I’m a single guy (Hello ladies…) and I’ve also sat next to an unaccompanied minor on an airplane without issue. But if I were a passenger on Australian carrier Qantas, I would have to switch seats with an adult woman because apparently my Y chromosome tags me, and all adult males, as a potential threat to children flying solo.
The Sydney Morning Herald has the story of a man who was mortified when Qantas forced him to change his seat because he had the misfortune of being seated next to an unaccompanied minor.
He tells the paper he felt like he was viewed as a “kiddie fiddler” (which we assume has nothing to do with being a fiddle prodigy) for being called out in front of other passengers and asked to move because attendants had seated a 10-year-old girl next to him.
“After the plane had taken off, the air hostess thanked the woman that had moved but not me,” he explains, “which kind of hurt me or pissed me off a bit more because it appeared I was in the wrong, because it seemed I had this sign I couldn’t see above my head that said ‘child molester’ or ‘kiddie fiddler’ whereas she did the gracious thing and moved to protect the greater good of the child.”
The man, a nurse who is required to go through period checks to ensure that he is suited for working with child patients, asked to speak to a Qantas manager when the plane landed but was instead given a comment card to fill out.
While the airline didn’t get back to him until after his story began to catch fire in the social media sphere, he says he “was just told it was the policy and it was what people who send unaccompanied minors on flights want and it’s not their fault, which I disagreed with at the time.”
A rep for the airline confirmed the policy to the Morning Herald:
“Qantas’s policy is consistent with other airlines around the world and is designed to minimise risk… The policy reflects parents’ concerns and the need to maximise the child’s safety and well-being.
“In most instances unaccompanied children are allocated seats prior to boarding and there are no issues.
“On the rare occasion where a male passenger is seated next to an unaccompanied child, airlines need to take care when moving passengers to ensure this is done discreetly and respectfully.”
The nurse’s story comes hot on the heels of a similar situation on a Virgin Australia flight in April, during which a firefighter was moved after being seated next to two unaccompanied minors. That airline has said it is now reviewing its policy.
“I think it absolutely sucks,” says the nurse about the Qantas policy. “[I]t’s totally and utterly discriminatory in my mind. It’s a complete and utter generalization.”
Well, we know how he feels. But what about y’all: