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Virgin Australia reviewing policy of not allowing men to sit next to children on flights

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 (iStock)

Facing a storm of criticism, Virgin Australia airline says it will review a controversial policy of not allowing men to sit next to unaccompanied children on flights.

Criticism of the long-standing policy grew after Sydney fireman Johnny McGirr was asked to change seats after being seated next two unaccompanied boys, reports the Brisbane Times. McGirr, 33, says a flight attendant asked him to move after she spotted McGirr sitting next to the two boys he approximated to be between eight and 10 in age. 

When asked why, McGirr was told, "Well you can't sit next to two unaccompanied minors." The flight attendant reportedly then asked a fellow female passenger to sit next to the unaccompanied minors.

Virgin Australia said it understands the concerns raised about the policy - which had been in place for some time and is based on customer feedback, reports the Huffington Post, adding: 'In light of recent feedback, we’re now reviewing this policy.'

Other airlines, such as Quantas, Jetstar and Air New Zealand have a similar policy.

"[The attitude of the airline] is 'we respect you but as soon as you board a Virgin airline you are a potential pedophile,' and that strips away all the good that any male does regardless of his standing in society, his profession or his moral attitudes," McGirr said, who wrote about his experiences in a blog post.