The national airline of Thailand recently introduced a ban on chunky passengers for Business Class cabins. Thai Airways says passenger packing waistlines of 142 centimetres (56 inches) or more will have to choose another class.
A statement released by the airline explained that it had no problems with people who were packing a little extra weight. The waist-size restriction comes about as a result of new seatbelts fitted to Business Class seats on its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.
The new seatbelts feature airbags which have been designed to comply with safety standards set by the Federal Aviation Administration in the US. Speaking to a Bangkok Post reporter in Thailand, a senior Thai Airways officer said passengers with a waist size bigger than specified would simply not be able to fasten their seatbelts.
Vice-president for safety Prathana Pattanasiri said the belts would not do up around a 142-centimetre plus girth. He carried on by saying the seatbelts would also not safely secure passengers with young children on their laps either and they would have to fly in economy class.
The seatbelt size restriction is due to the extra bulk of the airbag mechanisms. THAIs two larger Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners joined the fleet last year and added to its existing six Boeing 787-8s. No word yet as to whether the same seatbelt and passenger bulk limitations will be applied.
The Boeing 787-9 has long-haul capability. Apart from Auckland in New Zealand, THAI has so far only deployed the new Dreamliners on Asian routes to the likes of Taipei and Singapore.