Thai Airways has taken delivery of both A350s and 787s in the past couple of years, though oddly the planes feature different types of business class seats. Their 787-9s feature reverse herringbone seats in business class, which are comfortable and found on many airlines.
Over the past week there have been some Thai papers with stories about how Thai Airways is banning “fat people” from flying the 787 Dreamliner. In light of this, Thai Airways’ director of security and flight standards, Pratthana Pattanasirim, has issued a clarification. It’s an interesting update, because I wasn’t aware of this restriction, and presumably it’s one that impacts other airlines as well.
Those with waists bigger than 56″ aren’t allowed to fly Thai Airways’ new 787-9 business class seat. Why? Because the seats have safety belts with airbags in them. The seatbelts can’t accommodate waists bigger than 56″, and you can’t add a seatbelt extender to these seats for safety reasons, given that the built-in airbag has to be front-and-center.
As a result, these seats also can’t accommodate parents with infants traveling in their lap, so those passengers would also have to avoid flying business class, or take a flight operated by a different plane.
As of now Thai Airways has two Boeing 787-9s, and doesn’t plan on taking delivery of any more (that seems like a strangely small subfleet to have). Their 787-8s feature different seats, so that restriction wouldn’t apply on those planes.
I find this noteworthy for a couple of reasons. First of all, these seatbelts are the FAA standard ones for the type of seat, and lots of airlines have these seats. So I would guess that the same restriction applies to the other airlines with these seats, though this is the first media report I’ve heard about this. I’m also curious how this would be handled by the airline. Presumably they’re not measuring people at check-in, so will they just let people board and if someone needs an extender they kick them off, or…?
(Tip of the hat to Michael)