aviation safety, said the seatbelts meet US Federal Aviation Administration safety standards, according to the Bangkok Post.
In most cases, seatbelt extenders are used to accommodate larger passengers and small children. However, their use reduces the protection provided by the airbag.
Saree Ongsomwang, secretary-general of the Foundation for Consumers, said the seat belts amount to discriminatory treatment. She said: ”No matter where you sit, regardless whether in cheap or expensive seats, equal safety must be in place.”
THAI are not the first airline to enact restrictions on overweight passengers. Finnair now weigh passengers voluntarily before they board, while the now-defunct Samoa Air introduced a pay-by-weight scheme in 2013.