A pilot from New South Wales is claiming Jetstar Airways removed him from an emergency row because of his arm and thumb.
James Hall-Thompson was traveling as a passenger from New South Wales to Sydney, Australia, after competing in a tennis tournament, news.com.au reported.
Hall-Thompson said after he was seated, a flight attendant came up to him and asked him to move.
“She said the cabin manager had noticed my arm and needed me to move. I told her that there’s never been an issue before and I am fit, willing and able to move the (door cover) if needed. She just said ‘I need you to move,’” he said to news.com.au.
Hall-Thompson, who holds a pilot’s license, was born without a radial bone in his left forearm, which left him without a left thumb.
“I also don’t have a left thumb but my arm and hand aren’t impaired,” he explained to the news outlet. “On my right, my arm is normal but I’ve got a slightly crooked right thumb. That’s it.”
“If someone is incapable of operating the exit, I understand that they shouldn’t sit there. As a pilot, I’m all about safety. I would never sit there if I couldn’t remove the hatch,” he continued.
Hall-Thompson said he moved seats, but claims the cabin manager, who took issue with his arm, continued to be “deliberately antagonistic.”
“He came around with the drinks cart and asked the lady next to me if she wanted anything, then went to the other side of the aisle and asked them. Then he looked at me and said: ‘What do you want?’”
Hall-Thompson said “at first I was a bit angry,” when he was asked to move.
“I had to stand up and move when everyone had already sat down. I felt like I was put on show a little bit. I was embarrassed. It’s shameful,” he told news.com.au.
Hall-Thompson filed a complaint with Jetstar when he got home, but alleges that the customer service representative that took his call asked him to agree that the cabin manager’s actions were not discrimination.
“I outlined what happened and the man who took the call said he needed me to agree on a recording that it wasn’t discrimination but a procedure,” he said to news.com.au. “It’s not for him or me to decide that, but he said he needed me to agree to it for a recording, he wanted to record me saying it.”
Hall-Thompson said he’s not looking for money, but wants better training for cabin crew.
“I would like their cabin crew to be trained to understand that a physical appearance isn’t an overall indication of their ability,” he said.
In a statement to Fox News, Jetstar apologized for the incident.
“We sincerely apologize for Mr Hall-Thompson’s experience and are reaching out to him directly,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“There are strict safety requirements regarding exit rows which are mandated by the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority, however we are looking into what took place in this situation.”