Jesurgislac’s Journal

April 24, 2009

Ryanair announces sex discrimination charges

I think Ryanair are going to find themselves in serious legal trouble if they try to implement their extra charges for men over 130kg but women over 100kg (or for men with a more-than- 45 inch waist but women for a more-than-40 inch waist): it’s normally not legal to announce that women and men will be charged different prices for the same service. They may also have a difficulty with BMI, as women and men vary on that so that a court may find that this is effectively sex discrimination even if not explicitly so.

They may be able to charge for a second seat if a person doesn’t fit into just one (their fourth option) as that’s their only non-discriminatory option: but I noticed in the news that a Canadian court has ruled that in fact airlines simply have to swallow the cost of an extra seat, if they choose to provide seats that are too narrow for their customer base to fit into.

I like this better.


  1. Very interesting post. I can see the size difference discrimination between men and women. As for a large sized person not fitting into a seat, I’m not sure what I think. when it comes to air travel, I’ve just generally conformed to the space I’m left with after my seatmates get settled in. I’m kind of non-confrontational and non-caring in that situation. Now if the guy was so large that he needed 2 seats, and had a middle seat with myself and another paseenger in a standard 3 seat row, that might be a bit different. In the end, I’d probably wait for everyone to be seated and look for an empty seat elsewhere, so that both myself and the large person were more comfortable.

    As for the seat size…. when I was younger and much skinnier I never noticed seat size. This last fall I flew for the first time in about 10 years. I didn’t have a problem despite being at one of my heaviest weights ever (a whopping 190 lbs). Were seats 10 years ago bigger than the 17 inches they claim now, or is it just seeming that way since we seem to have gotten a bit bigger over the years, and/or we’re feeling the need for comfort entitlement more so?

    Comment by Mike Lovell — April 24, 2009 @ 2:05 pm | Reply

  2. Mike, seat sizes definitely vary depending on the airline – both seat pitch (distance between rows – vitally important for leg-room if you’re not the short passenger airlines prefer!) and seat width (distance between the two arm-rests). I notice the difference most when I’m changing planes from a short-hop plane (from where I live to Heathrow), to the long-haul plane from Heathrow. (I also notice the difference when shift from business-class seat for work to economy-class seat when I’m not working for that kind of company, but that’s by the by.)

    That said, I think Ryanair is flailing – I certainly can’t see them attracting more customers with a tax on weight, and I don’t believe it’ll be legal for them to charge women more than men. I also think that, if a passenger is morbidly obese – ie will need a double seat – this ought to be treated as any other kind of disability, and the airline ought not to charge more for the ticket providing the passenger has given them reasonable notice to make arrangements.

    Comment by Jesurgislac — April 24, 2009 @ 9:39 pm | Reply

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