BEIRUT, LEBANON: According to a woman, an airline refused to let her fly because she was “too fat.” Brazilian plus-size model and influencer Juliana Nehme, 38, claimed that Qatar Airways had treated her unfairly because of her size. Her video detailing the alleged incident has now gained popularity after going viral.
She detailed how a service member informed her that if she wanted to board the flight, she would have to pay for a more expensive first-class seat. She, her mother, sister, and nephew were on vacation in Lebanon and were traveling back to Brazil via Doha at the time, as per reports from news.com.
The Daily Mail stated that the airline claimed one member of Juliana’s family was unable to present the necessary Covid-19 PRC test documentation in order to join the aircraft.
In the video, which has received more than 50,000 “likes” and countless comments since Juliana posted it on Thursday, November 24, she claimed that she and her family had no trouble boarding an Air France trip into Lebanon, where they were on vacation. In Portuguese, she said, “I bought a return ticket to Brazil through Qatar, and arriving at the time to check in, a Qatar flight attendant called my mother while another staffer was finishing our check-in and told her I wasn’t welcome to board because I’m fat.”
Including her $A1400 ticket, Juliana claimed her family had spent a total of $A6000 on economy seats, “only to be banned from boarding the trip.” According to reports, Juliana was informed that first-class tickets cost an additional $4400 since the seats are more spacious. “A Qatar airline (staffer) called my mother while the lady was finishing our check-in and told her that I wasn’t welcome to board because I’m fat and they weren’t going to welcome me on the flight!” she said.
Juliana claimed in her post that she begged the airline to let her board the plane and fly home for about two hours. She ultimately stayed with her mother in Beirut Airport, Lebanon, while her sister and nephew boarded a flight on Qatar Airlines bound for Doha, Qatar. “My mother tried everything [too]. I was threatened when trying to record what they were doing,” she claimed. “I’m spending money on hotel and taxi that I didn’t need! Can’t afford to hang around any longer. And they said I have to pay for another fare for my mother and upgrade mine to executive. But nobody wanted to tell me! I was extremely humiliated in front of all the people at the airport! All because I’m FAT!”
“The passenger in question at Beirut Airport was initially extremely rude and aggressive to check-in staff when one of her traveling party did not produce required PCR documentation for entry to Brazil,” a Qatar Airways spokesperson told the publication. “As a result, airport security was requested to intervene as staff and passengers were extremely concerned with her behavior.”
According to Qatar Airways’ statement outlining its policy, anyone “who impedes upon the space of a fellow traveler and cannot secure their seatbelt or lower their armrests may be required to purchase an additional seat both as a safety precaution and for the comfort and safety of all passengers.” The airline claimed that this was consistent with industry norms and the majority of other airlines.
Juliana was still in Lebanon at the time this story was published. “The passenger has been rebooked on a flight this evening [November 24] from Lebanon,” a Qatar Airways official informed the Daily Mail. According to Smarter Travel, airline policies on obesity vary in scope and specificity but generally state that if you can’t fit in a seat with an extension seatbelt and the armrests folded down, you’ll either be paid for two seats or kicked off the aircraft.